Drifting Up Channel Catfish

Drifting Up Channel Catfish

Most catmen are obsessed with heavy sinkers and heavier anchors, but a small cadre of reservoir catmen insist that drifting is the most efficient way to catch a boatload of channel cats during summer.

Steve Hoffman: For Tom Lawrence and thousands of other reservoir catmen, catching cats from a moving boat is every bit as natural as fishing from anchor. And for the upper echelon of their ranks, drifting is much more productive than stillfishing.


I know from experience, though, that the anchor habit is tough to break. Most catfish anglers learn early-on that location is critical to catching fish. Switching baits or rigs might mean another fish or two on some days, but presentation never makes up for fishing the wrong spot. Choose your anchor position with care, and you'll catch fish.



Drifters take a different tact. They know that cats often spread out over large flats or along channel ledges, where anchoring is inefficient. They know, too, that they can cover more water by drifting, putting their bait in front of many more fish during the course of a day.

Learning the basics is easy. Most anglers will learn enough in a day or two afloat to start catching cats. But like any other endeavor, the more you do it the easier it becomes. I'll wager that if you follow Lawrence's 6-step process this season, you'll catch more and bigger channel cats than ever before.


STEP 1: PICK THE RIGHT LAKE.


The mechanics of drifting are fairly simple, but it takes time and planning to put together a winning program. Your first decision is where to fish, which isn't as simple as it sounds. Maybe there's a lake close to home filled with 2-pound channel cats, but you're more interested in catching trophy cats. Before you pick a place to fish, decide what size fish you want to catch and how far you're willing to travel.

Perhaps the best way to find the most productive lakes in your area is to call your local fishery department. Most states administer a trophy fish award program that recognizes anglers who catch fish over a certain benchmark. Ask the program administrator to name the top two reservoirs in your region, or in the whole state if you're willing to drive a bit further. Most administrators are happy to share the information, and you'll be better prepared to catch the size fish you're after.

Another source of trophy catfish information is In-Fisherman's Master Angler program. To qualify, Midwest anglers must catch a channel catfish heavier than 18 pounds or at least 30 inches long. Anglers fishing in the southeast and on Canada's Red River of the North must exceed even larger minimum sizes. The largest fish entered during the previous year are published in the April-May In-Fisherman, and the entire list is available on the Web site, www.in-fisherman.com.

If you still can't identify a lake or two in your area with trophy catfish potential, it's time to widen your scope. Talk to the guy behind the counter at the bait shop. Talk to the guys unloading their boat at the ramp, especially if their boat contains catfish gear. Log onto an Internet fishing site and ask for recommendations. Keep in mind, though, that none of the information you receive should be considered 100 percent accurate. Bait shop owners, catfishermen, and Internet junkies all have been known to stretch the truth.

STEP 2: GET THE RIGHT GEAR.

If you're after big channel cats, make sure you have the equipment to handle a fish that size. I'm not suggesting that you rush out and buy a heavy-duty saltwater combo, but your favorite walleye rod probably won't work, either. Choose something that's comfortable to use, but don't use gear so light that the fish are completely exhausted by the time you get them to the boat. The more time it takes to land a fish, the fewer fish you'll likely catch. Plus, fish that are landed quickly usually are in better condition when they're released.

When I'm fishing for channel cats over about 10 pounds, I use medium-heavy power casting rods matched with Quantum IR420CX reels. A durable E-glass rod is a better choice for drifting--and most other catfishing applications--than a stiff, sensitive graphite rod. Consider rod actions carefully; you need a rod with a fairly light tip section so cat's don't feel too much pressure when they engulf the bait, and a powerful butt section to pull big fish off the bottom and away from cover.

All of my reels are spooled with 20-pound-test Trilene Big Game Solar line, which is easy to see in any light condition. The line also is incredibly abrasion resistant, so it holds up well in wood, rock, and other cover. Some anglers worry about fish seeing high-visibility line, but I've never seen evidence that it makes any difference. If it bothers you, though, use a clear leader. I prefer an 80-pound Dacron leader, which is more visible than monofilament, but because it's softer, it probably feels more natural to cats.

