Drift fishing tips

When drift-fishing – should I be holding the rod at an angle or level?

The majority of catfishing techniques involve a fair amount of weight added to the line, in order to hold the bait in place, under the high-current conditions that most catfish prefer. If the line isn’t weighted, still-fishing in these conditions makes the bait float upward, as it is pushed by the current and pulled by the line at the same time, and usually, this puts it up and out of reach of the bottom-dwelling cats. Weighted terminal gear, for this application, is generally one of a few designs which all offer one thing in common, which is that the sinker is placed or rigged, so that it weighs the bait down, but does not interfere with the pull of the line, from the bait, to the rod tip. Slipweights, tightlines, and all forms of anchorlines share this concept, one way or another. In any of these cases, the trick is, to feel the fish at the bait, before the fish feels the fishing rigging attached to it.

In drift fishing, this concept is still generally intact, with the exception of the fact that now, since our “still fishing” position has become floating and mobile, and moves with the bait, as it drifts downstream, we no longer have the line-pull issue to deal with, to keep the bait down deep. So, a big piece of generally heavy fish or other appropriate natural bait will tend to sink itself to depth, if it’s not being pulled up all the time by the line…. just like Mother Nature intended, and with very little assistance from a sinker, or none at all. With the bait in position, then, the deal is, keep your rod tip up, where you can feel or see every small tug, as many very big cats can make incredibly subtle strikes at the bait, though not always. Then, when a fish does take the bait, whether gently or hard, extend the rod outward, at arm’s length, pointing it towards the fish, and hold it there, until the line comes tight for the second time. This will take all rod and rig pressure off the bait for several seconds, giving the cat no reason to drop it….. then, after the line comes tight again, set the hook hard (circle hook users should just firmly resist the cat’s pull, and the hook will set itself). Then, it’s mambo time….


Dan Eggertsen is a fellow catfish fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on catfish fishing since 2004.

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