We put together this comprehensive review to help you find the best catfish bait to meet your needs. Whether you are just starting or needing help improving your catfishing game, we put these five baits to the test to help you reach your bag limit on your next outing.

We analyzed these baits based on their overall stink factor, ease of use, how well they stay on the hook, and their effectiveness for targeting certain catfish species. Here is a rundown of our top five choices for baiting flathead, blue, channel, and bullhead catfish.

Hook and Bullet Top 5 Catfish Baits for 2021

  PRODUCT FEATURES  
Live Bluegill - The Best Catfish Bait for Any Occasion Live Bluegill
  • Stink level: Low
  • Ease of use: Easy
  • Targeted species: Flathead catfish
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Mr. Whiskers Cheese Catfish Punch Bait - The Best Catfish Bait for Any Occasion Mr. Whiskers Cheese Catfish Punch Bait
  • Stink level: High
  • Ease of use: Medium
  • Targeted species: Blue and channel catfish
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Berkley PowerBait Catfish Bait Chunks - Chicken Liver - The Best Catfish Bait for Any Occasion Berkley PowerBait Catfish Bait Chunks - Chicken Liver
  • Stink level: High
  • Ease of use: Easy
  • Targeted species: Bullhead and channel catfish
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Tyson Chicken Gizzards & Hearts - The Best Catfish Bait for Any Occasion Tyson Chicken Gizzards & Hearts
  • Stink level: Medium
  • Ease of use: Medium
  • Targeted species: Blue and channel catfish
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Team Catfish Secret 7 Dip Bait - The Best Catfish Bait for Any Occasion Team Catfish Secret 7 Dip Bait
  • Stink level: Medium
  • Ease of use: Medium
  • Targeted species: Bullhead and channel catfish
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Why Can You Trust Us?

A man holding a blue catfish with a lake in the background.

Here’s a photo of my husband holding a large blue catfish we pulled up on our jugline.

I especially love targeting catfish because I can fish for them year-round here in South Central Missouri. During my time catfishing, I have paid close attention to which baits work and what species are hitting them the most.

Over the years, I have tied just about anything to a hook out of pure curiosity to see what these fish would bite on, from sour gummy worms to live bluegill. Additionally, I have personally used all of these products I am about to list in this review.

Therefore, I am very familiar with catfish and their eating habits. I have used all types of catfish baits, and I have the knowledge and experience required to put this review together.

Best Live Bait for Flathead Catfish

    Live Bluegill
    If you are trying to stay away from manufactured baits, live bluegill is a reliable summertime bait. Bluegill is a common baitfish frequently used to target flathead catfish. They’re easy to rig up, and if they die, then you have the option to use them for cut bait.

Why We Like It: Live bluegill is my go-to bait for targeting larger fish, like flatheads and blue catfish. When the bite is slow during the daytime, I target bluegill schools with my cast net and store them in my Livewell. So, by nighttime, they’re ready to be rigged up on my jug line with a circle hook and tossed into the water.

Bluegill is a common baitfish found in a catfish’s diet. Typically, the bigger the bluegill, the larger fish you will attract. I like using them because they’re effective, they’re free to use, and I can usually get a bite on them within an hour of fishing.

Who Should Buy It: Anglers who live near ponds or lakes that allow baitfish use.

Best Punch Bait for Eating-Sized Catfish

    Mr. Whiskers Cheese Catfish Punch Bait
    Mr. Whiskers cheese punch bait is a fantastic bait for targetting eating-sized catfish. This punch bait has a shelf life that could outlive you. Plus, it smells like rotten cheese that only gets riper with age.

Why We Like It: Mr. Whiskers is a quality punch bait that doesn’t harden over time, and it’s exceptional at bringing in those ideal eating-sized catfish, weighing around 1 to 5 pounds. However, don’t be surprised if you occasionally reel in a 10-pound plus catfish with this punch bait.

You can purchase this punch bait by the pint or by the gallon, whichever suits your fishing needs. The smell can be unbearable at times; however, when catfishing, the smellier the bait, the better. If this bait does get too runny, you can quickly firm it up with chunks of bread or pieces of paper towel.

Who Should Buy It: Anglers who are actively bank fishing for catfish.

Best Dough Bait for Channel Catfish

    Berkley PowerBait Catfish Bait Chunks - Chicken Liver
    If you are looking for a good stink bait, Berkeley’s chicken liver chunks will not only burn your nostrils, but it will also help you target hungry channel catfish. This dough comes ready to use, and you can easily rig it up on a treble hook in seconds.

Why We Like It: I love the versatility of this dough bait because you can bank fish with it, or attach it to a jug or trotline, or use it to chum the waters. It still smells pretty horrendous for a manufactured bait, making it an ideal lure for channel catfish.

The packaging of Berkley’s catfish chunks is compact and doesn’t require any refrigeration, so you’ll be able to store it in your tackle box effortlessly. Thus, making it readily available for you to rig up and toss into the water.

Who Should Buy It: Anglers looking for a manufactured bait that is easy to store and handle.

