Are you excited to start your catfishing journey, yet you’re unsure of what kind of rigs to use? We’ve all been there, which is why we want to share with you these eight best catfish rigs. Whether you’re fishing in a river, pond, lake, off a boat or bank, these setups will help make your trip successful.

What You’ll Need To Tie These Rigs

8 Best Catfish Rigs

A catfish rod with a catfish rig casted out into the water with a lake in the background

Carolina Catfish Rig

The Carolina catfish rig, also known as the slip-sinker, is a well-known setup often used by bass and catfish anglers. The purpose of the Carolina is to allow you to fish the bottom, and it keeps your bait separate from the lead weight. So when a catfish strikes, it won’t initially feel the sinker’s weight when it tries to swim off. Thus, increasing your chances of hooking the fish.

Here’s what you’ll need for the Carolina rig:

  • No-roll sinker
  • A fishing bead
  • Barrel swivel
  • Circle hook

Additionally, the Carolina rig is fantastic for bank or anchor fishing. Plus, you can use this setup in lakes, ponds, or rivers.

Santee Cooper Rig

The Santee Cooper rig is a staple amongst catfishers if you need a great all-around setup for catfishing. In comparison, this rig is very similar to a Carolina but adds a peg float. The purpose of the Santee is to help you keep your bait suspended above muddy bottoms. In addition, the best thing about the Santee Cooper is its versatility. For example, you can use it while drifting, anchored, or bank fishing.

3-Way Rig

The 3-way rig is a basic setup for catfishing in rivers with heavy currents. The purpose of this rig is to separate your bait from your lead weight. Plus, it gives motionless baits, like cut shad, a better presentation.

Furthermore, the critical item you’ll need for this setup is a 3-way swivel; this will connect your main line to both your drop line and leader. In addition, at the end of your drop line, you’ll need a bank sinker. When choosing what pound test to use for your drop line, make sure to choose one that’s lighter than your main line. Specifically, doing this will cause you to likely only lose your sinker than your entire rig if you snag.

Float Rig

The float rig is a variation of the 3-way setup. The only difference between the two is the float rig has a peg float on the main line. To illustrate, the addition of the peg float will help keep your bait suspended above muddy bottoms.

Slip-Bobber Rig

Slip-bobbers are an essential piece of tackle every catfish angler should own. To make this rig, you’ll need:

  • Bobber stopper
  • Barrel swivel
  • Two fishing beads
  • Sliding sinker
  • Slip-bobber
  • Hook of choice

Additionally, this rig is excellent if you’re fishing in areas around cover, like fallen timber or submerged grass beds. In addition, you can use the slip-bobber rig while you’re drifting, anchored, or bank fishing in any water body. So, whether you are in a lake, pond or river, this setup will get the job done.


Now, the zero-rig is something you will only use in specific scenarios. For example, this is ideal for fishing in rivers with a strong current or in heavily covered areas. The zero-rig gets its name because it eliminates having to use a barrel swivel and a leader. Instead, with this setup, all you have to do is:

  1. First, thread a no-roll sinker on your main line.
  2. Next, thread a fishing bead below your sinker.
  3. Lastly, attach your hook at the end of your main line.

Double Hook Rig

There are multiple variations to tying a double hook rig, but I’ll go over the most common way anglers tie it.  The purpose of the double hook rig is to use it to either hook up large baits or multiple baits. Furthermore, just like its name implies, this setup consists of tying two hooks to your leader line. Here’s what you will need to make this rig:

  • Two kahle or circle hooks
  • Barrel swivel
  • Fishing bead
  • No-roll sinker

Drop-Shot Rig

The drop-shot, also known as the Kentucky rig, is very similar to how you set up a 3-way rig. Yet, the only difference is you tie a drop-line directly onto your leader instead of using a 3-way swivel.

Also, catfish anglers will use the drop-shot over a 3-way rig for when they’re vertical drifting. Additionally, anglers believe the drop-shot gives their bait a more natural presentation. Plus, it’s fantastic for fishing near standing timber and large brush piles.

What Is the Best Catfish Rig?

After looking through these eight best catfish rigs, you’re probably wondering which one is the best to use. If you want a versatile all-around spectacular rig, I recommend using the Santee Cooper Rig. It’s quick and easy to prepare in advance, and you can use it for multiple fishing applications.

On another note, when selecting which rigs and lead weights to use, make sure you don’t throw more weight than your rod’s recommended lure weight. Specifically, doing so will decrease your ease of castability, casting distance, and accuracy.

Which of these rigs are you looking forward to trying? Let us know in the comments below. Did you find this article helpful? Consider giving it a share. Happy catfishing, everyone.