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Catfish rigs: How to tie a catfish rig

Updated on November 16, 2011

Choosing the right catfish rig for the best bait presentation.

The two most popular rigs to catch catfish are the 3way rig and the slip rig also known as the carolina rig.

Although both of these rigs can be fished in some of the same situations in certain conditions, each also has its own unique presantaion factor better suited for other situations and conditions.

This is just a basic overview on "how to tie catfishing rigs" along with a short description of their uses for the best bait presantaion that has been proven to be most successful.

Need more information on how to catch catfish? Tips, Techniques, how to's and more. visit my website "Discover catfishing".

Catfish rig: Carolina rig/Slip sinker rig - How to tie a slip sinker rig for catfishing

The most common rig for catfishing is the Carolina rig or some may refer to it as a slip rig. But No matter what you choose to call the catfish rig, it's a highly effective rig is most situations.

Benefits to the using the slip rig.

1. Easy to tie up.

2. Versatility

3. The slip feature allows the cafish to take the bait without detecting any resistance from the weight.


This rig is very versatile for catfishing in a number of different situations and will catch all three species; Channel, Blue and Flathead catfish.

How-to tie the Slip Sinker Rig.

First Thread the slip sinker onto the mainline.

Now tie one end of the barrel swivel to the mainline using a Palomar knot.

Now tie the leader line to the other side of the swivel using a clinch knot. The average leader length is 18-24 inches.

The last step to the slip rig is to tie the circle hook to the remaining end of the leader line using a snell knot.

When you are done the slip sinker rig should look like the illustration above.


"Dead lining"

"Suspend drifting"

This is a basic slip sinker rig that I use for couple proven techniques such as DEAD LINING or SUSPEND DRIFTING in rivers and lakes, with or without current.

Catfish rig: 3-Way rig - How to tie a 3-Way rig for catfishing

The 3-way rig is well known to most catfish anglers; it's most effective in certain situations such as dead lining in current or pulling baits with your trolling motor. If the catfishing technique involves movement of water or boat movement, then this rig is a good choice.

To start, first tie one ring of the 3-way swivel to the main line using a Palomar knot.

Next cut a piece of 20 lb mono drop line about 2 foot long and tie it to one of the two remaining rings on the 3-way swivel using a clinch knot.

Attach the other end of drop line to the weight; this should leave approximately 18-20 inches of drop line.

Now cut a piece of 50 lb mono leader line about 18 inches long and tie it to the last remaining ring on the 3-way swivel using another clinch knot.

To finish the 3-way rig tie a circle hook to the tag end of the leader line using a Snell knot, now tip with a piece of cut bait and your ready to fish.

The great part about the traditional 3-way rig is the versatility, it's a situational rig, as you can also modify it for different techniques of catfishing such as the Santee Cooper rig, modified to drag the baits along the bottom or walking the baits down stream in current.

Dragging your baits across the contour of the bottom of a lake with the help of a trolling motor.

BONUS Catfish rig: The Kentucky rig - How to tie a Kentucky rig for catfishing

catfishing rigs
catfishing rigs

The Kentucky rig is and has been a very common and effective fish catching rig among crappie anglers for years, and if you talk to anglers that target many other species of fish you will find that Kentucky rig has been around for a long time. In recent years it has gained popularity among the bass anglers which has dubbed the rig as a drop shot rig.

The Kentucky rig is more commonly used where structure is present.

Unlike the Carolina rig which is probably the best all around rig for most situations, the Kentucky rig has some specific applications that can make this a very effective way to setup when targeting catfish around structure.

The Kentucky rig is also effective when bottom bouncing the weight on the flats for blue catfish in open water.

The Kentucky rig/drop shot rig is an excellent choice when fishing heavy cover and the fish are holding right on or in that cover and you need to get right on top of them. This rig will work for blue catfish, channel catfish and flathead catfish.

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Monster catfish caught on a slip rig - Suspend drifting for blue catfish using a slip rig

I will target structure like ditches, ledges and depressions in the lake or river bottoms, intercepting them as the travel. Catfish will use these types of places as highways to feed and or to just navigate throughout a body of water after spawning and throughout the summer. The ditches are more prominent in lakes and reservoirs and the depressions and ledges are found more in rivers but both types of water systems can possess either type of structure and will produce catfish.


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