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Catfish Anglers Guide to Selecting The Best Catfish Hook

Catfish Anglers Guide to Selecting The Best Catfish Hook

Posted by Joel Johnson on 7th Jul 2021


A Catfish Angler's Guide to Selecting the Best Hook

Selecting the best hook to catch catfish doesn't have to be difficult. Catfish are aggressive, bold, and impulsive predators that aren't overly sensitive. The four most important factors in deciding what catfish hooks to use are presentation, bait size, catfish size, and catfish attitude. The time of year and water temperature can also influence the type and size of catfish hooks to use.

Triple Threat Hybrid

Whether tight-lining, drifting, trolling, or bumping from a boat, the Whisker Seeker Triple Threat Hybrid catfish hook is the industry leader. Long-time Whisker Seeker Pro Staffer, North Texas Catfish Guide Service owner, and Catfish Edge founder, Chad Ferguson, uses the Triple Threat exclusively. "I can do anything I want with the Triple Threats because of their unique design, and this makes the hook ideal for my guiding business. To consistently catch big blue catfish, you need a big, wide, sharp fishing hook to make solid hooksets, and no other hook does it better than the Triple Threat."

Triple Threat Hooks - Whisker Seeker Tackle

The Triple Threat hybrid circle hook was intentionally designed to provide anglers three distinct ways to catch fish. First, you can use them like a traditional circle hook, letting the rod "load" and set the hook automatically when the fish reaches the end of the line.  Second, a catfish angler can employ the "reel" method, and Whisker Seeker Pro Staffers Troy and Amy Hansen advised, "We like to keep our rods in rod holders, and as the fish picks up the bait and loads the rod, we reel down 4-5 cranks as fast as possible and then reel 2-3 more cranks to ensure the fish has turned and hooked itself." If a fisherman is accustomed to manually setting the hook when a fish bites, the third way to use the Triple Threat is to initiate the "set" method, using a long catfish rod and sweeping motion to hook the fish after it picks up the baited hook.

The wide, offset gap of the Whisker Seeker Triple Threat accommodates the largest live or cut bait, and the laid-back hook eye makes tying snell knots easy. Whisker Seeker Pro Staffers, Cabela's King Kat Tournament veterans, and Whisker Addiction founders, Mike Davis and Charles Laplant, use the Triple Threat exclusively saying, "They are, without a doubt, the sharpest hooks in the business, and this is critical for effective hook penetration on big blue catfish. Especially when there is money on the line!"

Offset Super-J

When vertical fishing, the Whisker Seeker Offset Super-J are the ideal catfish hooks.  Anglers can either use them like a traditional circle hook, letting the rod load, or by using the "set" method. These hooks stand out when fishing for channel catfish under slip floats and while ice fishing. However, they really shine when going after monster flathead catfish in their bedroom.

Super-J Hooks - Whisker Seeker Tackle

Whisker Seeker Pro Staffer and Float Fish Adventure founder, Denny Ransom, spends most of his time searching for flatheads on rivers from a kayak. "When I'm chasing big flatheads, I use a "Knocker Rig" with a 10/0 Super-J, bead, rattle, and 2-3 oz. egg sinker. The wide gap of the Super-J lets me effectively present 8-10" live baits to giant flatheads in brush piles, snags, and other obstructions." To get up close and personal, Denny secures his kayak to exposed limbs and drops big baits vertically into current seams and eddies. With only 6-10 feet of line between him and the target, it's critical to have maximum hooking power, and the offset, chemically sharpened point on the Whisker Seeker Super-J always delivers.

Offset Circle-K

While a growing number of fishermen are using boats and kayaks to specifically target larger catfish, bank fishing is still the most popular catfishing method. To maximize the success of bank presentations, it's crucial that anglers brace their catfish rod, preferably driving a rod holder into the ground to keep the rod steady or wedging the rod handle securely between rocks. This ensures that when a big fish runs with the bait, the hook can turn in the fish's mouth when they reach a firm stop at the end of the line. Fishing reels with a bait clicker can enhance this type of fishing by providing an audible strike indicator when fish take the bait.

Circle-K Hooks - Whisker Seeker Tackle

Whisker Seeker Pro Staffer and River Certified founder, Spencer Bauer, spends countless hours chasing all species of catfish from muddy banks and gravel bars. "When I'm bank fishing on small rivers and creeks with cut or live bait, I like to use a 4/0 to 6/0 Whisker Seeker Offset Circle-K or Super-J, depending on how I'm fishing." These hooks provide Spencer with flexibility in presentation and allow him to leverage multiple hook-setting techniques depending on conditions and fish attitude.

When bank fishing with stink bait, chicken liver, rancid cheese, or blood baits, a treble hook is the best choice. These hooks enable anglers to use various media like tubes, sponges, springs, and nets to mash these soft baits firmly against the hook shanks. Doing so helps secure the concoction to the treble hook and reduces the risk of it flying off and hitting your fishing partner while casting.

