How do I set up a limbline?

I’ve been told that if I want to catch a “big one” I should use a limbline. Can you tell me how to set one up?

A Limbline is usually used to target the really big Flathead Catfish. It’s easy to set up but can be illegal in some areas so be sure to check with local authorities. To set a limbline, the first thing you need to do is locate a tree branch that is flexible enough not to break and hangs out over the water. Using a braided nylon line, attach your hook to the end of it and add your bait. I’d suggest using a large hook and you’ll want to concentrate on the bait that will appeal to a Flathead. My preferences are perch, large shad or bluegill. Adjust your line so that the hook and bait hang just below or at the water’s surface. Loop your line approximately 10 inches above the hook and tie it with a slip knot. This will give the fish a little room to grab and run before it catches and will help set the hook. When placing your bait, hook it under the dorsal fin so you can keep it alive. The splashing will make enough noise to get the flatheads attention. When using a limbline, you’ll want to check it often so you don’t keep a big fish hanging on it for too long. As with trotlines and juglines, make sure you’re pulling your line and bait in when you’re finished. Leaving lines in the water can create a hazard for other fishermen and wildlife as well. In most states you are required to tag a limbline with your name and address if you leave it unattended.


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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