I tie a large snap swivel to the end of my main line, tie a barrel swivel to the end of the leader, then attach the barrel swivel to the snap swivel. This might seem like a cumbersome connection, but it virtually eliminates line twist and provides enough weight for drifting moderately deep water in calm conditions. For hooks, I favor #2 Eagle Claw trebles that are 4X strong. These hooks are small enough to catch smaller cats, but strong enough to land big ones, too.

STEP 3: PICK THE RIGHT AREA.

Your next step is to obtain a hydrographic map of the lake. Good maps usually are available from local bait shops, and sometimes can be downloaded free of charge from the state fishery department's Web site. Commercial maps sometimes include notes and tips from local guides and fishing experts. These notes can be helpful, so long as you don't put too much stock in the advice. Remember that few guides give away their best spots, and some anglers are experts in title only.

Once you've obtained your map, study it carefully. Use a highlighter to mark all the 15- to 25-foot flats that are close to the deepest portion of the lake basin. Mark the main river channel, too, along with long sloping points that jut into deep water. These are the areas that usually attract the most and biggest channel cats from early summer through early fall. Some adjustments might be necessary for extremely deep or shallow lakes, but this depth range has proven successful for me at reservoirs across the Midwest and Midsouth.

Continued - click on page link below.

Drop Shot Rig

Dropper Rigs

These rigs can perform well for panfish, like crappies and perch, that are feeding near bottom. One rig is called the dropper-loop rig for the looped snells holding the hooks off the 6- to 12-pound-test monofilament mainline. Sinker size ranges from 1/2 to 2 ounces depending on conditions. Typically, one to three pre-tied snells are secured 12 to 18 inches above the sinker for presenting multiple baits simultaneously, state laws allowing.Drop-shot rig — The drop-shot rig is a type of dropper rig, often used in bass fishing. On a drop-shot-rig, the hook is attached directly to the mainline rather than on a loop or leader shooting off the mainline. Below the hook is a sinker fixed to the end of the mainline. The rig allows baits to be presented off bottom a set distance, and is effective with livebaits, as well as with artificial softbaits such as worm, grub, and minnow imitations. On a drop-shot rig, baits can be worked very still, or jiggled and twitched, to attract fish and trigger strikes.

Generic Egg Sinker Rig

Livebait rigging is used to drift or troll livebait on or near the bottom, with frequent pauses to give fish a good look at the bait. If a fish strikes, drop the rod tip toward the fish and feed a little line as it swims off. A sliding sinker reduces weight resistance. Heavier fixed sinkers risk spooking fish that strike the bait and feel unnatural pressure.

Generic Slip Rig

Livebait rigging is used to drift or troll livebait on or near the bottom, with frequent pauses to give fish a good look at the bait. If a fish strikes, drop the rod tip toward the fish and feed a little line as it swims off. A sliding sinker reduces weight resistance. Heavier fixed sinkers risk spooking fish that strike the bait and feel unnatural pressure.

Lindy Rig

Livebait rigging is used to drift or troll livebait on or near the bottom, with frequent pauses to give fish a good look at the bait. If a fish strikes, drop the rod tip toward the fish and feed a little line as it swims off. A sliding sinker reduces weight resistance. Heavier fixed sinkers risk spooking fish that strike the bait and feel unnatural pressure.

Northland Roach Rig

Livebait rigging is used to drift or troll livebait on or near the bottom, with frequent pauses to give fish a good look at the bait. If a fish strikes, drop the rod tip toward the fish and feed a little line as it swims off. A sliding sinker reduces weight resistance. Heavier fixed sinkers risk spooking fish that strike the bait and feel unnatural pressure.

