9 Best Catfish Baits (Top Picks for 2022)

Disclosure: This article may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on a link we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

In addition to a good catfishing rod and reel, choosing appropriate baits can also make a huge difference in your catfishing success. Contrary to a popular belief, catfish baits don’t have to be complex or even stinky. But there are some things you need to know before hitting the water. In this article, we’ll list some of the best catfish baits and try to help you learn how to choose them.

Here are the list of top 9 Baits for catfish

1. Triple S Channel Catfish Dip Bait Cheese Flavor

This is a perfect bait for catching more channel catfish. Very strong stinking bait for channel catfish that have a powerful sense of smell. The odor spreads in no time, making your catfishing trip as efficient as possible. It comes in a tough plastic container and doesn’t need to be kept in the fridge. It won’t dry out and harden, so it’s always ready to use. It doesn’t contain any dangerous chemicals which makes it easy to handle and use carefree. It sticks ell to a variety of bait types such as worms, sponges, etc.

2. Catfish Charlie Tub Dip Bait 36 Ounce. – Cheese Dip

New catfish formula for additional stickiness. A big 36oz pack with a safety seal to maintain freshness long after the first opening. A great option for catching channel catfish that prefer dip baits. It’s ideal for lakes and ponds, but it can also be used for river catfishing. Good for hoop nets and punch baits.

3. Mr. Whiskers Cheese Catfish Punch Bait – Gallon

Smelly cheese bait made to stay and on the hook and reject water. It contains natural, biodegradable materials without dangerous chemicals. This bait doesn’t need to be kept in the refrigerator. It doesn’t have a determined expiration date, and it gets more effective over time. When it gets softer, mix in some fibers such as cotton, mix it up and you’re good to go. It’s good for any type of water and various fishing methods. Very effective for smaller channel catfish.

4. CJ’s Catfish Punch Bait

This is one punch bait you can’t go wrong about. Made from natural ingredients, with multiple flavor choices. An excellent option for channel catfish and even occasional blues. Punch bait is used with a treble hook sunk into it, to make it stick. Using a stick to punch the hook in can leave your hands clean and fresh. Even in running waters, it holds on the hook, so you won’t need to rebait often.

5. Berkley Gulp! Catfish Dough, 5-Oz. Bag

Gulp chunks are easy to set on any type of hook and have increased spread when they hit the water. Filed testing proved them to outfish even the live baits. The unique formula ensures an extreme dispersion range, even 400 times greater than that of plastic baits. This makes it possible to cover more water and helps you land an even better catch. It’s an excellent choice for still waters.

6. SECRET 7 catfish dip bait

Premium dip bait for catfish made to catch channel and blue catfish. It has a very smooth structure with a sticky mix that makes catfish go into a frenzy. It’s great for any type of water, ponds, lakes, or rivers. This bait has been professionally tested on catfishing tournaments actress the US, winning multiple events. It doesn’t need to be kept in the fridge, and it’s easy to apply on dip tubes. With this bait, you won’t get your hands dirty.

7. Magic Bait King CAT Catfish N KIT

Magic bait kit lets you save time and enjoy your catfishing even more. Everything you need, chosen by experts. With this kit you’re all set for catching catfish of all types and sizes, just take your rod and reel and hit the water. It contains Magic Baits’ top-selling products: King Cat dip baits, Hog wild Dough bait, spring and dough hooks, weights, sinkers swivels, baitholder rigs, floats, and a rope stringer. With this set, your catfishing is made easier without breaking the bank. Dip baits are sticky and made from natural ingredients.

8. Magic Bait Big Catch 150-Feet Trotline – Best Trotline Bait

Trotline can be a very fun and effective way to catch any type of catfish. Magic Baits’ Big catch trotline will be your most trusted ally when going for the big cats. The 150’ mainline comes with 25 stainless steel clips, 25 sizes 1 brass swivels, plastic spacers on every 4’ of the line, and 25 4/9 size hooks. It’s pre-rigged which makes setting up a lot easier.

9. Catfish Pro Original Catfish Bait

A very powerful bait made using fatty amino acids, protein, and oils to produce a smell that’s great for attracting channel, blue, bullhead, and often flathead catfish. It can be used with any type of hook including J-hooks, without the bait falling off. It’s designed to release a strong smell just as it touches the water. This means it leaves clean and fresh hands after use. It comes in a 10oz pack with a resealable top, that helps it stay fresh long after opening. It’s ideal for a variety of fishing techniques such as drifting, rod, and reel, juggling, etc.

How to Choose Right baits for catfishing (Buyers Guide)

You can probably catch a catfish using just about anything. But even if you do, it doesn’t mean it’s a good choice for bait. You need to adjust your bait choice according to a few things.

A) Catfish type

Different catfish types vary in feeding preferences and habits, so when choosing the best catfish bait this is something you must consider.

