Catfish are opportunist predators and feeders always on the lookout for something good to eat. They eat almost anything and make eager bait biters. The types of baits used to catch them are as diverse as the things they will happily gobble up. The most excellent catfish baits are simply what they eat naturally and what appeals to their heightened senses of smell and taste. The best way to catch them is to place an attractive bait in the right place, at the right time and in the right way.

If you want to land more catfish including trophy giant sized ones, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve reviewed some tried and true baits that consistently attract and catch catfish and also compiled a guide on the best catfish baits for the different types of cats and how to select baits and lures that will work best in your fishing place. Read on and find out what the best catfish lures and baits are.

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How To Choose The Best Catfish Bait – Buying Guide


While there are some classic catfish baits with a universal appeal such as shads, worms, and chicken livers, the most excellent The types of baits used to catch them are as diverse as the things they will happily gobble up. The best catfish baits are simply what they eat naturally and what appeals to their heightened senses of smell and taste. The best way to catch them is to place an attractive bait in the right place, at the right time and in the right way.catfish bait to use on a fishing trip will depend on the type and size of catfish you’re targeting and the body of water you’re fishing in. Read on to find out the best baits to use for the different types of catfish, the types of baits and lures that are good for catfish, and how to determine the best baits to use for your fishing place.

Type of Catfish

Catfish are available in plenty and there are different types of cats. The main types are the channel catfish, the blue catfish, and the flathead catfish. While they share the name, all catfish are not the same. They’re all very different with very different food preferences and feeding habits and require different baits to catch them. What attracts them is their favorite food that they find naturally and certain flavors and smells that appeal to their senses.

This means that the best bait for catfish will depend on your target catfish. The best way to catch your target type is to do some research in order to find out what kind of food they eat, and understand their behavior and preferences. This will help you target them more effectively. Here is a guide to the best baits for the three most common species:

Channel Catfish

Channel catfish are the most common species and the most popular type anglers target. They are not as large as blues or flatheads but fight hard making them fun to catch. Channel catfish are scavengers and the most opportunistic of the three. They like easy meals they don’t have to work hard for and feed on both dead and live things. Being omnivores, they eat all kinds of animal and vegetable matter.

They have a keen sense of smell and taste buds all over their bodies. They easily detect strong smells and flavors and are attracted to certain stinky baits. This is why chicken livers, punch baits, dip baits, fish guts, and spoilt shrimp perform very well at catching channels.

If you want to catch a lot of keeper-size channels, the excellent catfish baits to use are manufactured or homemade baits like dip and punch baits. These stinky preparations have a very strong smell designed to attract catfish and entice them to sample the flavor. The best baits to catch big channel catfish are natural ones such as fresh dead shad, perch, bluegill, and minnows used whole or cut into chunks.

Blue Catfish

Blue catfish are the largest of the three main types. This is no surprise as they are greedy feeding machines. They are always chasing prey and eating. They eat and eat until their bellies are stuffed and they regurgitate or have bits hanging out of their mouths. They are active and opportunistic feeders and eat both fresh and dead baits.

These big catfish like equally big meals and mainly eat the small fish found in their bodies of water. In most lakes and rivers, their staple prey is shad or skipjack herring. Freshly caught shads or skipjacks, dead or alive are, therefore, the best blue catfish bait and catching them is an essential part of blue catfish fishing. If you’re going after trophy size blues, you can hook them whole. For smaller blues, cut them into strips or chunks in proportion to the size of your target blues.

Second best blue catfish baits are freshly caught carp, perch, bluegill, and other baitfish found naturally in their waters. For cut bait, oilier fish are the most attractive. They also love mussels and are wildly attracted to cow’s blood. It is also possible to catch blues using prepared stink baits like dip and punch baits.

Flathead Catfish

Flatheads, especially the big ones, feed mainly on live fish and are best caught using live baits. The livelier and wriggly on the hook, the more attractive. Hearty baits like live sunfish, shad, perch, bluegill, sunfish, goldfish, crawfish, or mud cats are the best baits for catching flatheads

Cut bait can also be effective in catching flatheads if you’re fishing currents or using techniques like drift fishing or trolling, as these move the baits in a life like manner and trigger flatheads to bite.

