Best Bait for Flathead Catfish 2024/2024 – Buyer’s Guide  

Best Bait for Flathead Catfish

Anglers have a lot of disagreements on what is the greatest flathead catfish bait. That’s because this species is famed for its one-of-a-kind behavior. These fish have a reputation for being quite picky about what they eat. The habits and dispositions of the flathead differ based on where they live. 

The finest flathead baits must always be alive. These fish prefer the moments when they can catch anything from extremely small fish to huge crayfish that appear like little lobsters.

1. Our Top Pick: Punch Baits  
2. Best OverallShad Bait
3. Best Value: Bluegill Bait 

If you’re a weekend fisherman, baits like crayfish and minnows are acceptable, but they’re neither the most successful nor the most consistent. As a result, we’ll try to discuss the best baits for this sort of catfish on a broad scale. 

As we have said recently, there is no doubt that live bait is the best food for flathead catfish. It is the primary food that they are already eating. It should be noted that this is true for any species of fish and not just the flathead. Live bait can capture almost any fish you could possibly want to hook onto. 

Table of Contents

Best Bait for Flathead Catfish

Shad Bait

One of the greatest foods for flathead catfish is shad. Shad are typically included in the diet of adult flathead catfish because they are found along river channels, where these varieties of catfish spend significant amounts of time.

Even channel catfish, which consume a modest quantity of almost everything alive or dead, transition to a fish diet once they reach around 10 lb. 

Shad make good bait in most rivers and lakes since they are a prevalent natural feed and are usually readily available to anglers. The same guidelines apply to a variety of minnows and other baitfish kinds in streams where shad aren’t the main attraction. 

For catfish, especially flatheads, shad should be alive and palm-sized. Baits must be put on or near the bottom, close to dense cover. Flatheads can be found near river banks or channel confluences. Some of these fish, as well as other catfish species, could be found in lakes where this bait is also effective. 

This product comes with a packet of six of these fish, which can be used as tasty catfish bait. It should be mentioned that this product is suitable for a variety of fish, including catfish, panfish, trout, and striped bass. 

In general, shad should be cut into strips or chunks, with the size and type of slices defined by the general size of the catfish being sought, as well as the size of the food, in this case, the shad.

Possibly the most effective way to cut a shad is to slice off the tail and head and cut sections throughout the body. Cut the pieces in half if they look to be excessively long. Some anglers propose filleting large shad and dividing the fillets or using little shad, whole or sliced in half. 

Shad might not even appear tasty or filling to humans, but fishing with them whole and alive will most certainly capture you more flathead catfish than any other bait. 


  • There are various baits in the pack, so you can use them multiple times. 
  • Shad could be used as bait for catfish as well as other species of fish. 
  • It’s a portion of a wonderful flathead catfish meal. 


  • The shad is a bait that needs to be chopped in specific ways for different varieties of catfish because they aren’t all the same size. 

Nightcrawlers Bait

The most basic type of fishing is putting a worm on a hook. Nightcrawlers remain one of the most effective baits for attracting flathead catfish to bite. Catfish seem to appreciate them since they have a natural scent. 

This product came in a bag of 13 units, each measuring 6 inches. These nightcrawlers have the same appearance, feel, and odor as live nightcrawlers. 

When it comes to nightcrawlers and catfish, the bigger they are, the better. Big, juicy worms are enjoyed by even the tiniest catfish. If you can only find small and medium worms, it’s usually best to put two or three on a hook.

Unlike other fish, flathead catfish are largely indifferent about how nightcrawlers are hooked. Because they consume mostly by taste and aroma rather than vision, the more nightcrawlers you put on the hook, the more likely you are to catch a flathead catfish that strikes. 

Because they don’t have to be chopped up and aren’t as filthy as livers or punch bait, nightcrawlers are good flathead catfish bait for family vacations. Children quickly learn how to bind this bait to hooks and keep the worms from falling off. 


  • They’re fantastic for fishing with spinner setups. 
  • Because it is easier to use, this sort of bait is ideal for children. 
  • It has a unique aroma and flavor composition. 
  • They come as a 13-piece set. 
  • These nightcrawlers have a lively odor and appearance. 


