When it comes to catfish bait, you can never go wrong with cut bait and live options like shad, but you might be surprised how well artificial lures work if you know how to use them. If your goal is numbers, or trophy size catfish, you are better off sticking with traditional baits. But, if you are looking to add a new challenge on the water, try catfishing with lures!
The key to choosing lures for catfish is understanding how to make them attractive and identifying the conditions and techniques required to use them effectively.
What To Look For In A Catfish Lure:
The best lures for catfish are either scented or have noise-making/vibrating components. You can use basic lures like spinners, jigs or soft-plastics and spice them up as needed to attract catfish.
Scented Lures For Catfish:
Catfish have olfactory receptors all over their bodies, which is why they are so attracted to scents. You can buy scented lures like Berkley Gulp! Alive!® scented artificial soft baits, which are pre-loaded with the Berkley Gulp! Alive! scent. They work well because they look like live bait, release a scent in the water and come in a variety of options from leeches to minnows. You can also add scent to a basic lure like a sticky worm that can be dipped in stink bait or in Magic Products Powder Gel.
Noise/Vibrating Lures For Catfish:
Catfish have a keen ability to detect rattling and vibrating sounds in the water, which mimics prey. Rattle crankbaits work well because they give hungry cats something to target.
There are also lures available specifically designed for catfish, like Whisker Seeker Tackle Catfish Lures M-P Seekers and the Team Catfish Sticky Dipbait Tube, which is designed to work with stink baits.
Best Conditions To Use Lures For Catfish
Catfish can smell scents and detect vibrations even in muddy water, but when working with lures, you increase your chances for a catch when you fish in clear water.
Clear water fishing gives you a wider range of lures to use because the catfish that inhabit clear rivers and lakes will strike at food based on sight before their other senses. Your best bet is to entice multiple senses by using lures that are not only attractive to catfish by sight (artificial frogs or shad), but ones that also have an element of scent or sound.
Best Techniques When Using Lures For Catfish
Most of the same rules apply for targeting catfish with lures as they do with other types of catfish bait, with one major exception. Targeting catfish with lures is not a cast and retrieve endeavor as it is when using lures to fish for bass and other species.
If you are using scented lures or enhancing lures with dip bait or stink bait, you cast and wait for a bite. Noise-making lures are most effective when used while drifting or in a swift current where movement encourages vibration in the water.
Regardless of your lure choice, you want to target prime catfish feeding areas where there is flowing current and where you can introduce lures more successfully. These include areas near dams, structures, and bends in the waterway. Researching the location you plan to fish to find deep channels and fishing during the prime feeding times in the early morning or evening, also ups your chances for a catch.
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