Get started cat fishing: A beginner’s guide for success

One of the best things about catfish fishing is you don’t have to be an expert to enjoy the sport. All you need is some basic gear, tackle and bait plus a little insight on where to fish. This information can be found by visiting your local bait shop or this information can also be obtained from your state DNR office.


The equipment you use should be geared towards the size catfish that inhabits the waters you have chosen to fish. That being said most beginners will target small rivers, streams and ponds that produce catfish in the 2-15lb range so I’m going to base my equipment recommendations for catfish of that size range.

A good performing Spinning Rod and reel combos are recommended and can be purchased at most any sporting goods store, from your local store to Wal-Mart or bass pro shops for 30.00 bucks or so. Any of these places will have everything you need to get started. For catfish, choose a medium size combo rated for 20 lb test fishing line.

This is the easiest rod and reel combo for a beginner to a master. These combos will come with fishing line already spooled on the reel and this line will be fine for a few trips but if you use your fishing rig often you may want to put on some better name brand fishing line such as Stren or Berkley 20 lb. test. This can also be purchased at the same places.


I recommend a #4-6 bait holder hook or j-style hook.


Split shot sinker, egg sinkers
For pond, lakes and water with little or no current, a 1 oz. egg sinker will do the trick. If you are fishing rivers and streams with current you will want to upgrade to a 2-3 oz egg sinker.


There are a number of prepared baits to choose from, such as cheese baits, dough baits, dip baits and even preserved natural baits, however do not get sucked into the miracle baits craze.

These types of catfish baits have indeed caught some fish but your more than likely going to have better success with fresh natural baits such as insects, worms and other fish. However the baits that I am going to recommend here today can be easily obtained at your local bait store or grocers, such as Night crawlers, minnows, shiners, shrimp, chicken livers and beef livers, with minnows, shiners and shrimp being my top picks.

Using night crawlers will catch catfish just fine, however lots of other fish like them too, so you will get pestered to death by bluegills, perch and suckers.

The beef liver works well and is easy to fish with, as it tends to stay on the hook quite well making it harder for bait stealers to jack your bait. Cut it in 2 in x 2in pieces.

The chicken livers are a proven catfish catching bait however it is very hard to keep it on the hook, especially when you try to throw it out to the fish, 9 times out of 10 it will get slung off your hook. Some folks will wrap the livers in stockings to keep that from happening but it’s really too much trouble and time consuming to do that, when a better bait like minnows, shrimp or shiners is readily available and easy to use.

Now that you have your equipment and bait lets go catfishin’

Best catfish rig:

The best all around catfish rig is the Carolina rig. To tie this rig, simply slide an egg sinker onto your mainline up about 2 foot. Next crimp a split shot sinker below the egg sinker with a pair of pliers, leaving the 2 foot tag line to tie your hook to.

Tie your hook on the line using a Clinch knot, and you’re ready to fish.

Bait your hook with your chosen bait, leaving the point of the hook exposed and cast it out and let it hit the bottom, your line will go slack when it hits the bottom, prop the combo up against a rock, tackle box, log or forked stick to elevate the tip of the combo and slightly reel to remove the slack line. Sit back, enjoy your day and wait for the action.

This beginner’s guide to catfishing; gives you all the information you need to get started quick with the best results, utilizing the most common but highly effective catfishing rig still used by the pros today. This is your no fluff, fast track to success!


  1. Top says:

    Very good info for the catfishing beginner.

  2. youngwhiskers says:

    if you want to catch bigger cats try putting on a small bober about 6-8 inches from the hook so then the bigger fish can take it easier because its harder for them to get stuff of the bottom…

    That works for me but I dont know about you so try it

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