Our Catfish Fishing Gear

If you’re planning a guided catfish fishing trip with North Texas Catfish Guide Service we provide all bait tackle and equipment that you need while fishing with us, all you have to do is show up and bring your Texas Fishing License and whatever food or drinks you wish to have for the day, and we will take of the rest.

We get a lot of questions on our catfish guide trips about the equipment we use for catfishing so we have created this page to serve as a reference for our guided catfish fishing trip customers at North Texas Catfish Guide Service.

There are a number of different variables that look at when considering fishing tackle for catfishing, durability and easy of repair.

Fishing for Big Texas Blue Catfish (Trophy Catfishing) and fishing for blue catfish and channel catfish with rod and reel gives us a variety of different fishing scenarios that we have to consider and a number of different considerations as far as equipment.

Whether you’re a seasoned catfish angler or just getting started and trying to learn how to catch catfish, this information should help with your decision making process on what catfishing equipment you should use. All of the items that are listed here are catfishing equipment that we use on our North Texas Catfish Guide Service Guided Catfish Fishing Trips so we can give you our stamp of approval that they will work.

SeaArk ProCat 240


Our Catfish Boat

We fish from a 2015 SeaArk ProCat 240 catfish boat powered by a Suzuki 225 Four Stroke Outboard.

The SeaArk ProCat 240 is 24 feet long with a full wrap around windshield, large front and rear decks, a 100 gallon tournament livewell, large swivel fishing seats, bait well and all of the latest features and technology.

You can learn more about our rig on our catfish guide boat page.


Considerations for Buying or Rigging a Catfish Boat

Our catfish boat is aluminum. We prefer aluminum to fiberglass for weight and durability. Aluminum boats are tough and easy to care for. There is no need to worry about scratching the gel coat or knocking a hole in the hull with a stump. You can bang these aluminum boats up pretty good and not do any serious damage to them, and if cared for, they will last a lifetime. Just make sure if you’re considering buying an aluminum catfish boat you buy an all welded hull. Riveted hulls, although they usually cost less, will develop leaks over time.

Tailor the size of the boat to the number of people you will be fishing. If you’re a weekend fisherman that fishes a few times a month with one or two other people then a 17 or 18 foot catfish boat will work fine for what you need in most instances.

Several styles of hulls are available, and in our opinion the modified v hull is the best option available. They handle rough water well, but are still very stable and also capable for running in shallow water.

Interiors of boats used for catfishing should NOT HAVE CARPET. I cannot stress this enough. Catfish are very slimy and once you get the catfish slime on carpet it will never come out, and over time it will begin to smell. Look for a boat that has an interior that does not have carpet and can be cleaned easily when it gets packed full of fish slime and shad scales.

Make sure the boat has plenty of storage area for stowing your gear so you do not have things sliding all around your boat while you’re trailering your boat or running across the lake.

Always buy the most motor that you can afford, or that the boat will handle, talk to the boat dealer about how the boat will handle with different horsepower motors and see if they will let you test drive boats to get an idea of what you would need and what you like.


humminbird 1198 sonar fishfinder catfish

Sonar – Fish Finders – Graph – GPS – Electronics

Sonar (Fish Finders) are an essential tool for fishing for catfish. To be successful fishing for catfish, especially blue catfish and trophy blue catfish you need to have a good set of electronics (sonar fish finder graph) on your catfish boat.

Hunting down the structure and cover that hold catfish is an essential part of fishing for catfish. Gone are the days of your granddaddies catfishing when you went to the lake and hung a few baits off the side of the boat at a random location on the lake and waited for the catfish to come along and bite.

My sonar (fish finder graph) electronics is one of the most important tools I have in my catfish. I cannot even begin to imagine how catfish anglers used to fish for catfish without the use of the sonar fish finder, and this especially applies to blue catfish.

The sonar fish finder allows us to view the structure of the bottom of the lake, locate river channels, humps, creek channels, drop offs etc. and also locate cover underwater in the lake like trees and brush piles. It also allows us to determine the type of bottom you will be fishing on, and locate schools of shad and baitfish and active feeding catfish.

The bottoms of the lake on most lakes have a tremendous structure to them that holds catfish and opens the doors for the catfish angler to explore new areas and see under the water. We depend on constantly monitoring the bottom structure of the lake and looking for shad and baitfish and active feeding fish.

When it comes to sonar fish finders, the best advice I can offer you is to buy the very best that you can afford as these are truly an item that you will get what you pay for. The price range on sonar fish finders will be all over the place so it is best to shop around and look at features and benefits and pricing of each unit.

