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Guide To Selecting Top Producing Catfish Baits

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All about choosing the right catfish bait.

By AA-Fishing Staff Writers

The best catfish baits are those that appeal to the cat's sense of smell and/or taste. These whiskered critters can identify food sources from 100 feet away or more. Natural scents derived from resident food sources can trigger a natural attraction, Many prepared baits incorporate these natural flavors into the mix, and/or add other scents known to appeal to catfish. Channel catfish eat mostly fish and animals natural to their environment. Flathead catfish, especially the big ones, tend to prefer live fish.

Catfish Species

Channel Catfish

Channel Catfish

Flathead Catfish

Flathead Catfish

Blue Catfish

Blue Catfish

White Catfish

White Catfish

Top 5 Catfish Baits

If it resembles food in any way and emits an odor, it is likely to attract the interest of these cats. The most effective baits are those that convince them it's edible.

1. Worms

Worms for catfish fishing

As natural as it can get, a big gob of earthworms, night crawlers or catalpa worms probably catch more cats than any other bait. When worms are not working, it could be the wrong area, or you may have to tempt them with more potent baits.

2. Frogs & Other Critters

Frogs for catfish fishing

Frogs, salamanders, shrimp, snakes, mice, birds and other rodents that wander into catfish turf are likely to become a meal. Frogs and salamanders are the easiest to rig.

3. Crayfish

Crawfish and Crawdads for catfish fishing

Crawdads are fair game for any fish big enough to swallow them, and a favorite of catfish. Live or dead crayfish will catch cats.

4. Live Fish & Cut Bait

Minnows and fish for catfish fishing

Catfish happily devour any fish they can capture and swallow. Minnows, sunfish and smaller gamefish are the most common. Check local regulations. Some waters do not allow fishing with live bait. Some allow live bait if it is captured in the same body of water. In areas where fishing with live fish is prohibited, try cut bait.

5. Prepared Catfish Baits & Dips

The choices are endless. Each one mixing a variety of scents that are designed to appeal to the smell and taste of cats. These are a few to consider.


Berkley Gulp Catfish Bait Chunks for catfish fishing

Created to outperform natural livers, and last longer than most prepared baits. Available at Discount Tackle and other bait and tackle stores.


Catfish Charlie Extra-Sticky Dip Bait for catfish fishing

Extra-sticky formula that's irresistible to catfish. Available at Bass Pro Shops and other bait and tackle stores.


Team Catfish Fiber Nuggets for catfish fishing

The catfish bait with its own built-in chum trail. Team Catfish Fiber Nuggets are made with proven catfish-attracting ingredients. Available at Cabela's and other bait and tackle stores.

Home-grown Secret potions

Many ardent catfish enthusiasts have their own secret recipe. The ingredients range from natural prey of fish and fowl, to non-food items like soap and chemicals. Chicken, shrimp, liver and stink baits are some of the most common ingredients.

Visit the catfish fishing page for additional information about each catfish species.

Bait and rigging for catfish fishing


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