Is soap good catfish bait?

I’ve been told that soap can be used as bait for Catfish – does it really work?

Actually, folks started using soap as bait for Catfish during the depression. The soap used back then, however, was usually homemade and consisted basically of lye, which seemed to be the ingredient that did the most to attract the catfish. These days, however, commercially available soap contains too many chemicals to do the job. At one time, Ivory soap, manufactured by Proctor and Gamble worked extremely well, however over the years, lye has virtually been eliminated from most commercial bar soap products. If you want to try soap as a bait for Catfish, you can either make your own using a lye recipe or try Rednecks Catfish Bait Soap. This product is available online and is made using a 65 year old family recipe. A lot of catfishers swear by it. The bait soap is softer than traditional bar soap and easily slips onto the hook without breaking. The animal fat that makes up lye soap is the ingredient that seems to attract the catfish. When the bait soap hits the water, the fat begins to dissolve and leaves a scent trail that draws the catfish. Bait soap is most effective when fishing for Channel and Blue Catfish and can be used on juglines, trotlines, and limblines. It’s also been proven effective as a bait for simply rod and reel 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.

2 Responses to “Is soap good catfish bait?”

  1. tentfire says:

    Actually, lye hasn’t been eliminated from commercial soaps, it’s still in there, but under another name. (You can’t make soap without lye. If there isn’t lye in it, it is then detergent, NOT soap.) On the ingredient list you will see “sodium tallowate” or something of the like. That is simply the product that results from combining Beef Fat & LYE. So they list that instead. It is the soap companies’ way of getting around listing those two ingredients for the sake of people that want to stay steer clear of them. I mean, if the first ingredient listed said, “beef fat” you would probably put it right back on the shelf! But you are right that it doesn’t work well any more …. it now has beef fat instead of lard (which is what the catfish like), and it DOES now contain many other chemicals. You certainly don’t want those chemicals on your skin NOR in the lakes/rivers.

  2. chros says:

    Some catfish bait still uses lard. I usually use schulz”s catfish bait soap (which does use lard) and have had great results. I would recommend it to anyone that is fishing for catfish. I have used it all of my life.

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