The Best Catfish Rig for Bank Fishing

Here are the top rigging options for catfish fishing from the bank. These include the popular Slip Sinker Rig, Slip Bobber, and Paternoster Rigs. Knowing what works best for your situation is the key to success. Each rig type has a different use case but often involves the same tackle. This article will explain how to use each type of rig for catching catfish and review different components such as leaders, bobbers, and other tackle that these rigs need.

What are Catfish Rigs?

Catfish rigs are fishing line and tackle combinations specially designed to target catfish. For instance, if an angler is fishing a river with a decent current, a slip sinker rig may be appropriate because it holds the bait in place despite the running current. In the summer, catfish are sometimes suspended in the water column, even lazily swimming near the surface. During these times, a slip bobber rig would be perfect for placing your bait in the correct water depth. In short, catfish rigs are ways for anglers to catch more catfish!

What Matters Most With Catfish Rigs for Bank Fishing?

A great catfish rig setup is dependent on matching the current rig to the water conditions and species you are after, correct hooks and bait, and how well the knots have been tied. There are a lot of different variables for each type of rig, but once you get the hang of it, it’s not too hard. Once you’ve mastered how to rig your catfish setup, make sure to check out our comprehensive article: The Ultimate Guide to the Best Catfish Bait.

The 5 Best Catfish Rigs Infographic

The Best Catfish Rigs

Slip Sinker Rig

The slip sinker rig is a fishing technique that allows the fish to easily pull the line through the eye of the sinker without feeling any resistance. This makes this rig ideal for bottom fishing, particularly with light-biting catfish. A fish that can’t feel any resistance from the rod is less likely to strike and spit the bait. A slip sinker rig keeps the bait stationary on the bottom, waiting for the cat to find it, swallow it, and swim away, all without knowing it’s been hooked. Some anglers use a fish alarm to alert them when their line is pulled out.

Basic Slip Rig diagram.
Image Credit: In-Fisherman

How to rig

The slip sinker consists of a non-fixed weight on the main fishing line (which allows it to slide up and down the line freely). After that, a swivel connects the main fishing line (usually monofilament or braided) to the leader line. The swivel stops the sliding weight from going any further toward the bait and is an easy way to connect two different types of fishing lines. After that, a hook is tied to the leader and baited.


  • Make sure to match your sliding weight type to the underwater terrain you are fishing. Walking sinkers work well in muddy bottoms. Bullet weights do well in vegetation.
  • Nightcrawlers, cut bait (perch, bluegill, etc), and artificial power bait are all effective with the slip sinker rig.
  • Dragging this rig along the bottom works best (slowly). Remember, the floating weight allows the bait to move about at will without fear of getting tangled.
  • Remember to use gloves and a good pair of pliers when you catch a nice catfish. We just made an article overviewing some great choices for fishing pliers here.

Items needed for the slip sinker rig

Bonus gear (Bite indicator, which is perfect for a slip sinker rig)

Leader line: 40-50 Lb clear monofilament or fluorocarbon leader. The leader line of heavier weight helps to absorb shock during aggressive strikes and provides additional abrasion resistance.

Hook: When using prepared baits, we prefer #4 or #6 4X strong triple hooks. Circle hooks are the best for blue catfish, flathead, and larger channel cats. 

Swivel: There are various sizes and styles to choose from when it comes to barrel swivels. The basic brass barrel swivel is fine, but try a ball bearing or crane swivel for more performance.

Sinker/Weight: Egg sinkers and no roll sinkers are the preferred choices for catfish anglers.

Slip Sinker Catfish Rig Diagram.
Image Credit: Catfish Hedge

Common Uses

A good Slip Sinker Rig has enough weight to hold the bait in place while you wait for the strike. It also has a leader long enough to run through the sinker’s eye, thereby improving the odds of the fish remaining in the mouth while the hook is set.

This rig is simple to use and only comprises a few basic components.

To make one, start by tying a leader to your hook, a split shot on the other end, and a bottom dropper attached to the sinker. The bottom dropper’s length will depend on your minnow’s size.

In addition to a leader, a slip sinker rig should have a weight that matches the bottom type. A bullet-weight or egg sinker will be more effective in muddy bottoms, while a walking sinker is better for water that contains a lot of underwater vegetation.

Because this rig is so simple to use, it works great in many situations and seasons. It is one of the best catfish rigs for bank fishing. It works amazingly well on the shore and is great for holding your bait on the bottom in a current.

Slip sinker rigs are one of the most common ways to rig for catfish fishing. This is because they are versatile and effective. Try using them paired with a nightcrawler or red worm. Both of these worms are durable and easy to purchase or grow. Our article, How to Grow Worms for Fishing, details how to grow nightcrawlers and red worms for fishing.

