Choosing The Best Catfish Bait (To Catch A River Monster)

Choosing he best bait for catfish is its own art form, especially if you’re after the big, big ones.  The river monsters.

That’s something I’ve learned trying to get them on my line, and into my boat – bait is crucial. Sure, the right gear is crucial, but the bait, to me, is even more so crucial.  Without it, you can’t hook them in the first place.

biggest catfish in the world

Catfish, especially the larger ones are fighters, and even if you can get them on your line, that doesn’t mean the battle’s won yet.  No, in fact, they might just be dragging you IN, not them OUT.

Suffice it to say, it took me years to start landing 50+ pounders on the regular, and it’s only gone up from there.

My fine fishing friends, I’m here to tell you that it’s the bait that has made all the difference in getting them to tango with me…and finally admit defeat at the end of it.

Here’s a video that reminds me a bit of myself, actually.

So, if you wake up one day and for some crazy reason suddenly decide it’s time to go fishing for huge catfish, and think it’s going to be easy peazy lemon squeezy…..hold on, you should probably know few basic things about this fish species first, because they’re full of surprises.

catfish diamond backed water snake

Keen on learning new things about catfish and want to get the bottom of the bait situation?  Consider reading about the following:

Alrighty folks, let the learning begin, and good luck in advance!

What do you need to catch a catfish?

catfish caught in lake

Fishing for catfish is fun and interesting.  Unlike many other fish, catfish like to fight hard.

However, it doesn’t really take much to catch catfish, once you have some experience. Here is a list of basic kit for small to medium-sized fish:

  1. A 5 to 7 foot, medium-heavy spinning rod an a reel.
    Catfish can weigh over 50 kilograms so having a high-quality rod is a must.
  2. Live worms, minnows, cut-baits or smelly artificial baits
    Live worms, yummy. Live worms are the most effective baits for catching catfish. However, if you are not a big fan of worms, you can use cut-baits or artificial baits instead.
  3. Rod holder
    If you are trying to catch a catfish that weighs over 10 kilograms, we suggest you always bring a rod holder with you. A rod holder will let you rest your arms, while tackling fish.
  4. Landing net
    A net allows you to get the fish to the shore or into the boat quicker. As long as the fish is in water, it can throw the hook. So, the sooner you get the fish to the shore or into the boat, the better your chances of landing it.
  5. A pair of pliers for removing hooks
    As removing hooks from a fish can be tricky, we suggest you always bring a pair of pliers.

With this toolkit, you’ll be primed and ready to catch a big one!

Are catfish easy to catch?

huge catfish

Catfish have been called “the poor man’s fish” or “the lazy man’s fish”. Wonder why? Well, that’s because they inhabit almost and body of water and they are pretty easy to catch. Especially if they’re small.

All you need to catch a small-size catfish are a rod and a bait. Anyone could do it. A baby could it.

baby catches fish

Of course, if you are interested in catching large catfish, that’s a different story, and you must invest some money in high-quality gear.

Here’s a video I enjoy called “The Easiest Way to Catch A Catfish (Catch and Cook)”.  It offers up some useful tips on making a catfish into a tasty meal.

So now that you know how big your prey is, where do you exactly search for it? Where do you go to hunt it down or in this case fish it out?

Catfish, those tricky beggars, are both fresh and salt water fish species that can live on every continent except Antarctica, but what kind of rivers do they prefer to live in is crucial question, remember not all rivers are the same.

You should search for them in those rivers that are usually not fast flowing, calm rivers that have quite much of mud and branches, they like to hide in it, famously they bury themselves in the mud when they are hunting their own pray, their habitat is perfect for them to use it as a protection and as a hideout.

Here’s a great video showing people catching catfish by hand in a mud water pond.

Yes, they love the mud.  Now, moving on to choosing the right bait.

Top 5 best catfish baits (my humble opinion)

As catfish mostly feed by smell and taste, using the right kind of bait is a must.

Of course, different species of catfish prefer different kinds of food. Despite the list of baits for catching catfish is never ending, certain baits tend to outshine others.

Here is the list of top five catfish baits:


cutbait for catfish

Fresh cut-bait will out fish frozen and artificial baits any day. Fish that are usually used for a cut-bait for catfish are: carp, buffalo and bluegill.


Almost all catfish species feed on worms. Worms are cheap to buy and easy to find in nature.

Love this video:



Shrimp are a good bait for channel catfish. They are inexpensive and can be bought in any grocery store.

Smelly artificial baits

earthworm maggot insect fishing

Smelly artificial baits are a great alternative to cut-baits or worms. They come in different sizes and shapes and often work even better than natural baits.

Grocery store items

Many fishermen targeting channel catfish use grocery store items such as chicken liver, turkey liver and hod togs. Although they are not as effective as cut-baits, they are cheap and easy to find.

Up next…

Where to buy catfish baits?


Fish baits nowadays can be bought almost anywhere. You can buy them in fishing gear and supplies stores, grocery stores or even online.

Most of artificial baits can be bought on eBay or Amazon. Some online stores even sell cut-baits.

Do catfish bite?

Yes, they do! And when they bite, it really hurts. Take care when removing hooks from catfish’s mouth. An always use a pair of pliers to remove hooks and avoid any injuries.

Up next…

World’s top 5 species of giant catfish

Mekong Giant Catfish

Mekong Giant Catfish is the world’s largest species of catfish. It can be found in Mekong river in Southeast Asia. This catfish is actually an endangered species and is believed it could soon go extinct.

Wels Catfish

Wels catfish is the second largest species of catfish. It can be found in the Caspian Sea. It is the largest true freshwater fish in Europe.

Blue Catfish

Blue Catfish is the largest species of catfish found in North America. They can be found in Mississippi river of some lakes in Florida.

Channel Catfish

Channel catfish is better known as “channel cat”. It is a close relative of the blue catfish. It can be found in North America, mostly in Northern Virginia.

Tiger Shovel Nose Catfish

Tiger Shovel Nose Catfish is one of the largest catfish species in South America. It can be found in Amazon and Orinoco.

And finally…

Cool facts about catfish

  • Catfish are very diverse. There are nearly 2900 species of catfish in existence, from 36 families. As it is believed that there are more species yet to be discovered, this number could soon reach 3000.
  • Catfish are easy to farm in warm climates. This makes them inexpensive food that can be bought in almost any grocery store.
  • Catfish can live over 60 years and weigh over 60 kilograms. This of course depends on location and species.
  • The name “catfish” refers to the long barbells, which are located above the mouth of the fish and resemble whiskers. Many wonder whether catfish can use these barbells to sting. The answer is no! Catfish don’t sting. Barbells are loaded with tiny taste buds and special olfactory sensor to help the fish smell.
    Catfish usually live in dark, murky waters where their vision isn’t really useful. Barbells help them find food.
  • It is believed that some ancient cultures used to keep catfish in their latrine ponds as a natural way of getting rid of waste.

There you go! Plenty of new stuff about catfish you probably didn’t know. You now know more than enough to go and try catching a catfish all by yourself.

BONUS VIDEO – 8 foot 250 pound Catfish Caught!

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