Four Fishing Knots Every Catfish Angler Should Know

Four Simple Fishing Knots For CatfishThe internet is littered with instructions on how to tie fishing knots. There’s entire books and even iPhone apps dedicated to fishing knot instructions.

Most of these resources are full of “clutter”, teaching you a lot of information that you don’t need. What’s the point of learning tons of fishing knots you’re not ever going to use?

If you want a real world manual to follow that only teaches you the knots you need to know to be successful fishing for catfish then keep reading!
This is a collection of simple fishing knots for catfish rigs.

Learning to tie good strong knots is a basic fundamental of fishing that you have to learn. If you happen to be “knot challenged” don’t stress because learning to tie a good strong fishing knot is a simple process, especially when you’re using these simple fishing knots.

Terminal tackle shouldn’t come off the line. Catfish rigs shouldn’t come apart, and if you know how to tie a good knot this won’t ever happen.

Quick Jump Links

Easy Snell
Palomar Knot
Trilene Knot
Dropper Loop

Never Lose “That” Fish Because Of Bad Knots 

I have a client that’s been fishing with me for years jump in the boat with me early one morning. He was helping tie some fresh rigs on a few rods getting ready for his day fishing with me. I knew from his regular fishing trips with mehe was an experienced angler and I didn’t pay much attention to what he was doing.
Later that day we hooked into a monster blue catfish. It was one of the largest fish that had ever been hooked on my boat. There was a long hard fight and we brought the fish to the surface several times.

After what seemed like an eternity we were almost within range of being able to scoop the fish up with the landing  and then “it happened”, that moment that makes every anglers stomach sink and makes you sick.
The line suddenly went slack and the fish was gone.

He reeled the line in to find there was no hook on the end of the line. Just a curled up piece of leader where the hook used to be.

The hook slid right off the fishing line because it was not tied correctly.

I knew it was one of the rigs he tied because it was a unique fishing rod, an “oddball” from the other eleven rods I had in the boat. He was kicking himself for his bad knot and I handed him a line and hook and told him to show me how he attached the hook .

He then proceeded to tie some “mysterious” fishing knot.

We pulled on the hook when he was done and pulled the hook right off the line again showing exactly what caused this epic fail.

You need to have good knots on your catfish rigs and terminal tackle. A knot coming loose should never be an issue.

The Three Must Know Fishing Knots (Plus a Bonus)

You can tie almost any catfish rig you need by learning three basic fishing knots the easy snell knot, the Palomar knot and the Trilene knot. If you start doing some crazy stuff like trying to join braided fishing line to monofilament you’ll need to learn other knots but for the vast majority of anglers these three simple knots will do it all.

I can’t remember the last time I tied something other than these three simple knots.

These three knots also happen to be the easiest fishing knots to tie and they’re also some of the strongest knots.

Easy Snell Knot

The easy snell is commonly used when attaching circle hooks to leader line. It can be used to tie any hook on the fishing line or leader line though. The snell is actually knot a knot but a “wrap” Despite it being so simple and easy to tie the snell is one of the strongest fishing knots.

The snell knot is an essential knot for fishing for catfish. It’s actually not a knot, but more of a wrap.

There are a wide variety of ways to go about Snelling a hook, but in this article and video you’ll learn the simple snell knot, a quick and easy way to snell a hook. It’s my own down and dirty method that gets the job done quickly and easily.

Why Snell Your Catfish Hooks?

The snell knot or “Snelling a hook” is a super strong way to attach a hook to your fishing line and is  very effective.

There are a lot of claims from a variety of sources that the snell knot is the strongest way to attach a fishing hook to line but also a lot of conflicting information that claims the Palomar knot is actually the strongest way to attach a hook to line.

I have not invested any energy in researching this because I have never had an issue with knots breaking or coming loose in all the years I have been fishing.

If fishing with circle hooks, many anglers that a snell knot will increase the hook set ratio of your hooks. This basically means that many people claim you will hook more fish per bite with a snell knot used in combination with a circle hook than other types of fishing knots (basically you’ll have fewer missed fish).

I’ve heard some anglers claim that when fishing a circle hook Snelling it will increase the number of successful hook sets by as much as 50%. I have found absolutely no evidence to support this claim, nor do I agree with it after conducting my own study (to be posted soon).

With all this in mind, there is a right way to snell a hook and a wrong way, so you need to learn the correct process. A hook that is snelled incorrectly could certainly cause you to miss fish.

The snell knot or snelling is used exclusively when attaching hooks to line.

Easy Snell Knot Catfish Rigs


How To Tie The Easy Snell Knot

  1. Cut your leader line to the preferred length and tie an overhand knot in the very end of the leader line.
  2. Hold the eye of the hook facing up and the point of the hook to your right, and insert the end of the leader line through the eye of the hook following down the shank of the hook.
  3. You always want to start the knot inserting your line through the eye of the hook to the back of the hook shank and end the snell with the line coming through the eye of the hook towards the front of the hook shank.
  4. Hold the leader line on the back of the shank of the hook and from the eye of the hook working down the shank, wrap the line around the shank seven to eight times.
  5. When you’ve wrapped the line on the shank seven to eight times insert the end of the leader line through the back of the eye of the hook towards the front.
  6. Pull the loose end of leader line tight to snug the snell knot.



Palomar Knot

The Palomar knot is used for attaching hooks or terminal tackle to line. It can be used to tie any terminal tackle the the line where you have an open end. The Palomar knot is a “go to” knot for most anglers because it is so easy to tie but it is also one of the strongest fishing knots to use.

The Palomar knot is an essential fishing knot that all anglers should know how to tie.

