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Catfishing For Beginners


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Spring is here and many of you have found a new found interest in catfishing, but aren't sure where to start.

I do believe nearly every single question in the rhealm of catfishing in Minnesota has been asked in these forums, and is available in the archives to search. By doing this, you'll find very good discussion by many of the very talented catfish anglers that call FishingMinnesota.com home. I definitely urge you to search through the archives as the info is good but I'm going to try and provide a Reader's Digest version of the what's, how's, and why's of catfishing to help you get started.

I'll be the first to admit that alot of the discussion you'll find in the forums here is the discussion of nitpicky little details. Catfishing is relatively simple, so it is very easy to take a look at the various simple aspects and really look at them with a fine tooth comb... hence the discussions of what knot is best, what line is best, what hook is best, etc.

As a frustrated fisherman on the Rainy River said, "This ain't freakin' NASA."

There are relatively few basic topics that you'll need to understand to understand the basics of catfishing.

- Catfish: Flatheads or Channels

- Gear: Rods, Reels, Hooks, Line, Sinkers

- Bait: Live, Cut, Stink, Prepared, etc

- Technique

- Location

What species of Catfish are you fishing for?

As a "beginner" catfisherman, this is important to understand, and even more valuable when asking questions about catfish. There are 2 species of catfish found in the state of Minnesota. They are Flathead Catfish and Channel Catfish. While they are both catfish, they behave differently and require different techniques and approaches in fishing for them. This is important to remember, the techniques are different enough that we usually discuss fishing for these 2 separate species separately (sort of a Muskie vs Pike or SM Bass vs LM Bass difference for example).

This will probably be argued but there are NO Blue Catfish in the state of Minnesota. The MN DNR doesn't even keep a state record for the Blue Cat. All of us cat guys sure hope they can swim their way up north but they have had plenty of years to make it here. Global warming may help out the cause, but for now... no blue catfish here. grin.gif

- Channel Cats Of the two, channel catfish are the most popular, most abundant, have the greatest range, and are the easiest to target. Channel cats are found in rivers, reservoirs, lakes, and streams within the state. The MN DNR has a good stocking program now of introducing channel cats to lakes within the Twin Cities metro area.

While there are many, many more areas in the state, Channels can be found in the Mississippi River, St Croix River, Minnesota River, Blue Earth River, Zumbro River, Sauk River, St Louis River, Crow River, Red River, Red Lake River, Roseau River, and many, many more as well. Any river that is a tributary to the above mentioned rivers will more than likely hold some channel cats.

For the most part, and I'll explain this when discussing bait later, channel cats are scavengers. They feed by smell and prefer something dead and smelly. There are obviously exceptions to this rule, but I want to break it down simply.

Majority of channel cats in MN are in the 3-10lb range. In my opinion, a 15lb channel cat is a very, very nice channel cat in MN. My only disclaimer to that comment is that does NOT include the Red River of the North, the 'Premier' Channel Cat fishery in the WORLD! The Red has many, many channel cats in the 18-20lb range. For the US side of the Red, anything in the 25-28lb range is a true trophy in my eyes!

- Flathead CatsLiving in Minnesota, we are on the northern end of the flathead catfishes range. Flatheads are a "southern" cat, best known from TV shows about "noodling". Up here in Minnesota, we LOVE our flathead catfish! In my opinion (and I'm going to try and limit my opinions in this article), these fish rival the best game fish in the state of Minnesota. They are the muskie of our rivers. They are dominant predators and they are at the top of the food chain in the waters they inhabit.

Speaking of waters they inhabit... in Minnesota, that would include the Mississippi River, St Croix River, and Minnesota River along with a few select tributaries to those rivers. I need to mention that there is not a very "fishable" population of flatheads above the Coon Rapids Dam in the north Metro area. I will not argue the fact that there are some up there, there just aren't a lot of them. One needs to focus their attention from downtown Minneapolis downstream on the Mississippi, along with the St Croix and Minnesota Rivers to have very healthy, fishable populations of flathead catfish.

Now that I've got you excited about flathead catfish, I should also mention that they are primarily nocturnal feeders and love live bait. These 2 facts alone discourage many folks from chasing after them. Lets face it, fishing a river at night is a very daunting idea to lots of folks. While they can be caught during the day (with specialized techniques), your greatest odds are at night and thats what I will focus on.

