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How to Troll for Catfish

Trolling for Catfish can be done from a boat or from the shore. Rods, Motor, Planers and Bait not to mention the preferred trolling motor speed when catching catfish are all things that must be considered if you would like to learn how to troll for catfish.

As every good fisherman knows each of these factors is just as important as the next when it comes to troll fishing. With that in mind let’s take a look at what makes up the perfect trolling setup for catching catfish.

Trolling Setup for Catfish


We use 6 fishing rods while trolling for catfish. These rods are perch rods that are known for their sensitivity. With that in mind, these perch rods can come with heavy line due to the weight of the sinker and the planer board. The size length that we prefer for these rods are 8″ and fast action. 

Make sure you have a rod holder on each side of the boat. The reason you want to have a rod holder on each side of the boat  is to avoid tangling from occurring from having rods on one side of the boat, while trolling planer boards on the other. Ideally, you would want one-rod holder on each side of the boat with a length of 20 feet between them.


A trolling motor that we recommend for catching catfish is the Minn Kota trolling motor.   This particular trolling motor has a 36-volt battery, which will assist you in making it out to your favorite fishing spot.  The benefit of having a 36-volt battery is the fact that it provides more torque when compared with other trolling motors. Another feature we like about this particular trolling motor is its ability to move forward and reverse at the same speed without losing power.

We like the Minn Kota trolling motor for catching catfish because of its remote control. The remote control allows you the opportunity to not only steer the boat, but adjust the motor’s speed in order to best suit your needs.  This is extremely beneficial for catfishing because you want to have full control over your fishing experience.


The planer boards we recommend are castaway.  Castaway planer boards  come in two different weights: 1/2 and 3/4 oz. Using a weight of one-half ounce will allow you the ability to troll the boards at a slower, more efficient speed.  A planer board that weighs three-quarters ounce is going to be used for trolling at a faster rate.

We recommend using planer boards when catfishing because they allow us to determine how fast we want our boat to travel through the water.

Fish Finder

It is first recommended that you should use your fish finder when starting out with trolling catfish. This is because this type of device has a greater impact than using just any other kind of fishing equipment by itself. Despite the fact that they might work well in certain cases, they do not offer nearly as great results as when used along with other tools such as rods and reels. Additionally, it helps create somewhat of an accuracy rate so that no matter what you still have a good opportunity to succeed at catching the catfish.

When using your fish finder for catfish, it would be in your best interest to check out its main purpose and how it works so that you will know exactly what to do when you are carrying it around with you. It is designed with the sole purpose of being able to locate schools of fish within an allotted time frame if not immediately. You should expect that this device will take into account various variables such as water turbidity, depth, surface reflections, bottom composition along bottom contour which are all measured in order to determine the presence of catfish. What this means is there are no guarantees even if after using a device like this because it does not


One of the best baits to use while trolling for catfish is a perch.  When using a perch as bait it should be cut into pieces that range from 1-4 inches in length. Using a smaller-sized piece of bait allows us to cover more area, which increases our chances of catching a catfish.

We recommend placing anywhere from 4-8 pieces of cut perch on our planer boards, depending on the size of each piece.

How Fast Do You Troll for Catfish?

We recommend going slow for catfish at .03 to .05 mph. This is called slow trolling also known as “dragging” or “controlled drifting.”  Slow trolling for catfish is a two-fold process. For one, it allows our baits to stay in one location for a longer period of time thus increasing our chances of catching a catfish.

Secondly, slow trolling gives the catfish an opportunity to actually eat the bait before we set the hook.  If you are looking at doing some serious catfishing then you need to invest in a good trolling motor that will allow you to go forward and backward with ease.

Final Thoughts on How to Troll for Catfish

Trolling for catfish may be done with only simple equipment, and it is a straightforward process. When trolling for catfish, one thing to bear in mind is patience.

To ensure your fishing trip turns out to be a good one, you’ll need the appropriate speed, rod holders, and engine. Trolling takes time and effort; nevertheless, catching that big blue or flathead catfish is certainly gratifying.

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