It’s easy to get into a “rut” with what you know works and puts catfish in the boat and stop testing new things and trying to learn. I’ve always made it a point to try new things while I’m fishing but it’s hard at times with clients on my guide boat. It’s tough to try things you think might work when there’s things you know will work.
I’ve made a serious effort this year to spend some of my personal time fishing testing new techniques and theories and trying to learn. It’s been an awesome time and has really opened my eyes to the fact that we’ve barely begun to scratch the surface when it comes to learning about catfish.
Catfish Lures? Seriously? Yes!
Months later I got to know the guys at Whisker Seeker Tackle and they sent me some stuff to test out. I tested the rigs a few times and just tucked them away and forgot about them.
That eventually ended up in us teaming up to build my Chad Ferguson Signature Series Catfish Rod at one point and me getting to know the brains behind Whisker Seeker Tackle much better.
Everytime we’d talk the “lures” and “rigs” would come up and I began to understand they weren’t a marketing gimmick, they were something they truly believed in and used.
In some of my research and testing trying some new things I got locked in on sound, vibration and scent and this took me back to the Whisker Seeker rigs. I started testing again with different options and variables and immediately had some interesting results.
This eventually ended up with a lot more testing, extensive use of all the catfish rigs, doing some “hacking” and experimenting with my own rigs and eventually realizing I wanted to develop a specific product.
I’m not crazy about the term “catfish lures” but this Whisker Seeker is in unchartered territory with these products.
Do Catfish Respond To More Than Just “Cut Bait”?
Catfish are sophisticated fish. They’re often perceived as being on the “underbelly” of the fishing world, just bottom-dwelling scavengers that explore the depths and eat whatever they can off the bottom.
This couldn’t be further from the truth and they’re actually very sophisticated fish with senses that are far more advanced than most freshwater fish.
Here’s some excerpts from The Ultimate List of Catfishing Tips about sight, sound and vibrations.
Unique Sense Of “Hearing”:
Catfish bodies are equal to water density, so it doesn’t need external ears. Most fish have an inner ear that’s independent of the swim bladder but the otolith of the catfish is connected to the swim bladder with a series of small bones.
Sound waves traveling through the water go right through a cat by creating vibration in their swim bladder which transmits to the otolith in an inner ear. These vibrations then transmit to the brain giving catfish an heightened ability to detect high frequencies.
Detecting High Frequencies:
Bass detect high frequencies from 20–1000 cycles per second but catfish can detect high frequencies at 13,000 cycles per second. Low frequencies not detectible because of only having an inner ear are detected through a series of small pores containing cells with hairlike projections down the side of the fish. These projections move with water displacement which stimulate nerves and send a signal to the brain. Everything that moves in and around water creates these low frequency vibrations that catfish can detect.
Catfish have such a supercharged ability to sense high frequencies they’re used for earthquake detection because they have the ability to sense vibrations that nothing else can.
Scientific research tells us that catfish have a keen ability to detect sound and vibration.
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You’ll find references in fishing publications to anglers experimenting with noise making rigs and sounds.
European anglers commonly use a device known as a clonk that they move through the water in a technique known as “clonking”. It’s believed that the sounds made by “clonking” attract catfish. Clonking hasn’t become mainstream in the United States but it’s been a curiosity and source of heated debates especially among flathead catfish anglers.
There’s significant supporting evidence that shows that catfish can detect sound and will respond to it.
Do Catfish Rigs That Make Noise Catch Fish?
I’ve done extensive research and testing and am still doing so. My testing has been specific to blue catfish at this point but I’ve seen positive results with larger channel catfish also.
At some point I’m going to cover in depth information on my findings with catfish and how they respond to sound and what I’ve seen.
I’ll say this……….
I’ve seen significant evidence through my personal testing and experimenting with sound that catfish respond to it.
I’ve seen catfish rigs that produce noise significantly out perform the rigs that don’t produce noise in many cases.
I’m not saying that you should only fish with catfish rigs that make noise and abandon your old “standby” fishing rigs like the slip sinker rig and the santee rig.
I’ve had some incredible results with sound producing rigs though and it’s something you should experiment with.
Again, more details later on exactly what I’ve experienced.
How To Fish The Whisker Seeker Rigs
I’ve had the best results with anything that creates motion either through movement of the boat or with current. If you’re fishing on anchor in still water then you’re not going to have anything to actually move the rig and produce sound so you won’t get much benefit.