What about size? These fish get BIG! Thats why we like them. Its hard to suggest an 'average' size but I would say 10-20 lbs is 'average' for a flathead catfish. We catch lots of 5-10lb fish, 30+ is very nice, 40+ is why I spend all night on the river, and 50+ is why I keep doing it year after year.

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Gear: Rods, Reels, Hooks, Lines, Sinkers, Etc...

I hate to start this topic off with an opinion, but I think having adequate gear (didn't say the best) but something that will give you a fair chance is very important when you decide to target catfish.

Most folks coming over to the "Cat" side don't realize what they are in for. Most have caught gills, crappies, maybe some big walleyes, a few large pike or two, you know... your typical Minnesotan! But that isn't enough to prepare you for what a catfish will show you in river current! grin.gif

Here's a little story to show where my respect of these fish came from. Red Lake River... Crookston, MN... my hometown. I was born and raised there, never fished the river in my life. I thought there was nothing in the river but snags and roughfish. I hate to say this, but I also thought the river was where the "bad" crowd went to fish and I would run into trouble if I shorefished with these folks. This was the stigma that I had for some reason. I'm not sure why. I'm only relaying this as I personally think this "idea" keeps a lot of folks away from their rivers. IMO... its not true. A majority of the cat guys I've met are the most down to earth, friendly, experienced fisherman you'll ever meet!

Well... I personally didn't fish my "hometown" river until I moved away and fellow FMer Rusty Miller had a Catfish Gathering back home. This was back in 2004 I believe. I was a lake angler and I decided I was going to see what this cattin' was all about! Rusty let me and Joel (Catfishunter) borrow his little 14 footer with a 15 Merc and we headed out in search of cats. Joel was a pretty good catman in Crookston and he showed me the ropes and we hooked into a bunch of cats that day! Wow! What an awesome time!

Reason I told that story was I was fishing with a 6' Ugly Stick "Walleye" rod with a walleye rod sized Shimano spinning reel. I had never in my life felt a fish fight like those cats did on that rod. Oh... they were only 2-4lb Catfish! I had previously caught walleyes to 8lbs or so on that rod and those little cats had me scratching my head wondering how I didn't stumble into this earlier. grin.gif

That day, I met another great Catman that frequents the forums here at FishingMinnesota, that was Dennis Steele. I will never take credit for what others have taught me and Dennis "Fishhead" Steele and "Fisher" Dave Scott have both been very, very instrumental in my flathead catfish education. I seriously can't say enough about these guys...

I'm getting a bit off track but really want to enforce the point that catfish really require specialized gear when you specifically target them. Can you land them on walleye gear? Yes. But there are much better ways to do it.


Lets start with rods. This is the part of your overall presentation that will "play" the fish the best. The rod is critical to casting the bait out, watching the bait (live vs dead), bite detection, setting the hook, as well as fighting the fish. In the world of catfishing, a fairly inexpensive rod will work very well.

Why? Because most of us catfisherman prefer fiberglass rods, or fiberglass/graphite composite rods. For the most part, straight up graphite rods are too "stiff" for catfishing applications. The action tends to be too "fast". Now while I say this, I have seen a few graphite rods recently that are approaching the qualities I desire in a catfish rod. We're getting close!

So why Glass? The main reason is the rod is softer or slower in action. They flex from the tip, nearly 2/3rds of the way back into the blank, and are nearly indestructable. Another great feature is they are cheap. The action helps with bite detection, "setting" a circle hook (which will be covered later), allows you to fight the fish, and will remain in one piece no matter how much abuse the rod takes. Oh... they are fairly cheap as well!

Popular Catfish rods currently on the market include-

- Ugly Stik Catfish

- Ugly Stik Tiger

- Cabelas King Kat

- Cabelas Whuppin' Stick

- Quantum BigCat

- Bass Pro Cattmax

- Moyer Boss

- Berkley Big Game

- Berkley Glowstick

- Berkley Cherrywood

- American Spirit "Nite Stick"

- Surge Trophy Cat Series

- Catfish Safari

IMO... if someone handed a rod to me with a big cat on the end, I would be comfortable fighting it on the end of any of these rods... seriously! There are obviously more rods on the market, but these tend to be the most readily available, either through local stores or easily located online stores.

