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Free Floating Juglines For Jug Fishing Catfish

Catfish Fishing Noodle Jug Both

This article covers

  • Basics of jug fishing with drifting (free floating)
  • How to build “fishing noodle” drifting juglines for jug fishing catfish

Jug Fishing with drifting juglines or free floating juglines is much like drift fishing for catfish except using a fishing jug or jugline instead of a rod and reel. The basic jug fishing principles like I wrote about in jug fishing for catfish basics are the same but the rigging is different than what I covered in the previous article on rigging catfish jugs. The only major difference is rather than setting the fishing jug in one place you are relying on the wind to drift the juglines across the lake, again much like drift fishing.


You can still use the same fishing jugs like I wrote about in jug fishing basics, but in general  most catfish juggers make drifting juglines a lot smaller. This is absolutely my preference as well.


My suggestion is that if you are going to use a drifting jugline that has a multiple hooks, you use a larger fishing jug like a two liter bottle or a commercially manufactured jugline. If you plan on fishing with single hook fishing jugs (like is pictured on the right in the illustration below) you can certainly use smaller jugs.

Jug Fishing Catfish Jug Line Basic Principles


The absolute best catches I have ever had jug fishing with free floating juglines have been with small fishing jugs and very short lines fished in shallow water baited with Redneck’s Catfish Bait Soap and cut shad. I have fished with the larger fishing jugs and multiple hook rigs a number of times but have never been a big fan of this method, I much prefer the single hook rigs and fishing shallow water.


I have caught a lot of catfish and a lot of big catfish using the multiple hook rigs but the single hook rigs in shallow water are really my preference and I really have no desire to fish free floating fishing jugs with multiple hook rigs. The primary reason behind this is because they are much more difficult to manage and the tangle very badly, and are also much more work to set and retrieve.


From my illustration and previous rigging instructions you should be able to gather enough information to make your own free floating juglines with multiple hooks so I am not going to go into great detail in this article and will be focusing more on single hooks for shallow water catfishing.


Focusing on the technique with single hook jugs using smaller jugs and short pieces of line eliminate most of the problems that are associated with “juggin” which are tangled lines and leaders, and the time that it takes to actually deploy and retrieve them when you start your trip for catfish.


The Anatomy Free Floating Jugline

Over the years I have used a number of different items for free floating juglines and have used larger and smaller ones. As previously stated, when fishing with a single line and hook on a free floating setup my absolute preference is to use a smaller jug. I have used, 20 ounce coke bottles, gatorade bottles, pieces of styrofoam and a number of other items as well but I always come back to one thing which is closed cell polyethylene foam. This is the same material I use to manufacture the juglines that I sell commercially called Redneck’s Juglines.

When I first started using the foam to manufacture juglines there was virtually nobody using this material, and it seems now that there are hundred of different variations made from foam or swimming pool noodles, to the point that these have even started commonly being referred to as “fishing noodles”.

While I certainly encourage others to experiment and learn through trial and error of building them and fishing with different forms, I also want others to benefit from my experience and I can tell you hands down that you will not find a better drifting model than these for shallow water single hook rigs.

I started experimenting with these because I had huge piles of scrap pieces of white foam laying around left over from the manufacturing process of my Redneck’s Juglines. Texas law dictates that  fishing jugs must be white in color but certainly if you are not in Texas then you can use any color you would like to use (obviously you need to research your laws but Texas is the only state I am aware of requiring white foam).

White foam or swimming pool noodles are not readily available so if you are in Texas and need to use white like the product I am about to outline my suggestion is to buy standard color swimming pool noodles and wrap them with white duct tape (available at most retail stores), I don’t however suggest this if you are using larger pieces of foam (like for anchored fishing jugs). If your state does not have restrictions on fishing jug colors then certainly just using a plain old swimming pool noodle is the cheapest and easiest route.


Building Free Floating Juglines For Jug Fishing With Swimming Noodles


Materials Needed:

All items can be found on our catfish tackle page where I talk about all of the products I use and what’s in my tackle box.

These are really simple to build and can built very quickly.

