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The Float Rig: Float Rigs For Catfishing

float rig

The Float Rig: Float Rigs For Catfishing

I first discovered a variation of this rig years ago when we were surf fishing on the Bolivar Peninsula on the Gulf Of Mexico for shark.

I saw some guys using something 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 anchored fishing on structure.

The wind would blow for a short while and then stop, so we were alternating between drifting and anchoring and I needed a setup that could allow me to do both.

I took some slotted peg floats and added them to my modified three way rigs and 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 thing 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 on the catfish rigs pages.

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 is not 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 (Offshore Angler Tight Line) 40 Lb Clear (see leader line for catfish and leader line trick)

Hook (see the suggested catfish tackle page)

Barrel Swivel

Three-Way Brass Swivel (for traditional three way rig only, I prefer to eliminate the three way swivel using a modified rig)

Weight (see sinker options for catfishslinky weights and snagless drift fishing weights)

Slotted Peg Float (This is a peg float with a slot running horizontal from top to bottom)

Again, step by step instructions are available on the three way rig and modified three way rig page on making these setups. 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 but this eliminates the ease of adding and removing the cork without having to retie.

Applications For Float Rigs

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 are 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 of your lines again.

The other advantage to the float rig is when anchoring on structure in windy conditions with the boat rocking back and forth. The rocking motion will often times 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.

I have covered some more details on the float rig in the catfishing video below.

To get more in depth information check out the catfish rigs tutorial page for more tips, tricks and tutorials as well as information on all the best catfish rigs.

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About Chad

Chad Ferguson is a professional catfish guide and founder of Learn To Catch Catfish. Click here to subscribe for more exclusive catfish fishing tips by email and then follow on Twitter or Google


  1. I have used variations of this for trout fishing on the Texas coast over many years of most things in life the more you use it the more proficient one becomes

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