9 Of The Best Catfish Bait Used By Experts: Fishing 101

Catfish can be some of the most diversely finicky fish out there, but when you find what the catfish in your pond or river are looking for, you are in for a treat. Choosing the best catfish bait often comes down to experimentation and having several options on hand. There are two main types of catfish bait to think about: fresh (or recently live) catfish bait such as shad, crawfish, worms or chicken liver and catfish bait dips which mimic the smells of fresh bait. In this article, we hope to give a basic overview of some options for your next fishing trip.

Catfish Bait Used by Experts

Comparison Table

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Product FAQ

1. What Is Catfish Bait?

2. What Does Catfish Bait Do?

3. How Does Catfish Bait Work?

4. Where Can You Buy Catfish Bait?

5. What Is the Best Catfish Bait?

How We Reviewed

The following products were reviewed based on the following parameters features, effectiveness for attracting catfish, pros and cons, price, and where to buy. We have tried to offer you a variety of the best catfish baits to consider.

Overall Price Range of the Best Catfish Bait

There is not a great way to offer you an overall price range for catfish bait. The best catfish bait is or should be very inexpensive or free. Fresh baits can be gathered, dug or caught yourself. Purchased baits, whether live or preserved should cost pennies per use.

The most expensive part of catfish bait is the need to have a bait worm or sponge to hold the catfish bait if it is the dip type, which can get especially expensive if your bait worm is not well rigged and the fish steals it. These bait worms can cost between 50 cents and dozens of dollars each.

The products we reviewed, which included fresh baits, preserved baits, and the best catfish bait dips ranged in price from cheapest to a bit more than average for various amounts of bait and roughly works out to about 15 cents to 55 cents per application. Actual cost will vary according to fishing style, skill with rigging and how many fish nibbles at the bait and how fast they bite.

What We Reviewed

  • Wild Cat Shad Catfish Dip Bait
  • Nightcrawlers
  • Magic 3690 Chicken Livers
  • Berkley Gulp! Catfish Dough, Dough
  • Crawfish
  • Catfish Charlie's Dip Bait
  • Magic 11-12 Big Bite Chicken Blood
  • Magic Bait Catfish Hog Wild Original Liver Dip Bait
  • Hog Wild Catfish Dip Bait

Wild Cat Shad Catfish Dip Bait

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Features

Wild Cat Shad Catfish Dip Bait is a stink bait with a consistency like a peanut butter. This bait is designed to be used in a holder such as a tube, worm, fiber or sponge. Fair warning, it is called stink bait for a reason, but since catfish find food with a smell that is not such a bad thing. This is one of the more pungent dip baits.

  • PRICE
  • EFFECTIVENESS

Moderately effective

PROS

CONS

  • Attracts catfish
  • Avoids hooking live bait
  • Preserved
  • Strong smell
  • Requires frequent reapplication
  • Requires tube, worm, fiber or sponge

Nightcrawlers

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Features

Nightcrawlers are a type of worm known to fish and fisher people alike. This review is for Uncle Jim's brand which can be ordered online. They are guaranteed to come live and free of other pests. Hook them two to three time around your hook to keep them from wiggling off. If using small or medium sized worms, use two or three. Nightcrawlers will attract catfish of all sizes and can be used with a float or along the bottom.

  • PRICE
  • EFFECTIVENESS

This product can be found on Amazon for around an affordable price plus shipping for 250 worms.

PROS

CONS

  • Natural
  • No plastic
  • Fish like them
  • Easy for children to find and rig
  • Cheap or free if you dig
  • Shipping may cause a worm fatality
  • Smaller sized worms with this brand

Chicken Livers

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Features

Chicken liver is perhaps the quintessential best catfish baits. They are very productive at catching lots of catfish consistently and reliably. Chicken liver is easy to find at the local grocers or butcher and can also be purchased preserved, such as with the Magic 3690 Chicken Liver bait.

  • PRICE
  • EFFECTIVENESS

This product can be found on Amazon for around an affordable price for 4 oz. You will need about ½ out per application.

PROS

CONS

  • Attracts lots of small catfish
  • Strong, meaty smell
  • Bait falls off the hook easily
  • Requires careful rigging
  • Works for 15-20 min
  • Have to be used quickly if fresh

Berkley Gulp! Catfish Dough, Dough

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Features

According to the makers, this bait is made to help the fisher person catch more fish. It contains natural bait scent and flavor and is formed into sized that are easy to rig on most catfish hooks. These come in bloody shad color and weigh 5 ounces.