Bait Size

Anglers should always try to use hooks that match the size of the bait they're using and when in doubt bigger is better. Catfishing with an 8/0 or 10/0 hook, especially when using big live bluegills, bullheads, shad, or suckers, will increase catch rates. On the flip side, when using nightcrawlers or creek chubs, often a 4/0 to 6/0 size is all you need.

Baiting A Hook - Whisker Seeker Tackle

Big catfish bait, whether live or cut, requires big hooks to optimize point exposure and increase penetration. "The biggest mistake most people make is using catfish hooks that are too small," says Chad Ferguson. "When the hook is too small, with too small a gap, it doesn't have room to turn and connect inside the catfish's mouth." he continued.

All species of catfish, especially trophy blues and flatheads, have thick, tough, leathery mouths, and driving a hook securely into their flesh and bone requires a hook that is big and strong enough to do the job. 





Catfish Size

Big fish like big bait, and effectively fishing for monster catfish requires a big hook. Whisker Seeker Pro Staffer, Ken Miller, prefers a 10/0 Triple Threat when he is targeting giant catfish. "For big river flatheads and blues over 30 pounds, the 10/0 Triple Threat is my favorite. When I'm fishing for big channel cats on the Red River, or anytime I'm fishing a bait the size of my hand or smaller, I downsize a little and reach for a 6/0 or 8/0 Triple Threat or Super-J, depending on how I'm fishing."

When taking a break from brush pile flatheads and fishing for big river blues, Denny Ransom depends on 8/0 to 10/0 Whisker Seeker Triple Threat hooks. "For blue cats, Triple Threats are the best by far and will catch large catfish when others don't." He continued, "When chasing blue cats, I always reserve one rod for a mammoth sized piece of cut bait. To present these baits effectively, I strategically punch a hole in the side and attach a zip tie. Then I slip a 10/0 Triple Threat under the zip tie to ensure it is fully exposed." This technique ensures that when a river monster takes the offering, Ransom can catch it.

While fishing for smaller catfish from a kayak on interior rivers, Spencer Bauer prefers a smaller hook. "When I'm chasing channel cats with live or cut bait, I like the 4/0 to 6/0 Whisker Seeker Circle-K or Super-J, depending on how I'm fishing. If they're running smaller, I may downsize to a 4/0 model to increase strikes. In general, big fish want big baits, and on rivers with both channel and flathead cats, I almost always use bigger catfish hooks."

Catfish Attitude

Sometimes fish are super aggressive and hammer any offering put in front of them. On other days they're more neutral and less willing to commit, simply mouthing a bait or striking short. Often, the time of year, water temperature, barometric pressure, or recent weather patterns can heavily influence behavior and willingness to bite. Regardless of attitude, Whisker Seeker has the hooks you need to maximize bites whether the fish are fired up or not.

According to Denny Ransom, "In the early season, just after ice out, I may use a 6/0 Whisker Seeker Super-J for channel cats if they're biting neutral due to cold water. The thinner wire gauge allows for using smaller baits without losing strength or power."

Spencer Bauer agreed, "Early season channel cats may be eating nightcrawlers or other small baits, and in these conditions, I like to use the 4/0 Whisker Seeker Circle-K due to its smaller wire diameter. The smaller wire gauge is easier on fragile baits and less noticeable."

Troy and Amy Hansen added, "When the bite is slow, fishing a catfish rig with multiple hooks like the Whisker Seeker Stinger rig can increase bites. However, instead of using one big bait with a hook in the front and trailing stinger hook in the back, we've been successful attaching 2 separate pieces of bait on the same rig." Amy Hansen continued, "When conditions are tough, it's also critical to make sure the hook point is sharp and not fouled with scales. The last thing you want to do is lose a fish after a long day because your point wasn't sharp." 

Catching catfish when they're aggressive and eagerly biting is the ultimate angling experience. To catch them at these times, anglers should be equally aggressive with hook size and baits. For monster blues and flatheads, a 10/0 Whisker Seeker Triple Threat teamed with your favorite big bait is the best choice. For channel cats, any smelly bait on a 6/0 to 8/0 Triple Threat is sure to get bit. Chad Ferguson offered, "When fish are aggressive, sharp hooks are absolutely critical to the success of my guiding business. When the fish are biting, you need to change hooks frequently, because their mouths are so tough and leathery." Sometimes after a good day on the water, Chad will change all his hooks at the end of day to make sure he's ready to fill the boat the next day. 

Whether you're a novice or veteran catfish angler, the tips provided by the industry experts in this article will help you select the best catfish hook and catch more fish.  Although Whisker Seeker Pro Staff members each have their own unique ways to fish for catfish, they follow a very similar process for selecting the best catfish hooks depending on conditions.  Keep it simple and focus on the 4 key criteria we discussed when making your decision- presentation, bait size, catfish size, and catfish attitude. 

Please visit and subscribe to the Catfish Edge, River Certified, and Float Fish Adventure YouTube channels for more Whisker Seeker Pro Staff tips and how-to videos on becoming a better catfish angler. Also, don't forget to visit Whisker Seeker for the catfish industry’s best catfish hooks and catfishing products.