Targeting catfish is growing in popularity every year as more and more anglers set out to catch them. The growth in popularity has introduced a wave of catfish gear hitting the market specifically designed for the species. However, the best way to catch them is often by using a tried and true catfish rig. In this guide, we will cover the best catfish rigs, how to set them up, where to use them, and how to fish them.
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Best Rigs for Catching Catfish
These rigs work great for catfish because catfish are bottom feeders and a proper Carolina rig is designed to bring your bait to the bottom. A Carolina rig is setup using a swivel with the mainline and sinker attached one end and on the other end is your hook with the bait.
How to Fish a Carolina Rig for Catfish
Carolina rigs are pretty simple to use, especially for targeting catfish. Once you have your rig properly set up, cast it into the area the catfish are likely to be feeding in. Then, gently move your rod from left to right to very slowly move your bait along the bottom. If there are feeding catfish in the area, this should entice them to bite.
Floating rigs, or float rigs as they are often called, are designed to keep your bait just off the bottom. This is great since catfish are often in muddy waters, a traditional bottom rig is likely to get stuck in the mud which will decrease the scent. Float rigs prevent this, which is why they are so widely used among catfish anglers.
Float rigs are set up the same way as Carolina rigs, but with a 1 or 2-inch float just above your swivel. This will be enough to keep your bait just above the bottom and increase the scent for hungry catfish.
How to Fish a Float Rig for Catfish
Float rigs are pretty simple to use when targeting catfish. Just drift your bait through the area the catfish are likely to be in. The float will help it from getting stuck in the mud or snagging on the bottom and increase the scent trail of your bait.
Slip Bobber Rig
If you’re targeting channel catfish, many anglers prefer to use a slip bobber rig. The rig is set up pretty simple. Use a bobber stop and beat, followed by a stick float, split shot sinker, and hook with your bait. Many anglers like to use punch bait or other kinds of prepared bait at the end of their slip bobber rigs.
How to Fish a Slip Bobber Rig for Catfish
Slip bobber rigs are used because they offer a high degree of sensitivity and can be easily adjusted to depth. This is important when fishing channel cats who don’t have the strongest bite. You also have a good visual indication of when your bait is being attacked, which is another reason these are so popular among catfish anglers.
To fish a slip bobber rig, adjust the location of your bobber stop according to how deep the catfish are, and then cast into the water. This is a pretty simple to use setup and you should be able to easily tell the subtle bite of catfish and set your hook.
Santee Cooper Rig
The Santee cooper rig is another tried and true setup for targeting cats. This rig is set up very similar to the Carolina rig, but with a peg bobber attached to your leader that is used to help lift your bait just above the bottom. The key is to set your bobber just a few inches from the bait so your bait can float in the same section of the water column as the catfish. You may have to adjust as needed depending on the level the catfish are in.
How to Fish a Santee Cooper Rig for Catfish
These rigs work best when the catfish are off the bottom or near the surface. Anglers often use them when trolling for catfish to keep the bait moving just above the bottom so that hungry catfish will find it as they move through the water. It is often fished with dead bait for cut bait to entice hungry cats.
Three-way rigs are set up with a three-way swivel. One end has your mainline, the other has your leader, hook, and bait, and the bottom end has your weight. For the sinker part, use 12-18 inches of line and a ½ to 2 ounce sinker. For the leader use about 24-48 inches of line. You will have to adjust your weight according to the depth and current of the waters you are fishing.
How to Fish a Three-Way Rig for Catfish
The three-way rig gets your bait and your weight further apart. It’s ideal for fishing catfish in heavier currents because it keeps the bait in place to entice catfish. It’s also effectively used in still waters too though such as lakes and ponds. If you’re fishing a big river for catfish, this might be a rig you want to have in your arsenal.
The three-way rig is often cast from shore for those targeting cats. You can use a pyramid sinker when fishing areas with currents so that the bait stays anchored. You can also adjust your depth by changing the length of the line attached to your weight. The rig is commonly used in waters ranging from 1 foot deep to upwards of 10 feet depending on where the fish are.