What are my bait options for catching flathead catfish?

What are my bait options for catching flathead catfish?

Hmmmm, bait options for catfish. Where to begin is the real question. The main thing to remember, when it comes to bait for catching catfish is that catfish are NOT picky eaters. They often live in murky, muddy waters, and as a result, when they are in these areas, they tend to depend on scent much more than sight, so when you are fishing murky water, rely on smelly bait such as packaged or home made stink bait. Recipes for catfish bait can be found on this site, if you want to make your own. You can also use night crawlers, chicken livers, chicken hearts, hotdogs, shrimp, or any other combination of commercial, natural, or home made bait. Catfish tend to love garlic and fermented grain or rancid meats. They also love smelly cheeses such as limburger, smelly fish like sardines or shrimp, or bloody organ meats such as chicken hearts or liver. If you are fishing with chicken liver, and some of the other homemade baits or cheese baits, it is often difficult to keep the bait on the hook. Try cutting small squares from pantyhose and wrapping the bait in this material. You can then hook the bait and keep it on your hook much more successfully. You have plenty of bait options for catching flathead catfish. If you are not having any luck with these choices or those you are using, talk to the locals about what they are using. You local expert is the most reliable source for fish in your area.

Dan Eggertsen is a fellow catfish fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on catfish fishing since 2004.

6 Responses to “What are my bait options for catching flathead catfish?”

  1. Chuck McClish says:

    Good luck trying to catch flathead on stinkbaits. Stinkbaits and store bought baits like liver are great for channels and bullheads, but flatheads are hunters. The best bait you can use is a live bluegill, chub, bullhead catfish (spines cut), or shad (if you can keep them alive!). Some guys have a lot of success on goldfish as well. Hook bullhead through the lower jaw and up through the nose. The others halfway between the tail and the dorsal fin, right above the spine. Use a BIG hook. I’m talkin 5/0, 6/0, even 10/0 for the big ones. Make sure you have a big gap from the shank to the point, too much bait fish in the hook will keep the flathead from getting hooked, trust me, that is no fun. I use an 8-ft surf rod with 35# test Iron Silk (great stuff). Tie on a swivel and a 50# test wire leader to connect to the hook. Then, tie a 3 or 4oz sinker onto a 5# monofilament line with about 2 or 3 feet of line before tying that to the swivel as well. That way, if the cat drags your sinker into thick cover (which they always seem to manage to do) your sinker will drop right off and you won’t lose the fish. That was pretty long winded, but either way, the only way to productivly catch flathead is with either live or freshly-cut cut bait. Good luck!

  2. chad c says:

    Just to piggy back on what chuck said about live bait. I have had fantastic results using minnows. Im in central IL and when I fish for flathead I use a good size hook (5/0) and stick on a couple live minnows through the mouth and back. Ive got em up to 30 lbs using them at night. Hope it helps

  3. Brent says:

    Doesn’t really matter if it’s dead or alive iv had good success using sheep head just fille them and hook them through twice never come off unless u do it yourself use 5 hooks and I use 50 pound test min. I use spider wire personally

  4. bacon burger says:


  5. bacon burger says:

    hello fellow fishermen

  6. jimmy says:

    I personally like bluegill cause they are easiest to catch where i live but on the river nothing beats cut skipjack. With the bluegill ive caught some 8 to 10 lbers on cut bluegill but the 15+ lbers have all come on live bluegill shore fishing nears dams on the ohio river. We have channels and flats in this part of ohio. I wish we had blues but theyre farther down the ohio river not too many here.

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