Rubbercor Rig

Livebait rigging is used to drift or troll livebait on or near the bottom, with frequent pauses to give fish a good look at the bait. If a fish strikes, drop the rod tip toward the fish and feed a little line as it swims off. A sliding sinker reduces weight resistance. Heavier fixed sinkers risk spooking fish that strike the bait and feel unnatural pressure.

Sinker Placement

Slipsinker Rig

Teamed with livebait, the slipsinker rig has accounted for more walleyes than any other presentation, but this versatile rig also is a favorite of catfish anglers and has taken many bass, pike, sturgeon, and panfish. The heart of this rig is a sinker that slides on the monofilament or braid mainline above a barrel swivel. For walleyes, for example, you might use a 1/4-ounce walking sinker, 6- to 10-pound monofilament mainline, and a leader of 4- to 10-pound monofilament or fluorocarbon, with an octopus style hook of a size appropriate for the bait. For larger fish, like big catfish, upgrade to line tests of 20 to 30 pounds or more. As with the split-shot rig, the length of the leader determines bait action and control. Use sinker weights appropriate for current and depth. Slipsinker rigs used in strong current might require sinkers up to 8 ounces or more.
The slipsinker rig can be cast and slowly retrieved, slowly trolled, or used as a stationary presentation, so the depth of the water, bottom terrain, and how fast the bait is being moved by the boat, current, or during retrieval, all play a part in determining the weight of the sinker. The sinker usually is a boot-shaped walking sinker or egg- or bell-shaped sinker for gravel and sandy bottoms, or a bullet sinker in weeds and wood. Beads or blades are sometimes added to the leader in front of the hook as an attractant.
Because the mainline slips through the sinker, anglers often find it to their advantage to let a fish 'œrun' with the bait, fishing the presentation with an open spool and letting the fish pull line off the spool with the least resistance possible. This gives the fish more time to get the bait further in its mouth or throat, which can cause more — often lethal — injury to fish. If you can set the hook quickly, or fish on a tight line, it'™s often better to do so, especially if you intend to release your catch.

Slip Float Rigs

This is the rig that just about every angler fishing today started out with that first time they went fishing, although most were probably too young to remember. Nothing too fancy, just a float or 'œbobber' a couple of feet up the line from some split shot, and a hook baited with a worm below that. Works like magic on panfish.
There are two primary types of float rigs — fixed-float and slipfloat. The fixed float is just that, when the float is fixed to a certain point on the line, and is best fished in situations where the fish are feeding shallow, say four feet or less. The slipfloat rig allows the float to slide up and down the line so you can fish in deeper water. A small bobber stop is fastened on the line somewhere above the bobber to limit how far up the line the bobber can slide, determining how deep the bait is fished. When the rig is reeled in, the stop goes through the rod guides and onto the spool of the reel to allow for casting and retrieving.
While the fixed-float rig is a good way to target shallow fish like crappies, bass, sunfish, catfish, and trout, the slipfloat rig'™s ability to go deep broadens the potential species list to include pike, walleye, muskie, striper, and more. A longer light-to-medium action spinning rod, about 7 feet long, with a slow to moderate action, spooled with 4- to 8-pound monofilament, is a good choice for a float rig. Hooks should be matched to the bait, such as a #4 to #8 baitholder hook for angleworms and nightcrawlers, for example, although a jig also can be used.
Fishing a float rig often is a case of not doing anything at all, letting the bait do the fish-attracting work, as the float is slowly moved by wave action on the surface. Both rigs should be cast by gently swinging the rig sideways and behind you, then thrusting the rod toward the target with a slight upward motion as you release the line. You want to lob the rig to a specific spot as gently as possible. If the wind is blowing, or you'™re fishing in current, target your cast so that the wind or current moves the rig into your target zone. In other instances, a little bit of action added by quick twitches of the rod tip or even substantial pulls that move the bait up in the water column and then let it settle, induces strikes. The float signals when a fish is on the line, a visual experience that remains exciting to anglers no matter their age or fishing experience.

