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Jug Fishing For Catfish Basics

Jug Fishing For Catfish  With Juglines (Jugging)

Jug fishing for catfish is a fun and exciting way to fish. If you are looking for information on jug fishing for catfish then you have come to the right place. Not only am I am the manufacturer of the first and the ORIGINAL Texas catfish bait soap but I am the inventor of the popular juglines made from closed cell polyethylene foam used by so many people today.

A number of years ago I invented the Redneck Original Jugline and the Fish On Flagging Juglines for jug fishing for catfish. You can read more about my history on my about page.

I have been sharing information on jug fishing for catfish for years but because I was in the business of manufacturing I always held back some of the information. I am still selling the Redneck Original Jugline and the Redneck Flagging Juglines these days but on a more limited basis than I have in the past. I have made a personal decision to share some of these secrets that I have kept quiet for years. There are a number of people that have copied my designs and have attempted to sell them but there are a number of things that they do wrong and there is a LOT of bad information on the internet about this subject.  I never dreamed that my design for jug fishing would become so popular when I designed it but when you have a good thing people want it. My mistake of not patenting the design was a major error on my behalf.

This is a basic beginning jug fishing for catfish article but as I continue to add articles I will add links and information on page. I also have an e-book and some videos in the works where I will be sharing the motherload of information on this subject. You can always also search the articles by going to our search page and typing in your search term or search by tags by going to the tag cloud and clicking on the tag you would like to view more information on.

I am going to cover the basic nuts and bolts in this article and will expand upon it later with some more information in building juglines, different types, baits, techniques and more, so make sure you check back here often and that you subscribe to our mailing list and our daily feed update so you can stay updated when we add more information

I want to preface this article with this statement.  I take a LOT of crap over my promotion of jug fishing, trotlines, limb lines, pole lines and all other forms of setlines from other guides and industry leaders and those that believe that “non-traditional” forms of fishing should be outlawed. Anyone that knows me knows that I strongly support the conservation of  catfish and that I strongly support CPR (catch, photograph and release) of fish over 10 lbs. I practice CPR on all big cats over 10 lbs on my guide trips and on my personal trips and I preach this to others all the time.

That being said, a few bad fisherman have given a bad name to many other anglers out there that responsibly fish with these different techniques. It is a shame that a few bad apples have given such a bad name to all the responsible fishermen out there.

This is a great way to get kids interested in fishing, which I believe is something that is of the utmost importance, but if you are going to fish with setlines do so responsibly. I will hit the high points on some of the ways to be responsible towards the end of this article.

What is jug fishing for catfish?

Jug fishing for catfish A form of setline fishing using a jug. The terms for these devices varies depending on what part of the country you are in but they generally are called juglines or fishing jugs for the most part.

This is something that has become rather popular in the last ten years or so as a means to fish primarily for catfish. It is popular because it allows people to go catfishing with very little equipment and gives opportunity to cover a lot of water in a very short amount of time.  It seems to have become much more popular than trotlines in the last ten years or so, likely because of the media exposure that it has received and the ease of use over trotlines.

Popularity also has to a lot to do with the fact that that they are mobile so they can be set and taken back up the same day, or even minutes later. This allows those that are using them to move them to a new spot, take them home or even take them to a new lake or river all together.

The Jug

Jugs come in many different shapes and sizes, from homemade to commercially manufactured models. (See how to make the best catfish jugs)

The most common homemade models seem to be bleach bottles or 2 liter coke bottles or any other sort of durable plastic or foam float.

There are also several commercially manufactured models available. Some of these commercially manufactured models even do a trick like flipping over and or “flagging” (standing up on end) when a fish bites.

Jug Fishing

Drifting Vs Anchored Jug Fishing For Catfish

Drifting juglines are meant to be placed in the water and drift across the lake (similar to drift fishing but with a jug instead of a rod and reel)

For these models a mainline is tied to the jug and then a hook is tied to the opposite end. Typically a small split shot weight is placed a few inches above the hook. That in a nutshell is the overall setup. It is simple, effective and affordable.

Many are commonly made from plastic containers like coke bottles or gatorade bottles that are readily available and easy to come by as anglers that fish with these often fish with as many as 100 at one time. Placing them in the water as groups (often called sets).

Anchored juglines have a weight at the bottom of the main line and are exactly as they are described, anchored so they stay in one place in the water.

Tied to the anchored jug is mainline that runs down into the water. Hooks are tied to leaders and then to swivels which are attached to the main line. At the bottom of the main line a weight as affixed to hold the setup in place (typically around 1 lb of weight).

There are pro’s and con’s of both types of juglines for jug fishing for catfish.

