What is Jug Fishing? How to Catch More Catfish Passively

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Jug fishing is a passive way of fishing. It uses dropper lines that are attached to a float. A jug line setup is made of a length of PVC inserted into a float and a dropper line suspended in the water. An appropriate hook and weight are attached to the dropper line.

Fishermen often make homemade fishing jugs because they are easy to make and affordable. Usually, many jug fishing lines are used while fishing from a boat. Also, each state and locality have different jug line fishing regulations, so check with your local government for fishing regulations before jug line fishing.

The Best Jug Fishing Setup

If you are jug fishing for catfish, then it’s best to make a homemade jug fishing setup. Homemade jug lines are adjustable, giving you different options that suit your needs.

Catching catfish is easy if you’ve set up your jugs properly. This includes the right materials, depth on your dropper line, and the proper bait. If you do these properly, catfish will come out of their hiding and seek your bait. To understand why jug fishing works so well, check out our article on Where Do Catfish Live?

Diagram of The Best Homemade Jug Fishing Setup

Needed Jug Fishing Supplies

All the supplies needed to make a jug fishing setup are available through online dealers or local big box stores. There are a few variants on creating a jug fishing setup, but all jug lines include a float, a dropper line, and weight.

What Supplies Do I Need to Make a Homemade Jug Fishing Setup?

  • Standard pool noodle (hole that is roughly 15/16” to 1”)
  • Screw eyes (preferably with ~1/4” eye)
  • Swivels (size three for larger opening)
  • PVC pipe ¾” schedule 40 (which has a 1” OD)
  • Hook (5/0)
  • Braided Mason Line
  • Glue
  • 1/16 inch drill bit
  • Super Glue
  • Casting Weights (3/8” & 2 oz)

What Size Hook for Jug Fishing?

The best hook size for jug fishing is a 5/0 circle hook. They are the most versatile hook for jug fishing. A 5/0 circle hook increases your chances of catching fish with a jug fishing setup if paired with a snell knot.

If using worms for jug fishing, use something smaller than a 5/0 circle hook. A good quality 3/0 circle hook works well when using nightcrawlers and red worms. Anglers often prefer using worms because of their ease of use and affordability. We have an article on How to Grow Worms for Fishing outlining a simple method for growing worms.

Cricle hook sizes for jug fishing

What Type of Line for Jug Fishing?

The best type of line for jug fishing is a quality braided mason line. This type of line doesn’t ball up when retrieving the jug fishing line. Braided mason line is durable and doesn’t fray after a few uses.

Image Credit: Coon Creek Outdoors

How to Assemble

It is easy to make a quality homemade jug line for fishing. It takes about 25 minutes to create a jug line setup from start to finish. Follow these simple steps.

Easy to Follow Steps to Make a Homemade Jug Line Setup

  1. Cut the pool noodle to a length of 12.5″
  2. Cupe the PVC pipe to a length of 12″
  3. Mark the PVC pipe with a sharpie at 2″ and 3/4″ from the top of the PVC pipe
  4. Spin the pipe 180 degrees and mark another location at 1/2″ from the top of the PVC pipe
  5. Drill a pilot hole with a 1/16″ bit at the 3/4″ mark
  6. Drill a pilot hole with a 1/8″ inch drill bit at the 1/2” mark
  7. Screw the screw eye fastener into the drilled 3/4″ mark (stop once the eyelet is perpendicular to the pipe)
  8. Add a bead of superglue where the screw eye and PVC pipe
  9. Measure and cut a length of braided mason line equivalent to the deepest depth where you’ll be fishing (this is adjustable later)
  10. Run 1′ of the cut braided mason line through the 1/2” hole and tie it with a 3-loop knot
  11. Take the other end of the braided mason line (the furthest point from the PVC pipe) and tie a swivel to the end of it with a 3-loop knot
  12. Cut a new piece of braided mason line 12” in length and tie it to the swivel
  13. Tie a 5/0 circle hook onto the end of the 12” line with a snell knot
  14. Take glue and coat the entire PVC pipe up to the 2” mark
  15. Place the PVC pipe through the pool noodle while spinning both parts to ensure the glue is evenly distributed
  16. Tie a weight right above the swivel by pressing through the eyelet of the weight and sinching down

What is the Best Bait for Jug Fishing?

Jug line fishing setups are versatile and can use many different baits. The best bait for jug fishing is live bait such as back-hooked panfish.

Our article, The Ultimate Guide to the Best Catfish Bait, goes over the 10 Best Catfish Baits to help you decide what is best for you.

Jug Line Fishing Tips

  • The depth you run your jug line is critical to catching fish. The preferred depth to have your hook once the rig is in the water is one foot above the bottom of the waterway.
  • One of the most common mistakes when jug line fishing for catfish is having the hook too shallow.
  • Make homemade jug lines It is much cheaper than buying pre-made models.
  • When finishing for the day, press your circle hook into the pool noodle for safe storage.
  • Circle hooks are designed to set themselves when combined with a proper snell knot.
  • Do not use a twisted masonry line for your jug line setup. It is a poor substitute that frays easily and degrades over time.
  • For those who fish at night, put a reflective piece of tape on the top of the jug line setup for easy visibility.
  • To adjust the dropper line, twist it around the base of the PVC pipe, then push a loop through the eyelet screw and sinch down.
  • Have various casting weights available, including 1/2 oz up to 2 oz.
  • You can make your own casting weights through a crude form and fast-setting concrete (essentially a bell sinker).

Jug line fishing is one of the best ways to catch catfish from a boat. It is easy, affordable, and very effective, but it isn’t the best rig setup for fishing from the bank. We’ve created an article, The Best Catfish Rig for Bank Fishing, to help those who fish from the shore.

Jug Line Fishing FAQs

How Long of a Line for Jug Fishing?

It is best to match the length of your line to the depth of the body of water you are fishing. For instance, if you are fishing a river with a maximum depth of 10′, make the total length of your dropper line 10′. This allows you to adjust the dropper line to shorter lengths while having the ability to reach the deepest parts of the river.

How Deep of Water is Best for Jug Fishing?

The best depth to set your jug fishing line is about one foot above the bottom. For instance, if you are fishing in a river that is 5′ deep, then adjust your dropper line to a length of 4′ so the bait is suspended one foot above the bottom. This ensures the bait won’t be hidden in the vegetation at the bottom, and catfish can see your bait more easily.

What Are Jug Line Fishing Regulations?

Every state in America has different regulations. In Maryland, the Department of Natural Resources state that “an individual may use up to 10 jugs” and has a further restriction of “2 hooks per line and no more than one line per jug”. Before fishing with a jug line, check your locality for rules and regulations.