Catfish – Goin’ Juggn’…

The basic strategy behind the jug fishing technique is simple – rig up a number of jug rigs, let them float across a stretch of water, usually, using different baits on some jugs, and setting them at different depths, and then, see which jugs produce strikes. After you get a hit, if you’re feeling strategic, you can haul in the jugs that haven’t been hit, and set them out again, with the currently successful combination of depth and bait, which will then keep you working, as you land fish after fish.

Building a juggin’ rig is simple. To build one, you will requires some kind of very powerful float, hence the “jug” in the name, plus a length of heavy braided line, similar to what you’d use in a trotline. You’ll also need an appropriate hook for the fish size you expect, a sinker, and your best bait.

As the name suggests, the floats originally used in this fishing technique were empty jugs of one kind or another. Nowadays, any sealable, empty container will suffice. Plastic containers are probably the best option, with their lower weight and lower likelihood of breakage than glass. There are many commercial products available which are much less bulky than jugs are, if you think about how big and cumbersome 10 or 15 jugs will be, all piled up. Further, many jurisdictions have regulations on the fish types that can be fished for with jugs, and also, the design and the colour of the rig. Most often, the jugs must be white. Check your local regulations, before you go on a jug fishing trip, to make certain you are fishing your rigs legally.

To build the jug rig, you will need to decide on the length of the jug line. You want the jug line to float free of restriction, with the deep end of the rig suspended about two to three feet above the bottom. If you aren’t sure how deep to set your lines, you might consider making a few rigs using different lengths of line, and putting them out at the same time. Some will get more hits than the others will. Once you’ve decided on the length of the lines to use, cut your drop lines to length accordingly. Tie one end of a line to the handle or neck of the float or jug, or to the tie-on point, on commercial floats. Then, tie an appropriate sinker to the other end, only heavy enough to keep the line down to depth, but no more, to avoid excessive line tension. Next, tie two hooks on each line, with the first one locked about a foot above the sinker, and the second, about four feet above the first, using Palomar knots, ideally. By doing things this way, you end up with two hooks in the water on each jug, which puts out twice the bait, and allows the rig to cover different depths in the water. As a bonus, if a jug comes into shallow water, even if the weight and the lower bait get grounded, the top hook may still be located where it will get hit.

When landing a heavy cat on your jug line, be sure to wear good gloves, or you may end up with serious injuries from line tension or hook implantation. A big net is an asset, here.

Catfishing with jug rigs is a good activity for groups of people, as everyone, including kids, can get into one of the many “jobs” involved in this sport – building, rigging, baiting, setting, chasing, landing…. family fishing fun at its finest.

To get the full “Goin’ Juggn’…” article you’ll need to download it here.

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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