How To Catch Flathead Catfish With Old School "Stealth Rigs"
First off, for catching flathead catfish I recommend a 7' medium/heavy action rod (minimum)... and a bait-casting reel (I like Penn's and Ambassadeur's).
Use 4/0 hooks... nothing smaller. I know this might sound like the gear is a little much for freshwater fishing, but flathead cats have huge mouths, and your baits should be large too.
Test out any or all of the following baits: live sunfish (only if legal in your area), big shad, goldfish, and 7" shiners.
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I recommend using stainless steel hooks, exclusively... anything weaker will easily be "straightned out" by a decent sized flathead.
Use 1/8 oz. split-shots or bigger because you'll be fishing on the bottom in heavy cover. If they're big you can simply pull them off without losing the fish or the rig.
Use no less than 15 pound test line... and on the end of the line pinch on 6 to 8 split shots. 2" to 18" above this make an 8 inch dropper loop and slap on a 4/0 Kahle hook. (yes, stainless steel!)
Bait this hook with (at minimum) a 4-inch minnow, shad, goldfish, or sunfish. Hook them right behidn the dorsal fin... cast this rig into likely catfish hiding spots.
If no strike inside of 15 minutes, move the bait a bit, a few inches at a time. If nothing, re-cast a few feet to either side.
You might also try a "grouper rig". Just slide a good size slip sinker onto your fishing line... and a large swivel.
Attach an 18-inch leader, and a 4/0 stainless steel hook to the end of it. Bait it with a 5-7 inch bait fish. Cast this into good spots and leave a little slack on your line.
Why slack? Because it'll remove any resistance that might turn a flathead off.
I recommend the grouper rig if the catfish are hesitant to hit anything...or they are spitting your bait out without taking it fully.
The only downside to the grouper rig is you'll loose a lot of tackle in the brush.
I also recommend testing the following jug-fishing and trot lines. (Make sure both are legal before using them.)
Test these techniques out at night time...in the shallows.
You can also put jugs in up current in rivers, ahead of good catfish hidey holes. Let them drift naturally through these spots for quick attacks.
And when you bring some home? Fry, broil, sautee, or bake... and bread 'em for the best taste! :)
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