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Brett Strohl

Catfishing Questions (Gear Etc)

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I'm hoping to be done with school in December and crossing my fingers that I'll have a job at the beginning of next year and a few hundred bucks to upgrade my catfishing gear.  I've read there are places here in Indiana that we can go catch some big flathead so I'm not sure exactly what kind of gear I'll need.  

 

(Last week I had on a fish here at reservoir that was large enough that it made my bass pole feel like I was fishing with a toothpick.  I don't know if it was a carp or big cat (I was using some strawberry doughball I bought from walmart, and I didn't expect to catch anything with it so I'd put it on my smallest pole).  I was using a 6'6" medium ugly stick with 30lb spiderwire stealth braid which I assumed was large enough for a 20 lb fish, but when I tried to get the fish away from the motor of the pontoon I couldn't budge it, and it snapped my line fairly quickly.   

 

I had my line wrapped around a bobber, and I think it broke at the bobber b/c I saw the bobber floating in the water after.  Will a bobber break braided line?  I wasn't in love with the bobber, and next time I'll try to find one that you don't wrap the line around the bobber stick.)

 

I got an inexpensive 7' medium ugly stik a week or two ago, and I want to get two more poles, but I'm not sure what size poles I should get?  I was thinking of getting one more 7' and an 8', or maybe two 8's?  I'm sure the 7' is big enough to get big fish in, but I don't know if I should get 8's in case I have to muscle the fish away from a pontoon motor again?  I don't have experience fighting fish on either so I don't know what would be better.  (I know a lot of people like to use lighter equipment but on the few times that I've had huge fish on, they tend to dart under a log or the boat like this week, and I absolutely loathe losing a fish like that.)

 

Also I'm planning to upgrade all my line to power pro braid.  I absolutely hate fish breaking off and leaving a hook in them, so I was wondering what size line I should get?  Is 50lb enough or should I go ahead and get 65lb or more?  (I know a lot of people use mono for catfishing, but I absolutely hate mono personally.)

 

Do you guys have a recommendation on reels?  I was looking at Okuma 45's b/c I can get them for around $35, and I really like my Okuma 35s for bass fishing.  

 

Also since I'm pretty new, what is the purpose of bobber fishing for cats, what depth should I be at, and should I always use a bobber?

 

I know I have a ton of questions, so thanks a lot for any input!

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You'll want to look at the specs of the rod and see if it can handle the line size and lures weights you plan to use. As for the bobber I'm not sure what others use it for but, I use it when the catfish are really shallow or I use a big slip bobber when using live bait.

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I just want something I can make sure I can muscle large fish away from boat motors, underwater branches etc.  I like the ugly stik medium heavy 7', but don't know if I should get the 8' medium heavy just to make sure I can manipulate big carp/cats better.  

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Give a look at Rippin' Lips rods and combos. I bought the 7' 6" MH spinning combo as my first cat rig. Definitely big enough for where I live and also good for North Carolina.

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Are you planning on targeting mainly flatheads or are you going to be chasing blues as well? Around here we find them in pretty different areas and where I can get away with a little lighter gear for blues because they tend to relate more to open water and baitfish, the flatheads hide around the nastiest stuff available and even a little 15 or 20 pounder can give you all you can handle on undersized gear. I fish a couple rivers that have the capability to produce 100 pound fish, and one of them does every year (Missouri and Kansas rivers), add into the equation the fact I'm dealing with current and it requires some pretty stout equipment. I personally prefer heavy baitfeeding spinning rods for blues and casting gear for flatheads but that's just my personal preference. My gear ranges from 7' XXH custom built flathead rods with Penn 309s loaded with 130lb PP, to 12' H surf rods with Okuma 65 and 90 size baitfeeders with 65-80lb PP. 

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You could buy a bass flipping rod and reel  and have a combo to bass and catfish with. Thats what I do .

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Are you planning on targeting mainly flatheads or are you going to be chasing blues as well? Around here we find them in pretty different areas and where I can get away with a little lighter gear for blues because they tend to relate more to open water and baitfish, the flatheads hide around the nastiest stuff available and even a little 15 or 20 pounder can give you all you can handle on undersized gear. I fish a couple rivers that have the capability to produce 100 pound fish, and one of them does every year (Missouri and Kansas rivers), add into the equation the fact I'm dealing with current and it requires some pretty stout equipment. I personally prefer heavy baitfeeding spinning rods for blues and casting gear for flatheads but that's just my personal preference. My gear ranges from 7' XXH custom built flathead rods with Penn 309s loaded with 130lb PP, to 12' H surf rods with Okuma 65 and 90 size baitfeeders with 65-80lb PP. 

