Catfishing rigs are simply the way you present your bait to the fish. There are a number of ways of tying on hooks and weights to your fishing line. Typically the kind of water you are fishing dictates which rig is best under the conditions. Moving water versus still water. Shallow water versus deep water. A rocky bottom versus a muddy bottom. In this article we will examine 3 simple options and when and how they work best.
The simplest and probably most common setup involves tying a snap swivel to the end of the line. The snap swivel is opened and a weight with a ring in it is put on the snap portion. A leader is either tied directly to the snap or the leader loop is placed on the snap. The snap is closed before casting.
This is a good setup for fishing water that is not moving too swiftly or slow drift fishing on soft bottoms. It can be fished in shallow or deep water. The weight will take the rig to the bottom and keep it there. The bait will typically lie on the bottom. This is a good place for the bait as catfish are typically scavengers and will be searching the bottom for food. In swift moving water the bait could be buried in moving mud, sand or silt and not be found by the catfish.
Possibly the next most common rig is using a sliding sinker. The main line is put through an egg sinker or standard sinker then a barrel swivel is tied to the end of the line. A leader is tied to the opposite end of the barrel swivel. This setup, when a fish eats your bait, allows the main line to go through the weight offering less resistance than the prior example. Oftentimes the fish will release the bait if it feels the resistance of the weight as it swims off.
A good way to keep the bait off the bottom is by using a 3-way-rig or dropper loop setup. Using a 3-way swivel is the most common. One ring of the swivel is tied to the main line. A leader for the weight is tied to what becomes the bottom ring of the swivel. And a leader for the hook is tied onto what becomes the center ring. A dropper loop is the same idea without the need for a swivel. You can vary the distance the bait stays off the bottom by adjusting the length of the weight leader and the length of the hook leader.
Tackle while catfishing should be medium heavy to heavy. Use a longer rod, 7 to 10 feet, for longer casts from shore and power to fight the fish. A minimum of 25 pound test main line and 25 pound fluorocarbon hook leader is adequate for smaller fish. Lighter line can be used for the weight leader when using the 3-way-rig or dropper loop. This allows the weight to break off if stuck in rocks or debris with a fish on.
Weights will vary in size depending on depth and current. Hooks should be larger and heavier gauge wire due to the big tough mouths of catfish. Circle hooks have become a favorite among many fishermen because they are designed to come out of the fish's throat and penetrate the side of their jaw. Treble hooks can be used for dough balls and manufactured baits.
Catfish can get pretty big and will put up a good fight. Even the small ones. Even heavier line and hooks should be used if you know there are large fish in the area. You do not want to break off a trophy fish by using too light of line. These catfishing rigs are time-tested to work in many situations. You may have a favorite you use on the waters you fish. Try experimenting with different setups when fishing in current and when there is no moving water.
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