I remember as a kid we constantly had a big stack of these rigs laying around that we would buy at the local bait shop. We’d buy the single rigs (similar to a three way rig, but already tied) and the double rigs or “fish finder rigs” with two leaders and two hooks.
If we were catfishing and fishing on the bottom, there was one of these rigs and a bucket of chicken livers involved. I knew nothing other than fishing with one of these rigs and waiting for a catfish to come along.
Looking back now, I hate to think of how many fish I never caught because of constantly using these rigs and fishing with chicken livers.
The popularity of these rigs probably probably has much to do with finding a big stack of fish finder rigs hanging from a peg hook in most tackle shops, right in the middle of the catfish section, next to the “stink bait” and the sponge hooks. They are a good upsell for bait shops so you constantly find them around the catfish tackle area.
Often sold as “ready made” or “ready to fish” catfish rigs the fish finder rig is certainly one that many anglers use when wetting a line for catfish, but is it truly an effective catfish rig and something that you should be using?
The single hook version of this rig, the three way rig, certainly has some applications but I often argue that it is overhyped. It’s certainly not something that I choose to use on a regular basis for catfish. The double hook version (the fish finder rig) arguably has some challenges.
Can you catch fish with it?
Are there better options in most applications?
Yes, especially over the “store bought” fish finder rigs.
Ready Made Fish Finder Rigs
The problem with the “store bought fish finder rigs and even the three way rigs you get at bait shops is the design. The biggest issue is that the length of line from the leader to the weight is often way too short, which puts the bait very close to or on the bottom.
The other issue is the leader length is also very short, usually just a matter of inches, which can be a challenge.
Then you add the issue of having two hooks in very close proximity to each other and you have a recipe for a big tangled mess in no time.
The DIY Fish Finder Rig
Making these rigs is a better option than buying them at the store, that is if you are dead set on using them.
Making them yourself allows you to lengthen the leader from the first hook to the weight and increase the distance between the two hooks. This helps you get the baits further up off the bottom and also helps to get more distance between the two leaders.
How To Tie The Fish Finder Rig
I like to work off of a roll of leader line without cutting the line until after I have finished the rigging.
Here’s how I tie this rig:
Attach your preferred sinker to the leader line using a palomar knot.
16-18” above your weight and tie a dropper loop about 6-8” long and attach your preferred catfish hook.
Another 12” above your first dropper loop add a second dropper loop 6-8” long (adjust the spacing based on the length of your dropper loops to keep the hooks from getting tangled) and attach your preferred catfish hook.
About 6” above the second dropper loop add a barrel swivel.
Attach the open end of the barrel swivel to the main line using a trilene knot.
Making your own rigging allows you to lengthen the line from the first hook to the weight getting the baits further up off the bottom and adding extra length between the hooks allows you better separation and fewer tangles.
When To Use The Fish Finder Rig
Again, this is overused and overhyped but there are some applications when it can be a good option for fishing for catfish.
I don’t like this setup for fishing an anchor with the baits on the bottom. It can be an excellent choice for suspending baits (when catfish are suspended in the water column) and when drift fishing for channel catfish, especially in an aggressive bite.
To get more in depth details and information and learn everything you could ever need to know about rigging for catfish check out the catfish rigs tutorial.