Best Catfish Rigs

Going home without a catch might make you doubt your skills, which isn’t always the case, as your choice of rig might make or break your catfishing trip. 

You have to pay attention to details when picking your catfish rig. The hook should be of a good-enough size to keep your fish hooked. Also, the leader’s length must be adjusted according to your casting distance and fish weight.

Keep reading this article to learn about some handy tips to follow when picking a catfish rig to ensure a fruitful trip. 

How to Customize a Perfect Catfish Rig

You don’t always have to pick a ready-made rig if you feel that it’s not matching your fishing style. You can build your catfish rig from scratch. 


If you’re catfishing, you may need to change your fishing style, especially when switching hooks. Catfish anglers prefer circle hooks on their fishing trips even when they’re fighting a strong fish.

If you’re new to catfishing, and circle hooks don’t seem to work with you. Please don’t blame it on the hook! You only need to practice catfishing with circle hooks. 

Most hooks grab fish from any corner, unlike circle hooks, as they have a unique functioning mechanism. When a catfish bites, the hook slides into its mouth, turns, and catches the right corner of a fish’s mouth. 

That’s why you need to pay attention to the hook’s gap. It has to be big enough to catch the fish’s mouth; otherwise, you might lose your bait and fish. 

Catfish are very thick-skinned, so the hook must be sharp enough to get through the skin, yet soft enough to avoid cutting off their gut. 


Before mentioning the best bait for catfish, you’ve to know that regardless of your choice, you must apply a naturally-looking presentation that mimics the fish’s everyday-food.

If you’re looking for a blue catfish, you should consider fresh shad and skipjack because the blues prefer oily fish, just like the previously-mentioned ones.

It doesn’t matter to the blues if the bait is alive or dead, so don’t waste your time trying to keep the bait alive because blues will eat it either way.

If shads and skipjacks aren’t available, you can depend on perches and bluegills to be your bait. 

If you’re after channels, then dip and punch is your go-to bait. When using punch baits, you may need to use a treble hook to cut through the punch’s thickness. 

However, if you’re using a dip bait, you need to use a worm or a tube to keep the dip hooked because it has a very thin skin.

Most channel-seekers go for the secret catfish rig, which is mainly made for catching numbers of channels. The bait that comes with this rig is very stinky that it gets channels out of their covers.

Flatheads usually go for bluegills, perches, and goldfish, especially in standing water. Unlike blue catfish, you’ve to keep the bait alive when fishing for flatheads.

You can also use cut bait when flathead fishing in moving water because this movement will get the fish to swim and grab the bait.

If you weren’t lucky enough to catch one flathead on a trip, don’t feel down because even pros can only find 1 or 2 in a day, and sometimes they don’t catch any.


One of the most famous sinkers used in catfishing is the bell sinker. You may find ready-made ones in fishing stores. However, if you followed the right precautions while dealing with lead, you can make yours.

The bell-shape of the sinker allows you to create long casts and anchors rigs very well. Another good thing about bell sinkers is that you can use them in different fishing styles and also while fishing for different species.

Leader and Line

Your best option would be the braided line because it’s highly sensitive, which allows you to feel the fish’s bite. Moreover, the braided line is light and gives you the privilege of performing long casts.

Another option is the basic monofilament line, which has a relatively thick diameter compared to braided lines; however, it’s an option to consider when on a tight budget. 

The best leader options are fluorocarbon and monofilament ones, which are thick and can handle fights with massive fish, unlike the braided leader, which has no stretch.

Best Ready-Made Catfish Rigs

Three-Way Rig

A three-way rig can be used for catching all catfish species. It’s called a three-way rig because it includes a three-way swivel. 

The first end of the swivel is attached to the mainline. While the second is connected to a 12-inch line and a donut sinker. As for the third one, it’s linked to a 2-inch line and a hook.

Many anglers prefer the set up of the three-way rig because it keeps the sinker and the bait far apart from one another to allow the bait to move freely, mimicking a naturally-moving bait.

Santee Cooper Rig

The Santee rig is mainly used to catch blue cats; however, we can use it to catch flatheads and channels, but you’ll need to adjust your bait accordingly.

It’s usually used when inshore fishing, that’s why it comes with a peg bobber that allows your bait to float. You can also find a big hook and a scented gel to rub on your bait to grab the fish’s attention, as catfish are known for their keen sense of smell.

When anglers use the Santee Cooper rig, they usually use chicken liver and shad as bait.

Final Thoughts

Choosing your rig depends on your choice of catfish species. It’d be best if you put together a catfish rig of your own that you can test and determine its success percentage.

But, if you don’t like doing all of the handiwork, you can always resort to ready-made catfish rigs, which are just as good.

And remember that a well-built rig can make your trip a huge success!