Standard Three-Way Rig

An alternative to the set rig is sometimes called the bottom rig or three-way rig. While this rig can be used from the boat, slowly trolled, it also works well as a stationary presentation. Instead of attaching the mainline to the sinker, the mainline is attached to a three-way swivel, with a dropper line to the sinker, and a leader and hook. This adaptation allows the bait to move a little higher off the bottom.

Weedless Bullet Sinker Rig

Livebait rigging is used to drift or troll livebait on or near the bottom, with frequent pauses to give fish a good look at the bait. If a fish strikes, drop the rod tip toward the fish and feed a little line as it swims off. A sliding sinker reduces weight resistance. Heavier fixed sinkers risk spooking fish that strike the bait and feel unnatural pressure.

Split Shot Rig

A hook tied on the end of the line with a sinker pinched on the line above the hook might be one of the best-producing panfish presentations of all time, but it works for bigger fish, too. Most often fished with live­bait like nightcrawlers, angle­worms, minnows, or maggots, this rig can work with some softbaits, like smaller worms and curlytail grubs. The beauty of this rig is that it lets the bait swim free to attract fish with its natural movement. The closer to the hook the sinker is placed the less movement allowed; the farther away the hook and sinker are separated the less control you have and bites can be missed. The number and weight of the sinkers is determined by depth, current, and size of the bait. You want just enough weight to keep the bait freely moving and in the strike zone.
Due to the light weight of this rig, it'™s usually fished in water shallower than about 20 feet, and most often shallower than 8 feet, with a 6- to 7- foot slow to medium action, medium-light power spinning rod with 4- to 8-pound-test monofilament line. The split-shot rig can be gently cast and slowly retrieved, fished stationary, or allowed to drift. Follow the drift with your rod tip to be sure it drifts naturally and doesn'™t snag.

Now get out on the water and run over these areas in the boat. Watch the bottom carefully on your sonar unit, and use a GPS unit to mark distinct holes, channel edges, or any other structural element that might hold fish. Rate these spots on your map, from those with the most potential (1), those with moderate potential (2), to backup spots to try when everything else fails (3). This systematic approach eliminates much of the guesswork when you're fishing. Spend more time scouting and evaluating than fishing during the first trip to unfamiliar water.

During summer, channel cats usually hold in deeper water during the day, then move onto shallower flats at night to feed. You might be able to catch fish during the day by slowly drifting baits through deep-water holding areas, but your odds of getting bit substantially increase after dark when the fish are more interested in feeding. The best feeding flats usually are close to the best daytime holding areas.

STEP 4: PLAN YOUR DRIFT.

The key point to remember is that the speed and direction your boat will drift is determined by the speed and direction of the wind. A good drifter never fights the wind, but usually works hard to make it work in his favor. If the wind is blowing harder than about 3 mph, for example, you'll probably need to deploy a drift sock or sea anchor to slow the speed of your drift. If there's no wind at all, you'll probably need to use an electric trolling motor to keep your boat moving.

The correct speed depends largely on the activity level of the fish. If you're night fishing a lake with a large channel cat population during midsummer, when the weather is stable and the fish are actively feeding, you can and should move much faster than you would earlier or later in the season. With experience, you'll learn to gauge the correct speed as soon as you hit the water. Until then, though, experiment. Err on the slow side until you gain confidence in drifting.

The direction of the drift is equally important. Look over your map before you launch your boat to determine which areas will provide the longest drift based on the prevailing wind direction. A few days of steady wind blowing into one section of the lake might concentrate fish in a small area, but this does little good if you can make only a short drift before running into shore. Especially during your first few trips, plan the longest possible drifts. This will allow you to learn drifting mechanics as you learn the lake.

One last point on this subject: leave your anchor at home. I've talked to many anglers who tried drifting for a few hours, didn't catch a fish, and went right back to fishing the way they always had. If you want to learn this method--and if you fish reservoirs, you should learn it--stick with it long enough to learn to do it correctly. Once you start catching fish, your confidence will dramatically increase.

