When anglers are new to targeting catfish, I recommend starting with the Santee Cooper rig. The Santee Cooper is a versatile rig catfishers can use whether fishing off a bank or trolling in a boat. This catfishing setup is a variation to the popular Carolina rig, also known as the slip-sinker rig.

Furthermore, what makes the Santee Cooper different from the Carolina rig is the addition of the peg float. Later in this article, we’ll discuss why you should use it and how to tie a Santee Cooper rig for catfishing.

Why You Should Use the Santee Cooper Rig

Here are a few reasons why we love using the Santee Cooper rig for catfishing:

  • It’s easy to tie
  • It’s versatile
  • This rig is effective
  • The float keeps your bait suspended off the bottom
  • Your line is less likely to snag
  • You don’t lose your sinker weight if you do get hung up
  • It keeps your bait in the strike zone longer

Items You’ll Need To Tie a Santee Cooper Rig

Here is a list of tackle you’ll need to tie this catfishing setup:

  • Slip-sinker weight
  • Fishing bead
  • Barrel swivels
  • Your Fishing line of choice
  • Peg style float
  • Circle Hook

How To Tie The Santee Cooper Rig: 6 Easy Steps

Step One: Slide on Your Slip-Sinker

    Dr. Fish No-Roll Sinkers

Dr. Fish's no-roll sinkers against a white background.
    Reduce the number of snags by using these no-roll sinkers by Dr. Fish for your Santee Cooper rig.

First, to begin tying this rig, you need to thread your slip-sinker weight onto your main fishing line. There are many styles of slip-sinkers you can use for this setup; however, I prefer using a no-roll sinker. Also, the weight of your sinker will vary, depending on how deep you’re fishing and the current.

Step Two: Thread on a Fishing Bead Below the Sinker

Next, following your slip-sinker weight, slip on a fishing bead. Although you can set up this rig without using a fishing bead, we recommend using one to protect your knot. For example, the bead will act as a buffer between your sinker and the knot connecting the top of your barrel swivel to your main line.

Step Three: Attach a Barrel Swivel to the End of Your Main Fishing Line

Then, below your fishing bead, fasten a barrel swivel to the end of your main line. We recommend using either a Palomar or an improved clinch knot for the best results. Additionally, utilizing a barrel swivel will keep you from losing your sinker if you get snagged.

Also, it gives you a better hookset because catfish won’t initially feel the sinker’s weight when they pick up your bait. Catfish sometimes spit out the hook when the weight is on the leader line instead of the main line.

Step Four: Tie Your Leader Line to the End of Your Barrel Swivel

Now, secure the top of your leader line to the other end of your barrel swivel. For your leader line, you can use either monofilament or fluorocarbon. Next, you’ll set your leader length to whatever water depth you’re fishing. Generally, I’ll make mine around 18 to 24-inches to start, then adjust it from there.

Step Five: Attach Your Float Onto Your Leader Line

    Catfish Sumo Peg Float

Catfish Sumo rattling peg floats, one of the best pieces of catfish tackle, against a white background.
    Enhance your Santee Cooper rig by utilizing these inline rattling peg floats by Catfish Sumo!

Afterward, secure your float to your leader line. Depending on what float style you’re using, you can also perform this step after tying your hook. Typically, I’ll use an ordinary peg float; however, I’ve also found success with using an in-line rattling float. Rattling floats add more flair to your rig, and the vibrations from the noise will also help bring in catfish.

Step Six: Snell a Circle Hook to the End of Your Leader Line

Lastly, to complete your Santee Cooper rig, tie a circle hook to your leader line using a snell knot. We recommend snelling your hook because it is one of the strongest knots to use. Also, when paired with a circle hook, you get a better hookup ratio since it allows for a straight line pull.

Pro tip: When you’re utilizing circle hooks, never try to set the hook. Unlike Kahle hooks, circle hooks are self-setting.

Will You Use the Santee Cooper Rig on Your Next Catfishing Trip?

In conclusion, the Santee Cooper rig is an excellent all-around setup that you can use in most catfishing scenarios. In addition, it’s quick and easy to tie on, and it helps keep your bait off muddy bottoms. So, will you try using this catfishing rig on your next fishing trip? Please, let us know in the comments below. Do you think this article could benefit someone you know? Then, please consider sharing it.

Are you interested in learning about other catfish rigs? If so, check out our article that lists what we think are the eight best catfish rigs.