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Cat Tip of the Day: Cat Bait Harness

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I’ve read my 2009 In-Fisherman Catfish Insider from end to end and found one rigging option that has me very intrigued. The blue cat article featuring John Jamison and Jeremy Leach showed a two hook rig they use. What they do is make a standard 2 hook minnow harness using 7/0 to 5/0 circle hooks with the hooks separated about 3” to 4”. I liked the thought of being able to two hook a large bait. That extra stinger hook might just be that hookup advantage that a lot of us are missing during hook sets.

Trouble is that in Minnesota inland waters we are restricted to using only 1 hook unless you are using a lure. The way around the one hook rule is to make your rig a lure by adding a spinner or some other type of lure device hence that is how worm harnesses and minnow harnesses become legal. With the lure idea in mind I made myself a few two hook cat bait harnesses using real size hooks (5/0 to 8/0 sized) not those little bitty walleye hooks and placing some beads, a clevis and a small spinner in line just in front of the first hook. The spinner may give us some additional vibration and help the cat find the bait. The addition of the hardware should make this a legal lure.

This is a Circle Hook Bait Harness:


This is a J hook Bait Harness:


You can see from the photos that a standard snell knot works perfect. After rigging up several cat harnesses using circle hooks and a few with some standard J hooks I set out last night to give them a test run. I’d like to give you a report that they were the miracle cure for early season flatheads but unfortunately you still need to put the bait in front of a hungry flat to catch one. Even though I still need to catch a flathead on this setup I was convinced that it will work after seeing it in action. I thought I would throw it out here so you can add another tool for the cat box and maybe help me test it out.

This was my Flathead Bait Harness in action with a good sized sheepshead head for bait. I had the front hook bridle hooked - no takers tonight though:


Cat Bait Harness Update - 6 June 09: I've used this setup now for over a month and have hooked up with 9 flatheads, three of those over 40 lbs and I can report that this setup definitely works. It is now my flathead confidence rig and one that I primarily use.

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Is that considered one hook? I have seen them at the local sport stores but thought it would be looked at as two hooks? Man the MN regs are hard to understand at times.

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Is that considered one hook?

Technically it would be considered a legal lure! wink

Good post Steve. You have a ton of material for future cat tips of the day from this years issue.

I experimented with some mono leaders last year and I came up with this idea.


The rock is not part of the lure

I have never used it, but "technically" a single bead placed above the forward hook turns this dual hook set-up into a legal lure wink This is a another grey area (loop-hole) in the regs, that I verfied it is ok with down town and a local CO up here, but yet to see what a CO on the river would say about it grin.

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I don't know the wording of the rule, but it should be if you have 1 continuous bait, either live or cut (no segments), you should be able to use it. I think that clears up a lot of gray area and the concerns they would have. I am pretty sure their worries are that they don't want people trying to catch multiple fish on one line. I'd also reuit single barb hooks only, no trebles.

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we use these alot on the river when useing large suckers. and the officer told us that as long as there is a bead before your weight it was fine. These rigs work great!

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