  • PRICE
  • EFFECTIVENESS

This product can be found on Amazon for around an affordable price for 5 ounces. You will need about ½ out per application.

PROS

CONS

  • Low odor
  • Convenient
  • Works well in ponds
  • Outlasts chicken livers
  • Doughy texture means no tube, worm, fiber or sponge
  • Can rig directly to hook
  • Hard to rig effectively
  • Loses scent quickly

Crawfish

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Features

For catfish weighing in at 20 pounds or less, crawfish is a win. It is a food naturally consumed by most catfish and therefore appealing to most. Creeks and small rivers do well with this kind of bait as they stay on the hook and bounce around well, even if not alive. Crawfish also work well in larger bodies of water. Dead or alive, they will attract catfish. They will also attract all other swimming things so be prepared.

  • PRICE
  • EFFECTIVENESS

This product can be found on Amazon for around an affordable price for a plastic crawfish. Fresh crawfish prices will vary considerably by location, check your local bait shop.

PROS

CONS

  • Find your own
  • Works dead or alive
  • Natural catfish food
  • Can be rigged alone
  • Can be rigged in whole or part
  • Attracts other creatures
  • May spin in the water

Catfish Charlie Dip Bait

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Features

Catfish Charlie is a name well known for dip baits and they were the first dip bait on the American market. Their tubs of dip bait come in shad, blood or cheese. Use them with a tube, worm, fiber or sponge.

  • PRICE
  • EFFECTIVENESS

This product can be found on Amazon for around an affordable price for 12 ounces. You will need about ½ out per application.

PROS

CONS

  • Relatively cheap
  • Quickly attracts fish when it does
  • Works great for channel catfish
  • Hard to rig alone
  • Requires tube, worm, fiber or sponge
  • Difficult to keep on while casting
  • Requires hardening time after dipping
  • Prop 65 warning for reproductive harm

Magic 11-12 Big Bite Chicken Blood

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Features

This brand preserves well, has the consistency of chicken blood, and will work well enough when combined with another bait. It is a little harder to find than other dip baits.

  • PRICE
  • EFFECTIVENESS

This product can be found at Maurice Sporting Goods for around an affordable price for 10 ounces. You will need about ½ out per application, so that works out to about $0.40 USD per use.

PROS

CONS

  • Preserved and no refrigeration
  • Lasts a long time
  • Difficult to find
  • Requires a tube, worm, fiber or sponge

Magic Bait Catfish Hog Wild Original Liver Dip Bait

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Features

This is one of the best catfish baits and is a reliable way to attract more fish to the line. 

  • PRICE
  • EFFECTIVENESS

This product can be found on Amazon for around an affordable price for 12 ounces. You will need about ½ out per application.

PROS

CONS

  • Works in most bodies of water
  • Available in several flavors and textures
  • Well-known brand with a positive history
  • Requires tube, worm, fiber or sponge

Hog Wild Catfish Dip Bait

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Features

This dip bait is available in several flavors including original and blood. Designed to be “ideal” for catfish, this dip bait must be used with a tube, sponge or the like due to its thin texture.

  • PRICE
  • EFFECTIVENESS

This product can be found at Walmart for around an affordable price 10 ounces. You will need about ½ out per application.

PROS

CONS

  • Very inexpensive
  • Must be used with a tube or sponge
  • Runs off bait worms
  • Hard to keep in place while casting

The Verdict on the Best Catfish Baits

Catfish bait cannot be ranked according to which is the best by anyone except the individual fishing, and only then for that one body of water or one day. The best approach to having the best catfish bait is to have a variety of bait options on hand. Advanced catfish bait perusers will eventually find their favorites among fresh bait and catfish bait dips alike. We really like using night crawlers fresh and Doc's catfish bait for a preserved option, but that really comes down to personal preference.

Experiment with what catfish baits work best for your fishing lifestyle, your fishing location and the fish you are going after. Experience level matters as well. Beginners and children do especially well with worms. If you are able to dig up or buy large, fat night crawlers and hook enough on the hook to stay put and hide the metal, you will be nearly guaranteed to catch a catfish. Beginners may struggle more with dip baits as they require more careful handling casting and application.

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