Paternoster Rig

This rig is a multi-hooked catfish rig that is used from the shore. It is most appropriate to use a paternoster rig when there’s not much water running in the river or a slack tide, as the multiple hooks on the mainline are more susceptible to getting hung up. This rig should not be used with a slack line because fish will sense resistance and drop the bait before you feel the fish and strike. Also, remember that no matter what bottom fishing you do, you need to use the lightest sinker possible. This is especially important for the paternoster rig.

How to rig

Most of the time, anglers use two hooks on the paternoster rig. The dropper loop is one of the best knots to rig up a paternoster.

The drooper loop helps when putting together the paternoster rig.
Courtesy of

Items needed for the slip sinker rig

Bonus Gear (pre-done paternoster rig)

A Paternoster rig is an excellent choice for flatheads. This type of rig suspends the bait above cover and entices the catfish to bite. The rig is most effective when the water is calm, and there is little to no running tide. 

The Paternoster is also an effective choice for use in a large pond or in a shallow point in a reservoir. It is an excellent choice for catching cats when the fishing conditions are right.

Slip Bobber Rig

The slip bobber rig is a versatile tool for catching catfish. Use it for fishing in shallow and deep waters. This type of rig consists of a small bobber and a length of line. The length of the line depends on the depth of the water you’re fishing. If you’re fishing in a lake that’s 20 feet deep, you may use a longer line than you would for shallow water.


An angler favorite, the slipfoat rig is the best catfish rig for bank fishing who want to have visibility on their floater.
Image Credit: In-Fisherman

If you’re looking for a stealthy rig for fishing in deep water, a slip bobber is the right choice. Use this rig to lure catfish hiding in log jams or downed trees. Slip bobbers are also easy to work around brush and log jams. These are some of the most common places that summer cats hang out. Slip bobber rigs are an excellent way to target suspended catfish. Use it for catfish lying on a lake’s surface. Slip bobber rigs are ideal for catching catfish during the summer. Adjust the depth of your bait to target the different types of catfish.

Slip bobber rigs are a common catfish rig used by many anglers. These are especially popular with channel catfish anglers. While slip bobbers are effective for blue catfish or flathead catfish in certain applications, they’re also very popular for channel catfish. It’s one of the best catfish rigs for bank fishing because of the visibility of the float, ease of its tackle, and effectiveness.

The slip bobber is very different from traditional round fishing floats that are attached to the line.

  • They are much more sensitive than traditional bobbers.
  • It’s usually easier to cast them.
  • Depth can be adjusted no matter how deep or shallow you fish.
  • They are the only bobbers used in deep-water.

Items needed for this rig

The importance of bobber stops

When it comes to fishing with slip-bobbers and the slip bobber rod rig, bobber stops are crucial. They are also the most confusing piece of tackle. The bobber stop slides onto the fishing line before any tackle or float, and then the small beads follow. The depth of the float is set by the bobber stop or bead. This allows you to adjust the depth of your fishing.

A great bait to pair with slip bobber is catfish stink baits. They dissolve slowly and attract catfish due to their intense smell.

Santee Cooper Rig

The Santee Cooper Rig is a Carolina Rig that uses a peg-type bobber to lift your bait from the bottom. It is one of the most popular rigs used by catfish anglers across the country. This rig is great for placing your bait directly in front of catfish where they are hungry. It quickly covers a lot of water and can have many different baits attached. This is one of the most popular catfish rig setups for bank fishing.

The Santee Rig is the best catfish rig for bank fishing for those who want to reach the bottom consistently.

If catfish are near the surface, the Santee Cooper Rig is one of your best choices.

This rig has the main advantage of getting the bait in front of the fish.

Adjust the leader according to how close the catfish are holding onto your bait. Your bobber will only be a few inches away from the bait, so the line will be floating exactly where they are.

Items needed for this rig

Quality Mono Line
Peg Floats
Santee Sinkers

Bonus Gear (rattling float specific to Santee rigs)

3-Way Rig

A three-way rig consists of a leader line, three-way swivel, and weight dropper line. The latter should be lighter than the main line since it will be easier to retrieve the rig if the weight falls. This way, you easily jig the bait without catching it on the bottom. The three-way rig is especially effective for fishing around cover, making your line less susceptible to snags. This is one of the best catfish rigs for bank fishing.

One of the best catfish rigs for bank fishing is the 3-way rig.
Courtesy of

A three-way rig is an excellent choice for anglers looking for a simple but effective way to lure catfish out of their hiding. Our article, Where Do Catfish Live? goes into detail on where catfish can be found in the water. Pair that with the ability to tie appropriate fishing knots, and catching catfish can become much easier.

