Soap baits for Cats

Can I use Ivory Soap for Catfish bait?

Catfishing baits, as a rule, need to be highly-scented items, since catfish live almost always in deep, dark, and sometimes murky water, and rely almost entirely on their senses of smell and “barbel tasting” – using their highly-developed barbels to qualify food items – as their primary sensory means, where food-finding is concerned. Further, most catfish prefer at least a moderate current passing through their homes, and so, the stinky baits that get the most bites, are the ones which have a palpable, “sticky” stink coming off. Oily baits, in particular, provide the kind of long-lasting scent that works best for attracting cats, because the heavier oil components don’t wash away as easily, and so, the smell stays strong for a long time, and brings in the fish.

In the early days of soap making, all soaps were made using a lye base, which is essentially congealed animal fat. As a result, lye-based soaps give off a slowly-dissipating field of fatty molecules, when left in the water, and interestingly, these fatty bits pass for the smell of food, where cats are concerned, in much the same way as a piece of bacon or oily fish does. Most all modern soaps have dispensed with lye as an ingredient, making these soaps unsuited for catfish baiting. Ivory soap is one of the few commercial soaps which has some remaining appeal as a catfish bait, though it is still a fairly hard cake of soap to hook properly, and is not the optimum recipe for “bait soap”. There are some other bait soaps, made especially for catfish fishing, which are soft enough to easily hook up, and sturdy enough to stay on the hook, and draw a bite – Redneck’s Catfish Bait Soap is one such special-purpose soap.

While not necessarily the perfect bait for all occasions, soap baits can be very effective with catfish, and, when the fish are acclimatized to this bait, through regular pre-chumming or long-term soap-baiting in the same area, soaps can be as effective as any other type of “stink bait”.


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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