The difficulty that results with discussing catfish rods is a few of us really prefer rods that are NOT available on the market anymore. IMO... The Berkley E-Cat, St. Croix Classic Cat, Berkley Reflex, and now the Moyer Boss #3 all epitomize the finest cat rods ever, and are all unavailable now. \:\(


Spinning or Casting? You have 2 choices in my opinion.

The choice between the two really comes down to personal opinion, plus a few minor nit picky details which I mentioned we like to discuss earlier. This is one of those topics we could debate the fine points to until death, but the bottom line is, they will both work to catch you fish, BIG fish included!

Spinning Reels Spinning reels are the type of reel most Minnesota anglers are familiar with. Most of us are walleye guys... most of us use spinning reels for our walleye fishing. We are very familiar with that. Because of that, they make the crossover very easy.

One feature that is definitely different on catfish sized spinning reels is the "baitfeeder" or "baitrunner" feature, they are named differently depending on what reel manufacturer you are looking at. Essentially, it is a secondary drag system for those unfamiliar with the concept. Basically, you flip a lever and it enables the fish to take line off your reel with minimal resistance. A bonus to this is while he's taking line, your reel emits an audible 'click, click, click, click' sound to alert you that a fish is taking your bait. I'll explain the when & why of clickers/baitfeeders later but its important to know spinning reels do have this capability.

A few very popular Cattin' spinning reels include the Okuma Epixor EB50, Shimano Baitrunner, and Tica Sportera.

Casting Reels When it comes to cattin', these are my favorite reels! I went through my spinning reel phase and have come to the conclusion that I really prefer the casting reel now.

I feel that I have better control, longer casting distances (to a point), handle heavier line better, better drag settings, better gear ratios, and a better "clicker" function than a spinning reel.

Most average fisherman in Minnesota are afraid of baitcasters, afraid of the dreaded "backlash", afraid of the learning curve. Well... I'm here to say that with cattin', the learning curve is not that tough. Most tough baitcaster learning curves involve light weight lures. You need to understand how to control the spool with your thumb and I think this is very easy with catfish style lure weights.

With baitcasters, the basic problem is slowing the spool down towards the end of the cast. This is why a birdsnest occurs if you don't slow the spool down. What occurs is the spool is spinning faster than the line is leaving the reel and it starts to "back up". If the spool doesn't slow down towards the end of the cast, you'll get a birdsnest... pretty simple. You have to apply just enough thumb pressure to the spool to keep the line from "jumping" off of it. Its hard to explain, easy to demonstrate.


The business end! A hook is a hook right? Unfortunately NO in the catfishing world. There are 2 types of hooks that we primarily focus on- J-Hooks (regular or typical hooks) and Circle Hooks.

A J-Hook I'll refer to as your "normal" hook for most Minnesota fisherman. A J-Hook is an Aberdeen, Octopus, Baitholder, O-Shaughnessy, and I'll even throw a Kahle hook into this group. The one, major point to remember in the catfishing world is you "set" this hook!

Hook sizes can vary wildly depending on personal preference but I typically like my J-Hooks large- 3/0 to 7/0 for channel cats and 7/0 to 10/0 for flathead cats. One careful point that I will double up on later is I "personally prefer" large J-Hooks (10/0) for flathead cats while fishing live bait.

Put quite simply... J-Hooks = Flathead Catfishing. I would like to add that this is my "basic, beginner" flathead catfish approach. However, circle hooks definitely have an application as well as a great track record but I'm not sure this is a beginner technique for these fish.

Circle Hooks come to us from the saltwater fishing world. From my research, the best application these hooks have for fishing in Minnesota is with our catfish, specifically channel catfish. As a side editorial sidenote, I still think us Minnesotan walleye fisherman have much to learn about the circle hook as I think it would be deadly in regards to hook-up ratio yet still allow the safe release of fish. Maybe I'm ahead of the game but the basic premise behind live bait fishing walleyes is to let them "take" the bait, this technique lends itself perfect towards walleye fishing!

Circle hooks work great when a fish eats the bait, turns, and heads the other direction thus setting the hook. This is what channel cats do for the most part and they tend to do it with authority!! I would also like to add that you can "set the hook" with a circle hook but it takes a great deal of angler experience, patience, and time to learn the why, when, and how to implement "setting" a circle effectively! You will lose many fish learning this technique but also learn when that right moment to "set the hook" actually occurs.