STEP 5: MAKE THE DRIFT.

The biggest mistake novice drifters make is trying to fish directly beneath the boat. The depth of the bottom often varies, even on a fairly uniform flat. If you drop your bait to the bottom on a vertical line, the bait loses contact with the bottom as you drift across the flat. Since channel cats hold on or near the bottom most of the time, a bait riding above the bottom spends a good portion of the drift out of the fish zone.

At the beginning of a drift, let out enough line to maintain a 45-degree angle from the rod tip to the point where the line enters the water. The precise length of line varies according to the depth you're fishing and the speed you're moving, but 100 feet or so is about right for most conditions. A slightly shorter line is better for shallower water and calm winds, while a longer line is needed for deeper water and a faster drift speed.

Your goal is to tick the bait along the bottom with as little added weight on the line as possible. In most situations, I don't use a sinker. The weight of the bait--for me that usually means a big chunk of congealed beef blood--and perhaps the weight of the snap swivel connecting my main line and leader, is enough to achieve the proper depth. But for deep water and strong wind, a bit of lead sometimes is necessary.

Last year while fishing Merritt Reservoir in Nebraska, a friend and I found channel cats in 50 to 65 feet of water in the main river channel. Thankfully there was almost no wind so we used the trolling motor and the sonar unit to stay on top of the fish. We also added a 1/2-ounce sinker to our standard drift rigging to maintain bottom contact. With this combination, we caught and released 12- to 18-pound channel cats all night at a depth that most drifters would think beyond their reach.

STEP 6: EVALUATE THE DRIFT.

The final and perhaps most important part of the process, and a step overlooked by most anglers. After you make the first drift through an area, answer the following questions: Did you catch fish? If not, it might be time to head to your next spot or try another drift across a different portion of the flat. If you did catch fish, try to determine where they were holding. How deep was the water? How big were the fish?

I hope you saved a waypoint on your GPS each time you hooked a fish, allowing you to work back through the same spot again. When you first begin fishing a new lake, fish as many spots as possible during your first few trips. Record a waypoint each time you catch a fish, and in a short time, you'll accumulate a milk run of productive spots that should continue to produce fish all season.

Once you gain experience--on the lake and with the technique--it's often better to hone in on small areas that hold good numbers of the size fish you're after. Sometimes I'll zero-in on a section of a flat that's only 100 yards long, drifting this short run again and again and ignoring the rest of the flat. Sometimes I might even drop the anchor and fish static baits on the bottom, but not as often as you might think. Even when fish are fairly concentrated, drifting usually is more productive than stillfishing.

Evaluation really is a never-ending process in itself. Successful drifters constantly monitor their sonar units, checking the depth and looking for catfish or baitfish. They consider, too, how the spot they're fishing differs from the surrounding area; where the cats should be and what they should be doing based on weather conditions and time of day; and how the wind speed and direction is affecting their drift. It's a lot to think about, I'll grant you, but when you're catching fish it all seems worthwhile.

Drop Shot Rig

Dropper Rigs

These rigs can perform well for panfish, like crappies and perch, that are feeding near bottom. One rig is called the dropper-loop rig for the looped snells holding the hooks off the 6- to 12-pound-test monofilament mainline. Sinker size ranges from 1/2 to 2 ounces depending on conditions. Typically, one to three pre-tied snells are secured 12 to 18 inches above the sinker for presenting multiple baits simultaneously, state laws allowing.Drop-shot rig — The drop-shot rig is a type of dropper rig, often used in bass fishing. On a drop-shot-rig, the hook is attached directly to the mainline rather than on a loop or leader shooting off the mainline. Below the hook is a sinker fixed to the end of the mainline. The rig allows baits to be presented off bottom a set distance, and is effective with livebaits, as well as with artificial softbaits such as worm, grub, and minnow imitations. On a drop-shot rig, baits can be worked very still, or jiggled and twitched, to attract fish and trigger strikes.

