Gearing Up For Catfish

how do i set up my line for catfishing as far as the wieghts and hook go? i will be fishing in a lake from the side.

Your gear and tackle need to be matched to the size fish you are targeting. If the area you are fishing is known for large cats, then go to the big side on tackle. It won’t stop you from catching smaller ones, and if you tangle into a Jaws wannabe, you will be prepared. On the other hand, if you hook into a 50 pound Blue on an ultralite rig, you will have your hands plenty full. If in doubt, go large. My basic recommendation would be a good baitcasting, or heavy spinning reel (I lean towards the baitcasting for it’s cranking power), such as my favorite…the Garcia Ambassaduer series, and a long (8 feet ) medium or medium heavy action graphite rod. Longer rods give you more leverage for pulling castfish out of cover. Spool the reel with at least 150 yards of not less than 8 pound test line. If you are fishing in current, such as below tailraces, then use 15-20 pound test line. If you are fishing with punch bait, then I would recommend a #2 spring treble hook. The same for most dough baits. For fishing with cut bait, I’d recommend a #1-2/0 Kale hook. For live shad and bluegills, I would use a #1-2/0 Mustad 92641 Baitholder hook. For trotlines and juglines, I’d use live bait on a #2/0 Kale hook. For catfish, you don’t need a long leader. 18″ is plenty. Use a swivel, and your sinker should be suitable for the water you are fishing in. For lakes and other still waters, you could go as light as 1/4 oz. In fast water, you might have to go to several oz. to hold the bait in position. That’s what most ‘experts’ will tell you. Personally, I dispense with swivels and use a drop loop set-up, like commercial fisherman use on longlines (I used to be a Mate on a Tuna Boat). It is easy, quick to re-rig and catches lots of fish, quickly. It’s a no-nonsense, “get ’em in and get ’em iced” rig. For the situation you have described, here is what I would do. Use a med action rod and spinning, or spincasting reel with 8-12 pound test line. Tie on a 1/4 oz. bell sinker to the bottom of your line. About 18″ above that, tie a dropper loop about 8″ long, and attach a #2 spring treble hook. 18″ above that, create another dropper loop and attach another treble hook, same size. Bait both hooks with Danny Kings outstanding Punch Bait. Use the original formula on one hook, and the Blood or Garlic flavor on the other hook. Gently toss the bait into a likely spot. After you have caught a few catfish, notice which hook they are biting more and switch to that bait. For larger catfish, simply change the sinker to a 1/2 oz. Change the hooks to #1/0 Baitholder or Kale hooks and bait with cut or live bait. As I said, it’s a versatile rig. With this set-up and bait, if there are catfish there, you will catch them. Happy Fishing!


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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