We use the Humminbird 1198 that has traditional sonar, GPS, down imaging and side imaging.

 Fishing Rod Holders for Catfishing

Fishing Rod holders are essential for fishing for catfish. Every boat should have them. Not only do they come in handle and help prevent you from losing fishing rods when a fish hits, but there are different styles and methods of fishing for catfish that make fishing rod holders a necessity for catfishing.

On our catfish guide boat we use on our guided catfish fishing trips, we’re currently using a rod holder we’ve custom designed and built for our own use but there’s many good brands of fishing rod holders on the market.

I would recommend a minimum of five or six fishing rod holders on your catfish boat and you may even want more fishing rod holders than that. As you can see if you look at pictures of our catfish guide boat we have a lot of fishing rod holders on the boat. We do this so we can easily fish with multiple different fishing rods from any side of the boat including the front or back, and fish from an angle on our catfish guide boat.

Wherever you choose to put your fishing rod holders, make sure they are easily accessible and that you purchase a good high quality durable fishing rod holder. I do not recommend plastic fishing rod holders that are available because they break easily and are not made to withstand the pressure of big catfish.


catfish rod and reel

Catfish Fishing Rods

Channel Catfish Fishing Rods – Fishing Rods for Channel Catfish

Fishing Rods are something that people are very opinionated about and there are so many different styles and types of fishing rods for catfish out there that one can get overwhelmed very quickly when looking for a catfish fishing rod.

In 2014 I partnered with Whisker Seeker Tackle and built the Whisker Seeker Tackle Chad Ferguson Signature Series Catfish Rod. This rod was custom built to my specifications creating a very light and sensitive catfish rod that’s still big and beefy enough for landing trophy class catfish.

You can learn more about the Whisker Seeker Tackle Chad Ferguson Signature Series Catfish Rod here or buy your own here from Whisker Seeker Tackle.

Some things to consider when choosing a catfish fishing rod:

  • Will you be fishing for blue catfish or channel catfish? Channel catfish bight very shy in most cases so a more sensitive (faster) tip on your catfish fishing rod will help detect a light channel catfish bite, if your fishing for blue catfish then they have tendency to bit much harder and typically hit like a freight train so the sensitivity of the catfish fishing rod is less critical, especially if using a bait casting reel with a bait clicker.
  • What type of fishing reel will you be using for fishing for catfish. Bait cast reels are usually the best option but if you cannot cast a bait cast fishing reel and you use spinning reels or close face reels (spin cast) you need to make sure you get the right rod for the right fishing reel, there is a big difference between the types of fishing rods.
  • The length of your catfish fishing rod will help with two things, casting distance and catching big catfish . The longer the length is of your catfish fishing rod, the farther you will be able to cast. The length of the catfish fishing rod is also critical in landing big fish. The longer the fishing rod is the easier it is to get big fish in the boat. Catching a trophy blue catfish on a 7 foot rod is much harder on the angler than catching a trophy blue catfish on a 8 foot or 9 foot catfish fishing rod. The shortest catfish fishing rod we use on our guided catfish fishing trips are 7’6″ and these are the fishing rods for channel catfish. Most of our catfish fishing rods are 8′, 8’6″ or 9″.
  • How much does the rod weigh. If you will be fishing for catfish with the rod in your hand will the catfish fishing rod be too heavy to hold for long periods of time?
  • Does the catfish fishing rod have a good long handle that will allow you plenty of room for your hands and help with fishing fish, as well as keep you fishing reels a decent distance from your fishing rod holders to allow access to your fishing reel?
  • Don’t choose a fishing rod based on color or appearance. Look at the length and action of the fishing rod and don’t base decisions on color or appearance.
  • Most catfish fishing rods that are longer than 7 feet long will be two piece fishing rods.
Fishing Reels for Catfish

Fishing reels for catfish vary from person to person but one thing holds true no matter where you go or who you talk to as far as fishing reels for catfish. The Abu Garcia 6500C3 is considered the gold standard of fishing reels for catfish and probably is the most commonly used fishing reel among catfish anglers hands down above any other catfish fishing reel. The Abu Garcia 6000 Model Reels and 6600 Model Reels are also very common and considered excellent fishing reels for catfish as these reels are basically the same fishing reel as the Abu Garcia 6500C3 with some variations, but the size, shape and frame are all the same. The Abu Garcia 6500C3 and 6000 are without a doubt the most widely known reels. Here is a link to the  Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3 Classic Round Bait cast Reels

The difference between the Abu Garcia 6500C3 and the Abu Garcia 6000 Reels (Usually these model Numbers will be 6000B or TGC6000) are the number of bearings, where the 6500C3 has three ball bearings the TGC6000 has one and the 6000B has a bushing instead of a ball bearing. The Abu Garcia 6600CL Rockets and Abu Garcia 6600CB are also the same reel as the 6500C3 but have a thumb bar instead of the smaller metal push button for casting.

