Catfish rigs are an assembly of various pieces of fishing equipment mainly hooks, lines, lures, swivels, sinkers, bobbers, and other fishing tackle. It can be used to catch all types of catfish such as flathead, channel, blue.

Some rigs are specifically designed to catch particular species of fish, however, most of the rigs work for more than one species. A catfish rig can be made or assembled by using multiple items like lines, sinkers, hooks, lures, swivels, beads and tackles.

To catch catfish is rather easy. All you need is a good catfish bait and some of the best catfish rigs since rigs can hold your baits in the right place – where the catfish is most likely to find them.

Types of Catfish Rigs

No single rig works for all the anglers and each angler has their own experiences to share with various rigs. Here are the top 5 catfish rigs that work best for me.

Drift Rigs

Drift rigs are the most basic rigs that work well even with strong currents. You can attach the rig with a three-way swivel that reduces tangling and line twists. These are best suited for drifting in the flat areas of ponds, lakes, or creek arms of reservoirs. These rigs are good for catching channel catfish. A rig drops faster than just a piece of bait and drifts slowly to place the bait accurately. For the rig to work efficiently, you should adjust the hook size and weight appropriately.

Slip Float Rigs

Slip floats are cigar-shaped and great for catching any type of catfish. Smaller and thinner designs (light rigs) with small or medium bait are suitable for blue and channel catfish, whereas larger ones (heavy rigs) are best suited for flatheads. The construction is the same whether the bait drift is shallow or deep. The float is adjustable. A type of slip float rig – the float-paternoster rig, is the most preferred choice to catch large fish by placing a big bait. Believe me, we have caught some of the biggest flatheads with this rig. Because the float movement is gentle and sensitive, the bait keeps swimming along, thus making it easy to catch the cat.

Slip Rigs

Slip rigs are said to be as effective as drift or float rigs. The basic rig has a sinker – can be the egg, no roll or sinker slider – making it one of the most popular rigs to catch catfish. However, egg sinkers tend to snag more than the bell or bank sinkers, when they are across the current. Catfish turn to move freely after getting their bait, so make sure you don’t hurry up and engage the reel. Wait for the fish to grab the bait, move around and then engage and set the reel. Circle hooks work best with slip rigs.

Three-way rigs

This rig is one of the most effective when there are heavy currents. It consists of 6-24-inch-long dropline, with a bell sinker of 2-4 ounce or required weight (based on bait). For blue and channel cats, you may need 3-8 ounces. The rig is easy to cast and never fails to catch big fish. Paternoster rig is a special type of three-way rig that is great for catching flatheads. This rig can be used for trolling and drift fishing as well.

Polyball rigs

Polyball rigs are useful when live baits are kept up (just close to the bottom) and are swimming. These baits attract more fish. The poly ball is a Styrofoam ball of 1-2 inches that is tied to the leader and rigged in a slip float manner. The ball can be then easily floated towards or away from the bait. The number of poly balls depends on water depth, size of the bait and speed of the flow.

Rigging the Catfish

A basic rig is very simple to make but needs a lot of details. The main parts of a rig are – mainline, leader line, sinkers/bobbers, swivels, hook and the bait.

The first step is to attach the fishing rod and the mainline, then fix your swivels. If you need your baits to give floating or swimming action, add some sinkers or bobbers. This will also help you to set the bait/lure at the required depth by giving weight to the rig.

The mainline can be controlled using the fishing rod. If you want to catch more fish, you can set up the rigs like a trotline, which can hold multiple rigs. Here are some helpful tips to consider while you build the rig –

  • The hook and the hook link are the most important parts of the rigs. The sharpness of hook matters a lot because catfish have strong mouths. There are good hook links that you can connect with a knotless knot. However, you can add some extra turns near the hair, for more efficiency.
  • The hooks also depend on the catfish bait that you want to use – live bait or lures. Use the appropriate size of the hook so that your rig can trap that big catfish adequately when it bites the bait.
  • You should tie the knots well. The Palomar knot is the easiest one to tie. You can also use the 5-turn grinner. I know what you are thinking – blood knots. While blood knots are popular because of their stiffness, they don’t work with every fish. The 5-turn grinner works every time and is easy to tie as well.
  • Catfish give a tough fight and the rig tube mustn’t move away from the rig knot during that hard battle. For this, you can smear some superglue just above the knot before you slide the rig tube. This renders the tube immovable.
  • Before getting into the real fight, do some trials to make sure all the parts work well.

Many other rigs could work well for catfish, but as an experienced angler, I can tell you that you don’t have to strain yourself with learning all of them. Just learn a few of the above well, and you can find

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