What is the best hook and sinker setup for catfish?

The egg sinker slip rig is, hands down, the most popular rig for still fishing catfish. Consisting of an egg sinker on the main line held in place above the hook by a lead shot, this rig is ideal for keeping the bait near the bottom, which in turn, allows a catfish to swim off with the bait with little tension.


When it comes to catfishing, having the right setup is crucial for success. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or just starting out, choosing the appropriate line, sinker, and hook can make a big difference in your catch rate. In this article, we will explore the best tips and recommendations for setting up your catfishing rig.

Using the Three-Way Rig

To start off, utilizing a three-way rig can be an effective choice. This setup involves a 20-pound-test main line and a 17-pound-test leader. Attach a 2- to 4-ounce bell sinker to the bottom ring of a three-way swivel with 6-pound-test line. This rig allows the sinker to hold the setup in place until a fish strikes, increasing your chances of a successful catch.

The Importance of Line Weight

Choosing the right pound test line is essential for catfishing. For most channel cat waters, a 12- to 17-pound-test line is sufficient. However, if you’re targeting larger fish or fishing in areas with sizable catfish, opting for 30-pound line is recommended to handle the increased weight and strength of these fish.

Opting for a Slip Sinker Rig

When it comes to using a weight for catfish, it’s best to employ a slip sinker rig. Always choose the lightest weight needed to prevent the fish from feeling too much resistance. This rig allows the catfish to pick up the bait without being deterred by the weight. Additionally, using a sharp hook will increase your chances of a successful hook set.

Selecting the Right Hook Size

The size of the hook can greatly affect your catfishing success. For channel catfish, a 2/0 or 3/0 hook is recommended when using a Kahle hook. These sizes provide an optimal balance for hooking the fish effectively. If you prefer circle hooks for smaller to medium-sized channel catfish, a 5/0 or 6/0 size is generally the best choice.

Recommended Sinkers for Different Fish Sizes

To cater to different sizes of catfish, selecting the appropriate sinker is essential. For smaller to medium-sized fish, opt for sliding egg or bullet sinkers in sizes ranging from 1 ounce to 1/8 of an ounce. The larger sinkers in this range are ideal for deeper waters and targeting larger catfish.


When it comes to catfishing, having the right setup is key to increasing your chances of a successful catch. Utilizing a three-way rig with the appropriate line weight, hook size, and sinker can make a significant difference in your fishing experience. By following these tips and recommendations, you’ll be well-equipped for a productive catfishing outing.


What is the best sinker for catfishing?
Egg Sinkers: The most popular sinker for catfishing. Your line passes through the sinker, so you can instantly feel when a catfish hits. ... Cannonball Sinkers: Round sinkers with a metal loop. ... No-Roll Sinkers: Usually used in moving water where egg sinkers would just roll around.
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What size sinker is best for catfish?
A half-ounce sinker might be sufficient in still water, but 3 to 8 ounces are needed to drift around the tips of wing dams for blue and channel cats. The leader should be slightly longer than the dropper line - usually 2 to 3 feet, depending on current velocity.
What is the best rig for live bait for catfish?
As versatile and effective as drift and float rigs often are, many catfishing situations call for live or dead bait still fished on the bottom. The most popular bottom rig for all species of catfish is the egg sinker slip rig.
What pound line is best for catfish?
If you fish most channel cat waters in the United States, 12- to 17-pound-test line is about all you need. If you fish places like the Red River, or places wherever there can be numerous fish that run 15 to 30 pounds, I recommend using 30-pound line. Of course, as the fish get bigger, so should your line.
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