Generic Egg Sinker Rig

Livebait rigging is used to drift or troll livebait on or near the bottom, with frequent pauses to give fish a good look at the bait. If a fish strikes, drop the rod tip toward the fish and feed a little line as it swims off. A sliding sinker reduces weight resistance. Heavier fixed sinkers risk spooking fish that strike the bait and feel unnatural pressure.

Generic Slip Rig

Livebait rigging is used to drift or troll livebait on or near the bottom, with frequent pauses to give fish a good look at the bait. If a fish strikes, drop the rod tip toward the fish and feed a little line as it swims off. A sliding sinker reduces weight resistance. Heavier fixed sinkers risk spooking fish that strike the bait and feel unnatural pressure.

Lindy Rig

Livebait rigging is used to drift or troll livebait on or near the bottom, with frequent pauses to give fish a good look at the bait. If a fish strikes, drop the rod tip toward the fish and feed a little line as it swims off. A sliding sinker reduces weight resistance. Heavier fixed sinkers risk spooking fish that strike the bait and feel unnatural pressure.

Northland Roach Rig

Livebait rigging is used to drift or troll livebait on or near the bottom, with frequent pauses to give fish a good look at the bait. If a fish strikes, drop the rod tip toward the fish and feed a little line as it swims off. A sliding sinker reduces weight resistance. Heavier fixed sinkers risk spooking fish that strike the bait and feel unnatural pressure.

Rubbercor Rig

Livebait rigging is used to drift or troll livebait on or near the bottom, with frequent pauses to give fish a good look at the bait. If a fish strikes, drop the rod tip toward the fish and feed a little line as it swims off. A sliding sinker reduces weight resistance. Heavier fixed sinkers risk spooking fish that strike the bait and feel unnatural pressure.

Sinker Placement

Slipsinker Rig

Teamed with livebait, the slipsinker rig has accounted for more walleyes than any other presentation, but this versatile rig also is a favorite of catfish anglers and has taken many bass, pike, sturgeon, and panfish. The heart of this rig is a sinker that slides on the monofilament or braid mainline above a barrel swivel. For walleyes, for example, you might use a 1/4-ounce walking sinker, 6- to 10-pound monofilament mainline, and a leader of 4- to 10-pound monofilament or fluorocarbon, with an octopus style hook of a size appropriate for the bait. For larger fish, like big catfish, upgrade to line tests of 20 to 30 pounds or more. As with the split-shot rig, the length of the leader determines bait action and control. Use sinker weights appropriate for current and depth. Slipsinker rigs used in strong current might require sinkers up to 8 ounces or more.
The slipsinker rig can be cast and slowly retrieved, slowly trolled, or used as a stationary presentation, so the depth of the water, bottom terrain, and how fast the bait is being moved by the boat, current, or during retrieval, all play a part in determining the weight of the sinker. The sinker usually is a boot-shaped walking sinker or egg- or bell-shaped sinker for gravel and sandy bottoms, or a bullet sinker in weeds and wood. Beads or blades are sometimes added to the leader in front of the hook as an attractant.
Because the mainline slips through the sinker, anglers often find it to their advantage to let a fish 'œrun' with the bait, fishing the presentation with an open spool and letting the fish pull line off the spool with the least resistance possible. This gives the fish more time to get the bait further in its mouth or throat, which can cause more — often lethal — injury to fish. If you can set the hook quickly, or fish on a tight line, it'™s often better to do so, especially if you intend to release your catch.