The trick with circle hook fishing I mentioned earlier and that is the rod. Effective circle hook fishing either involves a patient angler, or a patient rod. Take your pick. \:\) Part of the reason us cat guys love glass rods is they are slow enough in action to allow a circle hook to do a proper job of hooking a fish.

For the most part, I explain flathead catfish angling as live bait + "set the hook". On the other hand, I'll explain channel catfish angling as circle hook & cutbait (dead) = let the rod hook the fish. This is a very tough concept to explain but once a cat has your rod tip bent down 1' to 1-1/2' on a circle hook, grab the rod while applying very slight backwards pressure and the fish will be there. You have to learn this. You have to experiment with this. You have to fail at this to realize what is happening.

Once you figure it out, every single catfish you catch will be hooked in the corner of the mouth. That is the beauty of circle hooks!


Superline or Mono? Another hotly debated item in the catfish forum. grin.gif

If I could make this as simple as possible for the beginner, I'd say spool up with a Superline that is 50lb.

A superlines advantages are: Sensitivity, No Stretch, and Strength, Line Diameter. One drawback to a superline would be abrasion resistance. You get in some sharp rocks with a superline and you do risk snapping it pretty easy. On the other hand, you can lift small trees off the bottom of the river if you get snagged as well.

A few popular superlines are:

- PowerPro

- Fireline

- Sufix

For us flathead guys, 65lb or 80lb would be my recommendation. I personally fish 80lb.

Monofilaments advantages are: Stretch, strength, and abrasion resistance. In the heavier tests (20-40lb), mono is incredibly abrasion resistant. It'll handle being in the rocks, you just have to routinely check that it isn't getting nicked up and retie if it is. Comparing mono to superline, mono has a larger diameter in equivalent poundage. This is important to note as a large diameter mono will have more resistance in the river current. Monofilament lines, because of the stretch factor, also shine while fishing circle hooks.

The most popular catfishing Monofilament is without a doubt, Berkley Big Game.

One thing to remember with line is you should really adjust how heavy it is to the species and size of fish you plan to target. For example, if you are fishing the Upper Mississippi where most of your channel cats are going to be 3-10lbs, it wouldn't really make sense to be fishing 80lb superline. In a perfect world, you'd try to more closely match your setup to the size of the targeted fish.

Where my thinking gets corrupted a little is the rivers I normally fish have the ability to produce 40-60lb flathead cats routinely. I don't want to ever be under equipped if the big one decides to eat.


This is a pretty easy discussion, use as much lead as necessary to keep your bait in place. When river fishing, the more your bait tumbles around in the current, the easier it is to find a snag.

For channel catfishing, 2-4oz of lead will usually do the trick.

For flathead catfishing, 3-6oz of lead is a good bet as you are using a bigger bait that is alive and swims around. The heavy sinker will give your bait something to struggle against.

For you crossover walleye guys... I know that sounds like a lot of weight! We aren't using 1/8oz, 1/4oz, or 1/2oz jigs here. grin.gif

Really the only time I'll go to 2oz of weight is if there is no current where I'm fishing. I routinely run 3oz all summer on my channel cat setups and 4oz on my flathead cat setups. I'll adjust if required but thats usually where I start. In the spring with high water, I'll run 5oz on my flathead rods

Types of Sinkers

This is where it gets fun. There are a few different sinkers that work extremely well in river fishing applications.

1- No-Roll

2- Bank

3- Flat Bank

4- Pyramid

5- Egg

(I'll try and put a photo up of the different sinker styles)

My 2 favorites hands down are the No-Roll and the Bank Sinker. I'll use No-Rolls just about everywhere but I won't fish them in the rock. For some reason, they love to snag up in rock or rip-rap. In a rock application, I'll go to the Bank Sinker. They tend to not hang up as bad in the rock, and if they do, they don't wedge in as bad as a No-Roll.

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I've gotta believe that bait might be the single most important piece of the "targeting catfish" puzzle.

You can hit the river and fish a gob of nightcrawlers and catch a small channel cat from time to time along with a lot of carp and sheepshead but this is not the most effective way to fish cats.

