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Best Catfish Rigs for Bank Fishing

man bank fishing

Catfishing is one of the most popular forms of fishing in the country, so its no surprise that there seem to be a million different ways to go about. Anglers of all experience levels will find that there is no end to the amount of learning needed to figure these fish out and catch them successfully. Most questions stem from one simple aspect of catfishing, which is the correct rig in order to catch them. Many catfish anglers will find themselves on a riverbank somewhere wondering this exact question. They want to know what catfish rigs are the best for bank fishing. And what techniques are needed to use them. 

With all of that in mind, we are here to help! Not only will we go over catfish rigs in general, but we will talk about which one you should be using when fishing from the bank. Let’s get started!

Other Aspects Matter More Than Rigs

Even though the rig that you are using is important, the type and quality of the other gear you are using and where you are fishing is even more important. Let’s face it, if you are fishing where there aren’t any catfish, it is going to be very difficult to ever catch one!

The same can be said for bait. Bait selection is just as important as finding a quality fishing spot. If you are not using the right bait in conjunction with a good fishing location, then nothing, not even the best fishing rig possible, will ever help you to catch a catfish. 

Best Bait for Catfishing

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First and foremost, make sure you have all the necessary steps done in order to be successful. Find a quality catfish location, and make sure you bring the appropriate bait for the species of catfish that you are wanting to catch!

Things to Consider with Catfish Rigs

When many anglers get frustrated trying to catch catfish, it is usually because they are overcomplicating things. The old saying of “recreating the wheel” holds true here, as the simplest of rigs will tend to work best for catfish. Try not to stress about very minor details, such as exact measurements and lengths, not having the exact right size of weight, etc. 

One thing you should pay close attention to, however, is the quality of your knots. You can have the best setup in the world, with the best possible bait, only to lose the fish of a lifetime because your knot was not properly tied. Make sure you know how to tie a few basic fishing knots and tie them well. A few basic knots such a Palomar and Trilene knot will be super helpful to know and set up many different types of fishing rigs. 
We are huge fans of John Sherry’s Fisherman’s Ultimate Knot Guide  Perfect addition for every tackle box. Completely waterproof and has a handy fold out ruler.

The Best Catfishing Rig

While there are many different catfish rigs and they are all extremely effective, there is one, in particular, that seems to do better when fishing from the shore when compared to the others. This rig is called the Santee Cooper Rig.

The Santee rig is basically a typical Carolina rig with a bobber to lift your bait off of the bottom. Not only is it very simple, but it consistently catches catfish and is one of the most trusted rigs by anglers across the country. This rig works so well because it puts your bait directly in front of a catfish’s face, where they can easily feed on it. So how do you set up this rig and use it?

Setting Up and Using a Santee Rig

Like we mentioned before, the Santee Cooper rig is basically a Carolina rig with one major change. To set it up this rig, you will only need a few simple items like:

Leader – many anglers will use a 40 lb monofilament or fluorocarbon leader that will help to absorb shock during a strike and resist abrasions

  • Hook – Any hook that is the right size for the size of catfish you are targeting will work just fine. Many catfish anglers prefer circle and octopus style hooks to better hook a hungry catfish. 
  • Swivel – A simple barrel swivel that can withstand a heavy catfish will work perfectly. The most popular sizes are size 1/0 and up. Again, match your gear to the size of catfish that you are targeting. 
  • Weight – Egg sinkers are popular among catfish anglers, and this one doesn’t matter what you use. You just need some weight to make your bait sink!

How to Assemble Your Catfish Rig

Once you have all the right gear, you can assemble your basic Carolina rig. Slide the line through the sinker, and attach it to the swivel. Place a leader on your hook, and then the other side to the other end of the swivel. Once you have it completed, the only change that you will now do to it is add in a floater. Preferably a peg or cigar float a few inches from the hook and bait. This will cause the bait to float up above the bottom, presenting it perfectly to any nearby fish. 

Once you are set, this rig is best used by casting into a likely spot where a catfish might be and simply waiting for a bite. A catfish will take the bait and run with it, not feeling any resistance because of the way the rig is set up. Once they do, you simply need to set the hook and reel them in! Because there are not a lot of different parts to this rig, it is also very strong and able to handle the large weights of catfish while they are fighting. 

Alternative Catfishing Rigs

Now, that we’ve covered the best catfish rig for fish banking, let’s take a look at some of the good catfish rigs out there. Of course, there are different catfish rigs, and they are all effective. However, the one you choose will solely depend on the situation at hand.

Slip Rigs

Slip Rigs – Some catfishing situations will require you to fish on the bottom with a live or dead bait. This is where slip rigs come in handy. Here, you keep the bait as close to the bottom as possible, allowing the cat to swim off with it with less trouble. One well-known bottom rig that comes to mind is the egg sinker slip rig.

Catfish Rigs - Slip Rigs

Drift Rigs

Drift Rigs – This works best in lakes that have deeper bottoms without too many boulders, rocks or any other obstruction. The reason is simple; drift rigs require sensitivity on the angler as well, in order to detect the slightest bites.  Drift rig is also good for shallow flats in ponds, lakes, or reservoir creek arms.

Slipfloat Rigs

Slipfloat Rigs – In this type of rig, the bait is kept moving at current speed at the bottom of the lake. There are the round bobbers and the cigar-shaped slipfloats. The latter is better, as it’s more sensitive. The basic slipfloat rig is made up of slip shot sinker, slip float, bead, live bait and slip tie.

Slipfloat Rigging

Paternoster Rigs

Paternoster Rigs – An effective rig for presenting livebaits to flatheads. For best results, suspend the struggling livebait above cover in order to attract the cat. This rig is more effective when used from an anchored pier or boat, or when there is little running tide.

Float-Paternoster Rig – An effective rig when set up in the corner of a big pond or on a shallow point in a reservoir. It’s also good for catfishing situations where you need to place a bait in the habitat of big fishes and wait them out.

Polly Ball Rigs

Polly Ball Rigs – You make use of polly ball rig when you want to anchor the bait at a position off the bottom. For best results, suspend dead baits above bottom debris and keep live baits up and swimming just above the bottom.

Three-way Rigs

Three-way Rigs – This is also known as Wolf River rig. It works best when you want to present static baits in the still waters of a pond or lake, or in the heavy current of a waterway. The basic three-way rig is made up of a 6 to 24 inches dropline and a bell sinker with enough weight to keep the bait close to the bottom.

Release Rigs

Release Rigs – These are not terminal rigs. It’s rather a method of deploying terminal rigs according to limliner’s approach. Here, the line is attached to the release clip, allowing the livebait to swim freely at some ft. below the water surface. You can present the bait with a three-way, slipfloat or a paternoster rig.

While all the above rigs work for several catfishing situations, when it comes to fishing from the shore, no other rig does it better than the Santee Cooper Rig.

Final Thoughts on the Best Catfish Rig for Bank Fishing

While many different catfish rigs will work great when fishing from a bank, the Santee rig seems to be the most popular catfish rig for bank fishing choice amongst anglers. It is simple, effective, and very easy to use. By keeping the bait a small distance above the bottom of the water, it is much more visible and presentable to a hungry catfish. If you have never tried it before, the Santee rig is the perfect recipe for catching more catfish at your local fishing hole!

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