Unusual Catfish Baits That Really Work

Part of the reason that it is so fun to fish for catfish is that you can use a wide variety of baits to do so. Things like minnows and worms obviously work, and they’re popular catfish baits for a reason. You can even catch catfish with artificial lures (I once caught a small channel cat while trolling with a topwater bait).

But you can also catch catfish with a number of odd and unusual baits. We’ll talk about a few of the best (and strangest) catfish baits below.

Hot Dogs

Small hot dog slices are one of the time-honored favorites for many catfish anglers. On the one hand, it seems strange that catfish are interested in these processed sausages. After all, catfish don’t eat cows or pigs very often. But, when you consider the amount of fat present in a typical hot dog slice, it starts to make sense that they’d appeal to catfish.

Humans may love fat because it’s delicious, but fish (and most other animals) love fat because it is an unbeatable source of calories.


Fruits and vegetables aren’t usually at the top of the bait list for most anglers, but grapes actually work quite well for catching catfish. Additionally, grapes are pretty affordable and they’re easy to thread on a hook in a secure manner.

Catfish probably eat grapes quite a bit in areas where they grow wild. In fact, if you look at a forested lake margin, you may see several vines growing on the trees, holding plump, wild grapes. When these fall off into the water, they make easy pickings for local catfish.

Chicken Livers

Chicken livers are like hot dogs in many ways – they’re exceedingly strange, and it doesn’t seem natural for fish to feast so readily on a chicken product.

However, just like hot dogs, chicken livers are full of fat. This fat spreads readily in the water, carrying the delicious scent far and wide. This means you may not only catch catfish lurking in the immediate area, but you may also attract some from the other side of the lake.

Dough Balls

Bread or dough balls are popular baits among carp and bluegill anglers, but they can also be quite productive for catfish anglers. Bread balls are also fun to make and easy to use – you can even customize them by including various fish oils or other smelly substances that catfish find appealing.

The biggest challenge with using dough balls is keeping them together and on the hook for a while. So, just be sure to bring a sack full of them when you head down to the water.


Truth be told, we wouldn’t be surprised to hear about people using even stranger things to catch catfish. These whiskered rascals are very opportunistic feeders, and they seem willing to try anything once.

What kinds of strange catfish baits have you used to fill a cooler? Let us know what you’ve used, how you rigged it up, and when it was most productive in the comments below.

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