What Do Catfish Like To Eat: 4 Proven Baits

December 12, 2016

Learning how to catch catfish always begin with getting the right bait. Knowing what do catfish like to eat will save you from being empty handed at the end of the day. Any game fish will need a variety of lure shapes, movements, and sizes. You have to remember that a bait should be appealing so that you can get a guaranteed bite.

However, catfish are not into the physical nature of baits. Instead, they go for those that have great taste and smell. There are different species of catfish. Each of them has their individual preferences when it comes to offerings.

You should also consider catfish as similar to humans. Every day, their taste and smell preferences can change. A good bait this day might not give too much yield in the next day. Any seasoned angler considers this as natural. Therefore, when you hunt for catfish, make sure you bring a plethora of baits. In this way, you can quickly adjust while you are in the waters.

Here are some of the best catfish baits you can bring in your next fishing trip.


What Do Catfish Like To Eat

1. Shad

Big meals are the top favorites of giant catfish. Baiting them with a huge chunk or live shad can do the trick. For example, flathead catfish only feed live fish. Because of this, a shad is a major component of the equation. Shad always stay on river channels—the same place that adult flatheads usually spend their time.

Shad can also work for channel catfish. One they grow bigger than 10 pounds, these catfish will eventually hunt for shad.

A shad is an excellent bait on rivers and reservoirs. They are prevalent in these areas. Fishers can easily get them for catfish baiting.

To bait a shad, you should cut it into strips or chunks first. The size should be about the size of catfish you want to catch. Big chunks are for giant catfish. The same logic applies for the opposite. Perhaps, the best way to prepare a shad is to slice its tail and head to make strips. If your slices seem large, then slice them further.

Moreover, you should ignore the guts of a large shad. This part gives off a strong smell that attracts the catfish immediately. They may not work as great as the shad itself, but they can make your rod tip dancing. With this, catfish will certainly get attracted.

There are different ways to use a shad. The most famous method is using a Carolina rig and large barrel weight to keep it sinking on the bottom. Meanwhile, you have to spread the lines around the shore or boat. This technique is useful and has been proven for many seasons.

2. Chicken Livers

The liver of the chickens is also good baits. Expert anglers are using them during hunting season to catch as many catfish as possible. Livers are effective because of their strong and meaty smell. Once you place them in the vicinity of catfish, you can expect that a school will swarm at you. They cannot just resist this delicacy!

Chicken livers may not yield lots of catfish. However, for catfish that are 10 pounds above, this bait is extremely effective. Using them is beneficial, especially to your budget. They are cheap and are available in any grocery stores.

Despite it advantages, there are some drawbacks. One of these is the difficulty to keep it one hook all the time. The liver gets tough when it is in the water already. That's why you have to cast carefully, or else, the bait will travel farther than your hook.

One of the best ways to make the liver stay on the hook is to use treble hooks. Also, you need to use a small piece of liver so that you can wrap it easily on the hook. With this scheme, you can hook the bait on different places. Ideally, you may need to employ lob casts rather than fast, snapping casts.

The liver is most effective within the first 15 minutes. When they lose their juice over time, their smell also dissipates. In short, their appeal to catfish loses. To prevent this, you have to use the freshest liver as possible every time you move to a new location.

The liver works excellent on areas where little blues and channel catfish are present. It is also good in parts of rivers where the current is not too strong. Using a liver bait on powerful currents such as tailraces of a dam can tear the liver from the hook.

You also have to remember to add more weights when you are fishing on large rivers and lakes. For ponds, you just need to add a split shot to your line. Ideally, you have to bring three containers of liver to make a productive catch.

3. Dip Baits

Dip baits are among the oldest offerings for catfish. Some traditional anglers are making dip baits on their own, usually from special and secret recipes they acquired. Luckily, commercially made dip blends are already available. Regardless of that, it is still undeniable that dip baits are effective in attracting catfish. They may smell repulsive, but for catfish, they are simply irresistible!

Typical dip bait should have a protein base or cheese on its content. Do not use dough balls. They smell bad, and they don't hold too much appeal for many catfish species.

Good dip baits are soft. Once you submerge them in the water, they gradually break. At the same time, they are also robust enough that they can resist being washed by the water. The quality of a dip bait can be tested on a current. The current breaks down several chunks of the bait, which eventually spreads on the water. Catfish will follow the trail until they will end up on your hook!

We also recommend that you have to cast the bait in the same area for several times. In this way, you can strengthen the scent by diffusion. It can gather schools of catfish. Just wait a few minutes. Biting will soon follow.

Regardless of the type of hook you have, dip baits just don't stay. This bait has no solid parts. To solve this problem, anglers use "catfish worms." This fishing accessory is a tube that has holes. They are useful in holding this type of bait. Alternatively, you can thread a sponge on the shank of a treble hook so that a dip bait can have a solid hold.

Dip baits are most effective in shaded areas or during mid-summer. The heat can easily thin out the bait. Other manufacturers are producing additives which can harden this kind of bait.

4. Nightcrawlers

Worms are the primary baits for any fishing. The simplicity of this bait makes it extremely difficult to replace, even with modern ways of fishing. For a catfish, a night crawler offering is something that it won't turn down. The natural smell of this worm can attract catfish effectively.

Bigger night crawlers work best compared to the smaller ones. Big catfish will require large and juicy night crawlers. Many fishers are using two to three worms on the hook to amplify its effectiveness.

Catfish are not picky. They do not care how the night crawlers are hooked. They just care on how the worms taste or smell. Therefore, you need to hook a lot of worms to increase your chance of catching those catfish.

An effective way of using night crawlers is by suspending them under a float. Hang the bait slight off the bottom. This method works well when catfish are gathering around stumps and beneath flooded trees. The float enables you to set up the bait properly. You can also move it to different locations so that you can easily spot catfish.

On the other hand, you have to remember that night crawlers are not good with young catfish. Cutting them would be hard and messy. Furthermore, children catfish can easily suck night crawlers.

One great aspect about night crawlers is that they are ideal for family fishing. You can let your kids hunt their own worms. Your backyard might be teeming with these worms. So it is good that you will let your kids some errands for you!


Other baits like crawfish are also effective for cat fishing. As long as your bait has a strong smell and taste, they can easily attract catfish. Baits like aquatic food and leeches can also work well on this type of fish. When those baits we mentioned are not present, you can use aquatic bugs, snails, and minnows instead. They may not produce great yields, but they can still attract catfish.

Always remember that adult catfish will go 100% carnivorous. Varieties like the flathead catfish will tend to hunt small fish. It can even eat its kind! Take note all these aspects so that you can decide what bait you will use for the certain place.

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About the Author


Hello, fishing world! My name is Bella. Yes, you got me right, I am a woman! But, I am a woman not only fond of cooking and shopping. I am a woman who shows interest in everything that covers topics regarding fishing. Don’t get me wrong! I believe that the world of fishing is not exclusively for men! In fact, I, myself enjoy fishing. That’s why I created this website.

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