  • Catfish prefer to eat live nightcrawlers; therefore, their appearance might not be the most appetizing. 
  • If left in the daylight, these nightcrawlers might become tough. 

Bluegill Bait 

Flathead Catfish, Channel Catfish, and Blue Catfish all eat bluegills since they are an excellent food source. Catfish have a strong attraction to bluegill, and they have a hunting instinct towards them. 

Flatheads love bluegills, particularly when they reach bigger sizes. You can be successful with this product if you use it to catch even 10-15 lb. catfish. While flathead catfish prefer live bluegills, this product has everything you need to meet their needs and make them fall into the trap. 

While live bluegills may attract a flathead catfish more quickly, this product was made from small pieces of bluegill as this will release more scent and oils so the flathead can smell them quickly. 


  • They come in a re-closeable bag. 
  • They have a mild scent that will attract flathead catfish. 
  • They can not only be used to fish any type of catfish but also other fish. 
  • They are durable. 


  • This bait can easily disintegrate in freshwater. 
  • They are not as effective as live bluegills. 

Shrimp Bait 

Bullhead, channel, and flathead catfish can be caught with both live freshwater shrimp and raw dead saltwater shrimp. Shrimp are also effective for catching small blue catfish. 

This product is high in nutrients, fatty amino acids, natural oils, and real shrimp, providing it with an irresistible scent to catfish. They come in a 10 oz. resealable bag with 80 pieces. A treble or sponge hook is not required for this bait. No matter the place you’re angling or what hook you’re employing, including a J hook, this bait will stay firm. 

This cubed bait is designed in such a way that as soon as it touches the water, it starts to release a massive scent trail. Flathead catfish, channel catfish, blue catfish, and bullhead catfish are among the target catfish. 

Because this bait is water-activated, there are no filthy or smelly hands. As an added benefit, garlic salt could be sprinkled on dead shrimp to increase effectiveness. 


  • It comes in a 10 oz. resealable package with 80 pieces. 
  • Neither sponge hooks nor treble hooks are required. 
  • Because this product activates when it comes into touch with water, you won’t have to worry about getting your hands filthy. 


  • Obviously, a shrimp will not be as good as a live fish for bait, but it will still be effective, especially for flathead catfish. 

Skipjacks Bait 

Skipjacks have evolved into one of the most effective catfish baits. Luckily, catching a big number of skipjacks is fairly simple. Fishermen use casting nets to collect skipjacks, which can then be used as bait for catfish. 

It’s not difficult to prepare skipjacks as catfish bait. Skipjacks are kept alive and prepared for use as bait in boats by some fishers. That is accomplished by cutting the skipjacks and threading a hook through the small fish. The incisions are done to increase the amount of fragrance in the water, attracting catfish to the bait. 

However, there are also ways to make skipjack bait so that fishermen can buy it and take advantage of its benefits. In this case, this product is produced with high levels of fatty amino acids, 100% natural oils, and proteins, as well as skipjack and real blood, giving it a fragrance that catfish can’t resist. 

It does not matter what type of hook you use, as this bait is made precisely to be hooked and stay on any of them. This is because it was made in the shape of cubes and with a not-so-soft texture allowing it not to fall.

In addition, this cube design allows the massive release of a peculiar smell that will be activated as soon as it touches the water. Not only will flatheads be attracted quickly but also other types of catfish. They come in a 10 oz. resealable bag with 80 pieces. 


  • This product can be used with any type of hook. 
  • They come in a 10-ounce bag with approximately 80 pieces of this bait. 
  • You will not have the problem of odorous hands since the aroma of this bait is only released when it comes into contact with water. 
  • They have a strong enough scent to attract different types of catfish. 


  • It is more effective to use a live skipjack, but this bait will get the job done in a good way. 

Chicken Livers Bait 

All catfish are attracted to chicken livers. The spicy, meaty stench of chicken livers attracts catfish from all over. When these fish find the bait, they have a difficult time trying to resist it. 

