Guest Blog – Anthony Wood on Catfish Tackle and Bait

We’re delighted to be kicking off our brand new “Guest Blog” feature, with a guest blog from all rounder and “home made” bait specialist Anthony Wood. Anthony’s articles are always popular and we’re sure this one with be no different –

Those of you who have read any of my previous blogs or articles will know that I class myself as an all round angler. I love to catch all species of fish and recently I have found out that a lake near to me has several catfish in it the biggest rumoured to be either 34lb or 44lb, no-one seems to be 100% sure.

Catfish are a species that I have never caught before so obviously I was excited about finding out that a lake by me that legally has them in it. (and it’s a reasonable £10 for a days fishing with the chance of a carp too)

On my first session at the lake I had made a paste using blue cheese powder, halibut supercrush, semolina and wheat gluten from which resulted in several very aggressive takes, unfortunately I didn’t hook into any of the fish but…. Another angler who was fishing on the lake saw me struggling to hook into one of the catfish and advised that the carp set up that I was using wasn’t really suitable and that if I did hook a catfish it would be by complete chance rather than by design.
Spottedfin Bait Recipe
Having taken this information on board I started looking around at the various rods, reels, lines, hook link materials, etc that were available and also some of the rigs that people have been successfully catching catfish on.. One of the first things I learnt was that you stand more chance of catching a catfish by using a self hooking rig as apposed to a free running rig. This basically means using an inline lead with a swivel inserted into the end of the lead that will come free when the fish pulls but that is held in place long enough to hook the fish when it takes the bait. Another trick I was told to help hook the fish is to not have the bait runner set to run but instead fish it locked up and to set the clutch so that it is tight but will again give line when the fish makes a run for it.

So what equipment was I going to need to catch my first ever catfish? Obviously this depends on the size of the fish in the water that you are fishing but as a general idea the following will be enough to catch you a catfish up to around 60lb.

Firstly lets cover the rod. Now I’d been told catfish put up one heck of a fight and that I would need a rod with a bit of backbone in it to be able to stand any chance of fighting and landing my first catfish. Fladen are a brand that I have used a lot of times in the past and looking through their catalogue I found what looked to be the perfect rod, the Maxximus Carp rod in 3lb test curve.

I now needed a reel that would survive the fight from the catfish, again I looked through the Fladen catalogue and the Maxximus FX1150 bait runner caught my eye.
Maxximus Reel
Now as far as line goes there are lots and lots of options out there but I had been hearing some good things about a brand called Asso and specifically their new “bulletproof” range. I opted for a nice strong 25lb 4oz spool which is made using the latest copolymer technology and gives an extremely high abrasion resistance whilst still being supple enough to be able to cast long distances and giving a good knot strength.
Asso Bullet Proof Fishing Line
The next thing to sort out was my hooklink material and I again looked at Asso as I wanted to try and keep both lines from the same manufacturer so I had a look at their “Super Fluorocarbon” which is described as being soft and supple giving maximum strength whilst being virtually invisible in the water. I went for the 12kg (26.4lb) line which is the strongest one that they did and at around £15 for 50m it isn’t an overly expensive fluorocarbon whilst still giving good quality. So why did I want to use Fluorocarbon as my hooklink and not just use the bulletproof to make a hooklink up?

Fluorocarbon is denser than monofilament which means it will sink and settle on the bottom of the lake better, it is also nearly invisible in water so is less likely to stand out to wary fish, it has a higher abrasion resistance than monofilament so is more likely to survive against the abrasive pads at the front of a catfishes mouth and finally as it has less stretch at the low-end stretch point it will give me more of a hook set when the fish takes the bait and feels the resistance of the swivel in the inline lead.
Catfish Rig Tackle
Hook wise there are many options but I have been having great success with the Spotted Fin Wide Gape hooks so I opted for a size 4 Wide Gape barbless hook. These are very strong hooks and have a nice sharp point, they have never straightened or snapped on me so I have the confidence in them that I feel I’m going to need when fighting a catfish.

Inline leads I didn’t really have a preferred option and just picked a two ounce lead out of my tackle box, with leads there is only really one criteria I have and that is that there should be no sharp edges on either the plastic insert or the edges of the lead, other than this the cheaper the better.

So now we move onto the rig I was going to use. The rig I am going to use was actually suggested to me by Jacob Wise who runs a blog with some fantastic information on it and that is the rig is basically a large hair rig but with a few minor adjustments on it.

The rig is a meat/pellet rig and here is how to make it…

Firstly need to create a figure of eight loop at one end of a 12-18″ piece of fluorocarbon (or whatever you’ve chosen as your hooklink material).. Place a pellet stop through the loop and thread on a 20mm halibut pellet. Thread on a cut down anti tangle sleeve that is 20mm in size making sure that the tapered end is facing the halibut pellet. Now thread a small foam disc on and push it up to the anti tangle sleeve. Push a float stop onto the line and push it up to the foam disc. Now thread your chosen hook up the line making sure that you leave enough room below the float stop so that the hook will sit flat on the bottom of the lake, tie it on with a knotles knot Tie a strong swivel on the other end using a uni knot, make sure that the swivel will fit snugly inside the inline lead but that it will pull out under pressure. Place a couple of pieces of tungsten putty along the length of your hook link which will help to prevent tangles but will also help to settle the line on the bottom of the lake, I use tungsten putty as it is non-toxic and also doesn’t cause any weakness in the line unlike splitshot.
Catfish Rig
Remove the pellet stop and the halibut pellet then thread a 20mm piece of luncheon meat on to the hair making sure it goes over the anti tangle sleeve, then put your halibut pellet and pellet stop back on. Push the float stop and the foam disc up the hair so that it sits snuggly against the bottom of the piece of luncheon meat and your rig is ready to use. Or you can simply use 2 halibut pellets and not bother with the luncheon meat
catfish pellet rig
Moving on to bait…

I will be using a basic approach with regards to bait which is simply 2 x 20mm halibut pellets wrapped in a homemade blue cheese and halibut supercrush paste. If that fails then I will try either luncheon meat or a combination of luncheon meat and halibut pellet.
Catfish Pellet Rig with Paste Wrap
Okay so now that I have myself set up to actually target catfish I have been three times to the lake and two out of the three times I caught catfish!! The first catfish was a 16lb 14oz which was obviously a new personal best for me, the next time I had runs but didn’t manage a hook up and on the third session I caught a new 20lb 14oz catfish.
British 20lb Catfish
I think I can safely say the tackle is up to the task and the bait (the 2x 20mm halibut pellets and blue cheese and halibut supercrush paste) works a treat.

I can honestly say I absolutely love catching catfish 🙂


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About Anthony Wood 4 Articles
I've been making my own baits for over 20 years and have written 2 books on the subject. I work closely with Bait Tech, Fritz Germany and Custom Baits.

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