The Big Rig

What is the best way to rig a catfish pole

There is no one ‘best’ way to rig up for catfish. I guess the ‘best’ way is whatever works for you. A lot of the time, it will depend on how you are fishing. From a boat, you could just tie on a hook at the end of the line, and attach a split shot 18″ above that, and drop it straight down. After the sinker hits bottom, just reel in two of three cranks on the reel, and your bait will be suspended just off the bottom, perfect position. This is called “tight lining”, and is a very effective method.

Another variation of this, which can be used from shore, or boat, is to attach a bell or Lindy sinker to the end of the line. 18″ above that, make a dopper loop and attach a hook. 18″ above that, make another dropper loop and attach another hook. Now, just bait the hooks, toss it out, and reel the line until it is just straight. It is not uncommon to hook two catfish at a time on this rig. It is called a “grouper”, or “Fishfinder” rig, and was adopted from commercial long-line techniques.

The last rig I use is a “drift” rig. This is perfect in current, especially in tailraces below dams. Attach 5 or 6 pinch-on sinkers to the bottom of the line. Just pinch them on, and do not wrap them, 18″ above that, make a dropper loop and attach your hook. Cast this rig upstream, into the current. Keep your line tight, and let it drift with the current, especially through eddies and whirlpools. When it drift far enough downstream of you, just cast it back upstream and start over. Any time the line stops moving, moves against the current, or changes direction, set the hook. If it gets hung (as long as you keep slack out of the line, it will be the sinkers that get hung), just pull on the line and the stuck sinker will pull off, leaving the others, and you can continue the drift.

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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