Big catfish aren’t known to be attracted to livers. Chicken livers are very beneficial for channel catfish under 10 pounds, even if they are excellent for flathead catfish. These are also inexpensive and readily available in any grocery. 

One drawback of using chicken livers as bait is that they can be difficult to keep on the hook initially. They solidify once they’ve been in the water for a few minutes. If you’re not careful, you could wind up tossing this bait far further than your hook would allow. 

One of the most successful ways to keep these organs hooked is to use treble hooks and little amounts of bait. This bait could be hooked in a number of ways, and the bends of the 3 hooks help us keep the bait in place.  

The initial 20 minutes after hooking up are likewise the best for Livers. Over time, they lose a lot of their fluids as well as a lot of their attraction. When relocating to a new location, anglers must re-bait setups on a regular basis and begin with a fresh piece of chicken liver. 

Chicken livers work nicely where flathead, channel, or blue catfish are the main draw and currents aren’t too powerful. Super-strong currents, such as those found in dam tailraces, often shred these baits from hooks before the catfish can find and eat them. 

A split shot, or in many cases two of them, is usually all you need to add to the line for ponds, lakes, etc. In larger rivers and lakes, more weight is considered necessary. 


  • They’re great for catching blue and channel catfish, but it’s also a great option for flatheads. 
  • This product is ideal for novice anglers. 
  • Because the blood from the livers attracts the fish, it’s a great option to catch them quickly. 


  • Due to its foul smell, this product might not be effective on all varieties of catfish. 

Punch Baits 

Some anglers make their own punch baits from secret formulas passed down through the years. Others have decided to purchase professionally prepared mixtures. Punch baits, whether homemade or purchased, are sticky mixes with an unpleasant odor, but catfish love them. 

While all punch baits have a foul stench, that isn’t enough to entice catfish to a bait tub. Punch bait requires a cheese basis or some type of protein component. This bait is made with shad, crawdads, minnows, or wild hoppers. 

The bait’s consistency is critical. Punch bait must be soft enough to break apart slowly but hard enough not to fall apart too quickly. When fishing in a stream, which is where this punch bait excels, this gives a plethora of balance. 

It’s preferable to keep these punch baits in the shade during the hot summer months. Most of them thin out in hot temp, making it harder to retain them on the hook. Chemical thickeners are sold by some companies to thicken punch baits that have grown too thin due to the heat. 

It is true that this is not the best bait to catch flatheads because, as we know, these types of fish prefer live baits. However, this one is made to smell palatable, even to flathead catfish. 


  • It can be created from a variety of species, including shad, crawdads, minnows, and others. 
  • When it comes to getting a catfish in a short period of time, this form of bait is really effective. 
  • Catfish will go crazy for this punch bait. 


  • It is not as effective in flathead catfish as it is in channels. 

Best Bait for Flathead Catfish FAQ 

How Do You Get Flathead Catfish to Bite? 

The best way to attract and catch flathead catfish is by using live fish as they not only have a characteristic smell that will attract the attention of the catfish but also the movements will activate their hunting instinct. 

Although many fishermen do not use dead baits for fishing this type of catfish, not all people can get live fish at any time, so all these products that we have indicated throughout this content are excellent and will help you make up for the absence of live bait. 

Where to Buy Flathead Catfish Bait? 

It all depends on what kind of catfishing bait you want to buy. Punch baits and dough baits are available at sporting goods stores and online. If you’re interested in other baits like the ones we have shown in this review, you can find them in your local grocery store. 

Is Good Bait Enough to Catch a Flathead Catfish? 

No! Baits for catfish are an excellent and effective way to attract these fish. However, if you want the effectiveness of the bait you have chosen to be fulfilled, you will have to take into account other things such as having a good rig, hook, and being at the right time and place.

Also, keep in mind that you can find flatheads of different sizes, so you should consider the size of your bait if you are fishing both large and small catfish. 

What Other Fish Can Be Used as Bait for Flatheads? 

We have talked about several incredible baits throughout this review, but they are not the only ones you can use to catch a fish of this type. Some of them are: 

  • Sunfish 
  • Bullheads 
  • Rough fish 
  • Eels