Hook Setting Catfish

Discussion in 'All Catfishing' started by Environmentor, Jan 17, 2006.

  1. Environmentor

    Environmentor New Member

    Messages:
    95
    State:
    Buffalo, Iowa
    As I have stated on this forum, I have trouble catching catfish. I have read many magazines and articles and know what I am doing in general. My mom taught me to catfish. She has no trouble hooking catfish, but I have trouble hooking catfish. My problem is timing. I can hook any other fish, and catfish in lakes; however, I live near the Mississippi River and have trouble setting the hook in the currenty conditions. (I have actually stopped fishing this "great" fishery - greatest in my area - in the last several years, but would like to start fishing it again.) If I miss the hookset, then I miss the fish. I usually set the hook at the first sign of rod tip movement (missing the fish) or too late, waiting for the fish to really hammer the bait or swallow the bait (but, the fish usually has taken all the bait and left by this time). My mom has told me too wait for ding, ding, pause ding HOOKSET, but this has only partially worked for me, yeilding me about 50% of the bites. Another person told me to lift up until I feel the weight of the fish (this works to a degree), but if I lift the weight up to feel the fish and its not biting the current carries the rig downstream (and the fish is gone). Again, this has only yeilding me a success rate of 50%. I find that some big channels and flatheads hook themselves, but what about all these fish I keep missing.

    I want to hear your opinions on when to set the hook for catfish (preferably channel catfish, if you have different methods for channels/blues/flatheads). How long do you wait? How many dings do you count? How do you know when to set the hook? Please help, and thanks for your help. Plus, I am sure some people new to catfishing could use this information.
     
  2. slimcat

    slimcat New Member

    Messages:
    952
    State:
    marion kentucky
    Man, the best thing to do is let that pole bend down good in your rod holder and hold it down for just a few seconds and then stick em. I do it some also, being inpatient especially when the fish are just tap, tapping the bait. Especially using circle hooks but it also works for kahle hooks as well. I don't like picking the pole up especially using braided line, the least movement and those cats will feel it. Let the fish do the hooking.:)
     

  3. SangamonCatKiller

    SangamonCatKiller New Member

    Messages:
    488
    State:
    central illinois
    I agree with slimcat. Are you fishing for big flattys w/large rod n reels and bluegill for bait and such ? If so you definitely want a big steel poleholder. Just let that thing drop, and it will when your using bluegill for bait.
     
  4. Ol Whiskers

    Ol Whiskers New Member

    Messages:
    290
    State:
    Fairfield Township, Ohio
    Ron,

    You didn't say what bait, or how large a bait, or maybe more important how large a hook in relation to the bait your have on. Probably the best general tip I could give for most live and cut baits is to leave the hook point exposed, as the cats don't seem to mind at all. Keep a diamond sharpener or india stone and make the hook sharp enough to catch of its own weight into your thumbnail.

    I use J-hooks (Eagle Claw O'Shaunessy tin plate) in sizes from 3/0 to 7/0, mostly. There'll be plenty of schools of thought on tighline versus clicker/baitfeeder, and I use both with J-hooks. Rig with a 3-way swivel, hook dropper about 12 to 30 inches, and sinker dropper in similar length but of a lighter line than your main to allow the sinker to break off should it get snagged. Or, use a slipsinker (Carolina Rig), bead, swiwel, and leader line. Either way works OK tightlined or clicker. If you run a baitfeeder or clicker, make sure you take up any slack to straighten out any bow in the line caused by the river current (worse if you're bank fishing) before you set the hook, as the fish will not always be pulling directly away from you.

    If you're using circle hooks, you just about have to let the fish take the bait and run against the line and weight of the rod, allowing it to hook itself as indicated by a doubled over rod, then don't jerk to set but gently sweep the rod back to a fighting position as you take up the weight of the fish - this takes a bit of patience to holld off if your really used to crossing their eyes at the first flick of the rod tip.
     
  5. dinkbuster1

    dinkbuster1 New Member

    Messages:
    2,272
    State:
    Ohio
    if your fishing in heavy current and your sinker moves because you pick your rod up then what your thinking are bites might be your sinker bouncing along the bottom. try a heavier sinker and some circle hooks. when im in a lot of current i use circles, and when cats are in current they usually gulp anything down before the current snatches it away so so you really dont have to wait to start crankin. REMEMBER do not jerk on circles!
     
  6. slimcat

    slimcat New Member

    Messages:
    952
    State:
    marion kentucky
    I forgot to add that don't swing on circles just pick the pole up and start cranking! But with kahles you can swing. These hooks provide better hook up ratios!!!
     