Blue catfish prefer herrings or shads, dead or alive. Even cut or fresh fish such as perch or carp is a great bait for blues.

Channel catfish are most attracted to strong smelly baits. The best baits for channel catfish would be a smelly punch or dip baits.

Flatheads love live and feisty baits such as perch or goldfish. Even cut baits in strong currents can be very effective.

The best bait for big catfish is the same bait you would use for flatheads and bigger blue catfish. Live or cut bait in a strong current is the best for catching these beasts.

B) Price

Price is an important component of your catfishing bait. Dough baits or other in-store baits aren’t too expensive, but if you’re fishing on a budget you can save a lot of money. You don’t need to spend a lot to catch a lot of catfish. Using expired items from your fridge or catching your bait is also a very effective and budget-friendly option.

C) Type of hook

When choosing the best catfish bait, you have to consider the type of hook you will be using. It’s because not every hook can hold the bait the way you need it. You can’t put a punch bait on a J-hook and hope for much, cause it’s not designed to hold that type of bait. Treble hooks are great when using a punch or dip bait. Circle or J-hooks are more for something with a stronger structure such as live bait.

D) Type of water body

Same as a type of hook – the type of water body you’re fishing in determines how long can the bait stay on the hook. Some of the softer baits do not perform as well in moving waters such as rivers or streams. In these situations make sure to use the bait that sticks good and stays on the hook, or you’ll be rebaiting too often.

E) Matching the hatch

You’ve probably heard this saying before because it’s popular among many fishermen. It means that you need to discover what are they eating, use that as your bait or try to imitate it, and display it so it looks natural. This is guaranteed to help you catch more catfish than ever before.

Best catfish baits for ponds

The most common species, of catfish you’ll encounter in ponds, is channel catfish. So the best baits for ponds are your typical channel catfish baits. Anything with a strong smell works well. But the best ones are probably dipped or punch baits. Catfish love the powerful scent of those sticky baits. If you want to know about perfect baits for ponds, you may check out our content on best catfish baits for pond fishing

Best Catfish Baits for lakes

Lakes offer more catfishing opportunities than ponds, providing you a chance to encounter all three types of catfish. This means you should then follow the guide for each type of catfish and its preferred bait types. In short, dip and punch bait work the best for channel catfish, live bait such as shad is the best for fishing flatheads. And for the blue catfish go with fresh herrings or shads.

Best Catfish Baits for rivers

The best catfishing bait for rivers also depends on the type of catfish you’re after. For smaller channel cats using worms, punch, or dip bait is a great option. Even though punch and dip baits are really good for attracting catfish, you might need to rebait often. It’s because the water can wash away the scent quickly. For bigger catfish types such as blues and flatheads live or cut bait is proven to be the best. Perch, brim, herring, or shad make the big ones go wild.

Best catfish baits for bank fishing

For bank fishing, it would be best to bring at least 2 setups and 2 types of baits. Use a lighter setup and dip bait or worms to catch smaller channel catfish. Worms may be a better choice because you won’t have to worry about the scent washing away. For larger blues and flatheads use a heavier setup with live bait. Herring, shad, or panfish are excellent for drawing out the big fish.

Best catfish bait for muddy water

Muddy waters after rainfall can be a great opportunity for you to land a good catch. Since it brings in and reveals a lot of feed, during this time catfish are pretty rilled up. It’s most likely you’ll find channel catfish in muddy waters. Many types of baits such as punch, dip, or dough bait will work well in the muddy water. But the most popular baits to use in this case are live worms or chicken liver.

Best catfish bait for summer

In the hot summer using natural baits for catfishing can yield the best results. During this time flatheads are the most active. Live bait such as perch, brim, and their favorite one, the bluegills should be on the top of your list when fishing for flatheads. For channels and blues using cut bait such as shad is the best since they have smaller mouths than flatheads.

Best Catfish bait for winter

In the winter, bank fishing won’t be an easy option. You’ll have to target deeper waters and holes to find catfish. During winter days blue catfish are the most active. Therefore the best bait for you to use would be live or cut bait, from the waters where you’ll be catfishing. Cut skipjack or shad is most likely to get their attention in the cold waters.

best spring baits for catfish (bait for early spring )

In the early spring after the ice melts, blue catfish start to run crazy. Your best bet to catch them during this time is going to be freshly cut bait. Use the smaller fish from the same place, as catfish are already used to them during cold months. Fresh shad cut in small pieces and tucked in to form a cube is the best bait for early spring. It will even land you occasional flatheads and channels.

5 Types of killer baits for Catfishing

1. Natural Catfish Baits

These catfish baits are good because they work in every situation, you can’t go wrong using them. Natural catfish baits are baits made using the type of food that catfish feed on in their habitats. Smaller fish such as herring, shad, perch, and crayfish, worms, or shrimps are the usual catfish food and they will work great as bait.