Best Store-Bought Bait for Blue Catfish

    Tyson Chicken Gizzards & Hearts
    Raw chicken gizzards and hearts aren’t only a tasty fried snack, but they also work to pull in blue catfish. These chicken giblets are inexpensive and easily accessible at most local grocery stores.

Why We Like It: Chicken gizzards and hearts are my favorite wintertime catfish bait to use when I’m targeting blue catfish. I like how readily available this bait is, and it keeps me from having to worry about catching baitfish. Also, chicken gizzards can be easily manipulated onto a circle hook, making them less likely to fall off.

These giblets are so cheap; you can buy them in bulk, making them a cost-effective bait option for when you’re running a boatload of jugs or a long trotline. With extra preparation, you can make gizzards more attractive by soaking them overnight in bloody chicken livers and fresh garlic. You can even make them smellier by storing them outside of your cooler and letting them ferment in the sunlight.

Who Should Buy It: Catfish anglers running jugs, limb lines, or trotlines.

Best Dip Bait for Bullhead Catfish

    Team Catfish Secret 7 Dip Bait
    Don't let this small pint fool you. This pint packs a punch, and Team Catfish has refined their secret recipe to bring a high-quality dip bait into the catfishing game.

Why We Like It: Team Catfish’s Secret 7 is well known for being a high-quality dip bait, guaranteed to land some catfish. Once you get past the initial learning curve of using dip bait, you will be able to load this stuff up and cast it back out quickly. This faster-paced fishing style will help you target those schools of bullhead, who are lurking in murky waters, eagerly waiting to strike at any opportunity of food.

Secret 7 is dense in texture and adheres well to dip tubes and sponge hooks. When you cast it out, it makes a delectable chum cloud when it lands in the water. This dip bait isn’t overbearingly smelly when you first crack the pint open; however, you can even make it really reek for those dirty pollywogs by leaving it out in the sunlight. Or, if you rather not smell like catfish candy for the rest of the day, then you can keep it stored in your cooler.

Who Should Buy It: Anglers targetting bullhead catfish in lower oxygenated waters.

How to Make Homemade Catfish Bait?

For some, manufactured baits don’t cut it. Hence, many catfish anglers have sought to find the perfect recipe to make a homemade catfish lure over the years. The HookandBullet team has assessed the key to producing quality catfish candy is by including these five elements into your mix:

  • A putrid smell
  • A thick base, like cheddar cheese
  • Some liquid, like blood
  • Fibrous bonding element
  • Natural bait ingredient, like crayfish

As long as you have these five components in your homemade bait, I am sure you will be able to attract some catfish. Now, let’s take a look at some of the best homemade catfish baits:

Things to Consider Before Making Your Own Catfish Bait

Making catfish bait can be very time-consuming. It will sometimes feel like you’re spending more time concocting recipes than fishing. It can also be more costly compared to buying a manufactured one. Additionally, you can invest all of your time, money, and energy into making it, only for it to end up not working.

However, don’t let these warnings steer you away from trying. Although making catfish bait can be frustrating and a lot of work, it can also be gratifying and perform better than a store-bought one.

How We Picked

When catfishing, many luring methods include live bait, cut bait, manufactured bait, and grocery store items. If the use of live bait is allowed where you fish, then we recommend using it any day of the week. Plus, live bait will often outfish most manufactured baits. However, not everyone has the option to use it.

For this reason, we wanted to include a variety of readily available store-bought baits. Here are the criteria these baits had to meet to make it on this list:

A strong odor: These baits need to reek. Unlike you and I, catfish taste things externally. In fact, the outside of their bodies has more than 100,000 taste buds. Thus, the more odorous the bait, the more flavorful and attractive it would be for them.

Ease of use: All of these baits listed above are pretty straightforward to use, with a slight learning curve for anglers using punch and dip baits for the first time.

How well they stay on the hook: These baits we chose are manufactured of high-quality ingredients. For instance, the Mr. Whiskers punch bait even has real cheese in it, which gives it that nice rich texture that makes it stick to your treble hook when casting it out.

They must produce catfish: These baits are well-known for producing some serious bites. For example, the Secret 7 dip bait has even been tournament-tested and has won big-name events like the Bass Pro Big Cat Quest.

Which Manufactured Bait Outfishes the Rest?

At last, our quest for finding the perfect catfish bait ends here. The ideal bait you are looking for must attract catfish. It must be relatively easy to use, and you don’t want to lose it after your first cast. Thus, drum roll please, the bait fulfilling all of these categories is the Mr. Whiskers cheese punch bait.

The Mr. Whiskers cheese punch bait is known for pulling in those ideal eating-sized blue and channel catfish, weighing around 1 to 5 pounds. You can use this stuff year-round, and it has an indefinite life span. Therefore, you won’t have to worry about this punch bait hardening over time.

Leave a comment below if you have any inquiries about our choices. If you found this review insightful, please share it with your friends. As always, tight lines, everyone!

Featured image credits: Milos Prelevic via Unsplash