Eating catfish meat is still a debatable topic, but there’s no disagreement that catching it is one of the best fishing experiences, even for newbie anglers. But how does one catch a catfish and what is the best catfish bait?

This guide will list the 10 best catfish baits you can buy in the market. Remember: catching catfish is literally a messy affair. Be prepared to get dirty and stinky using the baits we have in our list.

Comparison Table

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Best Catfish Bait FAQ

1. What Is a Catfish?

2. What Are They Fished For?

3. How Is a Catfish Caught?

4. Which Baits Are Used for Catfish Fishing?

person fishing

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How We Reviewed

The best catfish bait is often a matter of preference, but for this review, we graded the baits based on the following parameters: features, pros and cons, price and availability, and scent level.

Overall Price Range Of This Product (And Similar Products)

Prices vary from bait to bait, but we chose the ones that are good value for your money. Prices range from $ to $$$.

What We Reviewed

Here’s a quick summary of the best catfish bait in our list.

  • Shad
  • Nightcrawlers
  • Chicken Livers
  • Berkley Gulp! Catfish Shad Guts
  • Dip Baits
  • Berkley PowerBait Catfish Chunks
  • Crawfish
  • Bowker’s Catfish Bait
  • Doc’s Catfish Bait
  • Magic Bait Hog Wild Catfish Dip Bait
fishing rod

image via Pixabay

Shad

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Features

There’s an agreement among cat anglers that shad is the best catfish bait. However, there are still debates on how to prepare a shad exactly. Dead or alive? Whole or cut up? Head or guts?

Shad is a family of open-water fish related to herrings that abound in North American coasts. Some popular species are American shad and threadfin shad. Shads have been caught for sport and food throughout North American history.

Shad has a delicate flavor liked by many people: and by catfish, too. A small shad is enough to catch a full-grown cat. A shad’s movement in the water and its coloration makes it an attractive prey. Even plastic shad baits look tasty to a hungry catfish

Pros

  • Readily available
  • Many ways to prepare
  • Effective to use in any weather or water temperature
  • Good in both still and moving waters
  • Easy to prepare and store

Cons

  • Messy to prepare
  • Live ones are relatively expensive
  • Can swim away if not secured properly

Scent

Shads have a unique smell and taste that excite catfish, making it the best catfish bait in any form and fishing conditions.

Where to Buy

This can be found in Amazon.

Nightcrawlers

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Features

Ah, the classic creepy crawly. Earthworms, aka nightcrawlers, are a favorite among gardeners and anglers. The worms smell and taste irresistible to catfish. Drift or sink about 3 to 6 crawlers on a hook and see it get chowed down by a bunch of hungry flatheads.

Nightcrawlers are rich in protein and they have a unique flavor that make them the best catfish bait in live form. In fact, some paste baits are made from or flavored with crushed crawlers. A bunch of crawlers can live in bait cups up to three weeks.

Pros

  • Eco-friendly
  • Smell and taste loved by catfish
  • Readily available
  • Can be used for gardening
  • Easy to store
  • Effective in any weather
  • Require little maintenance

Cons

  • Stinky and messy
  • Can be carried away by current
  • Not so effective in fast-moving waters

Scent

Earthworms have this strong earthy, slimy, stinky smell that diffuses instantly; even in stale, still waters where most catfish love to hide.

Where to Buy

This can be found in Amazon.

Chicken Livers

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Features

People from the countryside know how to use every part of the chicken. And while chicken livers taste good on skewers, there’s another tasty use for it: as catfish bait. Chicken livers can be bought fresh or frozen. They can be stored inside a refrigerator and used when needed. Just hook a couple of chopped liver, dangle it between crags, and watch the line get snagged within minutes.

Pros

  • Readily available
  • Eco-friendly
  • Easy to prepare and store
  • Catfish love it
  • Effective to use in any weather or water temperature

Cons

  • Hard to use in fast-moving waters
  • Stinky and messy
  • Spoils easily

Scent

Chicken liver has a metallic, bloody, stinky smell that catfish find hard to resist. The smell stays strong even after being frozen or soaked in water.

Where to Buy

This can be found in Amazon.

Berkley Gulp! Catfish Shad Guts

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Features

Berkley is a brand known for its effective baits. The Gulp! series of baits are infused with natural scents that cats find tempting like the Gulp! Shad Guts. If you can’t have the real best catfish bait, this imitation is the next best thing.

This blood-red, squiggly stuff is made to look and smell like shad entrails. These are made of soft non-toxic materials safe for any catfish. This product has Berkley’s patented scent dispersion technology that scatters the scent in the water quickly and effectively.

Pros

  • Looks and smells like the real thing
  • Readily available
  • Effective and easy to use
  • Can be used in any weather and water conditions

Cons

  • Can be choking hazards to kids
  • Must be secured properly

Scent

Gulp! Catfish Shad Guts are infused with real shad scent that make it one of the most effective artificial catfish baits in the market.

Where to Buy

Dip Baits

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Features

Catfish feed using their acute sense of smell; therefore any strong-smelling bait will do fine. In absence of real live baits, you can always get the usual plastic or foam lures. The secret to making them work for catfish is a generous serving of extra-sticky and smelly fishbait dips.