 

 

I would like to take a trip to go after some big flathead sometime.  I've read down in Indianapolis there are places you can catch 4' flatheads so I definitely want to try that sometime.  But there is a reservoir in in Indy with huge channels, and I'm sure about everything else that I'll want to go to also.  I don't know about 100 lb catfish, but I know many of the places that I'm looking to target, 40 lb cats are not uncommon.  

 

I'm basically thinking about all purpose big fish gear for Indiana, so cats and carp also.  If you were going to pick between a 7' and 8' foot catfish pole do you think 8' is too excessive?  I guess I don't want to use ridiculous gear, but at the same time if I hook something huge, which is possible but probably won't happen often, I don't want to be unprepared.  

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You could buy a bass flipping rod and reel  and have a combo to bass and catfish with. Thats what I do .

 

 

I'm terrible with baitcasters already, I can't imagine nightfishing with one ;)

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can't really help on the gear part, but can tell you that i prefer the slip bobbers if i'm fishing for cats or even for bluegill with worms or crickets.  i like a nice high visibility color of the slip bobber and then use the speed stops like these:

 

http://www.basspro.com/Arnold-Tackle-Speed-Stop-Bobber-Stop/product/1502050811556/

 

You can adjust your depths with those too....  I've never once broke the line because of that bobber setup.

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I would like to take a trip to go after some big flathead sometime.  I've read down in Indianapolis there are places you can catch 4' flatheads so I definitely want to try that sometime.  But there is a reservoir in in Indy with huge channels, and I'm sure about everything else that I'll want to go to also.  I don't know about 100 lb catfish, but I know many of the places that I'm looking to target, 40 lb cats are not uncommon.  

 

I'm basically thinking about all purpose big fish gear for Indiana, so cats and carp also.  If you were going to pick between a 7' and 8' foot catfish pole do you think 8' is too excessive?  I guess I don't want to use ridiculous gear, but at the same time if I hook something huge, which is possible but probably won't happen often, I don't want to be unprepared.  

I would not suggest trying to get a rod and reel for both big catfish and carp, just 2 very different animals IMO. Carp you'll be better off with lighter line and a high capacity reel and lighter rod to play them out. Carp are very sensitive and can be very line/pressure shy when examining/taking a bait while catfish (flatheads especially), could generally care less and sometimes will react even more aggressively when they feel pressure because they think their food is trying to get away. Plus, carp have very soft lips that you can easily pull a hook from with a stiff rod that you'll want for catfish.

 

For cats in that 40lb range you'll be able to find good options in the 7 or 8 foot rods. Make sure it has plenty of backbone to move a fish quickly away from cover where you'll generally find flatheads or you're going to get disappointed a lot. 

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Also, consider how often you're going to get out for this and what you're most likely to use the gear for. Also, most gear is a hell of a lot stronger than we give it credit for.

*( First, I'll mention this: Sand Tigers are protected and cannot be harvested. They can only be fished for catch and release)

So, a few years ago, I chartered a boat to take my dad, brother, and some friends shark fishing. We spend two hours trolling and casting into boiling baitfish for blues to use as bait and then headed for the mouth of the Delaware Bay to drop cut plugs for sand tiger sharks. Once we did a little chumming and anchored, we dropped the plugs on something ridiculous like 8-10/O circle hooks and of course a wire leader (sand tigers have a pretty terrifying smile). The main line was something in the ball park of 50lb mono and the rods were short and stout (probably 6' and lots of backbone with a soft action up top, so the rod loaded pretty evenly).

We caught fish that fought pretty similar to most catfish I've ever caught - big heavy, strong, and not in a hurry to budge off of the bottom, just much, much bigger. The sand tigers we were catching ranged from about 120-200lbs and were the most exhausting thing I've ever hooked. Fighting the bigger fish felt like continuously doing 200lb deadlifts (lifting the rod and then reeling down slack) for 20+ minutes. The captain was more concerned with us breaking rods by allowing the blanks to touch the edges of the boat, than he was with the line breaking. And really, we were mostly 190-200lb guys lifting as hard as we could to turn those fish, and that line wasn't coming close to breaking.

My point being, if we (200lb humans) could keep pressure on and pull up 200lb sand tiger sharks wih 40-60lb mono, you should be able to control most catfish without 8+ foot rods and 100lb braid. If anything, I'd think a shorter rod may actually make it easier for you to "pump" those bigger cats up off of the bottom.

