I saw some guys using a fishing rig similar to this to help hold the baits up and to compensate for the massive rolling waves.
Years later I was drift fishing for channel catfish in the summer using a modified three way rig and the wind died. With the lack of wind I had to quickly switch over to fishing anchored on structure (this was back before high tech gadgets like iPilot Link).
The wind would blow for a while and then stop, so we were alternating between drifting and anchoring and I needed a catfish rig that could allow me to do both.
I took some slotted peg floats and added them to my modified three way rigs, started testing this setup out and it worked! The use of a slotted peg float gives the ability to switch from the float rig and back to a three way rig quickly and easily by simply adding or removing the float.
The modified and traditional three way rig are essentially the same catfish rig but the modified version eliminates the use of the three way swivel (which is my preference).
You can find the details on both of these including how to tie them here. The only difference between the float rig and the three way rig is the addition of the peg float above the swivel, where the leader line attaches to the main line.
This shouldn’t to be confused with a paternoster rig where slip cork or slip bobber is added above the 3 way setup.
Tackle Needed For The Float Rig:
- Leader Line
- Preferred hook
- Barrel Swivel
- Three-Way Brass Swivel (for traditional three way rig only, I prefer to eliminate the three way swivel using a modified rig)
- Preferred Weight
- Slotted Peg Float
Get in depth details on all of these catfish tackle items and more in The Ultimate Guide To Catfishing Gear.
Step by step instructions are available here on rigging both the modified and traditional three way rigs.
Once the setup is completed simply go about 6 inches above the top of the barrel swivel where the leader line and main line connect and add a slotted peg float.
You can use a traditional peg float but this eliminates the ease of adding and removing the cork without having to retie.
When To Use Float Rigs For Catfish
This is certainly not one of my preferred setups to use on a frequent basis, but it does have applications in certain scenarios.
The biggest advantage you’ll find to using this catfish rig is when you’re anchored on structure where there is a downhill slope towards the boat or towards one end of the boat. This rig is really helpful in this scenario when catfish are running towards the boat.
Many times, especially when catching big blue catfish, fish will pick up the other lines and create a huge mess. Suspending the lines up off the bottom with float rigs gives you the ability in many cases to pull these lines in below the other ones without having to retrieve and cast all your rods again.
The other advantage to the float rig is anchoring on structure in windy conditions with the boat rocking back and forth. The rocking motion will often cause the sinker to dig down into the mud. This will pull the baits down into the mud as well.
The rocking motion (in high winds) can often cause dramatic movements in the bait with a “jerking” motion, which you want to avoid at all costs.
Adding the floats helps to reduce this unwanted action.