  7. Gone fishin 4 kittys

    Gone fishin 4 kittys New Member

    Messages:
    678
    State:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    If your having a real big promblem you should try using circle hook thier great gets them in the side of the mouth almost everytime..


    Ol' Whiskers that was some great info rep points for you :p
     
  8. bro_catfish

    bro_catfish New Member

    Messages:
    425
    State:
    Ohio ,Coshocton County
    I seem to struggle with this as well
    All my life I have trained myself to keep a constant eye on the rod tip,and to hover over the rod holder like a puma for the second bob of the rod..and then WHAM, you didnt want to be behind me !
    Now that I have calmed down and upgraded to baitcaster with clickers I dont set so hard but I do get caught up in the moment and doubt myself on when to pick up and hookset
     
  9. nathan king

    nathan king New Member

    Messages:
    150
    State:
    vernon tx
    hey guy hang in there. dont give up due to the frustration it happens to the best of us. i'll tell you what i think works best for channels. i use treble hooks, now with channels most of the time probably 75% of the time they peck,peck, peck right. what you do when the pecking starts is pick up your rod it shouldnt run the fish off now what i do is see if he comes back and ive had em go as long as a few minuites then while he's pecking eventually he'll pick it up and when you get that slightest pull maybe split to half a second pull set the hook. it just takes practice and no you cant get them all but thats channel cat fishing. good luck and hang in there.
     
  10. beaneye46

    beaneye46 New Member

    Messages:
    209
    State:
    indiana
    what i usually do is leave the bail open and turn my clicker on, that way i know when something has a hold of my bait. i let them run a little bit and jerk. i can usually tell when a catfish is biting because it will most of the time pick up the bait and start swimming, but then there are gar which will carry the bait a little bit and let go until my bluegill is half gone. and as far as current i usually fish around bends where the current is slower and i use the no roll sinkers which are pretty awesome.
    fishin for channels for me requires patience cause they seem to like to taste the bait and spit it out. just wait for a good solid bite and lay into him. i've had good luck using minnows/shad on channels, they tend to take them pretty good.
     
  11. vlparrish

    vlparrish New Member

    Messages:
    1,276
    State:
    Bedford, Kentucky
    I usually use a three way rig and always use a good sharp J-style hook. I also always tightline. This said, if you use a hook comparable to the size of the bait you should hook at least 90 percent or higher of the strikes that you get. I will let the rod load up from a fraction of an inch up to bending to the breaking point if I'm busy. Also, set the hook nice and firm. I know that my hook set ratio is over 90 percent. Channel cats can be a little tricky though, because they tend to peck at the bait sometimes. Let them be and with a sharp hook they should finally commit. I agree with Nathan that a treble can help with any cat on a finicky bite. My go to hook is a 5/0 eagle claw J-style and I use it almost exclusively. Also if you are getting a lot of bait stolen and not catching fish, it could be the bait. Are you using a lot of worms and crawlers? If you are, try switching to a bait fish or a minnow, because maybe you are getting a lot of taps from bluegills and fiddlers. The only time that I use worms is when I'm fishing for bait. Vern
     
  12. Rockjumper

    Rockjumper New Member

    Messages:
    358
    State:
    Parker,Pennsylvania
    I had the same problem....I went to circle hooks and love them. Circles are in my book the answer to the catfish hookset.

    When using regular hooks with big bait, what helped me was I would let the fish "run" with the bait. Open bail. When he would stop, I would "cross his eyes" with a good hookset. The problem I was having is that I wasn't giving the fish enough time to get the bait in his mouth. Sometimes when a little finicky, they like to put the bait in there mouth and spit it back out. Maybe trying to kill the bait or just softening up a bit. The fish would bounce the rod, bend the pole, and I would grab and set and nothing was there. I let him run when using a regular "J" hook.

    Try different sizes of hooks, also try different rigs. Hang in there. That is a part of fishing.....finding what works is the "fun" part..........catching is the other.............
     
  13. crazy

    crazy New Member

    Messages:
    2,090
    State:
    Kansas CIty, MO
    Two words.....

    Circle Hooks....

    Like many have said the key to circle hooks is not setting the hook. Heck I don't even pick my rod up out of the rod holder until I KNOW he is hooked then I just pick up the rod and fight is on. In that current just let the fish do all the work him self. When I fish non moving water like lakes and ponds I will sometimes go to J style hooks but that is rare anymore.
     