Dip Baits like Secret 7 are special paste made of non-toxic solutions infused with natural scents that catfish love. These strong smells include cheese, blood and shad flavors. Just dunk a plastic lure or a worm into the paste and let go. Dip baits work most effectively in cool and slow-moving waters.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Easy to store
  • Great substitute for stinky lures
  • Effective in cold waters

Cons

  • Not so good in fast-moving waters
  • Messy and stinky
  • Need proper storage

Scent

Dip baits come in cheese, shad, blood, and other scent variants.

Where to Buy

This can be found in Amazon.

Berkley PowerBait Catfish Chunks

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Features

Cat steelheads are not picky eaters, so baits don’t have to be fancy. Berkley makes the best catfish bait in the form of PowerBait Catfish chunks.

These dough-like stuff come in different flavors: liver, blood and fish. Using Berkley’s scent-infusion secret, these chunks will release their scent quickly after being submerged. The chewy texture ensures that any cat will bite longer.

Pros

  • Readily available
  • Easy to use and store
  • Works best in cool waters
  • Works faster than regular baits

Cons

  • Hard to use in fast-moving waters
  • Can be choking hazards

Scent

Berkley PowerBait Catfish Chunks come in liver, fish and blood flavors.

Where to Buy

This can be found in Amazon.

Crawfish

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Features

Catfish like steelheads will feed on just any small creature, including crustaceans like the crawfish. These shrimp-like critters are caught wild or farmed. They are easy to catch and crawfish season often coincides with catfish season. Like catfish, crawfish often stay under rocks during the day and emerge only at night.

These tasty crustaceans have a unique scent that catfish absolutely loves. Farmers from the South sometimes crush the heads to release the tasty juices. Hook up to 3 crawfish and dangle them between crags. Because they are mostly nocturnal creatures, using them as live baits at night works best.

Pros

  • Catfish love crawfish smell and taste
  • Squiggly movements attract catfish
  • Easy to catch
  • Readily available
  • Best for dusk / night fishing

Cons

  • Messy to use
  • Hard to use in fast-moving waters
  • Spoils easily
  • Expensive in bulk

Scent

A crawfish has this unique delicate flavor that makes it a Southern delicacy. Crushing crawfish release the tasty juices that make catfishes go wild.

Where to Buy

This can be found in Amazon.

Bowker’s Catfish Bait

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Features

Brands like Bowker’s have left a (stinky) mark on the hearts of avid catfish anglers because of their effective and reliable stinkbaits. A tub of Bowker’s Catfish Bait works like a charm even for newbie angers.

Dunk worms, strips and tubes into the smelly paste and you can hook an adult catfish in no time. This dip can also be used on live baits like shrimps and worms for that added flavor.

Pros

  • Works on any lure
  • Easy to use and store
  • Simple and effective
  • Works on any weather and water conditions
  • Scent stays for a long time

Cons

  • Stinky to use
  • Hard to use in fast-moving waters
  • Expensive

Scent

Bowker’s catfish bait comes in original, shrimp, shad, and blood flavors.

Where to Buy

This can be found in Amazon.

Doc’s Catfish Bait

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Features

Stinkbaits last for a long time, just like Doc’s: a brand known for its effective catfish bait. What makes their products one of the best catfish bait is they tailor their products for specific water temperature. They have special blends for hot water, lukewarm water, and ice-cold waters below 70.

Doc’s sells its stinkbaits in 12-ounce, 40-ounce and gallon tubs. To use, just dip any artificial lures like worms, tubes, doughs, or chunks into the mixture. Then secure a couple of lures on a hook then drift or float it between rocks, where catfish love to stay.

Pros

  • Strong and effective
  • Works on any artificial lures
  • Works in any weather and water conditions
  • Easy to use and store
  • Scent stays for a long time

Cons

  • Stinky
  • Can be choking hazards

Scent

Doc’s Catfish Baits come in three strong flavors: cheese, blood and liver.

Where to Buy

This can be found in Amazon.

Magic Bait Hog Wild Catfish Dip Bait

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Features

Another angler’s favorite catfish bait is produced by Hog Wild. Sticking to traditional stinkbait flavors of cheese and blood, Hog Wild’s Magic Bait is simple but effective. The scent stays on for a long time but works best in cold waters. Just dip any sponge, tube, dough, chunk, and other artificial lures and you’re good to go. For maximum effect, you can coat live baits like shrimps for that added taste that catfish cannot say resist.

Pros

  • Easy to use and store
  • Works in any weather and water conditions
  • Works on any type of lure

Cons

  • Stinky and messy
  • Can be a choking hazard

Scent

Available in cheese, blood and shad flavors.

Where to Buy

This can be found in Amazon.

The Verdict

There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to catching catfish. Just remember that catfish are voracious eaters that feed using their sense of smell, so take advantage of this behavior by giving them strong-scented stinkbaits or dips. Live baits also never fail, so if you have time and patience, get crawfish or worms to give your fishing experience a more natural feel (or smell).

Featured Image by Scottslm from Pixabay

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