How to catch a wels catfish [Tips for wels catfishing]

How to catch a wels catfish [Tips for wels catfishing]

In this article, I’m going to show you the basics of how to catch the wels catfish. The wels catfish is an incredibly hard-fighting fish, so you need to be beefed up for them. I’m going to go through some rigs, some bait, and some general equipment just to give you an idea of how you’re going to get out there and catch your first catfish.

Tips to catch a wels catfish

1. Rod and reel setup

Rod and reel setup to catch a wels catfish

Firstly you’re going to need a strong rod to catch a wels catfish. Personally, I use a 4.5-pound test curve but anything from 3.5 upwards should be okay.

Next onto your reel I personally use 30-pound mono but anything above 80-pound braid should be okay as well.

The world’s catfish have hundreds of teeth almost like velcro and are very abrasive. This is why you need to make sure that your rigs are beefed up.

2. Rigs and bait

Rigs and bait to catch a wels catfish

Here’s my personal favorite rig. Firstly what you’re going to need is a weight stop, a weight with a run ring, some bait shields, and a poly ball rig. I tend to buy the poly ball rigs pre-made but they are very easy to make.

Firstly you’re going to put the weight onto your main line followed by the stopper bead.

Next, thread your main line onto the swivel of the poly ball rig, and using a simple blood knot wrap it around six to eight times. Wet the knot before pulling tight to ensure maximum efficiency.

Poly balls are used mainly for life bait including worms, small fish, and leeches. In order to keep your bait on you’ll need a bait shield.

Once you’ve hooked your bait it ensures it stays on. And there you have it that’s a finished poly ball rig.

To give you an idea of how the poly ball rig works here’s a crudely drawn sketch I have for you.

how the poly ball rig works

As you can see the poly ball is up in the water with the bait dangling just below it. It then runs down to the running lead weight which holds the bottom and allows you to adjust the depth of your bait.

People often mistake catfish’s bottom feeders, however, this isn’t the case as they feed at all different depths. This is why the poly ball rig is a great method as you can just adjust the depth very easily.

dumbbell rig

Another rig I like to use is a dumbbell rig. However, this is for more advanced cat fishermen. The dumbbell rig is used to fish just below the surface.

Catfish often come up to hit fry which is why the dumbbell rig is a very effective way of fishing for catfish.

They have an underslung jaw a bit like pike which helps them attack from the bottom.

Another great method is your bog-standard hair rig. Again I buy these pre-made but they’re very easy to make. Large pellets such as the ones shown on screen now can be very effective.

Big stinky boilies can also be great especially if they’re used alongside a spot mix.

As a personal preference, I prefer to use life baits as that’s what I’ve had most of my success on. Worms, leeches, and small roach are brilliant baits for catfish and will lead you to success in catching your first fish.

3. General Equipment

General Equipment

Just to give you an idea of the equipment that I use for catfishing, I’ve laid out my unhooking map for you. You can see by the size of this just how big the fish are that you’re going to be dealing with.

Also, the net that I use is a 60-inch net made by catfish pro. It’s a brilliant net and it’s very sturdy and it’s so big that even I can fit in it.

Something also to consider is a set of waders. Catfish are very slippery and slimy and they can leave you covered in snotty stuff.

4. General Knowledge to help you catch wels catfish

General Knowledge to help you catch wels catfish

Next up is a little bit of general knowledge to help you catch your very own catfish.

Let’s start with location. Like much predatory fish catfish like the cover so be sure to find any features on the lake where you think the catfish might be able to hide.

Something like an overhanging tree, some lily pads and rushes, and maybe any deep holes that you can find in the lake bed. Having said this I’ve had success using live bait in open water because catfish have a great predatory instinct and use their whiskers to sense vibrations.

Catfish generally have poor eyesight and are nocturnal for the most part which is why they rely on their sense of smell and their whiskers to hunt their prey.

This being said it is still possible to catch them during the day.

The best time of year to fish for catfish is between spring and the end of autumn as this is when the catfish’s metabolism begins to speed up and they need to feed more often.

At the beginning of the season and towards the end of the season I tend to find soft baits work better as the catfish’s metabolism is still on the low side and it’s easy for them to digest a soft debate such as worms or a live bait rather than that of a pellet.

This is why I offer live bait at the beginning of spring and towards the end of the warmer months. My personal favorite method is live baiting.

The best way to handle a catfish is to have one hand under the front pectoral fin and the other hand nearer the back supporting the weight.

Holding under the pectoral fin

Holding under the pectoral fin not only allows you to hold it properly but also takes the pressure of holding it from the belly or the head. I also find that sticking my elbow out helps me to hold the catfish as seen in this picture.

If you’re fishing with somebody else and you catch a large catfish get them to jump in and help you hold it.

Also, read How to catch carp in a river [4 steps to catching river carp].

FAQs on how to catch a wels catfish

Are wels catfish Aggressive?

Wels catfish, on the other hand, are aggressive predators who will eat almost everything that fits in their massive maws. Live and dead carp are also popular baits.

What is the largest wels catfish ever caught?

The official all-tackle world record for a wels catfish is 297 pounds, 9 ounces, set by Attila Zsedely on March 11, 2010, in Italy’s River Po. The largest ever reported weighed 317 pounds and extended 9 feet, 1 inch. It was caught in Italy’s Po Delta.

Do wels catfish like garlic?

Yes, garlic works as a catfish bait attractant and appears to encourage catfish. Especially when combined with other highly fragrant or naturally scented baits like nightcrawlers, baitfish/cut bait, and shrimp.

Can you catch wels catfish in the winter?

Catfish frequently return to the same locations year after year, so if you find your sweet spots, you should have success there every winter. Because cats return to familiar resting places, it is critical not to over-harvest.

What smell attracts catfish?

The smell should be stronger to attract catfish. Chicken liver, gutted fish, Limburger cheese, and rotting shrimp are some examples of ingredients that can be combined. The greatest stink bait is marinated for a few days and “ripened” so that the combination of aromas is appealing to catfish.

What depth do you fish catfish?

In lakes, the ideal depth for capturing catfish is between 15 and 20 feet deep. Because catfish live in such depths in most lakes, this is known as the catfish zone. They can, however, live in shallow regions depending on the time of year and the temperature of the water.

Well guys we’ve reached the end of our article. I really hope you enjoyed it but most of all I hope it helps you get out there and catch your very own catfish. Leave me a comment if you have any other questions and I’ll be sure to get back to you but other than that have a great day.

Fenil Kalal is a talented web content writer that specialises in health and fitness, fishing, travel, cryptography, and gardening. His skills and expertise in the field are the result of years of research and study. His passion in science, along with a bachelor's degree in information technology, gives him an edge and adds value to his work. Because he is fascinated by science and technology, writing high-quality content has become a virtue for him.

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