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Fly Fishing for Catfish

Dec 12, 2007
If you ask any fly fisherman if he gets any catfish, he'll probably tell you that he sure does... accidentally! Chances are, he's targeting bass, trout or crappie and a cat gets snagged somewhere along the way. On the other hand, if you ask a catfish man if he ever tries fly fishing, he'll probably tell you that it's just too darn difficult to catch catfish with flies.

The truth is, it's not as tough as everyone makes it out to be. It's just that nobody does it. And, why not? For one thing, fly fishing works best for fish that are feeding near the surface, and cats are bottom dwellers. For another thing, catfish like to put up a good fight, and many fly fishermen have had fly rods snapped in half by feisty catfish.

Fly fishing is actually a great technique for catching channel cats in rivers. It doesn't work so well for flatheads or blues. The best way to learn how to fly fish for cats is to get out there and do it, but there are some tips that will help you along the way.

Know Your Stream

You really have to know when and where the catfish are biting in order to catch them with a fly. Catfish are looking their hardest for food usually in the early spring during spawning season, and in the late fall when they're trying to fatten up for winter. Depending on the river or stream, you may find catfish on the surface all year round. It's a little like gambling; if you get a few hits, you should keep on going and ride your luck. Most anglers find that if they get a few catfish early in the day, they'll have a lot of luck all day long. On the other hand, if you spend a while out there casting flies and get nothing, it just might not be the right time or place. If you haven't caught anything within five minutes, move on to another spot on the river. Once you find a spot where they're biting, stay until you get a few.

The best places are always around obstructions like dams or log jams, where the catfish will be in calm waters. Look for a spot where there is some activity at the surface of the water. Even if you're not sure it's a cat you see, as long as something is biting and you can see it, there are sure to be cats there as well.

Good Gear for Fly fishing Catfish

Fly fishing for catfish won't probably catch you a giant trophy sized fish. Most anglers catch channel cats that are under 10 pounds fly fishing. You should use a fly rod that is anywhere from 5-7 weight. You don't want the rod to snap, and you also don't want it to be so heavy you don't feel the fish bite.

A long rod helps with control. Once you catch him on the end of your line, you're going to want to ease him to the shore without losing him. A nice long line will help you to keep his head above water as you pull him to shore.

A word on tying flies - it's tough at first, but you'll get used to it! Casting is tricky, too. Just be patient and remember that trial and error is what makes you a pro!
About the Author
Dan Eggertsen is a fishing researcher and enthusiast who is committed to providing the best catfish fishing information possible. Get more information on fly fishing for catfish here: http://www.askcatfishfishing.com
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