Method 1:

  • Cut the swimming pool noodle into 5 or 6 inch sections
  • Wrap the middle of the piece of foam with duct tape (if in Texas wrap the entire piece of foam in white duct tape)
  • Cut piece of braided nylon twine and melt ends (I like to use a piece of twine about 3 feet long for shallow water catfishing)
  • Wrap the twine around the center of the foam and tie a slip knot, pull tight
  • Tie Eagle Claw Offset Circle Hooks – Model L197 on the end furthest from the jugline
  • Crimp round split shot weight onto the #9 braided nylon twine a few inches above the hook
  • Wrap the line around the foam and insert the hook into the foam for storage

Method 2:

  • Cut the swimming pool noodle into 5 or 6 inch sections
  • Drill hole into one end of the foam and insert PVC piece of drinking straw
  • Cut piece of braided nylon twine and melt ends (I like to use a piece of twine about 3 feet long for shallow water catfishing)
  • Pull the twine through the center of the foam and tie a slip knot around the outside, pull tight
  • Tie Eagle Claw Offset Circle Hooks – Model L197 on the end furthest from the jugline
  • Crimp round split shot weight onto the #9 braided nylon twine a few inches above the hook
  • Wrap the line around the foam and insert the hook into the foam for storage

An optional step is to add a small strip of reflective tape around the jugline if you are going to be night fishing, making the catfish jugs easier to spot at night. Using a battery powered handheld spotlight like this million candlepower rechargeable spotlight and reflective tape on the catfish jugs, you can easily spot them at night. These cost $20 through Bass Pro and are a must have for jug fishing at night.

These are the only steps required to building your free floating jugline “fishing noodles”. I have included step by step instructions in a video below, to walk you through the process as well and make it easier!

I am trying a new video hosting service, the video below is in HD and is all in one video, which Youtube will not allow (because it is too long). If for some reason you have trouble viewing it below go to the Learn To Catch Catfish Youtube Channel and you can view it there but it is broken into two separate parts.


Jug Fishing For Catfish With Free Floating Juglines (Jugging)

Jug fishing for catfish with”drifting” or free floating juglines is a pretty simple process. Obviously if your rigging them like I have outlined in this article and video, you will want to fish with them in shallow water. If you are going to be fishing in deeper water you can add longer pieces of line and adjust the depth as needed. This is easily accomplished by wrapped the extra line around the jug and either tyeing a knot to secure it, or using a rubber band to secure the excess line.

I have absolutely hands down had my most successful catches with free floating drifting juglines fishing in shallow water in the warmer months, but especially in the heat of the summer. I prefer to fish shallow points, and large shallow mudflats, especially when they can be located with immediate access to deeper water near by.

Baits are pretty standard just like any other form of jug fishing. I obviously use my catfish bait, Redneck’s Catfish Bait Soap, but will also use cut shad, or other cut baits. I have even used shrimp soaked in a popular dip bait with some success. Regardless of what catfish bait you use on your juglines, make sure you have plenty available because you can really use a lot of bait fishing with these methods (which is one of the reasons Redneck’s Catfish Bait Soap is so popular).

Set your jugs out in “sets” picking an area of the lake or river where you are catfishing and baiting the hooks as you set them out. A “set” is determined by the number of jugs you place in the water and you always want to stick to the same number in each set or keep track of the number in each area, that way you can assure that you retrieve all of your fishing noodle jugs.  I typically set mine in sets of 15-20 in each area and will often bait and catfish with as money as 100 of these at a time (if I plan on making a night of it).

They are baited and set in a group of twenty allowing some distance between each one, and covered a large area, always working with the wind and allowing them to move your jugs (when the wind is blowing). If the wind is blowing from the South, you want to set them where they will cover a large area when they start drifting, and not set them twenty yards from the North bank where the South wind will immediately blow them up on the bank.

Place your “set” in the area you have chosen, and if you have a GPS on your boat mark the location of your “set” on your GPS so you can easily find it (this is most important when you are using these techniques at night) and then move to place your next “set”, repeating the process. Once you are done placing all of your jugs in the water, move back to the first set, check the catfish jugs for activity, retrieve fish, rebait and then work back through them in the order you placed them in the water.

As always, make sure you research the state and local laws before you do any fishing with these techniques and make sure you fish responsibly. Only keep what you need, release the big catfish, and make sure you remove all of your catfish jugs before you leave the lake.

To get a full in depth training on how to make the best catfish juglines, rigging them and even details on the best baits to use and exactly how to find locations to set your fishing jugs check out our Jug Fishing 101 training course.

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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

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