Remember, 3-way rigs are easy to set up and allow you to use larger bait fish, thereby attracting a bigger catfish. The three-way rig’s swivel means you fish deeper waters without worrying about the weight.

It’s a great choice for anglers using live baitfish. It consists of a terminal leader and a lead dropper. The lead dropper is usually made of lighter monofilament and features a bell sinker and a swivel.

Some anglers prefer to use braided line for its strength when connecting the hooks to the main line. We have an article outlining the best braided fishing line here.

Gear needed for this rig

The three-way catfishing rig is one of the easiest to use when you are fishing from the shore. It is versatile and simple and the gear is relatively inexpensive. Take time to learn this setup and see what kind of catfish you pull from your favorite fishing spot.

The Knots for Catfish Rigs When Fishing from the Bank

Dropper Loop

One of the main benefits of using the Dropper Loop is its simplicity. It’s easy to tie and cast.

The dropper loop fishing knot is a simple but effective type of clinch knot. The original loop is passed from one side to the other, and then it is squeezed to make a tighter knot. Once the knot is tight, the angler should pull the two ends of the line in opposite directions to secure them. This fishing knot is most effective when the line is long enough to reach the bottom of a dropper.

This type of knot is typically tight, but it is tied in several ways, each with slightly different effects. The first is to make a large loop in the middle of the line. Then, you wrap it around the crossover point six times and pass it through a hole in the center. The second way to tighten the loop is to make it bigger, then tighten it by passing it through a hole in the middle.

Easy Snell

This knot is a common choice among fishermen, but keeping a few things in mind is important.

First, you’ll need to determine the length of your line. You’ll need about eight to ten inches. This will allow you to tie a Snell knot correctly. Make sure that your loops are large enough to wrap 7-8 times around the shank of your hook. The more coils you add to a snell knot doesn’t make it stronger – just more practice will help you master it.

The Snell knot is an older method of tying hooks and leaders, and it was originally used for live bait presentations. While it’s still used for connecting leaders on rigs, it first gained popularity in bass fishing about a decade ago. Its popularity grew as anglers discovered the effective use of snelled hooks pegged against bullet weights to punch into heavy cover and check the fish below.

Easy snells work well with circle hooks, especially when paired with passive fishing systems such as jugs. What is Jug Fishing? is a great article to highlight it’s advantages while catfish fishing.

Trilene Knot

A simple and versatile fishing knot, the Trilene knot is often used on a monofilament line to tie swivels, hooks, or lures. This knot also has the advantage of resisting failure and slippage.

The Trilene knot has two distinct features: a secondary wrap around the hook eye and an amended tuck at the end. These features make this knot very strong and durable. It is used on monofilament and braided lines. It requires around seven or ten wraps to secure your line. Be sure to use a hook with a large eye. The Trilene knot is also easy to tie on a braided line, although the line should not be thicker than monofilament.

The Trilene Knot is easy to tie and works for both monofilament and fluorocarbon lines. It is more durable than other knots but is susceptible to slip. The Trilene Knot is also suitable for braided line, which has a higher risk of slipping. If you plan to use it for braided lines, use a lighter wire for your leader.

This simple knot is one of the most versatile fishing knots. It’s also one of the easiest to tie. Start by passing the fishing line’s tag end through the hook’s eyelet. Then, wrap the line around the standing part several times. Repeat this process until the line is tightly wrapped. Make sure to pull the line tightly with an even motion to tighten the knot. Once you’re satisfied with the knot, trim the line with nail clippers to prevent tangling.

Palomar Knot

Among the most common knots for fishing, the Palomar Knot is one of the strongest. The three parts of this knot cinch together, ensuring that the fishing line does not break or snap. It is used on mono-filament and braided lines.

To tie the Palomar knot, you must double the length of the line. Start by moistening the leader material and then pull it tight. Ensure the loop is large enough to keep the line from twisting. Once you have finished, you should be able to tie a Palomar knot. You use this knot on small hook eyes, too. Make sure to use the right hook eye. Make certain the line is at least six inches long, and the hook is set in the center.

Once you’ve tied the Palomar knot correctly, you’ll be rewarded with a line that is strong and lightweight. The knot is ideal for waxy braided lines, which tend to slip more than standard monofilament. However, it works well on any type of line, from braided to monofilament. For this reason, it’s a great choice for all types of fishing line.

For saltwater and freshwater fishing, the Palomar knot is a good choice. It’s a strong knot, but is not suitable for use with heavy mono leaders and double wraps.

Final Thoughts

Catfishing is one of the best past times for anglers across the world. It offers a variety of techniques, from suspending bait to keeping it on the bottom. Take time to practice and learn the different catfish rigs for fishing from the bank, and maybe you will be rewarded with a trophy catfish! Good luck out there.