Most fisherman also wander the aisles of Cabela's, Gander, etc and see packages of prepared baits, containers of stink bait, hooks with plastic tubes on them, squeeze containers of blood bait, and flavorings that reek to high heaven. I think most would be catfish anglers get more confused looking at this stuff than anything. I've gotta tell you, that stuff has a time and place but I've rarely, rarely had to use it to have consistent success fishing catfish in Minnesota.

Alot of other anglers think of stinky chicken livers and other home brewed concoctions as being appealing. They do work but I still think there is a better way.


The number 1 catfish bait in Minnesota is what we refer to as Cutbait. Cutbait is quite simply pieces, strips, or small chunks of baitfish that are put on a hook and cast out into the river. Pretty simple. Catfish have an incredible sense of smell and taste, a fresh piece of cutbait appeals to both of those senses.

Popular Cutbaits are:

- Sucker

- Shad

- Creek Chub

- Goldeye

- Mooneye

- Frog

Some of these cutbaits are easily and readily available and others take a little more work to obtain. The most readily available is going to be the sucker. Either catch your own or buy them in the bait shop. I like to buy them in the 6-8" long length and keep them alive until I plan to use them. When I'm ready to fish, I'll pull one out, cut the head off behind the gill plates, and then slice the sucker into 1" wide chunks going from head to tail. Take a chunk, put it on the hook, make sure no scales are on the hook point, and you are in business. You can definitely experiment with how big or small of chunks you use, or if you want to fillet the sucker and use it that way. I don't think there is a wrong way to do it.

Its usually a good idea to use a bait that is indigenous (native) to the water you are fishing. Shad, for example, is an awesome choice on the Mississippi, St Croix, and Minnesota Rivers. I've had great luck with it there, not so great elsewhere. On the Red River of the North, Goldeyes are the cutbait of choice! Works awesome up there, moderately well on other rivers.

My favorite cutbaits are definitely sucker, creek chub, shad, and goldeye.

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Location: Dams, Current Seams, Holes, Eddies, Snags, Cutbanks, Feeder Creeks, Runs, Bends, Etc...

This is probably the one topic of all that I have covered so far that most folks are probably interested in reading. "OK... I know what to use, no where can I find them at?" Right?

If I were to break down locations as simply as I could, I would say that catfish are opportunistic feeders that wait in the slack current for food to come by in the faster current. This is actually true of most river fish. They want to maximize their food intake while lessening their effort to obtain that food.

I suppose I should mention that everything I have discussed thus far primarily relates to river fishing cats, or I should say cats in current. Cats in reservoirs or rivers like the St Croix act just a bit differently because the current (or lack thereof) allows them to spread out more, they aren't as concentrated. Techniques such as drifting become more effective in covering water to find fish.


Fishing below a dam might possibly be my absolute favorite location to fish catfish. The dam (during normal water levels) acts as a barrier for all fish moving upstream. Because of this fact, fish end up concentrating below dams.

There are many different types of dams but my favorites are the kind that make a big scour hole below the dam. Most older "lowhead" dams fall into this category. The very popular "roller" dam at Red Wing (P4) also falls into this category. I haven't boated over the scour hole at the P4 dam lately but she's deep (60+ feet deep). Fishing right in the scour hole can be very good but you have to contend with anchoring and the incredible current located in that area.

Another feature that forms below dams are "eddies". There should be an eddy, or upstream current, that forms on each side of the dam near shore. If you cast a bobber out into one of these eddies, it will float in circles all day long. The current keeps revolving around and around in an eddy. Typically there will be a deeper hole within the eddy caused by the continuous circular motion of the current.

If I'm catfishing below a dam; I'll either fish in the scour hole, on the seam between the fast main channel current and the eddy current, or in the eddy. There are many, many good targetable areas below a dam.

Current Seam

Good, or even minor, current seams can be great spots to catch catfish. A current seam is that line between fast water and slow water. Typically a variation in the bank of the river will cause the current to be deflected away from the bank. Alot of the time, this variation in the bank will be caused by the composition of the bank itself (sand, clay, rock, rip rap, a big tree holding the soil in place, etc.) Certain earth materials erode away faster than others which creates the variation in the river shoreline. Seams sometimes have an eddy on the shoreline side, but always have slack water on the shoreline side.