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The biggest difference you're going to run into between most of your large ocean gamefish and the flathead catfish the OP is targeting is the cover the fish inhabits. Flatheads like to live in nasty places, the bigger and nastier the snag, the bigger and meaner the fish typically. Flatheads are brutes, I've seen 20-30 pounders flat whip guys much bigger than me. You have to move them quickly or they're gone whereas you can take your time and play out a big fish in open water. Even a little 10 pounder will give you a pretty stout run for cover the initial run and if you let him get there you're going to have a heck of a time getting him back out. I'm not saying you can't handle them on lighter gear, but if you're going to take the time to target them (1-6 bites a night is pretty typical for flatheads), I'd suggest having the right gear to get them out of their hiding places. I've landed 20+ pound fish on 4lb test when I hooked them in open water, then again I've had little guys give me all I could handle in bad places. I had to work really hard to get this scrappy little guy back out of a nasty root wad, even with an 8' H rod and 65lb braid

101_1236.jpg

 

By comparison, I had no problems handling this 40+ pound fish with 14lb fluoro and a 7' MH jig rod, because it was in open water off the edge of a rocky ledge. 

101_1469.jpg

 

So take into consideration what kind of cover you'll mainly be fishing as well as the size of the fish and select your gear accordingly. 

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White river, mascatatuck river, even patoka lake has some big cats & gigantic carp.. Really want a chance at at 100# cat.. Ohio river @ louisville .. Just bring a Sig .45 or a AR15.. Lol, seriously, wear a piece..( giant fish though )

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The biggest difference you're going to run into between most of your large ocean gamefish and the flathead catfish the OP is targeting is the cover the fish inhabits. Flatheads like to live in nasty places, the bigger and nastier the snag, the bigger and meaner the fish typically. Flatheads are brutes, I've seen 20-30 pounders flat whip guys much bigger than me. You have to move them quickly or they're gone whereas you can take your time and play out a big fish in open water. Even a little 10 pounder will give you a pretty stout run for cover the initial run and if you let him get there you're going to have a heck of a time getting him back out. I'm not saying you can't handle them on lighter gear, but if you're going to take the time to target them (1-6 bites a night is pretty typical for flatheads), I'd suggest having the right gear to get them out of their hiding places. I've landed 20+ pound fish on 4lb test when I hooked them in open water, then again I've had little guys give me all I could handle in bad places. I had to work really hard to get this scrappy little guy back out of a nasty root wad, even with an 8' H rod and 65lb braid

101_1236.jpg

 

By comparison, I had no problems handling this 40+ pound fish with 14lb fluoro and a 7' MH jig rod, because it was in open water off the edge of a rocky ledge. 

101_1469.jpg

 

So take into consideration what kind of cover you'll mainly be fishing as well as the size of the fish and select your gear accordingly. 

 

 

Yeah I guess since I have very little experience fishing for big catfish, I just don't know the line between what I need and what is excessive.   I know the two times I've had really big fish on, the poles and line I had were not enough.  

 

I can get two 8' ugly stiks for about $30, and they are reasonably light for that size, so I'll probably get one of those.  

 

When you fish for flathead are you usually sitting on the bank or are you in a boat?  If I'm sitting on the bank I might just get two poles.  

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Yeah I guess since I have very little experience fishing for big catfish, I just don't know the line between what I need and what is excessive.   I know the two times I've had really big fish on, the poles and line I had were not enough.  

 

I can get two 8' ugly stiks for about $30, and they are reasonably light for that size, so I'll probably get one of those.  

 

When you fish for flathead are you usually sitting on the bank or are you in a boat?  If I'm sitting on the bank I might just get two poles.  

I have the same rods and are 8ft and I wouldn't have it any other way.  They last a long time and can muscle the fish and give enough whenever he takes off.  I use 40 pound mono on my reels and we have had catfish break it.  An have had huge catfish just come right in.  The trick is not to muscle the fish but to control it.  I doubt the cork broke the line.  It could have been frayed anywhere and those catfish will break that line almost every time.

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The biggest difference you're going to run into between most of your large ocean gamefish and the flathead catfish the OP is targeting is the cover the fish inhabits. Flatheads like to live in nasty places, the bigger and nastier the snag, the bigger and meaner the fish typically. Flatheads are brutes, I've seen 20-30 pounders flat whip guys much bigger than me. You have to move them quickly or they're gone whereas you can take your time and play out a big fish in open water. Even a little 10 pounder will give you a pretty stout run for cover the initial run and if you let him get there you're going to have a heck of a time getting him back out. I'm not saying you can't handle them on lighter gear, but if you're going to take the time to target them (1-6 bites a night is pretty typical for flatheads), I'd suggest having the right gear to get them out of their hiding places. I've landed 20+ pound fish on 4lb test when I hooked them in open water, then again I've had little guys give me all I could handle in bad places. I had to work really hard to get this scrappy little guy back out of a nasty root wad, even with an 8' H rod and 65lb braid

101_1236.jpg

 

By comparison, I had no problems handling this 40+ pound fish with 14lb fluoro and a 7' MH jig rod, because it was in open water off the edge of a rocky ledge. 

