The Catfish Tackle Bag

The Catfish Tackle Bag

Scratch the surface and you're likely to get fingernails full of dried river mud and cutbait ooze. Look inside the crusty canvas and you unveil preparation and organization, at least to some degree, reflecting some 30-odd years of catfishing know-how. For seasoned catman Doug Stange, his catfishing bag is his confidante — always ready and willing to travel with him to a riverbend at a moment's notice.

catfish tackle bag

That's important to In-Fisherman's Stange, because a busy Editor In Chief's schedule makes grab-and-go fishing a necessity. While we were tackling up for a trip, Crusty caught my eye and I rummaged through it. Everything for a day or two or three of catfishing is nestled inside, bookended between pockets with corroded, partially functioning zippers. Inside, lessons can be learned about being prepared with the right stuff to make catfishing even simpler and more enjoyable.

Hooks, hooks, and more hooks are organized in compartments of plastic tackle-storage boxes. He cuts out model numbers from hook packets and places the tags in each compartment for identification (as if he even needed a reference). Swivels and three-ways, #4, #6, and #8, are stored here, too.

Hooks run the range of styles from standard J-hooks — the Eagle Claw 84 and Mustad 92671 are among his all-purpose favorites — to octopus, Kahle, and circle styles by Eagle Claw and Gamakatsu. Looks like at least a couple dozen of each size and style, from 1/0 to 3/0 for channels and small blue catfish, to 5/0 to 10/0 for flatheads and larger blues. There are also #6 and #8 hooks for catching bait.

Underneath the hook boxes lie burlap shot bags full of various size sinkers. He carries a few dozen in 1 to 6 ounces (mostly ­bell'‘shaped) to cover a range of flow conditions. The larger sizes, up to 8 ounces, go in the bag when needed. Some flat, no-roll, and a few casting-type sinkers are included in the mix. A small box contains round shot of various sizes, but mostly 3/0 for fishing with lighter rigs and to anchor slipfloats.

A couple dozen dipworms are packed away in Ziploc bags, and Stange's experiment of replacing trebles with circle hooks on dipworms is evident. No dipbaits in the bag; I suspect these have their own impermeable storage facility. A few packs of bait chunks and containers of scents are tucked away in plastic. What else has he got in here?

One zippered pocket houses a variety of floats, starting with stemmed pear floats for presenting smaller livebaits and cutbait chunks. Cigar floats — mostly Thill Center Sliders and Big Fish Sliders — for larger baits. More large floats get packed, he tells me, when flatheads are being targeted with big livebaits. A small bag contains float stop-knots.

In the opposite pocket there's a bar of soap, a box of waterproof matches, glow sticks for seeing rod tips at night, several old bottles of 100 percent DEET repellent, a squeeze container of Coppertone sunscreen, and a few Band-Aids — all sealed in plastic.

At the bottom is a miscellany: a couple of stringers, rags, two sharpened but very worn Rapala fillet knives (nothing like a sharp knife for cutting bait on the spot); side cutters, scissors, one glove, and a spring-scale good to 50 pounds. A few other odds and ends, the most mysterious being what almost looks like — but doesn't smell anything close to — a liver'‘sausage-and-onion ­sandwich.

I figure Crusty tops out at around 30 pounds, and that's without a full stock of bell sinkers. The weight hanging from the shoulder strap doesn't bother Stange, though. I hear stories from those who've catfished with him. Word is, as he wades upstream he's often heard humming that old familiar Hollies tune, "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother." Time to rethink the contents of my own catbag, which shall remain nameless.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

Recommended for You


Using Crankbaits For Smallmouth Bass

Matt Straw - January 31, 2016

Crankin' is almost a necessity for finding bass on the Great Lakes from summer through fall.

Pike & Muskie

Best Drive-To Pike Waters

Gord Pyzer

Some of Canada's best pike waters are within driving distance.


Dock Shooting Crappies

Matt Straw - July 03, 2018

Catch those weary crappie with this technique!

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Simms' Solarflex Ultra Cool Armor Hoody

John Frazier of Simms Fishing Products helps OSG's Lynn Burkhead understand the new features of the new Simms' Solarflex Ultra Cool Armor sun protection hoody.

13 Fishing Omen Black Baitcasting Rod

Multiple time FLW Costa winner Jessi Mizell is no stranger to catching big Florida bass on a popping frog. As he tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead, with the new 13 Fishing Omen Black baitcasting rod, the job just got easier.

Sight Fishing Carp

The In-Fisherman staff slips into stealth mode sight tactics for barrel-shaped carp.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Other Fish

Must-Have Striped Bass Tackle

Rick Bach - May 04, 2017

It was an August evening and I was wading the flats in Brewster, MA with my cousin. Here you...


Understanding Spring Walleye Migrations

Gord Pyzer - June 02, 2018

'Walleyes spawn in spring and understanding spring walleye migrations, whether you live north...


Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart

Dr. Rob Neumann - January 22, 2017

Check out this Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart, a simple and accurate...

See More Stories

More Catfish


10 Places Worth Trying for Trophy Blue Cats

Brian Ruzzo - June 19, 2018

They thrive in lakes and rivers. They grow to triple digits. And they can be found coast to...


Early-Season Catfishing Tactics

Dan Anderson - April 23, 2018

In-Fisherman Editor In Chief Doug Stange wrote about early-season catfishing in a previous...


Sound Strategies for Catfish

Cory Schmidt - June 12, 2018

We've lately been considering various notions regarding the sensory superiority of catfish.

See More Catfish

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.