Top 8 Best catfish baits to catch catfish- Blue, flathead and channel catfish   

Today, I am going to tell my top 8 favorite Catfish Baits and walk you through their pros and cons.

Over the years have been very fortunate to catch a lot of great catfish from banks, boats, lake, rivers, I have learned a few things about bait.

First, there is no bait that works perfectly in all cases. Every kind of bait only works in every range of specific type of catfish and specific water environment.

Though there’s a slightly more chance that shade can attract bigger blue catfish comparing to chicken livers, still, sometimes you may prefer using chicken livers to shade. Moreover, there is a time when hotdogs work better; there is a time when worms work betters, there are times when they don’t know obviously. 

There are many catfish baits out there, but to make my top 8, This should be a bait which catches catfish consistently in a variety of distinct places and times throughout the year.

Also, I’ve always wanted some kinds of baits that work well for the different types of catfish: channel catfish, bulkheads, white catfish, and blue catfish. For the list, a bait should, for example, be simple to locate.

  • Cicadas


Cicadas are a great catfish bait on the river, but I did not include cicadas since they rarely appear in every season of the year.

  • Live eels

Live Eels are another great catfish bait that didn’t make the lists because they are only found in certain bodies of water and only a few states allow you to fish with eels.

Schooling baitfish

Number one on the list is schooling baitfish. When I say schooling baitfish, I mean American shad, Gizzard shad, Mooneye Threadfin shad, Goldeneye, Hickory shad and Skipjack herring.

Large schools of baitfish are an important ingredient in growing great catfish. Basically every water body containing trophy-sized catfish also has large baitfish schools. The size and the bait number depend on the catfish’s size.

The James River in Virginia produces insane numbers of trophy catfish, 60-80 Lb catfish are regularly caught. Many catfish guides on the James will give you half your money back if you don’t catch a 30lber or bigger. 

The James river produces huge numbers of trophy blue catfish because the river contains huge schools of massive Gizzard shad as well as hickory shad, American shad, and herring. The gizzard shad on the James River are also much larger than the average gizzard shad, normally 13 Lbs each. Big shad makes big catfish. 

In places where there are lots of schooling baitfish, the catfish start their lives eating anything they can fit in their mouths. But as the catfish grow, more and more of their diet becomes these schooling baitfish.


In many rivers, school baitfish make up 90% of the trophy Catfishs diet. Large catfish choose locations based on their access to these baitfish. That is what they are looking for and that is what they are feeding on.

Fresh-caught Baitfish produce more trophy catfish than any other catfish bait. Schooling Baitfish are also easy to catch in large numbers. Throwing a cast net is the most popular way to catch these fish. 

In specific cases, Gill Nets can be used as snagging dip nets; an umbrella net can possibly be allowed where it is legal. Usually, I can catch all the shad I need for the day in 30 minutes or less. 

Mooneye, American shad, Goldeneye, hickory shad and herring will definitely bite a hook Sabiki rigs. Small twisty tailed grubs and shaded darts are common baits. A bobber can work well for the mooneye and the golden eye with just some tiny bits of worms or crickets.

However, this baitfish has such a huge drawback, as most of them are relatively fragile and difficult to maintain. For example, in fact, your gizzard shade will end up dying in a short period of time (from only one to two hours) if you are not cautious and prepare a great oxygenated life.

There are some commercially available additives that you can place in your live well to keep these alive fish Longer.

Spinney bait Fish. 

Spinney Baitfish are spinney dorsal fins fish such as white bass, bullheads, bluegill, pumpkin seeds, and sunfish. This kind of baitfish can easily be captured.

In almost everywhere with large catfish, they can be used as bait. They ‘re all really rough, working as an ideal live bait. There’s a big chance that these live baitfish will attract four types of catfish.  

Only one distinction is the favoured size since a live bait has become so preferable with a flathead fisherman. The majority of flathead guides likely to chose spinney baitfish rather than baitfish that is more fragile as shade. Rod and reel are the perfect tools to catch spiny baitfish, they can give you a huge amount of bram with merely some bait underneath a bobber. The four-blade clover trap can also be used to catch a ton of bluegill.

That ready time to capture and keep it fresh is the main drawback for live bait. While using live bait, ensure that you respect local rules and capture your bait from the very same water body in which you will fish in order to prevent the spread of nonnative fish disease parasites.

Rough fish 

That ready time to capture and keep it fresh is the main drawback for live bait. While using live bait, ensure that you respect local rules and capture your bait from the very same water body in which you will fish in order to prevent the spread of nonnative fish disease parasites.

