Catfish can smell and taste the difference between a creek chub and a baby carp at 50 paces. In rivers, current carries both attractive and displeasing scents and tastes to catfish. In still water, catfish tend to move more, sampling the water for potential food. They disregard most sensations, just as our ears, eyes, and noses tune out most incoming stimuli.
What grabs their interest are preferred prey or certain flavors that may hold innate attraction for certain catfish species. Channel catfish are omnivores, consuming nearly all forms of animal and vegetable matter of appropriate size. Yet all savvy catmen know that the right bait can mean the difference between a few fiddler cats and loading the boat.
When choosing the best catfish bait, one constant question is whether to use a whole live critter, cut sections, or some type of artificial. Many predators at times clearly prefer active livebait. Among catfish, flatheads, particularly big ones, often prefer livebaits that live for hours on the hook and struggle to escape. However, worms and cutbait catch catfish, too, as do home-brewed stinkbaits vile enough to turn a vulture’s stomach. Dips, doughs, chunks, and other prepared baits offer convenience, reduce waste, and increase your catches. We sifted through the options to bring you the following 14 picks for hooking whiskers.