One thing remains consistent among all of these fishing reels for catfish. They are all round open face bait casting reels, they all hold a lot of fishing line, they all have bait clickers on them (also known as line out alarms) and they all have good smooth drags on them, all of which are essential for fishing for catfish.

Although there are other reels out there for catfishing, again the Abu Garcia fishing reels are the most widely used for fishing for catfish. These reels have been around for generations, they are very durable and well built, parts and repairs are readily accessible, and they hold their value as well.

All of the above mentioned fishing reels for catfish are open faced round bait casting reels. Although you may find an occasional catfish angler that uses spinning reels, or spin casting reels for fishing for catfish, the round bait caster is most commonly used for fishing for catfish. Spinning reels are often awkward and difficult to use and are difficult to find in models that hold large capacities of fishing line and that have bait clickers or line alarms on them, although many catfish anglers are successful fishing with spinning reels fishing for channel catfish and blue catfish of smaller sizes, we are simply not big fans of spinning reels. Spin cast reels like the Zebco 303 are often used by novice catfish anglers as well and they will work great for smaller fish but are not likely to hold up against or be able to handle a bigger sized catfish.

The bottom line is, like we said before, when fishing for catfish, you can always size down your equipment, but you need to be prepared to handle a bigger catfish at any given time. Most of the fish you catch may very well be between one and five pounds but it is always a possibility you may hook into a bigger catfish at any given time. If your intention is to get serious about fishing for catfish, especially bigger catfish, then you need to purchase and learn how to properly use a baitcasting reel. If you dedicate a little time and patience to learning how to properly use one of these fishing reels for catfish, you will have it down in now time and will be a much more successful catfish angler in the long run.

The fishing reels we use on our guided catfish fishing trips at North Texas Catfish Guide Service are all Abu Garcia fishing reels, and they are all the open faced round bait casters. The 6500C3, TGC6000 and 6600CB are the models we own and our preference would definitely be the Abu Garcia 6500C3 for our guided fishing trips for catfish in North Texas. While these reels may be a little expensive for some people, again you need to remember that you get what you pay for and although a $20 fishing reel may work for a few catfish fishing trips it is not something that is going to hold up in the long run, purchasing a quality fishing reel from a reputable manufacturer is something that will last you a lifetime.

Some considerations for purchasing a fishing reel for catfish:

  • Open faced round bait casters are most commonly used.
  • Make sure your purchasing a fishing reel that has a big wide spool on it that will hold a lot of fishing line.
  • Make sure your fishing reel has a bait clicker on it. Bait Clickers are an essential part of many different fishing techniques. We will not fish for catfish on our guided catfish fishing trips with a reel that does not have a bait clicker or line out alarm on it.
  • Make sure the fishing reel has a good smooth drag system on it that will hold up. The drag is probably the most crucial part of the fishing reel for catfish because this is what slips to prevent the fishing line from breaking.
Fishing Line for Catfish

Fishing line is critical when fishing for catfish. The very element that holds the catfish to get it into the boat is probably the most overlooked and where people make critical errors by trying to save a few pennies by buying some off brand import no-name fishing line, guess what, again, you get what you pay for.

When fishing for catfish there are generally two types of fishing lines to consider, monofilament fishing line, and braided or fused superline fishing lines like PowerPro, Fireline XDS, Spiderwire etc. Both types of fishing line have their place when fishing for catfish and different times call for different types of fishing line.

On our North Texas Catfish Guide Service guided fishing trips for catfish we use both types of fishing line for catfish.

Let’s talk first about monofilament fishing line for catfish. Monofilament fishing line is the line of choice when fishing in open water, deep water and general all around catfishing. The line we use is Ande Monofilament. I have tried many others throughout the years but Ande is absolutely the best fishing line we have ever used and it holds more than 1300 line class records, which is more than any other fishing line out there, so obviously they are doing something right.

Monofilament fishing line is the fishing line of choice for all around catfishing. It is fairly inexpensive, it has good stretch to it, holds knots well and is very durable.