It’s so easy to tie and so strong that most anglers default to using the Palomar knot when possible. The Palomar knot is regarded by the IGFA (International Game Fish Association) as one of the strongest fishing knots there is for fishing.

The only drawback to the Palomar knot is that one end of the tackle you’re attaching has to be open.

If you’re just getting started though learning the Palomar knot and the Trilene knot will go a long way to get you started.

When To Use The Palomar Knot
This can be used in any application where one end of the tackle is open to wrap the line around. Common uses are attaching hooks to leaders or main line, attaching weights, attaching swivels or even to tie on a fishing lure.

Palomar Knot


How To Tie The Palomar Knot

  1. Double the fishing line and allow plenty of length of doubled line to work with. Insert the closed end of the doubled fishing line through the eye of the tackle you are attaching.
  2. Loop the doubled line and the opposite end around and wrap them around each other (similar to the first step of tying a shoe).
  3. Pull the tackle through the loop that remains.
  4. Wet the knot and slowly pull it tight.

Trilene Knot

The Trilene knot is not as simple as a Palomar knot but is still a very simple fishing knot. There are times when you don’t have an open end of fishing line available which is required to tie a Palomar knot so in these instances a Trilene knot is used.

A prime example of when you would use the Trilene knot is when attaching a leader with a hook to a barrel swivel. This instance makes it very difficult to use a Palomar knot so a Trilene knot is preferred.

This is one of the first fishing knots I learned about 25 years ago. I found a small paper insert on the inside of a box of Trilene fishing line and started using the knot immediately and have been using it ever since.

The Trilene knot is actually a clinch knot (of which there are many variations) that Berkley Trilene spent time to research and advertise through their products. The major difference between this and a standard clinch is the additional loop formed in the line which (according to Berkley) adds additional strength to the knot.

Trilene Knot

How To Tie The Trilene Knot

  1. Run the end of the line through the eye of the hook or terminal tackle and then double back around and run the end of the line through again a second time.
  2. Loop around the standing part of the line five to six times and then insert the tag end through loop formed in step one.
  3. Tighten the knot with a steady even motion and trim the tag end of the fishing line. Leave about ¼” of fishing line when you trim the tag end.



Dropper Loop

The dropper loop is a handy knot that is used to form a loop which stands out from the fishing line. The dropper loop can be used to form a leader in many catfish rigs like the drop shot rig and modified three way rigs. By tying a dropper loop you form a leader that stands out at a ninety degree angle.

While not used as often as other knots in rigging for cats it’s one final knot that completes the list and gives you a full arsenal of ways to tie virtually any catfishing rigs.

When To Use The Dropper Loop

Anytime you want to have a leader standing off of the line at a 90 degree angle. Common uses are the drop shot rig and the modified three way rig. You can even use the dropper loop for rigging juglines for jug fishing.

Dropper Loop

How To Tie The Dropper Loop

  1. Form a loop in the line.
  2. Pull one side of the loop down and begin taking turns with it around the standing line. Keep point where turns are made open so turns gather equally on each side.
  3. After eight turns, reach through center opening and pull remaining loop through. Keep finger in this loop so it will not spring back.
  4. Hold loop with teeth and pull both ends of line, making turns gather on either side of loop.
  5. Set knot by pulling lines as tightly as possible. Tightening coils will make loop stand out perpendicular
    to line.

How To Attach A Hook To A Dropper Loop

Attaching the hook to the dropper loop is a simple process but often confuses anglers who are using the dropper loop for the first time.

When you attach the hoop you are not actually tying a knot on the hook but rather just slipping the dropper loop over the hook to secure it. It might not seem like a secure way of attaching the hook but it is virtually impossible for the hook to come loose.
Insert the loop through the eye of your preferred catfish hook

Pull the loop over the hook point and down so the loop is running through the eye and under the hook.Hold the dropper loop in one hand and the hook in the other. Slowly pull on the hook until the dropper loop is tight and the hook is secure.

Dropper Loop Attach Hooks CE





For more catfishing tips and information check out the Ultimate List Of Catfishing Tips and our other in depth guides like the Ultimate Guide To Catfish Rods, Ultimate Guide To Catfish Reels and the Ultimate Guide To Catfishing Gear.

To get on the fast track to catching more and bigger catfish check out the Catfish Edge products. These resources are in depth guides on locating and catching catfish using a variety of techniques or in a variety of seasons. Catfish Edge products cover all the details you need to start catching fish.

Want More On Catfish Rigs?

Check out all of our tutorials on catfish rigs covering everything you need to know and more. You’ll learn the essentials of rigging for different species of catfish and different catfishing techniques here at the catfish rigs page.

Article Name
Four Fishing Knots Every Catfish Angler Should Know
Essential fishing knots for catfish anglers to tie a variety of catfish rigs. The strongest and easiest to tie fishing knots for catfishing.
Summer Channel Catfish Techniques


  1. Bob L. (Hooker) says


    Put these on a waterproof pocket sized card (Sell them) or give them as a pro item.

    Good stuff


  2. louis scott says

    i used to use a modified loop knot until several yrs ago & someone showed me how to snell a hook which i used until i seen yours I like the extra knot keeping the line from slipping under the snells used it since at times i used the trilene but my age & stiff fingers make it almost impossible anymore-Congradulations on the new boat

  3. bob jones says

    i like your tips make things better. lots of ice here now,and no i don’t ice fish.thanks for your web site. bob

  4. Ron says

    Great tip on wrapping the leader on your finger tip when tying a trilene knot Chad. I know there are cats in the Capefear but how about the Lumbee river? Any other good holes near Ft Bragg?

    Thanks for the info.

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