What do I Need to Fish For Catfish? [11 Considerations]

Written by Joshua in Fishing
Image Credits: Pexels.com

You may be new to the catfish angling scene or maybe the fishing scene altogether. It’s also possible that you have been an angler for quite some time but just recently decided to add catfish to your list of targeted fish to catch. Either way, it’s perfectly fine, and I’m here to guide you down the correct path toward effective catfishing. You may be sitting around wondering, however, what do I need to fish for catfish?

The list surprisingly isn’t all that long, and I’ll walk you through some of the essentials that can get you well on your way to better catfishing in a hurry. The first thing you can do Is start by reading my ultimate guide to catfish fishing. It’s going to give you the easy beginning steps laid out step by step to give you a good jump start to learn the ins and outs of the sport.

If you’re well ahead of the curve and don’t need any additional help, then we should start diving in on the essentials you need to begin catfishing. I’ve compiled this list of what I believe to be essentials in a successful catfishing trip.

What do I Need to Fish For Catfish? A Positive Attitude is Where it Begins

Yes, I understand that this isn’t probably what you’re looking for in the answer. I’m sure you want specifics on the exact gear, but this is equally as important. Catfish can be stubborn species of fish to target and learning how to locate catfish, read river bends or understanding the catfishing eating patterns can take time and patience to learn.

This is when a positive attitude can step in and help you through the noise and keep you motivated to learning the sport and trying different methods and locations until you finally get it down to a science.

Baseline Knowledge And Understanding of Catfish

Outside of maintaining a positive attitude while attempting to locate catfish and fish for them effectively, you’re going to need just a bit of baseline knowledge to have any luck. Understanding the best spots, habits and feeding patterns can be a huge lift to your catfish angling game. We won’t go too far in depth but be sure to stick to covered areas with nice holes beneath the water surface.

If it’s daytime out, try going a bit deeper and into the colder waters. If it’s night time, you may have some luck in the shallows. Just understanding where to place bait when catfishing is equally as important as the bait selection itself. That brings me to my next point.

Choose The Correct Baits

Bait Selection is another crucial significant component if you are just beginning your catfishing experience. Luckily, depending on which catfish you are targeting, bait selection may not punish you as much as you may think. Channel catfish will eat just about anything adequately presented to them. Blue catfish and flathead catfish may be a bit more selective about what they feast on.

Stick to baits that you know have had success for years.

  • Stink Baits and Dip Baits
  • Night Crawlers
  • Chicken Livers
  • Live Cut Bait
  • Shrimp

Using any of these 5 baits should keep the probability high that you can catch catfish easily if the location and placement line up for you as well.

Use The Correct Catfishing Gear

Not using the correct catfishing gear can be an epic mistake, many new anglers make all too frequently. Catfish are avid fighters and know precisely how to put some wear and tear on your fishing rod and reel. The lightweight gear can work, but it’s only a matter of time before it ultimately turns around and bites you in the rear.

You need to use the correct gear designed not only to catch more catfishing but to withstand the beating it’s going to endure frequently hooking into catfish. It’s an easy principle to understand. Do you think most bass fisherman are using catfish rods and gear? No, they aren’t and you shouldn’t be using any fishing gear either unless explicitly designed for catching catfish.

Catfish Rod Selection

Start with using something that is designed to help land catfish. A rod around 7-9 feet in length will get the job with ease. It will have the range for additional casting distance and also give you some power and leverage over the catfish once you have the hookset. I recommend using something lighter weight as well. 

This will increase sensitivity and allow you to hold your rod for extended periods if need be without getting gassed or exhausted as quickly.

Catfish Reels

The reel you choose to use is equally as important as the rod selection. You want a high performing baitcasting reel or spin casting reel. Many anglers are intimidated by the bait caster reel but over time it’s well worth it to learn how to use one effectively. At the very minimum, drop the cash on a decent reel that can withstand the beating and pounding the catfish will place on your gear.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark – But Go Prepared

Night catfishing is extremely popular, and it can be very useful. Just make sure you have the correct gear. A good headlamp and some bite alarms and a rod holder would be some beginning essential tools that could go a long way in elevating your game and enhancing the experience.

Catfish love the cover and being fully submerged in cold, covered areas out of the light and near a place that makes them feel safe and cozy from all the angling pressure. Finding these areas is very essential to your overall success. If your fishing from a boat or shore, consider using something like the Deeper Pro Sonar+ to give you the added edge of understanding the water structure and area your fishing with the click of a button.

A device like this can easily give you detailed information on the water you are fishing that you can quickly use to your advantage.  Trust me, they work!

Look for areas such as boat docks or other submerged logs and trees in the water. Remember these fish like to be as deep into this brush as humanly possible. You can usually have pretty good luck targeting any area with other

  • Timber
  • Rock- Rock Ledges
  • Brush

Time - Give it Time but Not Too Much Time

When catfishing, you’re also going to need time. It’s a waiting game. Don’t sit in the same spot for too long, however. Once you have attempted fishing one casting location and place for about 20 minutes, it’s time to try again. You don’t need to wait around all night waiting for the strike. Move around and try different spots but you will need adequate time when catfishing. It doesn’t happen instantly.

The correct size hooks and weights

Having the right hooks and weights is also of utmost important when catfishing. The bait you choose, the kind of catfish your targeting and the water your fishing will ultimately make the decision or help aid you into knowing which size the best is.

Depending on the bait selection you may be using a dip worm and hook or if you’re using something like chicken livers, you’re going to be using most likely a #6 treble hook. The critical thing to remember is to to be selective and make sure you are prepared for the bite and ready for the bait you are using that given day.

Don’t Neglect your Fishing Line

The correct fishing line is going to be another essential item you need to fish for catfish. Using the wrong fishing line can ultimately cost you a wasted day of fishing and a lot of frustration. This will also depend on the size and species of catfish you are targeting. This isn’t the item to start pinching pennies with. Don’t go cheap. It will cost you more frustrating doing so.

Stick with a 10-12 lb. Test line. You don’t need a monster braided line unless really zoning on the tough cover or targeting massive blue catfish. The 10-12 lb. the test will do just fine for most catfish in a nice Monofilament line. Outside of that, you don’t have to be overly picky about which line you choose.

That’s what you need to fish for catfish, or at Least to Get Started Catfishing. Now it’s your turn!

The items we discussed here today are the primary early-stage consideration to get you off on the right foot with catfishing. A few of the things you may be able to survive without, but I will tell you that if they were mentioned in the post, it was a for a reason and I believe they are essential to success with catfishing.

Use the correct gear, learn everything you possibly can and use trial and error until you have it down to a science and soon you will be landing catfish in no time as well. As always, thanks for stopping by. I appreciate you and would love to hear from you. If I have left anything out that you believe to very important to catfishing, be sure to leave a comment b below.

If not, I’ll catch you next time and appreciate you stopping by. Be sure to sign up for my email newsletter if you haven’t done so already. I’ll keep you updated on the latest fishing tips and tricks as well as my newest recommended gear items and product reviews.

See you next time.

About Joshua
My name i Joshua, and i am one of the authors on BonFireBob - I especially like fishing and gear.

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