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Catfish are one of the most under-rated freshwater fish that can be caught with a rod and reel in the USA. Catfish fishing is a lot of fun and once you understand a few of the basic principles not terribly difficult either.
They are big powerful bottom feeders that pack a mean punch once hooked. Not only are they great fun to fish for but they also taste great and battered catfish in my humble opinion is probably the best deep-fried fish you can ever have.
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Catfish fishing usually entails using a scented bait on a hook utilizing a variety of Catfish rigs or floats depending on what the scenario calls for. You will rarely find a fisherman using lures for catfish, although it is quite possible to catch them on a variety of lures, using bait is by far the most popular choice.
Tackle wise you be looking at a casting set up with a high-quality monofilament as a choice of catfish line at 12 to 15 lbs for smaller channel cats up to 30 lbs for larger. Size-wise the average catfish reel will be 5000 or higher.
Most catfish rods will be 7′ in length at a minimum and the average rod will be in and around 7’6″. You can of course use a spinning rod and reel but the majority of catfish gear tends to be done on the best baitcaster combo that you can afford.
They can be caught from both boat and shore. However, the bulk of the fishing is done from the shore on either a riverbank or on the shores of a lake or pond.
Catfish are found in many different types of waters from the small river to large lakes. And although they can be caught in a fast-moving river I have always had the most success in the slower-moving parts of a river.
You’ll most probably need a rod that is rated for at least a 20 lb monofilament fishing line or a 45 lb braid. Each type of fishing line has its own advantages and disadvantages. Monofilament has a lot more stretch in it than braid. And when using circle hooks for catfish it that little extra stretch is a bonus.
There are lots of different baits that can be used to catch catfish and some anglers will go to great lengths to make their catfish baits as stinky as possible using all kinds of artificial food additives and even coloring.
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Catfishing does require a heavier setup than a lot of other freshwater species. Due to their size and weight, a lighter spinning setup is not really the best option.
The best catfish rod and reel combo is one that has enough backbone to handle large catfish and yet still retains decent casting performance.
A good option to go for if you are new is a good quality baitcasting reel combined with a medium power casting rod. Although the size of the fish that you can catch will vary significantly it is best to choose your rod and reel that best suits the average size of the catfish in your local area.