They say catfish have a face only another catfish could love. I disagree, even the mother catfish swims off and leaves her young alone as soon as she sees them, but brothers and sisters, they taste so good!
Millions of fishers flock to the waters of Texas to catch catfish, with just about as many different setup and baits to go around, for each one of them. Today I hope to share a basic terminal tackle rig with you. Let’s look at the basic slider rig. It’s called a slider rig because the line slides through the weight when the fish chomps on your bait. Hopefully the fish does not feel the weight as an ‘unnatural’ item and spit your bait out. If we tie a knot around the weight the fish may just feel the weight and spit the bait out. Here’s how to rig it!
Thread your egg sinker, or any weight that is designed to slip up and down the line, onto your fishing line. Make sure the weight is appropriate to cast with your fishing rod, you don’t want to try throwing a boat anchor with a flyswatter. Then slide a plastic bead up the line right behind the weight. This little plastic bead keeps the edges of the metal weight from digging against your knot and weakening it. A little bead may just save that big old Mr. Whiskers you’ve been after so don’t scrimp on them.
Next, tie on a barrel swivel to the end of your line. Make sure the barrel swivel eyes are heavy enough to hold the fish you are after. Also, make sure you get swivels with eyes large enough not to slide over the hole or brass loop in your sinker.
Once you have the weight, bead and barrel swivel in place tie in a piece of leader. A leader can be as simple as a piece of the line off your reel, any variation of line. Some folks like fluorocarbon, some monofilament and some still use nylon braids or steel leaders. The choice is yours, but most freshwater bottom fishers simply use a good strong piece of monofilament about 18 to 24 inches long as a leader.
So, now we have everything set up except the part that gets the point across (pun intended). The hook is exactly as critical as the fisherman is serious. A lot of catfishers are strictly out for a little time outside and if they catch a few well that’s great. On the other side of the coin there are catfish tournament pros. These serious-minded souls have put some thought and experimentation into their hook choice. Here are a few hook ideas and some catfish-brained logic behind them.
The “J” hook. That’s the hook that looks just like the letter “J”. It’s been around a long time and everybody already has a few in their tackle box. Just make sure they are sharp and not rusted, especially around the hook eye.
There is also the “Kahle” hook. It has a sweeping gooseneck shaft that allows you to use thicker chunks of bait without having to widen the actual “gap” of the hook. These were the hook of choice for cut bait fisherman before the “circle hook” came on the scene.
Last, and surging to the front in popularity is the “circle hook.” Don’t ask me the physics of the thing, but these engineering marvels always seem to hit the fish right in the corner of the mouth when the fish starts struggling. There is an upside and downside to the circle hook. The up side is, as I already said, they catch the fish in the corner of the mouth an astounding percentage of the time. They don’t swallow the hook…ever. You don’t even have to guess when to set the hook, just start reeling when you know the fish is on. Therein is the only downside. If you try to “set” the hook with the typical herculean, wide sweeping power set that some folks love so much, the hook doesn’t do it’s magic and you miss a lot of strikes, but some of us just love that hook set so much we don’t want to let the fish have all the fun.
Some cat catchers prefer a treble hook. These type hooks are usually employed by fishers using different kinds of “stink baits.” There are dip baits, dough baits, and just about as many homemade concoctions as the fishing public can imagine. Treble hooks might also be a good choice if you use chicken livers or some other soft tissue bait like beef or pork liver.
One more treble hook joins the parade too. There is the regular treble hook with a spring or wire wrapped around the shaft of the hook. This added contraption actually gives dough type baits something additional to hold on to when we fling that bad boy out with a lot of gusto. They sure do help to keep you from unknowingly fishing with a bare hook from slinging your bait off while casting.
So, there is your basic catfish rig, a few hook ideas, and even a little “how to” on the rigging. Now it’s up to you to decide the “when to” and come on into Bass Pro Shops, Garland, TX to get your gear! Oh, and make sure you get that frying pan ready!