Having the right fishing gear is like half the battle won to catch catfish, especially in rivers.

River fishing can be the most fulfilling experience of catching catfish – because the fish are there almost all the time – during the day before 9 am, late evenings and most of the time during the night (around 12.30 am-4 am is when they are most active and hungry). Catfish love a variety of baits and have an excellent sense of smell. For river fishing, you should familiarize yourself with the water well, so that you would know the most active spots.

So, when you make the right strike, at the right angle, with the right rig – no one can stop you from getting that fat cat for a hearty meal or for that catch and release rush.

Catfish Rigs for Rivers - Table List

S.No.ImageRigsBuy Now
1Hurricane Sliding Sinker RigBuy Now
2Breakaway Siamese RigBuy Now
3Boone Live Lining RigBuy Now
4Danielson Drift Fishing RigBuy Now
5Sea Striker Braid Friendly Sinker SlideBuy Now
6Riptail Double Drop RigBuy Now

Top Catfish Rigs for Rivers

Here are the highly used catfish rigs for rivers:

1. Hurricane Sliding Sinker Rig

The slip sinker is the best rig to catch catfish on rivers. It can be easily scaled up and down. It is also used for stationery (bottom) fishing. The sliding sinker is placed in the mainline and a bead can be placed between the sinker and the swivel.

The hook then rests on the bottom and this set up ensures that the bait stays in place. The line always slides through the sinker to hold the position.

With a slip sinker, you can switch weights easily without having to re-tie the rig.

2. Breakaway Siamese Rig

For heavy currents, this is the most suitable rig. It is easy to set up and cast. The swivel has three rings, of which one ring is tied to the mainline.

The second ring is tied to the leader and the hook. A sinker can be tied to the third ring and a slider is used to adjust its weight.

The weight of the sinker ensures that as soon as your fish bites, you will get to know the action and can reel before the fish tries to fight back.

3. Boone Live Lining Rig

In this rig, use live bait to anchor the boat on a river or stream. With this rig, you can keep the bait just off the bottom. It can drift through holes and rocks where the catfish may be holding. It is one of the easiest techniques to learn.

The rig includes a cork or bobber that keeps bait at a pre-decided depth and alerts about fish bite by disappearing underwater. Use live baits instead of jigs or lures so you can get hold of big channels and flatheads.

4. Danielson Drift Fishing Rig

Drift rigs are the most basic type of rigs that work in rivers, ponds, creeks, etc… to catch catfish. There are many variations to this basic technique. It is the best for beginners, as finding the right spots could be challenging in the beginning.

With this rig, if you don’t spot fish for some time, just drift! For basic drift fishing, you need a good drift sock to control the drift movement and direction.

Floating drift rig is one of the most popular variations of the drifting rig, where a float is used to control the movement in the water and allow the baits to move near the bottom.

5. Shaddock Fishfinder Rig

This rig is great for river fishing or surf fishing both. It is best suited for areas where it is usually difficult to spot the fish – i.e. places with less cover. The sinker fights heavy current and holds the bait near the bottom. Since the bait has to struggle between the current and the sinker it slowly bounces up and down the bottom giving an impression of a fish.

The rig can catch blue and channel catfish easily.

6. Riptail Double Hook Rig

This rig can be used to catch trophy size catfish. It has double hooks thereby attracting the catfish and giving more chances of success. The hook spacing depends on the size of the bait.

If you are experiencing short strikes and missing on a lot of fish, you should try this option.

Tips to use Catfish Rigs for River Fishing

Tying a rig properly is important because catfish are fighters and try their best to get off the hook. Especially during heavy currents, you must ensure the rig is strong enough and holds the bait in place. Here are some simple tips that help me get better with fishing –

  • Find the calm places – if there are heavy currents, fish tend to move to the calmer spots for safety. The areas near rocks or an island are ideal spots because the water will be calm.
  • Sometimes fish may try to hide behind vegetations, bushes, and stumps for protection as well as shade
  • Identify the areas where the current is slow because that will be the food source for fish.
  • Upstream casting is good as it creates a natural presentation because the food sources will be moving downstream.


I have used these rigs to catch each and every type of catfish in the river so I can assure you that you cannot fail with these rigs. Remember to use the right bait and bring your pro angler skills. I have mainly targeted flathead catfish in the rivers and reservoirs and have always been lucky.

I hope this guide has helped you, I tried my best to create this list with the best yet cheapest catfish rigs perfect for rivers. If you have any suggestions or tips feel free to share it with me and stay tuned fo our next edition.


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