Tightlining for Success

What is the most important thing to remember when tight lining for Catfish?

To answer your question, let me begin with a recap of just what tightlining is, and why it is an effective rigging method for catfish fishing. Tightlining involves a sort of "inverse" relationship to the hook and weight, compared to "conventional" rigging systems. This is because a tightline rig has the sinker at the end of the line, with the hook tied some distance up the body of the line, which is the reverse of the norm, in line weighting. The advantage of the tightline is trifold: First, it allows rather heavier weights to be used than might otherwise work well in a conventional rig, and so, it has an advantage in a high-current situation. Secondly, tightlines suspend the bait up above the bottom of the lake or river, which can be a big advantage, if water plants or other bottom features make bait acceptance hard, or impossible, for the fish, if the bait is allowed to fall down to the bottom. Finally, tightlines, as their name suggests, keep a tight, direct link to the weight, and bait, all the time, and as such, are one of the most sensitive stationary fishing rigs, allowing even the most subtle and tentative of a nudge to be felt at the rod. As many big bottom fish are very careful about what they take (which is why they got so big, right?), a tightline may be the only method of getting the drop on them, before they sniff out your scam, and totally ignore your bait.

To make a tightline, you’ll need a standard hook, and a decent-sized weight. First, tie your hook onto the body of your line, at a reasonable distance from the end – maybe 18" to 24", using a Palomar knot to accomplish this. Then, tie your weight to the end of the line, and you’re done.

So, now, your question, answered: Always keep the tightline tight….. always. Slack in the tightline causes your bait to float off, and your weight to pull at any strikes that may occur, and eventually, it takes the weight of the bait right away from your rod tip, rendering it useless to you. So…. keep your tighline… tight!


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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