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Tips on Catching the Big Ones - The Top 3 Catfishing Methods

Nov 27, 2007
There are as many different fishing styles as there are anglers. Just ask anybody, and they'll give you all kinds of advice on what's the best way to catch catfish. Here is a look at the top 3 methods - drift-fishing, juglining, and slipweight.


Drift-fishing is a great method for catching catfish, especially in streams or rivers. This is where you just head out in your boat, cut the engine, and let the wind carry you down stream. When you get a bite, pull in that line, and there you go.

Usually vertical fishing techniques are best for catching cats because they like to hang out way down in the bottom, especially the big flatheads and blues. But, when the water is warm during the summer months, there isn't enough oxygen down there, and they'll come up looking for food. Plus, in a river or stream you're liable to have lots of rocks and things at the bottom, so it can be hard to catch them in the deeper water.

The best place to drop your sinker is anywhere that there is an obstruction in the water. If you have a log jam, some rocks or anything else that stops the current, that's where they'll be. The reason is that the catfish don't want to fight the current when they're looking for food; they'll be feeding where the water isn't moving much. This is where you want to cast your line, where the water is relatively still. Just below a dam is a great place for drift-fishing cats.

It's always a good idea to put out several lines, and bounce them at the bottom. Let the sinker go all the way down until you hit something, then pull it up and move it around. This will attract those cats feeding down there. You have to get a feel for how much you want to move around. On the one hand, if you sit still awhile, you'll have your bait where the cats are for longer. On the other hand, if you drift a bit, you'll have a better chance of cats seeing your bait.

Drift-fishing for cats is much better than sitting still and waiting for them to come along, especially in the late summer months when the cats are coming closer to the surface to feed.


You'll see juglining called any variety of names - trotlining, jugfishing, jugging, or anything else with "jug" in the name. This is a method where you string a line across the water with hooks at different intervals hanging down. The reason for the name, is that you can attach a jug or something to either end in order to buoy your line.

You can catch catfish juglining any time of year, but it works best in the springtime, when the water is just starting to warm up. With juglining, you are catching the fish much closer to the surface, so it works best in the spring. However, depending on where you live, juglining can produce great results any time of year. Juglining works well just about anywhere, depending on local catfish and water conditions.

The best way to jugline for cats is to use an "anchored jugline." This means that you attach weights to the bottoms of your lines, and these weights hold your bait in place. You can use anything for a weight, as long as you can tie it on and it will stay. How much weight to use all depends on current conditions, but in general it's better to be too heavy than too light. If your weights have moved while you were gone, they're too light.

One good strategy for juglining is to set out lots of small lines, each with just 3 hooks or so. This way, you can cover different parts of the river, stream or lake where catfish might be feeding. It's just like having a bunch of rods in the water at once!

Juglining is great, but you have to know the rules and regulations before you lay out your lines. There are laws about how long your lines can be, where you can put them, how many hooks, and just about everything else imaginable, and they differ by state.


Most of the time, catfish like to hang around at the bottom of lakes or rivers, and this is why using a slipweight rig is a great way to catch them. A slipweight rig is where you set out a line with multiple hooks that go down to the lake or river floor. You attach a weight to the end, and this helps you control the level of the hooks. The advantage is that you can catch fish that are at different depths.

Slipweight rigging is the best method to use at night. This is when the catfish are coming up to the shallows looking for food. As every catfish angler knows, the big guys creep around the bottom of the lake, and they like to run around at night.

One of the reasons why slipweight rigging works so well is that the fish can't feel the weight of your line. With a good weight on the bottom so that line is tight, a smart cat (and yes, they can sometimes tell!) won't know that your bait's not just cruising the water like he is.

The key here is to keep the weight heavy and the line tight. No weight is too heavy as long as you can slip it on there and it will stay. If your bait moves around, it's too light.

These are the top 3 methods of catching catfish, but there are others out there. It all depends on who you ask. Check out these methods and see what suits you best.
About the Author
Dan Eggertsen is a fishing researcher and enthusiast who is committed to providing the best saltwater fishing information possible. Get more information on top catfish fishing methods here: http://www.askcatfishfishing.com
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