101_1469.jpg

 

So take into consideration what kind of cover you'll mainly be fishing as well as the size of the fish and select your gear accordingly.

Agreed. That was kind of my point. Here weren't fish going on long, screaming runs. These were fish trying to get to the bottom, tie us up on the anchor line, etc. We were able to turn them with 40lb test and 6' rods, and it didn't feel like that line was snapping u less it started rubbing on something. Like, physically, it didn't feel like he pull of two 200lb creatures at opposite ends of the line was going to be enough to break the line.

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Agreed. That was kind of my point. Here weren't fish going on long, screaming runs. These were fish trying to get to the bottom, tie us up on the anchor line, etc. We were able to turn them with 40lb test and 6' rods, and it didn't feel like that line was snapping u less it started rubbing on something. Like, physically, it didn't feel like he pull of two 200lb creatures at opposite ends of the line was going to be enough to break the line.

 

I think you were dealing with the exception... not the rule. Fluke crap happens sometimes. (take our 123lb flathead kansas record caught on an ultra light and 4lb test. 

 

Believe me when I tell you that a flathead can and will make undersized tackle look like a wet noodle if it wants too, no different than that shark could have popped that line in a heart beat. 

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I guess I'll have to go cat fishin' with you guys some day and find out. Likely, I'll be the one bringing the braid, lol. But What impressed the hell out of me on that trip is just how strong 40-60lb mono is. Like, 60lb mono is really, really strong.

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I'll agree with you that it is super strong, and it stretches like crazy, making it that much stronger. You can feel a big flathead grinding its jaws a literally saw through mono though. 

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I think you were dealing with the exception... not the rule. Fluke crap happens sometimes. (take our 123lb flathead kansas record caught on an ultra light and 4lb test. 

 

Believe me when I tell you that a flathead can and will make undersized tackle look like a wet noodle if it wants too, no different than that shark could have popped that line in a heart beat. 

It was actually 12lb test on a Zebco 33, I think I'd prefer the ultralight if I had to pick between the 2  :eyebrows:

 

 

Yeah I guess since I have very little experience fishing for big catfish, I just don't know the line between what I need and what is excessive.   I know the two times I've had really big fish on, the poles and line I had were not enough.  

 

I can get two 8' ugly stiks for about $30, and they are reasonably light for that size, so I'll probably get one of those.  

 

When you fish for flathead are you usually sitting on the bank or are you in a boat?  If I'm sitting on the bank I might just get two poles.  

Without knowing the power of the rods it's hard to say but most likely an ugly stick that size would handle them. One of the rods I use is an 8' Cabela's version of an Ugly Stick (Saltwater Whoppin Stick), and it performs very well. 

 

Kind of out of a boat and kind of on the bank. I like to drive the boat to where I'm fishing and beach it. It keeps my setup stable but allows me to follow a big fish if I need to. 

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I wouldnt spend a lot of money on something that is not used very much .Ask yourself  how often are you going to be fishing for big flatheads in heavy cover ? Ive never had any trouble catching big fish up to 60 lbs with a 7.5 foot flipping rod .

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I wouldnt spend a lot of money on something that is not used very much .Ask yourself  how often are you going to be fishing for big flatheads in heavy cover ? Ive never had any trouble catching big fish up to 60 lbs with a 7.5 foot flipping rod .

 

 

Well TBH, even if I only got to go after flat heads two or three times a year I'd still use that 8ft rod more than I'd ever want to use a baitcaster ;)

 

I can get an 8 ft' ugly stick for $30, an Okuma 45 spinning reel for $35, and then high quality braid for $15-$20.  That is all pretty high quality gear for about $85.  I probably couldn't even get a really nice bait casting reel for that price. Plus if I catfish at the reservoir next year I'll want more rods for catfish anyway, and I can get another two catfish combos for $170, which again is probably significantly less than one baitcaster.  And if those rods/reels don't last me for the next 20 years, I'd be absolutely shocked. 

 

I'm sure you don't have any problem catching big fish on a bass rod, but I think the important thing for me is if take a trip somewhere and hook a big flathead, which is a fish I've wanted to catch for years, then I want to make sure I'm not messing around.  If by some miracle someday I hook a cat over 60 lbs, I don't want to complain that my gear wasn't inadequate as it was when I had a very big fish hooked this summer.

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