The specific fishing lines we use are Ande Monofilament in Tournament Yellow in 20 Lb Test and Ande Monofilament Green Envy in 20 Lb Test. On our North Texas guided fishing trips for catfish we use the 20 Lb Test Ande Monofilament for fishing for everything from smaller blue catfish and channel catfish, to fishing for trophy blue catfish as well. You can find this fishing line here  Ande Premium Monofilament Line – 1/4 lb. Spool

Most people think that if they are fishing for big catfish they need to use larger pound test fishing line, but this could not be further from the truth. The 121 Lb World Record Blue Catfish caught in Texas at Lake Texoma in 2004 was caught on 20 Lb Monofilament fishing line, so that should be proof enough for you. 20 Lb test line is more than adequate for fishing for catfish anywhere you go in Texas and is capable of landing any size fish if you have a good fishing reel for catfish with a properly set drag and are using proper fishing techniques.

The diameter or pound test of fishing line you use effects several things, but the primary concerns are casting and break strength. The larger diameter line you use the less distance you will get when casting (or the more difficult it will be to cast) and the harder it will be to break your fishing line when you get hung up. You want to be able to cast long distances when need and be able to break your fishing line easily when you get hung up.

The lakes are full of underwater obstructions and you will be constantly getting hung up when fishing for catfish, regardless of where you’re fishing. Getting your fishing line hung is just a fact of fishing and many experienced catfish anglers will tell you if you’re not getting hung up, you’re probably not fishing in the right area. What makes the difference when you get hung up is being able to get your line free quickly and easily so you can move on. It is our finding that when a fishing line that is larger than 20 Lb test is used it makes it far too difficult to break your line free when you get hung up.

The HI Vis fishing lines that are brightly colored are what we use so we can see our fishing line at all times while we are fishing for catfish on our North Texas Catfish Guide Service guided catfish fishing trips.

The second type of fishing lines for Catfish are the “superlines” (braided or fused fishing lines). These “superlines” are generally much higher in price, but are also much stronger fishing lines as well. Some common names of these superline fishing lines for catfish are Power Pro, Fireline and Spiderwire.

There is really no need for using these superlines all the time but there are definitely some types of fishing and areas that we fish for catfish in North Texas that we will not use anything BUT these superline fishing lines.

The first would be fishing for channel catfish and blue catfish with punch baits or prepared baits. You generally get a much lighter bite when fishing for channel catfish and blue catfish with these prepared catfish baits like Sure Shot Catfish Punch Bait and these superline fishing lines help to detect these light bites because they have a higher sensitivity and very little stretch.

The other application for these superlines is when fishing in heavily timbered areas. It is no secret that these heavily timbered ares are great hideouts for catfish, but fishing for catfish in these areas can be a nightmare getting hung up and having to break your fishing line. If you use a superline for fishing in these area when you get hung up you can generally pull everything free without breaking off your fishing line and losing your hooks and rigging, so you can just go right back to fishing for catfish.

Our line of choice for “superlines” is Power Pro in 50 Lb Test, we have used most of these superline fishing lines and Power Pro has proven itself to be the most durable and castable superline we have used on our North Texas Catfish Guide Service guided fishing trips for catfish.

catfish hooks

Catfish Hooks – Hooks for Catfishing

Hooks for catfishing are yet another critical item. Having a good sharp catfish hook that will hook the catfish when it bites and hold the catfish after you set the hook is essential.

For fishing with artificial baits (prepared “stink” baits) like Sure Shot Catfish Punch Bait the Eagle Claw Lazer Treble Hook is our hook of choice on our North Texas Catfish Guide Service guided fishing trips for catfish, typically we will use a #4 or #6 treble hook and occasionally going down to a #8 treble hook, but as a general rule we restrict these hooks to fishing with prepared catfish baits.

When fishing with shad and cut bait for blue catfish on our North Texas Guided Fishing Trips for Catfish the Eagle Claw L142F Eagle Claw Kahle Hooks is our Hook of choice.

This hook commonly called a wide gap or Kahle hook is an amazing hook. They are very sharp right out of the box, and they hook and hold. These Kahle hooks are capable of handling even the biggest trophy blue catfish, but still work great on the smaller catfish as well. You get a good strong hook set with these hooks as well and it is very rare that you will deep hook or gut hook a catfish with these hooks, as most of the catfish are hooked just inside the lip in the corner of the mouth.

