Here are some tips on catching trophy sized catfish and the type of gear needed such as, rods, reels, line, tackle, etc.

Trophy sized cats will put any fishing gear to the test, they can break rods, snap line, even straighten your hooks. Big catfish have the ability to make a grown man cry unless you have the right fishing rod and reel for the job.

Big catfish are hard to find but if you can find a Channel Cat, Blue or Flathead, you can find a trophy cat up to 50 pounds. Now that’s a trophy catfish!
Big catfish are found almost everywhere but especially in large rivers and lakes, even in smaller ponds. If you match the proper freshwater fishing rod with a matching reel, you’ve won half the battle.

Link here for a nice Medium 8 foot catfishing spinning combo. Take the guessing out of picking a rod & reel for your catfishing needs.

WHERE TO FISH

As mentioned before you can pretty much catch catfish anywhere but big catfish will be found in the larger rivers and lakes. The best places to find them in a river are where there is a break in the current.

Big catfish will hold in a current break and wait for food to drift by in the current and grab it. This allows them to save energy by not having to fight the current thus needing to eat less.

Tossing your bait just above the current break or pooling waters, will entice a bite as it flows into the catfish’s holding area. This method is useful all year round, even in the spring spawning season as they move around a bit more but returning to the current breaks.


Big lakes can be a little tougher to find big catfish but they do move about much more so than in the rivers. They will hold along old creek and river beds in deep water in lakes. They will move to shallow water to feed, especially at night. Look for areas that have a gravely bottom or packed clay for feeding catfish.

WHEN TO FISH

Most catfish will feed at any time of day but the best times are early morning and late afternoon. Obviously seasons and temperature have an effect on feeding patterns and with that in mind remember colder water usually means deeper fish and slower feeding behavior. Warmer water means shallow feeding and more of it.

Big Flatheads become really lethargic in cold water, but they will manage to bite in the winter. The best times are in the early spring and late fall for cold water fishing because their either fattening up for winter or getting ready for spawning season. Presenting two great times of year to hook into a fat cat. Certainly they will take a bait all year long, even in the winter months, but spring and fall are great times for cat fishing.

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RODS

Your typical 61/2 or 7 foot medium action fishing rod is fine for small pond or small lake catfishing but, if you are after the big ones or are fishing a large river, you will want an adequate freshwater fishing rod and reel built for big catfish. At least a 7 foot medium-heavy action rod and a matching reel should be used for the larger catfish.

With the larger fishing rod you will have greater casting distance, quicker and better hook sets and the ability and strength to do battle with a big cat.
Recommended link for catfish rods

REELS

Bait casting reels are probably best for big catfishing because they are more compact and sturdy for fighting and reeling in a bigger fish. Many people prefer spinning reels for their ease of use but they tend to be more unstable than a bait caster when fighting and reeling in big catfish. But if that is your preference, they will work.
(recommendation for quality reels)
abu garcia revo baitcast

FISHING LINE

You are going to need a quality monofilament or braided fishing line and you will need to check it regularly, especially after a fight with a big catfish, for any nicks or wear. Monofilament line is probably best for lakes but a thin braided line is best for a river and it’s current.

You will need a good strength line for big cats, anywhere from 15lb test up to 80lb test, depending on the size fish you are after. You will need to check your line regularly, especially after a fight with a big catfish, for any nicks or wear and repair or replace as needed.

A quality circle type hook with good strength is highly recommended. A big cat will straighten a regular style hook and be waiving bye, bye, as she slips away back to the deep waters. There are many to choose from but we recommend Tru Turn or Gamakatsu catfish hooks, they do ok.
Hooks should be sharpened, even when brand new out of the package, to ensure that a big fish won’t be missed due to a dull hook.
Recommended link for catfish hooks

BAITS

For some helpful info on baits – Click Here!

Big catfish, like Blues, Flatheads, Channel, etc., like live bait, hands down. Other types of bait will work for them but live bait is best for the big ones. If Herring or Shad are the natural baitfish then you should use that bait. Bluegills and Perch are good baits too if they are natural to the body of water that you are fishing.

You can also use cut up fish if you choose by simply cutting a small fish into pieces that you can then put on the hook for bait.
Chicken gizzards and stink baits are also good baits if live bait isn’t available or if you are fishing for smaller catfish.