Benefits Of Drifting Models

  • Can cover a lot of water moving through the water
  • Not isolated to one area when set
  • Can be easy to build as they require very little setup
  • Can be highly effective
  • Tangle less than anchored models

Con’s Of Drifting Models

  • Typically require the angler to stay on the water as they can travel great distances and get spread out
  • There is no weight to keep them in one place so can be hard to find
  • Fish can travel great distances when hooked
  • Can be less effective than anchored models when big catfish are hooked

Pro’s Of The Anchored Models

  • Stay in one place when set
  • Can typically be set with more hooks, increasing the number of hooks and baits in the water
  • Can be easier to find when fish are hooked because the weight limits the distance they can travel
  • Typically more effective for bigger fish
  • Readily available in commercially manufactured models

Con’s of The Anchored Models

  • Stationary once “set” so they require the fish to find them
  • Tangle more and can be more cumbersome to set and move
  • Are typically larger than a drifting models so they take more space

Personally I prefer anchored lines but I have used both setups in the past and have caught a ton on both types.

Anchored setups are my preference because typically I like to set them and then go rod and reel fish and then come back to check them after a while. Some anglers prefer to stay with their lines and constantly run them but this has never been my preference. I do think that drifting setups are much more fun for kids to fish with because they like to chase them down and get excited watching the fish dragging them all over the lake or river.

If you are looking bait for jug fishing  make sure you check out Redneck’s Catfish Bait Soap website and also check out bait that stays on the hook,  how to cut article and history.

I am working on several articles right now that will help walk you step by step through making a catfish jugs and some different options for building them, including exactly how to build the Redneck’s Juglines and Redneck’s Flagging Juglines. I am still selling these but on a limited basis, exclusively through Olsen’s Pro Am Fishing Shop.

If you want to but a manufactured model that you can immediately start using instead of building your own call Olsen’s Pro Am Fishing Shop and see if they have any Redneck’s Juglines in stock. If not then I would suggest looking at these products.

Jugs by Bert

Strike King Jug

Pop-Up Fish-A-Noodle

I have tried every different combination of hooks, twines and tackle and make these suggestions.

Mainline: #18 or #21 Mariner Green Braided Nylon Twine

Leaders: #9 Mariner Green Braided Nylon Twine or Mariner Tarred Twisted Nylon Twine

Hooks: Eagle Claw Lazer Sharp Circle Sea Offset Circle Hooks – Model L197

Swivels: Size 1/0 Bass Pro Shops Barrel Swivel

You might also check our tackle page as well for more tackle suggestions.

Before you start doing any jug fishing for catfish make sure that you research all of your state and local laws. Some states and specific bodies of water will not allow you to fish with these methods, and some have specific laws regarding color, number of hooks etc. In addition always make sure you fish responsibly and put the big catfish over 10 pounds back in the water after you catch them, regardless of how you catch them.

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.

Make sure you subscribe to our newsletter or our daily email updates so you get our future posts and information!

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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. Justin W. says:

    i havent jug fished much but it’s really fun. im gonna start doin it more, now that i have a bigger boat.( I had a 10′ flat bottom)

  2. Bob Mueller says:

    Hi Chad:

    I finished reading the new book about jug fishing and I think it is something Even I could do. You have a straightforward way of writing that may not pass the literary society’s muster, but your work is to the point, understandable and even exciting at times. I also can easily detect your passion for catfishing and using the catfish soap. (I wonder if the Redneck soap is legal in Ohio). I never cease to be amazed at how you can keep cutting plastic pis an glueing foam and keep me interested. This book should put all the copycats out of business. You not only share your secrets, but you empower the catfisherman, who wether they have a crock of money or not, like to do things by and for themselves. I am going to get the neighborhood kids involved in making the jugs and see how excited they get when the fish are caught. Being a scientist and a historian, I think that using Redneck catfish saop is the only honorable way to christen any new jugs someone makes. If my granddad is looking down from heaven he is laughing out loud. He used to take my limb line fishing and mentioned using clay crocks years ago. This is not just a great book it is a piece of fishing history! Thank you for writing the book. I may be giving them out for christmas with a package of soap.

    Many thanks,

    Call me Bob.

    [PS. you may want to put together a Christmas catfisherperson’s package with the book, some soap, a t-shirt and maybe a guided trip by Chad the man. It could be done at several levels depending upon how much someone wanted to spend. Just an idea] It sure beats getting a fruitcake. or a tie.

  3. James Greene says:

    You make me a jealous man Bob! I was one of the unfortunates that didn’t respond quick enough so I didn’t get a copy of this great book. I will however be first in line to buy it! Knowing Chad, I already know it’s gonna be one heck of a book with plenty of easy to follow instruction. And if its even 1/2 of what you say it is Bob, its gonna be worth every plenty I pay to get me a copy.

    I look forward to getting my own copy soon so I can join in on this conversation with more of an arsenal of knowledge at my disposal on this subject than I currently have. 😉

    James Greene
    Mesquite, TX

  4. Hey James;

    I ordered myself a copy of the book this morning. Like you, I missed out earlier too. Oh well, it will be good reading this winter. I did read the online version this morning before I placed my order.

    Maybe Santa will bring me a boat for Christmas, and I’ll be able to put to good use all that I read.

    Thanks Chad, I like your style.


  5. JOHN CORDER says:

    I have jug fished for many years the biggest flathead was 44lbs. When I first told my wife about jug fishing she told me I was crazy and couldn’t catch fish like that! Now she is hooked on jug fishing too!

    • That’s great John. Glad to hear of your success. Email me some pictures when you get a chance. Let’s see some big catfish!

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