If flatheads are your favorite type of catfish to fish for, learning to catch their preferred prey and keep it alive and lively for long durations is essential. Some tackle shops also sell live baits. Patience is also a necessary virtue, as they are not readily caught. Avid anglers consider one or two flatheads in fishing session a good catch and there are often outings without even a single catch.

Type of Bait

Catfish will bite almost anything as long as they are hungry and as long as it is attractive to their senses. The following kinds of baits have been tested and found to be especially irresistible to cats getting them to bite consistently:

Live Bait

Live fish are the best baits for catching big catfish, especially flatheads. Shad, sunfish, perch, bluegill, goldfish, minnows, crawfish, as well as smaller types of catfish such as bullheads, make excellent live baits.

Worms are irresistible to cats of all types and sizes. Their natural aroma and wriggling action drive them wild. They especially like big, juicy worms but a couple of small or medium-sized worms wriggling on a hook are also very effective. Nightcrawlers are among the most excellent catfish baits and can be drifted, floated or bottom rigged. Cats also love leeches and frogs.

Dead Bait

Catfish have a highly advanced olfactory system and they are attracted to dead and smelly baits such as chicken livers, fish guts, mussels, and spoiled shrimp. Chicken livers are tried and proven catfish baits and the best known of all catfish baits. The strong, meaty and bloody smell attracts even big catfish and they can’t help but savor it.

Cut baits composed of fish cut into chunks, strips or fillets, in a size that will appeal to the size of cats being targeted are very effective. Freshly killed baits punctured to allow body fluids to disperse into the water also attract catfish.

Prepared Stink Baits

Prepared stink baits are also very effective catfish fishing baits. These homemade or store-bought concoctions have a very strong smell that gets the attention of the catfish in the vicinity. They are also designed with a solid yet soft consistency to break down gradually so their scent and flavor spread in the water bringing even more catfish into the area. For this reason, they are especially effective where there is a current to carry the flavors and scents downstream.

Dip baits are gooey and stinky preparations designed to attract catfish. They smell awful to the angler but draw cats like magnets. However, it is not just the strong smell that attracts catfish and gets them to bite. A dip must have a cheese base, some kind of protein, or a blood flavor in it for it to attract cats. Dip baits usually have a thin consistency and require the use of a worm or sponge to hold the bait on the hook.

Punch baits are also stinky concoctions but have a thicker consistency and are easier to rig and much cleaner to fish with as you don’t have to touch them with your hands. You take a bare treble hook, punch it into the punch bait using a stick and then pull the loaded hook from the jar using line.

Other Baits

Catfish will willingly sample anything that smells or feels edible to them and experimenting is part of catfish angling. Catfish anglers have thrown all kinds of things at catfish with varying results. Others baits that have been found to work in different locations and circumstances include dog food, ivory soap because of its scent, marshmallows, fruits, spam, cow’s blood, bubblegum, oily pellets, and boilies with a fishmeal base. Cats also love human foods such as french fries, chicken or turkey hot dogs, meatballs, and chicken skins.

Artificial Lures

Live, cut, dead and prepared baits are the most effective way to catch catfish but artificial lures such as jigs, spoons, spinners, crankbaits, and soft-plastics also work if used properly especially when fishing clear waters. You may opt to use lures for catfish fishing to make the game more challenging and fun or have to use them where the use of live baits is restricted.

The best catfish lures look like the best catfish baits. They are realistic imitations of worms, shads, shrimp, leeches, minnows, frogs, and others. They are also enhanced to entice multiple catfish senses. Using scented lures or enhancing lures with dip bait, punch bait, or worms will appeal to their superior olfactory receptors. Catfish can also detect vibrations in the water and adding noise making or rattling elements to the lures will make them easier for cats to detect and come to inspect.

As long as the water conditions are right, an attractive lure is used and there are catfish around, they will strike. An essential part of successful catfish fishing using lures is researching the location you plan to fish in order to identify the conditions and techniques required to use them effectively. In addition, working the best catfish lures during prime feeding times and areas produces the best results.

