Basic Tackle for Catfish - Large Range of Tactics

By: Daniel Eggertsen

Catfishing covers a large range of tactics. The tackle you need will depend on how you plan to fish. I'll go from simplest to the most complex.

If you plan to 'noodle' (where legal) for catsfish, you only need some clothes that you don't mind getting wet (and I would recommend a good First-Aid and Snakebite Kit). 'Noodling' is simply getting in the water and looking for catfish along banks with a drop-off where they hide in holes in the bank or rocks. When you find one, you just grab it (or it grabs you) and you pull it out of the hole and throw, or drag it up on the bank. It's not as easy as it sounds. First off, a large catfish could possibly hurt you, or pull you under the water and hold you until you drown. Secondly, everything in the holes are not always catfish. Water Moccasins are fond of holes, too. Large catfish have very strong jaws. And if your in Louisianna, South Georgia, or Florida, it could be an alligator. I'm sure an alligator would not have much of a sense of humor after being grabbed while sleeping! This type of fishing I leave to the younger crowd!

If you plan on fishing still waters from the bank, such as small ponds, streams , rivers and lakes, you can get by with a cane or synthetic pole. These work for anything up to a medium -sized channel cat. For anything bigger, you will need a more high-tech set-up. For all around fishing in this type of water, it is hard to beat a simple medium-action spincast combo, such as the ubiquitous Zebco 33. This will work for catfish up to the 10-20 lb. range, with proper care. This is the the usual upper limit size for catfish caught on prepared dough-baits, nightcrawlers, grasshoppers, chicken livers, shrimp and small minnows. For the average fisherman, this is the ideal set-up. Any medium rig with a mid-sized spinning reel will also work well.

If you frequent areas with larger catfish, you will need to use bigger baits, and this will require bigger tackle. For trophy-sized fish, it is not uncommon to use baits and rigs weighing well over 1 ounce.; For casting large chunks of cut bait, or whole live bluegills and shad, you will need a long rod, at least 7', with a heavy action. This is where the specialty catfish rods come in handy. And your reel will have to be equally strong. With a few exceptions, such as the Zebco 808, 888 or Great White reels, spincast reels are not going to cut it. This is where you need the larger spinning reels, or best of all, good bait casting reels such as Ambassaduer, or Penn reels. These have tough stainless-steel bearings and strong gears to crank large, mean fish up from the depths.

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