Bill Dance on Catfish Rigging
Bob McNally 05.17.16
Well-known television angler Bill Dance has a passion for catfish, and his favorite time for them is during spring in tailrace water. Dance uses a basic 3-way swivel rig for catching catfish, but he has some tackle refinements he says make a difference in putting fish in the boat.
“The pound test line I use depends on the size fish, water depth worked, and current speed,” explains Dance. “But for most tailrace fishing where cats can run really big, I use 30-pound braided line because it has small diameter and great abrasion resistance.
Dance ties the braid directly to one ring of a 3-way swivel. To a second ring of the swivel he ties a 12-inch length of 14-pound test line that’s attached a 1/2- to 2-ounce bell sinker. Weight of the sinker is determined by current speed, and he uses just enough weight to maintain contact with bottom. The 14-pound line will break before the main line should the sinker foul in bottom, which prevents loosing the entire rig.
To the third ring of the swivel, Dance ties an 18-inch leader of 30-pound line, attached to a 1/0 to 3/0 Wright-McGill Kahle bait hook.
“The Kahle hook is the best catfish hook I’ve ever used,” explains Dance. “For some reason, most of the time the hook will barb a catfish in the corner of the mouth, where there’s a tender spot. The mouth corner also has very tough, leathery skin, and once the hook is set there the fish almost can’t get rid of it. The Kahle hook has improved my catch ratio with catfish about 100 percent.”
The three-way swivel rig when fished in current presents a bait just off the bottom, which is where Dance insists catfish prefer feeding. The rig can be fished from an anchored boat or from shore, but Dance prefers drifting in a boat and “tight-lining” the rig when working tailrace waters.