2. Catfish live Baits

Live baits are the best baits for attracting trophy catfish. They are mainly natural catfish baits. These types of baits such as herrings, nightcrawlers, or shads are used with Kahle, circle, or J-hooks. That way they can move freely on the hook to attract the big cats.

3. homemade catfish bait (DIY Catfish Baits)

As long as you use a set of proven ingredients you can make any type of prepared catfish bait yourself. Punch, blood, dough, dip, or sponge baits, you name it. But it will take some time. For your base, you can use cheese, flavor, blood, or animal bits. Then you’ll need some thickening agents and catfish attractants such as garlic, oil, or blood.

Some of the popular homemade recipes are Uncle Dewey’s, Jack’s Cat Attack, and Juggs Davis Stink Bait.

4. Cut Baits

Cut bait is widely considered to be the best bait for bigger channels and blue catfish. It is simply a cut piece of fish placed on a hook and used as bait. They aren’t often used for flatheads as they rather go for live baits. Some of the best choices as cut bait are shads, herrings, perch, and carps.

5. Store-bought catfish bait

Store-bought catfish baits are the most convenient option if you don’t like spending time catching and preparing your baits. You can find a wide variety of bait types and flavors. For smaller channel catfish they are probably the best type of bait. Punch or dip baits are easy to use, don’t get your hands dirty, and can save you a lot of time. Dough baits are also a good option, as they are less messy and easy to handle.

6. Artificial bait for catfish

Catfishing using lures is more of a challenge in regular conditions. This makes it more exciting and that’s why many anglers choose them. When purchasing artificial lures go for ones with rattling or vibrating parts and built-in smell for better results. Catfishing in clear waters makes lures more effective, especially non-scented ones.

Other baits

There is plenty of other stuff that can be used as bait and bring in a good catch. Here’s some of it :

  • Hot Dog Sausage
  • Chicken Liver
  • Blood Bait
  • French Fries
  • Garlic and Chicken Skin
  • Canned Dog Food
  • Pure Soap

Fresh vs Home-Made vs Grocery Baits for catfish

Since catfish aren’t too picky when it comes to food, you can use pretty much anything you have as bait.

Fresh baits cut or uncut are superior to homemade or grocery baits when it comes to larger catfish. Fresh baits can also be the most inexpensive since you can catch them yourself. Homemade baits can take up the most time to make, so it’s not a good option if you’re short on time. In that case, grocery baits are the simplest and quickest option. Grocery baits can be effective, but you need to make sure they hold well on the hook.

Tips for Catching Catfish

Here are some more useful tips to help you with your catfishing experience :

  • Research/ Ask – find out about good places for catfishing and effective techniques
  • Use a map
  • Try catfishing at night
  • Use a set of different lines
  • Experiment with catfish baits
  • Lift the bait off the bottom
  • If you get no bites- change the spot
  • Bring good catfishing gear


1. What is the best nonliving bait to use for catfish in a freshwater lake?

The best nonliving bait is pretty much anything with a strong scent. You can use dead fish or worms, or even cut soap.

2. What’s the stickiest catfish bait I can make?

There are many stinky catfish baits you can make. The stinkiest one from our experience is Robert Stevenson’s cheese and chicken liver fermented catfish bait.

3. Do catfish like garlic?

Catfish are attracted to strong scents, so using garlic in your homemade baits can be effective.

4. Are frogs good catfish bait?

Frogs can be excellent bait for catfish. Both live frogs and cuts can be used effectively to catch catfish but make sure to test it out in your catfishing spots.

5. What are catfish attracted to?

Catfish are attracted to powerful and stinky scents. They don’t see good especially in muddy or deeper waters so their sense of smell is their guide.

6. What is the best bait for channel catfish?

The best bait for channel catfish is a punch or dip bait with a treble hook. They are usually very sticky and have a strong scent that makes them go wild. There are many flavors, but something like a Triple S Channel Catfish Cheese Dip is the best choice.

7. Do catfish like peanut butter?

You can catch catfish using peanut butter, but we suggest you don’t use it. It can’t stay on the hook, and there are plenty of good baits we’ve already mentioned. You can mix it in your homemade bait though.

8. Do catfishes Like Cut baits?

Yes! Blue catfish and larger channels prefer cut baits over anything else. Flatheads are better caught using live baits.

Final Verdict :

We hope this article will help you have a better understanding of catfish baits, what works and when does it work. Bait is an important part of your catfishing tackle, but don’t forget to choose the right catfishing rod and reel. For more useful information about catfishing, be sure to check some of our many articles.


12 Best Max Catch Fly Rods Review [Top Picks for 2022]

Best Catfish Lures For the Money


Leave a Comment