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Using Cut Bait for Successful Catfish Fishing

Viewer Question: “Is white perch good to use as cut bait for catfish & should the hook be exposed?” - Jack

Let’s talk about the answers to this catfish question, as well as share some extra catfish fishing tips.

Cut Bait Types

Catfish love cut bait. White perch is an excellent bait to use, but be sure it is legal to use in your province or state. Each province/state may have different rules & regulations relating to which types of bait you can or cannot use. So be sure to check your local fishing regulations book for details.

Nicole with two huge catfish

Other great baits to use for catfish (if legal to do so) are suckers, carp, any kind of sunfish, smelts, or shads just to name a few. Sunfish in particular are a great bait to use as well.

Cut Bait Tips

The key to cut bait is to be sure it is fresh. Fresh cut bait will definitely produce more hits when fishing for catfish and every other kind of fish.

When using cut bait, it will give off scent while it’s in the water. It’s a great practice to change your cut bait every 30 minutes, as your bait will otherwise get “water-logged” & loose its effectiveness. Don’t forget that catfish rely heavily on smell.

Antonio, the Boatless Angler author, with a channel catfish over 23 pounds!

If your cut bait is from a fish with large scales, then be sure to de-scale the fish prior to cutting it up as bait. If you leave the scales on, they will act as an insulator & prevent more scent from being released. Without the scales, you are ensuring that the maximum amount of scent is being released from your cut bait.

If you were to go one step further and simply remove the skin, this will definitely give off more scent but there is one major disadvantage – the cut bait will be able to come off your hook very easy. The skin adds some “toughness” to your bait, allowing it to stay firmly on your hook, giving you a much better chance at catching a nice sized catfish!

Hook Tips

When using cut bait, you will want to be sure that the hook point & barb are exposed. Be sure to push the hook right through the cut bait. This will help ensure a good hook set. If the hook point & barb are “buried” in your cut bait, when you set the hook, you will need to get through your cut bait first, prior to getting into the catfish.

Phil with a 13lb Catfish

The hooks should have a large gap. Size 2/0 to size 5/0 hooks would be common hook sizes to use for catfish. The extra gap in your hook will help accommodate the cut bait & allow for your hook point & barb to be exposed.

Thinner diameter hooks should also be avoided. Catfish are tough & you will need to be sure that your hooks are a bit thicker/heavier in nature, so that they will not bend when setting the hook – or when fighting the fish.

Size of Cut Bait

Your cut bait size can vary. Personally, I say do not be afraid to use bigger baits. Also, bait cut into a long thin strip is more attractive to catfish than bait which is cut into a big square. Long, thin bait is also accommodated very nicely on to your hook as well.

If you are using sunfish for example, fillet the fish & then cut the fillet in half length wise (right along the lateral line). If you are using very large hooks, you can also get away with using the whole fillet if you would like, but a strip will work just fine.

We hope these cut bait tips will help put you on to more catfish & bigger catfish!

Thanks again for writing in Jack & until next time, good luck on the water & good fishin’!

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