Draggin the flats, a fall season tactic that pays big!

The drought conditions and lack of current the rivers in the south east has created a different environment for cat fishermen in this 2012 fishing season.

Current plays a big role in where the bait and catfish will be located but with the lack of current; the rivers become more like a lake and the bait and blue catfish will become scattered throughout the river system, constantly roaming the vast stretches and depths in search of food rather than congregating in key spots that otherwise the current may have produced.

catfishing tips

Anglers who can adapt to this lake like conditions on the rivers can still catch good catfish but they will need to change the way they approach the existing low water conditions and employ a different technique and rig.

When most catfish anglers think of catfishing, they think of a simple slip rig and anchoring up on a spot and waiting. This is a great technique when the bait and catfish are congregated on key spots because the current has put them there.

But in this low water condition we are facing now, it becomes more of a search method and to be successful, the bait is plentiful but also scattered throughout the system just as the catfish are, so you need to keep your baits in their faces and be on the move constantly because the blue catfish are doing that same exact thing.

They are roaming the still water in search of their next meal, and you have a better chance of running into an active fish that is searching for food when you’re on the move, rather than sitting on a spot waiting for one to finally run into your idle bait.

Dragging baits along the river bottom, searching for active bluecats is a very effective way to put catfish in the boat when other anglers are struggling in these low water conditions.

This technique works and has paid off very well for me this season, placing 3rd place in the Cabelas King Kat National Classic in Selma Alabama on the Alabama River in October.



This modified 3-way rig pulled along the contour of the bottom of a lake or reservoir with the use of a trolling motor, also some anglers who do not have a trolling motor will let the wind carry them over the contour. However I prefer the use of a trolling motor to precisely keep me in a good strike zone such as along ditches or drops and ledges.
3-way rig for catfishing

Items needed for the basic 3-Way rig

Keep in mind item specs listed below will change according to the size fish your ‘re targeting.
Example below is a good all around combination of tackle required. It’s what I use to target trophy size catfish but is also effective on smaller fish also.
65lb braided or mono main line. (I prefer braid)
3- Way swivel
50 lb mono Leader line
20 lb mono drop line
#8-10 Circle hook
Bank sinker
*(Santee option- 3 inch peg float)

Tip: Notice the break rating on the drop line is less than the mainline. This is one option you may want to take advantage of to save tackle and time when fishing with any 3-way combination. It’s called a sacrificial weight, meaning it will break before the mainline when hung up on structure, keeping the rest of your rig intact so all you have to do is retie the drop line and weight instead of the whole rig, this saves a lot of time and frustration.


One of my favorite types areas to look at first is, the flats, meaning the bottom contour has no special features, just a consistent depth and a flat bottom with little or no contour change.

The flats can come in many shapes and sizes, whether it’s a shallow point that extends out to the main channel in a lake or a muscle bed in thirty foot of water in a river. Although the flats are featureless with little or no structure, they do attract catfish because of a flats ability to produce large amounts of algae and other crustaceans and invertebrates, attracting the shad or baitfish to the area which feed on the algae in turn creating a buffet for the catfish and other species as well.


Once you determine where you will pull your drift, just throw your baited rig behind your boat at different lengths of main line and place your rod in your Monster Rod Holder and begin to. I normally sling my first rod out far behind my boat and the second one a little closer than the first and so on, keeping them staggered at different lengths.
3-way rig for catfishing

The idea here is to drag your baits along the contour of the bottom using your trolling motor. Although drifting with the wind will produce catfish, I prefer to control my (pull/drift) and target more precise contour structure, such as flats, humps and ledges. The drag speed will be determined by the catfishes activity level the size sinker you are using; the heavier it is the faster you can drag. After cold fronts and low activity levels I prefer to start with a 2 oz sinker and keep my speed at about .5 mph. but if the catfish are active I will use a larger sinker and speed my drift to about 1 to 1.5 mph.

Dragging your baits through a more likely lair will pay off more times than not, increasing your chances for a trophy catfish.
CAUTION- The Santee dragging rig is good method to search out feeding catfish, at the same time learning what your bottom contour is like and discovering new pieces of structure, however in the process you will get snagged and loose some rigs. (Don’t get discouraged), it just the way it is. I’ve fished places before where I’d lose 20 rigs a day and I’ve fished others and never gotten hung up. It is a proven fish catching rig.

This is also the rig and technique I used to place third, in the largest catfishing event in Kentucky this past October. The 3rd annual Monsters on the Ohio Catfish tournament will draw anglers from as many as 14 states from around the south east region to the Ohio River to compete for big bucks in Owensboro Kentucky.

And this method of dragging not only put me in the money in this event; it also enabled me to catch the biggest catfish of the tournament. Setting the new Monsters on the Ohio big fish record on biggest fish caught of 53lbs.
catfish tournament, Steve Douglas

ROD HOLDERS: Why do i need a rod holder?

