Catfishing Tips

The Best Catfishing Tips

Welcome to Apex Fishing Tips, this section of our website is devoted to catfishing. On this web page you'll learn about catfish (three specific species) and catfishing. The information below will help you catch bigger catfish, more often. It doesn't matter if you've been catfishing for years or just starting out, we have tips and information that will help you out.

Below you'll find 8 catfishing tips that you can use to improve your chances of catching different species of catfish, specifically blue catfish, channel catfish and flathead catfish. Our catfishing tips are useful to both expert and novice anglers. If you have any tips on how to catch fish and want to see them listed below, please contact us to share them.

Along with 8 catfishing tips we're going to teach you about blue catfish, channel catfish and flathead catfish. We also have the latest world fishing records for catfish. In case you still need more information on catfish and catfishing we provide additional resources. You'll also be able to view some awesome catfish other anglers have caught.

8 Catfishing Tips

  1. You need the right equipment to catch catfish. You'll need a medium-heavy 6 foot fishing rod, 14 pounds or stronger monofilament fishing line, a ground rod holder and bait. You'll also want to bring a wide variety of terminal fishing tackle, including but not limited to hooks (circle, treble and bait), egg sinkers (1 to 2 ounces), swivels, bobbers, beads and jig heads (floating). Don't forget a pair of long needle nose pliers to help you remove the hook from a catfish.
  2. Catfish will bite on a wide variety of different bait. One of the most popular baits for catfish are chicken livers, you can buy them at most grocery stores. They'll also bite on crawfish, worms, bait fish and cut bait. Many anglers love to use custom baits you can buy in a store. These do work, but they cost far more than traditional catfish bait and we've never seen a statistical difference between them. Some anglers swear by soap, such as Ivory.
  3. You can catch catfish at any time of the day. The three most popular species of catfish in North America, the blue catfish, the channel catfish and the flathead catfish are classified as nocturnal. However, this doesn't mean you can only catch them during the nighttime. Catfish do hunt in the daytime; they just aren't as aggressive as they are at night. During the daytime they'll be in deep water or in cover and at night they'll migrate to shallower water to actively feed.
  4. Don't stick around in the same area for to long if you don't get a bite. Many anglers like to setup shop in one spot and stay there until they catch a fish, or don't. We recommend spending no more than 30 minutes in one spot. If you don't yield any bites within 30 minutes, it's time to move on. Catfish are active hunters at night, but they don't cover as much ground as other types of game fish. Some anglers swear by the sit and wait method, but we've always had better results moving around versus staying in one spot.
  5. There are quite a few different fishing rigs you can use to catch catfish. A few popular catfishing rigs are the three-way rig, the slip rig, the slip float rig and the drift rig. All of these are designed to get your bait near the bottom but allow some movement. Practice using a few different catfishing rigs and see which one works best for you. Make sure you bring plenty of extra tackle in case you get snagged or a monster cat breaks off your rig.
  6. Avoid putting your bait directly on the bottom. Trying keep it six to nine inches off the bottom, this will allow the bait's scent to travel further, makes it more visible and has a better catch of being picked up by a catfish. You can use floating jigs and cork floats to help keep your bait off the bottom.
  7. Avoid burying the barbs of your hook deep into your bait. It's common for anglers to get frustrated with catfish because they're hard to hook. The problem is a lot of anglers bury the hook and its barbs into their bait too deep. This means your hook will need to go through your bait before it can hook the catfish. This gives catfish the ability to spit it out when they feel the pressure of you trying to set the hook. Leave the barb exposed as much as possible, this will greatly increase your chances of setting the hook.
  8. Blue catfish and channel catfish are very hard to tell apart and many anglers confuse them with one another. You can easily tell them apart by looking at their tails. Blue catfish have a straight tail with between 30 to 35 anal fins, while the channel catfish has a rounded tail with between 25 to 28 anal fins. Some anglers say channel catfish have dark spots, but they fade overtime as they get older, stick with the tail and anal fins to tell them apart.

About Catfish (Siluriformes)

Channel Catfish (ictalurus punctatus)

Catfish is the name of a large group of ray-finned fish. It's estimated there are over 3,000 species of fish that are considered catfish. In North America, the three most popular species of catchfish are the blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus), the channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) and the flathead catfish (Pylodictis olivaris). These three species of catfish are the most popular among anglers.

The blue catfish (Ictalurus furcatus) is the largest native species of catfish in North America. Blue catfish can live up to 20 years, allowing them to reach a weight greater than 100 pounds. They're most common in rivers but can be found in lakes and large ponds. Blue catfish have a blueish-gray hue and between 30 to 39 rays. They're considered opportunistic predators and will eat whatever aquatic prey they can catch. Their illegal introduction to some bodies of water has them labeled as an invasive species.

The channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus), commonly called the channel cat, is the most widespread catfish in North America. Channel catfish are omnivores and they're a wide variety of live baits that good for catching them. Minnows, nightcrawlers, crickets, frogs and sunfish are excellent choices for live bait. You can even use chicken livers purchased from your local store to channel cats. Avoid their sharp dorsal fins and spines when you remove a hook from a channel catfish.

The flathead catfish (Pylodictis olivaris) is also known as the mudcat or shovelhead cat among anglers. The average length of a flathead catfish is between 25 and 46 inches, with larger ones reaching up to 61 inches. Flathead catfish prefer to feed on live prey, such as fish, crustaceans and insects. Flathead catfish can be found in large lakes, large ponds and slow-moving rivers. Their illegal introduction to bodies of water across North America have labeled the flathead catfish as an invasive species in some jurisdictions.

Catfishing Records

The below International Game Fish Association (IGFA) catfish world fishing records are up to date as of 2019.

Catfishing Pictures

A blue catfish caught while fishing

A picture of a blue catfish (I. furcatus) caught on a fishing trip.
(Credit: Tom Sorenson / Flickr)

A channel catfish caught while fishing

A picture of a channel catfish (I. punctatus) caught on a fishing trip.
(Credit: Brian / Flickr)

A flathead catfish caught while fishing

A picture of a flathead catfish (P. olivaris) caught on a fishing trip.
(Credit: iowadnr2 / Flickr)

Catfishing Resources