Place your bait right on the seam and hold on!


A hole is pretty self explanatory. It is an area of deep water surrounded by shallower water. A hole is also relative depending on how deep the rest of the river is. Example - 40' is a deep hole where most of the river is 8-12' deep, 6' is a deep hole where most of the river is 0-2' deep.

The reason fish are in holes is because of lack of current. A hole creates a current seam under water in the horizontal plane (fast water on top, slow moving water in the hole) Additionally, the tail end of the hole tends to create turbulence (or an underwater eddy) where the current sucks back slightly upstream at the back of the hole.

Holes are typically formed in a river by a change of direction in the river current. Two very prime scenarios are a sharp bend or turn in the rivers direction, or an eddy current. Most of the sharp bends in a river have major current disturbance which you can feel when you cruise through there with a boat. This disturbance is carving out that hole on the bottom.

Something else to remember is there is a reason the river turns where it does. That comes back to soil composition. Water takes the path of least resistance and harder soils or rock will cause the river to change direction. Many of these outside bends will keep eating away and eating away at shoreline.

Because of this current scenario, holes are very, very difficult if not impossible to fish during high water stages.

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C&R, CPR, and Selective Harvest!

Before finishing up my "Catfishing for Beginners" tutorial, I really need to stress a few important conservation principles; that is C&R or CPR, and Selective Harvest.

If you like catching big fish like the rest of us, I need to stress that you let the big ones go! I feel obligated by sharing this knowledge, to also stress the importance of releasing these fish as well.

I'm personally seeing a stronger Catch & Release ethic on the river than I ever have. This is amongst the folks I know as well as other fisherman I bump into.

A flathead catfish doesn't grow to 40lbs overnight. Heck... they don't grow to 20lbs overnight either. These fish only grow large by living many years in the river eating. In the rivers that flathead catfish inhabit, they don't have any predators, other than man (us!). A flathead catfish is the dominant predator in their environment. They "own" the river, that is until they are caught by fisherman. It is then up to us to determine their fate and I HIGHLY advocate returning these fish to the water! Handle them carefully, take a quick photo, and let them go!

I could document more than a few flathead catfish that have been caught, released, and recaught by fellow fisherman I know. They can handle this, and they live to bite again!

In my perfect world, flathead catfish would be Catch & Release only by law in the state of Minnesota. That is obviously not the case but we can encourage this type of self regulating by educating catfish anglers. Thats why I'm typing this!

If you want to keep and eat catfish, we have a great opportunity here in Minnesota and that is the Channel Catfish. Channel Catfish in the 2-5lb range are absolutely delicious, highly prolific, and haven't lived long enough to absorb the toxins and chemicals found in our polluted rivers. Maybe saying "polluted river" is enough to discourage folks from eating anything out of the river but you are fine if you eat younger fish, they have had less time to absorb the pollutants from the river.

I am a very strong advocate of Catch & Release ONLY on all Flathead Catfish. I am also a very strong advocate of Selective Harvest on Channel Catfish (let the big ones go, keep the little ones if you desire).

You catfisherman will learn this, when flathead cattin' "hooks" you, you will spend night after night after night on the river fishing for these fish. IMO... a "GOOD" night is catching 2 flathead cats per angler in the boat regardless of size.

When you spend the entire summer chasing after these "Big" Flathead cats, why would you want to keep one? Thats my question to you when you hit the river in search of these fish.

Catch! Photo! Release!

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Sorry guys... for those reading this, my info is incomplete. I wanted to save some posts "at the top" for additional info, hence the series of 1 word posts.

I didn't want to make 1 post "too long" so I'm trying to break the info down into many posts which relate to specific subjects. It may take me a few more days to fill in the additional info.

I don't want this to be the "bible" so to speak but rather a spot that we can use to link to discussions where everyone can weigh in. I'll try to start these discussions as we get to them. Afterall, 'EVERYONE' on this forum brings valuable information to the table. We can toss ideas back and forth, etc. This is how we all become better fisherman. I would personally be a fool to admit that I know everything and am ignorant to new ideas. I'm not. I want to learn! Sharing, discussing, and debating topics is a great way for all of us to share what works.