Having the right rodholder on your boat to handle the big fish is just as important as the line you use. Using rod holders will free your hands and secures your equipment so when the catfish strikes, it doesnt pull your rod into the lake or river.

Even a small catfish call pull your rod and reel in water if you just have the rod leaned up on the side of your boat. Having a fish take your equipment doesnt make for a good day on the water.
Use them when anchoring, drifting or trolling.

Fishing rod holders

What is a rod holder?
A fishing rod holder allows you to fish several techniques while your hands are free to do something else until the fish strikes.
rod holders

Mounting the rod holder securely to the boat will give you the confidence in knowing that when you turn your back, a fish will not be able to pull your equipment into the depths.

Some Rod Holders have duel positions allowing the angler to choose the angle of attack for the particular situation.

You can use your rod holders for trolling, achoring, drifting.

When the rod is positioned in the rod holder, gravity takes over to keep it place. When the fish is hooked, the pressure of the fish keeps your fishing pole secure, the harder a fish pulls, the tighter the rod is held in the rod holder. Just remove the rod from the holder by lifting the rod tip up and out with the rod fore grip and feel the fight.

Fishing Rod Holders

Why Do I Need a Rod holder?

Rod holders are an important part of the equation when you’re setting up a fishing boat. The most obvious reason being, the angler doesn’t have to physically hold the rod themselves to wait for a strike. This in itself can be a chore without the use of a rod holder, holding a rod in hand for hours will cause fatigue and can take the fun out of the fishing trip, especially in bad weather.

The use of one or multiple rod holders will allow the angler to keep their attention on other factors that can make them more successful like the electronics and boat control. Spreading multiple rod holders out across the back of the boat will help keep your fishing rods organized and lines tangle-free. This puts your rods within easy reach when the fish strikes.

Whether trolling drifting or anchor fishing, rod holders offer anglers with simple solution to a common problem, allowing an angler to up his odds by employing the many different fishing techniques when out on the water.

Not only that, but they come in pretty handy when you take a day to just relax, grab a sandwich and a drink with confidence in knowing your pole will be fine while you patiently wait on the fish to find your bait.

Rod holder choices

How to choose a good rodholder
Rod holders come in a wide range of shapes and sizes along with a variety of different materials being used in the manufacture them, such as steel, plastic and aluminum..
rod holders
Steel is probably the most durable in terms strength with aluminum being similar but coming in at a close second for durability, leaving you with both being respectable choices when deciding on your rod holder purchase.

The non-metal materials used to manufacture rod holders are extremely tough and resistant to breaking, but simply cannot hold up against the metal rod holders in under certain circumstances.

So which one is Best Rod Holders?

There is not going to be a definitive answer here, as they will all work.

However my suggestion for purchasing the right rod holder for your application would be determined on the conditions you would use the rod holder.

Anglers who spend a lot of their time fishing big water, heavy current or waves and put in a lot of hours with their equipment, is to choose one of the metal units for best results.

For the anglers who fish smaller water and only use their equipment periodically, one of the high-quality non-metal rod holders will work fine and will provide excellent value.

Rod holder features

Options for multiple uses
A Look at Options and benefits:

Some models of rod holders can only be set in one position, leaving little options to the angler as to how they can fish.

If you are an angler who likes to employ several techniques of fishing I would not recommend the single action types of rod holders.

Instead look to the manufactures that produce the all in one multi angle rod holders, like Monster Rod Holders. They also produce a unique multi position rotating swivel base that gives anglers an additional option to the way they fish.

Multi position rod holders can be adapted to certain situations that will better suite the needs of most any angler.

More options for the use of rod holders include THE ROD RACK.
fishing rod rack
A rod rack is simply a stationary bar that is mounted to the rear of the boat to install several rodholders for rod managment. Rod holders are spaced equally aross the rack to maintain some orgianaztion in keeping your line from becoming tangled.


Mounting rod holder to your boat.
Mounting a rod holder permanently to your boat can have both positive and negative results; it will depend on how you use your boat. If you use your boat exclusively for fishing the permanent install will be positive, however if you use your boat for fishing and family uses, the permanent install can put a damper on family fun, as they may get in the way.
rod holder mounts

Using low profile mounts will allow you to remove the rod holder easily while the boat is in family mode. Other choices include rail bases that attach to either a round or square rail that is permanently, attached to your boat.

Permanent drill mounts can be attached to your on most flat sturdy surfaces, providing a “near-flush” install. The hardware is simple to install, and will usually involve only two- to-four holes being drilled, causing minimal “damage” to your boat.

TIP: For a stronger more durable contact drill smaller pilot holes for the install hardware