Slip Float Rigs

This is the rig that just about every angler fishing today started out with that first time they went fishing, although most were probably too young to remember. Nothing too fancy, just a float or 'œbobber' a couple of feet up the line from some split shot, and a hook baited with a worm below that. Works like magic on panfish.
There are two primary types of float rigs — fixed-float and slipfloat. The fixed float is just that, when the float is fixed to a certain point on the line, and is best fished in situations where the fish are feeding shallow, say four feet or less. The slipfloat rig allows the float to slide up and down the line so you can fish in deeper water. A small bobber stop is fastened on the line somewhere above the bobber to limit how far up the line the bobber can slide, determining how deep the bait is fished. When the rig is reeled in, the stop goes through the rod guides and onto the spool of the reel to allow for casting and retrieving.
While the fixed-float rig is a good way to target shallow fish like crappies, bass, sunfish, catfish, and trout, the slipfloat rig'™s ability to go deep broadens the potential species list to include pike, walleye, muskie, striper, and more. A longer light-to-medium action spinning rod, about 7 feet long, with a slow to moderate action, spooled with 4- to 8-pound monofilament, is a good choice for a float rig. Hooks should be matched to the bait, such as a #4 to #8 baitholder hook for angleworms and nightcrawlers, for example, although a jig also can be used.
Fishing a float rig often is a case of not doing anything at all, letting the bait do the fish-attracting work, as the float is slowly moved by wave action on the surface. Both rigs should be cast by gently swinging the rig sideways and behind you, then thrusting the rod toward the target with a slight upward motion as you release the line. You want to lob the rig to a specific spot as gently as possible. If the wind is blowing, or you'™re fishing in current, target your cast so that the wind or current moves the rig into your target zone. In other instances, a little bit of action added by quick twitches of the rod tip or even substantial pulls that move the bait up in the water column and then let it settle, induces strikes. The float signals when a fish is on the line, a visual experience that remains exciting to anglers no matter their age or fishing experience.

Standard Three-Way Rig

An alternative to the set rig is sometimes called the bottom rig or three-way rig. While this rig can be used from the boat, slowly trolled, it also works well as a stationary presentation. Instead of attaching the mainline to the sinker, the mainline is attached to a three-way swivel, with a dropper line to the sinker, and a leader and hook. This adaptation allows the bait to move a little higher off the bottom.

Weedless Bullet Sinker Rig

Livebait rigging is used to drift or troll livebait on or near the bottom, with frequent pauses to give fish a good look at the bait. If a fish strikes, drop the rod tip toward the fish and feed a little line as it swims off. A sliding sinker reduces weight resistance. Heavier fixed sinkers risk spooking fish that strike the bait and feel unnatural pressure.

Split Shot Rig

A hook tied on the end of the line with a sinker pinched on the line above the hook might be one of the best-producing panfish presentations of all time, but it works for bigger fish, too. Most often fished with live­bait like nightcrawlers, angle­worms, minnows, or maggots, this rig can work with some softbaits, like smaller worms and curlytail grubs. The beauty of this rig is that it lets the bait swim free to attract fish with its natural movement. The closer to the hook the sinker is placed the less movement allowed; the farther away the hook and sinker are separated the less control you have and bites can be missed. The number and weight of the sinkers is determined by depth, current, and size of the bait. You want just enough weight to keep the bait freely moving and in the strike zone.
Due to the light weight of this rig, it'™s usually fished in water shallower than about 20 feet, and most often shallower than 8 feet, with a 6- to 7- foot slow to medium action, medium-light power spinning rod with 4- to 8-pound-test monofilament line. The split-shot rig can be gently cast and slowly retrieved, fished stationary, or allowed to drift. Follow the drift with your rod tip to be sure it drifts naturally and doesn'™t snag.

Get Your Fish On.

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Catfish are the subject of a lot of lore. Maybe it's because they're big or because they're

For countless catfish anglers across the continent, cast nets are critical in the quest to gather Catfish

Cast Net Success

Dan Johnson - January 24, 2018

For countless catfish anglers across the continent, cast nets are critical in the quest to...

One of the earliest articles in In-Fisherman focusing on floats for catfish appeared almost 30 Catfish

Advantages of Large Floats for Catfish

Dan Anderson - February 20, 2018

One of the earliest articles in In-Fisherman focusing on floats for catfish appeared almost 30

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