Almost all of these fish may be quite large so that you can select from a variety of sizes. You can use a 4-inch long baby carp or you can go with a 4 lb live carp for trophy Flatheads.

However, this size range may be a concern as well, not only must you capture your lure, but it must be caught in the appropriate size. If you are fishing for 4 to 5 Lb channel catfish, you don’t want a 10 fish. You want something a few inches long.

Furthermore, these fish do not appear to be tutored or thickly clustered, so catching sufficient bait would possibly take quite a big amount of time. I typically need about 12 fish to go fishing at night with live bait. Catching 12 shades generally take me approximately 30 minutes but finding a lot of fallfish or baby carp could take me a full day.


Rough fish can be captured using a rod, a reel, a net casting, a bucket and a fish trap. A big number of fallfish usually found in the rivers. I like using a little white soft plastic minnow on a very light rod. I think worms or seine network works perfectly for suckers.

Carp and buffalo should be found in sweet corn and nets because these roughest fish have no spines and are larger than most baitfish.

 I think catfish prefer these fish over bluegills or white bass. But because these fish are harder to consistently catch and keep alive, they are not a bait source that most of us can rely on.


Boilies are small boiled bait balls utilized by carp fishermen and catfishers from Europe. Not similar to any kind other kinds of American catfish bait, boilies aren’t messy. Generally, non-perishable boilies have all kinds of flavours and sizes.

Boilies are so powerful. Some of carp fishermen are having trouble with keeping catfish away from their hooks until they can catch a carp. My favourite boilie flavours are crab and crayfish, halibut and plum.

The major weakness of boilies is the price. It’s up to you whether to make it by yourself or to purchase them on the internet.

Typically, a hair ring, a baiting needle and a bait stop will be connected to your hook. Occasionally, they re also working for flatheads. I caught a flathead of 53 lb on a single boilie.

Boiled feed corn

 Boiled feed corn is great for nice channel cats and tiny blue catfish. Boiled feed corn is super cheap. That 50 Lb will make about 200 lbs of wet bait.

That is a lot of catfish bait to prepare feed corn. Simply soak it for 12 hours and then boil it until it squishes between your fingers. I then chum piles of feed corn and cast a small #1 to #4 hook with two kernels of corn on it. 

A hair rig also works really well when fishing with feed corn. I catch a lot of carp and catfish with this technique. Some people like to ferment their corn first, but I prefer it fresh.

Sour wheat is a very similar chum. It basically the same thing when its soaked or boiled or and fermented wheat or barley grain that is used a catfish chum.

I prefer corn because it’s cheaper. You can also use it as a hook bait, as well as a chum. But wheat does work really well also.

The biggest downside to this bait is the preparation time to make it and the fact that it tends to not perfectly fit for large blue catfish, bullheads or flatheads.

Chicken Liver.

Chicken livers are a classic bait for channel catfish and small to medium-sized Blue catfish. Chicken Liver really puts out a strong scent trail, and it catches a lot of fish.

The biggest problems with the liver are that they come off the hook so easily. Some people prefer rooster liver or beef liver because its a little bit tougher though harder to find.

 You can prevent chicken liver from coming off the hook by using bait bags, surgical gauze, pantyhose curing the liver, bait thread, or even an egg loop knot.

Chicken livers are also extremely perishable. They go rancid quite quickly. If I dont end up using the liver pretty quickly, I end up throwing it out.

Some people like to ferment their livers. But my experience is that it is just a great way to make a huge mess without making your bait any better.

Hot dogs

 Hot dogs are a really nice channel catfish bait without the mess or perishability of chicken liver. They also stay on the hook better. However, I dont think hotdogs are as consistently good as chicken liver or these other baits. They tend to catch smaller catfish.

 I like to cut up my hot dogs into sections and marinate them in jello mix and garlic powder. This toughens preserves and flavors. The hot dogs a little bit better


Earthworms are fabulous for bullheads and small channel catfish. But their biggest problem is that all fish love earthworms you end up losing a lot of bait to bluegill, trout, bass, perch and really tiny catfish.

Paying for your earthworms can also be a big downer, but if you want to learn how to catch your own earthworms, check out some of our videos about catching earthworms with dish soap walnuts electricity or grunting.

 Any rate, I hope this list of my top 8 catfish baits gives you some ideas. SAM AND MARY also hope it gets you thinking about mixing up your baiting routine. There is a time and a place for almost every catfish bait.

The trick is not to only use one bait but to learn when and where to use each of the different baits!

Read more:  Top 10 Best Carp Baits - How to Catch Carp?

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