The  Eagle Claw Kahle Hooks or Wide Gap Hook is easy to bait, easy to remove from the mouth of a catfish and they are fairly inexpensive. We use these Kahle hooks in size 3/0 and 4/0 on our guided fishing trips for catfish in North Texas when fishing for blue catfish and channel catfish of small to average size with fresh shad and cut bait and also use them when fishing for Trophy Blue Catfish on Lake Lewisville and Trophy Blue Catfish on Cedar Creek Lake as well. The Kahle hook in a size 4/0 is perfectly capable of landing big trophy blue catfish with ease.

Another hook that we have recently started using when fishing for Trophy Catfish on our North Texas Catfish Guide Service Guided Catfish Fishing Trips is the  Daiichi Bleeding Bait In-line Circle Chunk Light with Stop Gap Saltwater Hooks. This hook, although called a circle hook actually closely resembles a Kahle hook. The  Daiichi Bleeding Bait In-line Circle Chunk Light with Stop Gap Saltwater Hooks is one of Daiichi’s Red Bleeding Bait hooks and is a very tough catfish hook and we have had great success catching Trophy Blue Catfish with these Catfish Hooks. They are somewhat higher in price than the average hook like the L142 F Eagle Claw Kahle Hook but they also are very tough and you’re not likely to damage these hooks. It is important to note if your using the Daiichi Circle Chunk Light you need to modify your hook set and use a long sweeping hook set rather than a typical “grab and stab” hook set like a traditional fishing hook.

Circle hooks are somewhat popular among catfish anglers, especially for drift fishing but we have had some issues with circle hooks on our catfish guide trips and had a notably decreased percentage in hooksets when we tried fishing for catfish with them so we have stayed away from using circle hooks for catfish.

Another popular hook for catfish is the Octopus Hook. Just about every fish hook manufacturer makes an octopus hooks and we have used several different styles with success but our preference still remains to use the L142 Kahle Hook from Eagle Claw and the Daiichi Circle Chunk Light.

Considerations for hooks for catfishing:

  • Make sure the hooks you’re using are good and sharp right from the box. Sharp hooks are essential for good solid hook sets.
  • Tailor the hook size to the size bait your using and the size catfish your targeting. Use appropriate sized hooks to assure maximum hook set potential.
  • Carry several different sizes of hooks and experiment with them. If the fish are biting shy one day downsize your catfish bait and your hook to get a better hookup. If the catfish are very aggressive and you are deep hooking the catfish, increase your bait and hook size to decrease the deep hooking of the catfish.
 Catfishing Tackle – Terminal Tackle

Being prepared as a catfish angler means being able to adapt to different situations and different patterns while fishing for catfish. There are some basic items that you should have in your tackle storage to be prepared for having to change fishing styles or fishing different areas. Following is a brief list of what I would carry in my terminal tackle and tackle box to be a prepared catfish angler. These are all items you will see on our guided fishing trips for catfish. You can go to the Ultimate Guide To Catfishing Gear for more information on these items.

  • Extra Fishing Line
  • Leader Line
  • Catfish Hooks (Eagle Claw L142 F and Daiichi Circle Chunk Light Hooks as well as Treble Hooks)
  • No Roll Sinkers – From 1 to 3 Ounces
  • Split Shot Sinkers – Various Sizes
  • Egg Sinkers – 1/4 and 3/8 Oz
  • Brass Barrel Swivels
  • Needle Nose Pliers
  • Small Scissors for cutting fishing line
  • Knife for cutting catfish bait
  • Corks (Bobbers) – Weight Floats (Bobbers) and Slip Floats (Bobbers)
  • Bobber Stops
  • Scales for weighing fish
  • Berkley Big Game Lip Grip for Handling Trophy Blue Catfish
  • Camera to Photograph Big Catfish before releasing them
  • Dip Net / Landing Net for getting big catfish in the boat

While the information in this article does not contain everything you need for fishing for catfish it is certainly a good foundation to let you know where you should start and what you need to have on your boat for catfishing gear. There are other items that you will find along the way that you may want or need but always start with the basic essentials first.

This at least gives our clients that have gone on our North Texas Catfish Guide Service guided fishing trips for catfish a better idea of what the equipment is that we use so they can go out and get these items for their own catfishing adventures..

If you’re planning a guided catfish fishing trip with North Texas Catfish Guide Service we provide all bait tackle and equipment that you need while fishing with us, all you have to do is show up and bring your Texas Fishing License and whatever food or drinks you wish to have for the day, and we will take of the rest.

Chad Ferguson

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