The Best Bait to Use to Catch Catfish

The Best Bait to Use to Catch Catfish
Catfish feed mainly by taste and smell. For this reason, the best baits have a pungent odor and strong meaty flavor. Four popular and effective catfish baits that meet one or both of these criteria are chicken liver, baitfish, dip-bait and nightcrawlers.

Chicken Liver

Catfish are attracted to this baits' strong, meaty odor. Many fishermen, however, prefer it because it is inexpensive and can be found at just about any grocery store. One down-side of chicken liver is that the slimy bait has a tendency to slide off the hook. Using a treble hook can help minimize this problem, as well as taking care not cast your line with too much force.



This simple, natural bait is an obvious choice for most fishermen. The more worms you can fit on the hook the better to draw in catfish, which feed mostly by taste and smell. Fish nightcrawlers on the bottom using a carolina rig or suspended just off the bottom with a float.


Live baitfish, like shad, work well for all types of catfish, but they are especially effective when pursuing flathead catfish, which feed primarily on live fish. Where legal, fisherman also use small sunfish and bluegills, however, check your state's fish and game regulations before using any species of gamefish for bait. Cut-bait made from larger bait-fish, by removing the heads and tails and cutting the bodies into strips, is also a good choice for anyone in search of channel catfish.


While many fishermen opt to use commercial dip-baits purchased at the local bait-shop, many more prefer to employ their own homemade dip-baits created using closely guarded and time-tested family recipes. Most dip-baits have either a pasty or doughy consistency and contain a combination of chicken liver, gizzards, blood, cheese, rotten meat, chunks of baitfish, cornmeal, oatmeal and garlic. The other common characteristic of all dip-baits is they have a pungent odor to attract catfish.

Other Baits

Other baits to consider, in addition to the four listed above, include frogs, crayfish, shrimp and hotdogs.


Article Written By Richard Hansen

Richard Hansen grew up and currently resides in Minnesota. He graduated from Dartmouth College and has traveled extensively in Africa and South America, including the Amazon jungle. He has worked as a wilderness guide in Yellowstone and northern Minnesota, and written for Fur-Fish-Game, Dartmouth Alumni Magazine and

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