Fly Fishing for Catfish

Monday, August 05, 2013 , , , 9 Comments

Fly fishing for catfish.... are you kidding me? This response is not uncommon and I often hear it from anglers when they ask what I am fishing for, while targeting catfish on a fly rod. One woman even asked if I was practicing for trout season and then was flabbergasted when I released the catfish pictured immediately below. Fishing for catfish on a fly rod is much easier than you would think at first. In fact one of my good friend's first and second fish on a fly rod were catfish. However, for a generation that was brought up believing catfish fishing involves only worms or stinkbait it is a bit of an adjustment. Just like any other species the first step in fishing for them is to find a suitable habitat. Seek out edges of vegetation, sunken timber, wind swept points, dam faces, holes next an area of current, and transition zones between shallow and deeper water--particularly if the wind is pushing towards the shallow water.  Next tie on a fly--typically I use one of three general flies: clousers, large nymphs, and wooly buggers. Cast, and allow time for the fly to sink to the bottom. For your retrieve make your strips long and slow, pause for several seconds in between. That's the basics, I will leave the details up to you for the moment. Below are a few I caught the other day as well as the basic patterns I use. 

Top to bottom: Rusty Clouser, Jumping Catfish Nymph, and Wooly Bugger. 


Josh said...

Great blog. I used to have a yellow nymph that channel cats would take off the surface during the white bass run.

Atlas said...

Thank you sir for your comments. Yes, I too have had good luck with catfish when White Bass are busting shad on the surface. Lots of fun.

What Whaaaaaaaat!
I've never fished for catfish using a fly. Practicing for Trout Season? LOL!

FishnDave said...

Excellent post!
I usually catch them by accident, but I have also caught some by specifically targeting them. Great fighters! A very worthy gamefish!

Atlas said...

They are a lot of fun and highly underrated as a target with a fly rod. I wouldn't mind hooking into a Blue one of these times.

Those baits are very attractive, for sure those fishes out there will find it really pleasing.

Fishing in Alaska

CARF said...

That's pretty awesome, and very different! Good for your friend whose first fish on the fly were catfish. Ha I don't think many people can say that.

Atlas said...

Yep. Everyone around him was catching Crappie, but new to the sport his strips were very long and slow. Perfect for catching cats and he was at a great location.

Unknown said...

Im glad i read that last comment you posted. I went out this last saturday to fly fish for channel cats on my local river system(2 rivers making one major river). I failed in every location i went nymphs, drys, streamers, dough ball and worm imitations, almost everything in the box i had with me really.. Gave up and grabbed a telescoping open face i carry with me and within an hour fishing with worms found along the banks, i managed 3 channels. 2 around 15in and one 24 inch that put that little rod and reel to the test. I figured my presentations on the fly rod were too awful to trick one. and i know after reading your comment i was half right. Mind suggesting some retrieves and such for different flys/situations to help me out? i tried my best to vary my speed/length and even went back to the fly rod after i knew they were biting and still nothing.