Every time you try knot tying, do you find yourself with one thumb firmly secured to the hook, and the other one in desperate need of a Band-Aid? We’ve all been there, but give it just one more try and it’ll work out. Tying a Snell knot to enhance your catfishing experience isn’t much different from tying a hangman’s knot, so if you can get the trick of it maybe you can get a whole new career going.

Why You Should Use A Snell Knot For Catfish

  • It’s not that hard to tie, once you get the hang of it
  • It’s a foolproof way to keep the hook attached to the line
  • It will give your bait better action in the water
  • The Snell knot facilitates setting the hook in the catfish’s jaw.
fisherman holding a catfish

Image credits: Olena Ts via Pixabay

Items You’ll Need to Tie a Proper Snell Knot

  • Start practicing this with a hook and line that are reasonably proportional to your fingers. It might also benefit you to lock the hook in a fly-tying vise to make life easier the first few times out.
  • Fishing line
  • A fish hook

Tying the Knot In Six Easy Steps

Step One: Start With a Circle Hook of Some Sort with the Hook Upward and the Eye Pointed Downward

As previously mentioned, you want the hook and line combination to suit your finger size.

Catch and release fishing is a common practice among fishermen in Maryland. A catfish just caught is seen on a hook

Image credit: grandbrothers via Shutterstock

Step Two: Pass a Fair Amount of Line Through the Eye

After a few tries you’ll get a feel for how much you need for any given line/hook combination. Keep in mind that fish line is fairly cheap, at least the stuff you buy to practice with should be, so don’t mind the waste.

Step Three: Leave a Loop that Mirrors the Rough Size of the Hook Below the Hook

Imagine tying your shoes for this part. If the loop is roughly the same size as the hook gap, you’re on the right track.

Step Four: Run 5-7 Circles Around the Shank of the Hook in the Manner of the Aforementioned Hangman’s Noose

When you’re looping the line you’ll want to keep things tight enough so that the excess line doesn’t get in the way but not so floppy that it causes trouble.

Step Five: Bring the Line Back and Run it Through the Shoelace-like Loop You Left at the Beginning

This part can be a bit vexing the first few times as there is a tendency to have the end of the line try to poke out of the loops. Try, try again and don’t loose your composure.

fisherman holding catfish

Image credit: as_trofey via shutterstock

Step Six: Pull Tight and Trim the Excess

This is not the point to try and vent any pent-up frustrations. Give the line a gentle tug without breaking it and trim the excess cleanly. If it doesn’t look quite like what you were hoping for, give it another try from the beginning.

It’s right around now that a lot of folks will throw their hands in the air, along with a good deal of line and several hooks, and declare that a good old-fashioned square knot will do the job just fine. To a point, you’re not wrong, but there is a reason hard-core anglers spend so much time on this sort of thing.

Using a Snell knot on your hook will give the hook, and whatever bait is attached, better action as you pull it along, which is important in the often muddy waters catfish dwell in. The use of this knot will enhance catfishing because catfish don’t really bite on your line so much as suck it in their mouth. The hit of a catfish feels like nothing else on the end of your line.

With a Snell knot, the hook rotates up and exposes the tip so that it can be firmly seated in the fish’s mouth when you pull on it. You don’t have to worry about luck being the major factor in properly setting your hook, and that alone makes it worth learning for catfish.

When you first get starting going after catfish, it may seem quite similar to chasing carp or any other bottom-feeder, but catfish require a more diverse skillset. The first few times you go out after Old Moses, you’ll discover the added difficulty for yourself. Working in thick cover and muddy water isn’t the easiest thing. The payout comes when you land that first big lunker. After that, you’ll be hooked for life. The catfish will, too, hopefully.