I followed your instructions on how to throw a cast net and have finally started catching shad to use for bait for blue catfish. I don’t know if the shad I am catching are threadfin shad or gizzard shad. Does it matter which one I use and how can I tell which one it is that I am catching? Also what kinds of hooks and catfish rigs should I be using? Shane
What’s most important is that you are catching bait because that is half the battle! The biggest differences your going to find regarding preferences in gizzard shad and threadfin shad is going to be the size of the baits that area available. I personally think that gizzard shad are a little more tough and they stay on the hook better but both make excellent catfish bait.
If your preference is to target bigger catfish, then gizzard shad is an obvious choice (that’s not to say that you cannot catch bigger catfish with threadfin shad). Many anglers prefer to use bigger baits when targeting bigger fish so that’s what the thought process is.
Here are some easy ways to tell the difference between threadfin shad and gizzard shad, you can also find more information on the shad and catfish species pages.
Adults are typically no longer than six inches long
Typically have a yellowish tint to their fins (except the dorsal fin)
The anal fin has between 20 and 25 rays
The upper jaw does not project beyond the lower jaw
Adults are typically between 9 and 16 inches in length (but can be bigger)
No yellowish tint to their fins
The anal fin has between 29 and 35 rays
The upper jaw projects beyond the lower jaw
Again, both threadfin and gizzard shad make excellent bait dependent on what you want to accomplish. You can use whole threadfin shad baited on a hook like I covered here in baiting a hook, you can also fish gizzards whole or you can cut them up into chunks like I covered in baiting a hook with cut bait.
As far as hooks go, stroll on over to my catfish tackle page and you can get a good overview of the hooks there and then visit the catfish rigs page. The type of rig is going to depend on a number of factors but the slip sinker rig, santee rig and modified three way rig are three good places to start.
Catching shad is an essential part of targeting blue catfish. Not only is fresh shad one of the best baits for blue catfish but learning to pattern shad will do wonders for you in your quest to catch blue catfish.
To get more information including an in depth guide on choosing a cast net and tips and tricks on finding and catching shad and everything else you ever need to know on catching bait, click here.