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Guest Anonymous

i dont have a boat so i fish from shore, now what is the best way to set your pole like drag wise when it is sitting there? should i have the drag all the way down, should i have it tight and watch the rod tip...and lets just say i have have my drag tight and it starts makin the rod tip go, do i set the hook right away or do i let it have line and then set the hook?

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To get this thread back on track whistle.gif

What type of reel are using? Caster or spinner?

Caster, just click on the clicker (of sorts), spinner type set the drag soft and adjust when the hit comes.

I have also found the style of hook (when drag is set strong) can help with setting the hook with a shore stationary rod.

Circle: Pick up and side swing to the right if on the left side of the river, side swing to the left if on the right side of the river. The side of the river is figured upon look‘in down stream!

Other hooks: Pick up and swing back when the tip is going.

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walleyeslayer, you will want to tighten up your drag before setting the hook if you are using the drag as a line out alarm "bait clicker"

Rather than doing that, I'd recommend some sort of visual indicator.

Dark30 makes an awesome indicator with a wine cork and a clip. It's kind of hard to describe it, but it works perfect. Insert light stick and voila, you good all night long.

Perfect for shore fishing

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Dtro is right; you will want a detection device of sorts for the tip. I have had good luck in the past with the dingle bells combo pack from walfart. It is two bells on springs, that has a plastic base. Loosen the locking nut, clamp base on rod tip area of rod, tighten lock nut down (not to tight or it will break) and whala! You will even hear branch's floating into your line. Plus the ones I have glow in the dark. You just have to flash with head lamp every once and awhile.

I love the night glow sticks, but I always seem to run out or forget to pick some up. The bells are all ways in the box.

As for the spinner reel drag thing, I tend to keep the reel drag on the loose side my self when fishing from shore. Fishing in a boat, most of use lock our rod and reel in a holder of sorts. On shore some of the guys in this forum have great shore rod holders. My self, I always looking for a "Y" stick and rocks. That is why I set my drag loose. It serves two purposes, a click (sounder) like Dtro said and if the drag is set to tight, even a smaller fish will yank your combo (at night or even in the day) right into the river.

But!!! I also feel this loose drag when a fish biting, can be an issue you will have to learn.

It could entail loosing some fish at first. The tighter drag can help set the hook, before the rod and reel is picked up. On the other hand you might be diving into the shore line for you pole being dragged into the river.

I would like to see Dark30’s cork set up. Sound pretty neat.

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Excellent post! I am a curious bass fisherman who has always wanted to tackle the river but am very hesitant to do so. With posts like this I hope to get some courage to tackle the Minnesota River this spring.

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So are treble hooks out of the question? Last summer I learned on this site how to make quick strike rigs in preparation for ice fishing but I wanted to try it out sooner. I put a sucker minnow under a bobber using a quick strike and soon had my best channel cat of the year.

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Trebles work great for catching them, but they are really tough to remove since cats often take the bait deep. Since I release 99% of the cats I catch, I don't use treble hooks. If I were in a state where trebles are legal, and I was keeping my catch, I would use them.

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for strike indication, I use the clicker with live bait on a traditional hook, and dingle bells when tight lining circles.

Also, have trimmed my rigs down to 3 cat rods, plus one bait rod.

2 heavy's with superline for livebaiting, one mh with heavy mono for circles, and a simple med spincaster (for catching the bait!)

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I have yet another strike indicator for the shore fishermen. It is simple and easy.

A plastic pop bottle. Empy of course. I have taken about 6 feet of line and tied it to the bottle just below the threads. Then tie that off on your rod holder or stick on the bank where you are fishing. Then I put a small rock or two in the bottle and place the bottle over the end of the fishing rod ater you cast it out and get all set up. slide it down over the tip. Now that will be pulled up and off the end of your rod when cat starts taking line, the bottle will rattle when it hits the ground or water so you can hear it plus now that you have it tied off you will not loose the bottle down river. If you forget your bottle, of course some carless fishermen before you might have left some trash behind, like a bottle or can and you can now recycle it and use that. If you get a fast bite that bottle will pop off there like a rocket. I am betting that if you put them bells in the bottle that will make a great bell rocket when you get that strike.

My favorite is the FishAlert. I have several of these and will not leave home with out them when I plan on shore fishing.. You just cant beat them. I get mine from Austrailia. They rock!!!

Happy fishing.

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