  14. tncatfishing

    tncatfishing New Member

    Messages:
    916
    State:
    clk. tn
    If your missing that many fish then it sounds like a small cat is mesing with your bait, try using a smaller hook and bait and see what happens. When I look to set the hook on a cat that is biting I wait for a big hit and lay into them. Where you fish at do you have alot of current, this can play a big factor in thinking when you have a bite it is actualy the current. Where I usualy fish the current is coming back to me at an angle, and when the line goes realy slack a cat has picked it up and because of the current coming at me, take up slack and hit em.I generaly miss about10 percent of the time give or take.
     
  15. Environmentor

    Environmentor New Member

    Messages:
    95
    State:
    Buffalo, Iowa
    Thanks for all the info. I was expecting some single answer. Seems like there is a pretty good diversity, tons of ways to hook the catfish. Any way, I am no amateur, I just ain't very good. Its not the weight bottom bouncing, as a couple of you said, nor is it barge surges (which is common on the Mississippi River). In am used to this phenomenon. Its definitly a fish/turtle. Also, since everyone around me is catching catfish, I think its definitly catfish bites, probably channels, little peck-peck-pecks as one of you said. I don't use bluegill for channel in my area (I have no problem hooksetting flathead, they always seem to hammer the bluegill). Rather, I use minnows, shad, stinkbait, doughbait, liver, worms, just about anything but bluegills for channel catfish, and fish it slipsinker style or Carolina-rigged to borrow the bass fishing term. I typically use J style hooks and braided line. However, I think the best concensus is to switch to circle hooks and let the hooks do the work for catfishing. (I seem to have no problem with all other species I fish for, using J-hooks and etc. with about 90%-99% hooksetting for flathead, bass, bluegill, crappie, etc.). However, all of your comments have been helpful and greatly appreciated, with your help I should be able to catch more channel catfish.
     
  16. Catchinbiguns

    Catchinbiguns Member

    Messages:
    605
    State:
    Kansas City, Ks
    I;m with you BAITFIsh, there's nothing like setting the hook on anysized catfish. I like the concept of a circle hook but the good ol J style does it for me.
     
  17. brinley45cal

    brinley45cal Active Member

    Messages:
    2,606
    State:
    kentucky
    tell me if you think this is wrong to do.I was talking to a guy who said he keeps his line tight which is what your suppose to do,but he said when he gets a bite he dosent wait for the line to take off he waits until the tight line goes slack and then sets the hook.You know when you have a bite and the line drops back thats when he says he sets the hook because hes says that means the cat is mouthing the bait.So is this a bunch a bull or is he correct in doing this?
     
  18. Rockjumper

    Rockjumper New Member

    Messages:
    358
    State:
    Parker,Pennsylvania
    Never heard that one, but hey, if it works for him, I say don't fix it!
     
  19. Shawn

    Shawn New Member

    Messages:
    408
    State:
    Illinois
    It makes a huge difference what hooks your using.

    I primarily use either Tru Turn or Eagle Claw L042 wide gap. I like the 3/0 or 4/0 wide gaps a lot for bluegill baits....

    When a fish picks-up, keeping the line tight, I start up high (about 10 O'clock position) and let the rod follow the fish down (against steady, light tension) until the rod levels and then give 'em heck with a solid, swift hookset straight overhead. You've got to set with conviction, though. When you're ready to swing, make a swift and strong motion - no hesitation.

    I do better with no clicker, and when not letting the fish take out line. I might ease out some line against steady tension to get the rod in the ready position (10 O'Clock), and to be sure the fish has turned with the bait. But then I lock back in before following the fish down as mentioned above, getting ready to hookset.

    I'm just experimenting with circle hooks still, using those I would keep the rod in a holder and let the fish get a good load-up. Then carefully get the rod and start reeling keeping steady pressure to be sure the hook was driven home.

    It obviously makes a big difference in the way the fish bites; if the fish hammers your bait and takes off... let 'em have it!!!!! If the fish is very tentative, it might take time to move away with the bait. Smaller fish usually move off pretty steady.

    Shawn
     
  20. s_man

    s_man New Member

    Messages:
    3,012
    State:
    south east ohio
    Before you go to circle hooks, just try downsizing your hook.It sounds like small cats to me. Or put on less bait,that way they have to eat it instead of peck the edges. If that works and you catch a few little ones (5 to 10 inches) You might as well move cause there aren't any big ones around to chase them off anyway. Big fish eat little fish. And the little fish know it. Or come back at a different time when the bigger guys are feeding there.