I’ve got some ideas surrounding still water but again, another day.
You’re best catfishing techniqes and scenarious for fishing with these rigs are going to be:
- Drift fishing
- Trolling (sometimes referred to as strolling)
- Controlled drifting (again, very similar to trolling or one in the same)
- Fishing in current or moving water
How To Rig The WST Rattlers
Whisker Seeker manufactures a wide variety of catfish rigs and they can all be rigged the same way and used in the same manner.
I’m sure there’s a variety of ways they could be rigged but I’ve found that rigging similar to a Santee Cooper rig to be most effective.
What I’ve done is tie a piece of monofilament leader between the Whisker Seeker Rigs and my swivel and use this instead of the common rigging for a santee rig. You can adjust the length of the monofilament based on where you want the bait to be in the water column.
For more information on the types of leader to use and other tackle check out the Ultimate Guide To Catfishing Gear.
From there you fish with the rig the same way you would others using the techniques already mentioned.
How Is It Different From The Traditional Santee Rig?
First and foremost is the obvious, it makes noise when moving through the water and rattles. If you use one of the rigs with spinners on them then they’ll also create some turbulance in the water as well.
- The float is an EVA foam float. It’s tough and durable unlike the tradition styrofoam peg floats commonly used.
- The rigs are made with wire leaders so they’re super tough.
- They come with hooks but there’s a speed clip on the rig so you can change your hook style or size if you’d like.
How To Choose Which Whisker Seeker Tackle Rigs To Use
I’ve tested and used all of the rigs but have spent the most time using the X3 Big Bertha Rattler and the XL Rattler.
You’ll see on the Whisker Seeker Tackle website the name is X3 rattler.
I started testing this product before it was released and kept telling them that I loved the product, hated the name X3. I started throwing around names as I was using it and eventually “Big Bertha” came into the mix.
I stopped calling it X3 and referred to it as the Big Bertha from that point forward.
I think the Whisker Seeker boys finally got tired of fighting me and me telling people to call them and ask for Big Bertha Rattlers and just decided if you can’t beat them, join them.
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They’ve decided to change the name to the X3 Big Bertha Rattler.
Let Them Know!
They love being harassed so you should send them an email and tell them that Big Bertha is a much better name than X3.
Better yet, give them a call at 1-855-973-3537 just to tell them that you like Big Bertha better than X3. When you do call them make sure to also mention that your call is also payback for all of the styrofoam peanut harassment they’ve subjected me to.
I’ve been spening my time focused on catching trophy class blue catfish and for the most part using larger pieces of cut shad or cut bait so I’ve been using the X3 Big Bertha and the XL Rattler.
The X3 Big Bertha is the largest float and very bouyant so it’s going to be best if you’re fishing with really large pieces of cut bait. The extra floatation will help keep them up in the water column.
The XL Rattler is comparable in size to a 3″ foam peg float and will work for fishing small, medium and larger-ish pieces of cut bait. It’s plenty big for most baits and techniqes and works great.
If you’re going to fish with monster sized baits use the X3 Big Bertha.
If you’re going to fish with small, medium or large baits use the XL Rattler. There’s some cost savings to using the XL rattlers instead of the X3 also.
For small to medium baits use the WST Rattlers.
If you want to test the rigs with spinners and turbulence then use the PP Seekers and MP Seekers.
You can view the full selection of all the options here.
Here’s The Video
Here’s the video with all of the details on the Whisker Seeker Rattler, how to fish it and some more tips with my experience using these rattling catfish rigs or lures for catching catfish.
Here’s a video I did for Outdoor Life magazine talking more about the Big Bertha Rattlers and the Versa-Rattle.
My Sound Results and More
I’m working with Whisker Seeker on a new product that produces sound that should be available later this year and putting my results together on sound and my specific results catching both smaller fish and trophy class catfish as well.
Until then I’d encourage you to give the X3 Big Bertha and the XL Rattler a try. I’d love you to try one of my Chad Ferguson Signature Series Catfish Rods also!
If you’d like to learn more about drift fishing and using these rigs with drift fishing then check out the Drift Fishing for Catfish ebook and How To Catch Shad book so you’ll have fresh bait and understand the basics of how to pattern blue catfish.