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Fishing Place

Your catfish fishing place will also determine the most excellent catfish bait to use. All kinds of baits can be used for cats but having the right bait at the right time and in the right location is essential for success catching them. The feeding action or presentation technique you employ also determines whether cats will bite.

Catfish are plentiful and can be caught in all kinds of water bodies from rivers, lakes, ponds, reservoirs, streams, and creeks. Their natural diet will be composed of the baitfish and other food items that occur naturally in their body of water. Whether you’re targeting cats in lakes, ponds, or rivers, the best catfish bait will be their staple and preferred food in their natural habitat or manufactured baits that mimic them.

When catfish fishing, always read the water and pay attention to what the cats are feeding on, when, and how. You can then match the hatch by using what they are feeding on as bait or a duplicate as a lure and match the action by presenting it in a manner that looks natural. You will catch more fish this way.

It is also important to know the behavior of catfish in your fishing place so you can fish the bait using the right technique. In rivers, the current carries scents and flavors to catfish bringing them to the bait. In still waters, catfish tend to be in motion, sampling the water and using their highly sensitive senses to locate potential food.



Q: What Is A Catfish Bait?

A: A catfish bait is something edible and appealing to catfish that is placed on a hook when fishing for catfish to attract and entice them to bite. It can be a food item that catfish feed on naturally or a realistic duplicate in terms of size, smell, flavor, and movement. It can be live, dead, manufactured, or homemade.

Q: Why Do I Need A Special Catfish Bait?


Catfish are a unique fish species not only in their looks but also in the environments they thrive in, their sensory makeup, food preferences, and feeding habits. They have superior senses of smell and taste, as taste buds cover their entire body and they have special olfactory receptors. Their hearing is also very good and they are able to detect rattling sounds and vibrations from prey. They rely on these senses and their super-sensitive whiskers to locate food and feed.

Although catfish have a widely varied diet and aren’t discriminative biters, a special catfish bait is essential if you’re to catch them consistently. Just like with other fish species, bait must appeal to the catfish. They must be able to recognize it as something to eat because it is either what they eat naturally or looks like their preferred prey. Now that catfish have highly developed senses, it must also be the right flavor and smell for it to attract them. Different species and sizes of cats also prefer different kinds of foods and their preferences vary from day to day.

Q: Can I Reuse Catfish Baits?

A: Whether or not you can reuse catfish baits will depend on what kind of bait it is and its condition after use – whether it still has its appeal and will stay on the hook well. Stink baits are designed to disintegrate in the water so the scent and flavor can disperse and draw cats. Chicken livers lose a lot of their natural juices and much of their appeal in water. For optimal results, it is always best to use a fresh piece of liver when fishing a new spot. Live bait such as fish and worms will die after being hooked and bitten but you can reuse them as cut bait or dead bait. You can always reuse artificial lures. All you have to do is clean and dry them after use in readiness for your next angling excursion.

Globo Surf Overview

Catfish fishing is such a popular pastime because it is such a thrill. They are huge, fight hard, and are delicious. Catfish are simple creatures always on the lookout for a good meal. They will eat just about anything and there is no shortage of items fishermen can use to lure cats. Catching them is simply a matter of putting an appealing bait in the right place at the right time, using a simple rig to place and hold the bait where cats can find it.

The best catfish baits are their preferred prey in their body of water or commercial baits that duplicate their favorite meals and are enhanced with flavors and scents that appeal to their senses. While there are tried and proven baits for catfish that consistently catch them year after year and in all kinds of fishing places, the best baits to use will also depend on the species and where they live.

Get the right bait and presentation for your target type and fishing location and you will catch plenty of catfish. Different types and sizes of cats favor different kinds of meals and their preferences vary from day to day. This makes it necessary to use different baits for different conditions. Experimenting with different kinds of baits and lures is also part of the fun. Be sure to check the regulations in your state regarding the use of live baits for fishing and how to obtain them.

Once you have the right baits and lures, learn to locate and pattern cats by researching the location you plan to fish in and fishing during their prime feeding times and you will surely catch loads of catfish.

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Which of the best catfish baits we have recommended is your favorite? We would love to read your thoughts or experience with the catfish baits and lures we’ve covered here! Let us know in the comment box below!