The Santee Rig or Santee Cooper Rig is one of the popular catfish rigs for fishing for all species of catfish, it’s also commonly referred to as the “Santee Rig”.
This rigging gained the name Santee rig as it allegedly gained popularity from its use by catfishermen on the Santee Cooper lakes in the Carolina’s.
This Santee Rig is one of the catfish rigs that is a favorite among anglers who target blue and flathead catfish but can also be used to target flathead catfish as well.
Not only is it one of the popular catfish rigs for drift fishing but it is a favorite among anchored fishing as well. It can be used when fishing from a boat or from the shore and in many different applications.
Part of the popularity of this type of rigging comes from it being very effective for both anchored fishing and drift fishing and a known way of producing both numbers and size when fishing for catfish.
This is a catfish rig that you should definitely know to tie and should have in your arsenal. It’s certainly one of my “go to” ways of rigging for catfish.
Why Use The Santee Rig
Part of the effectiveness of the Santee rig comes from the simplicity of it. The rig is easy to tie and easy to cast but the secret is in the peg float.
By adding the peg float you lift the bait up off the bottom of the lake or river.
Why does this matter?
You can use the bottom as a reference and get the baits up off the bottom and into the strike zone (where the fish are).
If the fish are holding 2-3 feet off the bottom then you can use a 36” leader and get the bait into their area, otherwise with a shorter leader you would be placing baits underneath the fish. The leader length can be adjusted based on where the fish are holding.
In addition, there are more “theories” as to why this is effective when fishing for catfish.
Catfish, especially blue catfish, also have an under bite and feed from the bottom up better than they do top down from the shape of their mouth. One of the theories behind lifting the bait up is that you get a better bite.
Then you have “the eyes”. They eyes of a catfish are on top of their head. Sure, they feed by smell but they also feed by sight. Many anglers speculate that getting the bait up over into the line of sight improves the number of bites as well.
Items Needed For A Santee Cooper Rig
To make one of these you are basically using a slip sinker setup with a longer leader and adding a float. There are a number of different variations (mostly with weights) but here are the basics you need to know for both anchored fishing and drift fishing.
How To Tie The Santee Cooper Rig
You can use an Egg Sinker, no roll sinker, walking sinker or slinky weight. Regardless of what style sinker you are using, you’ll slide your sinker on the main line to get started.
The amount of weight you use is going to depend on how deep you are fishing, the amount of current, amount of wind etc. There is really no “magic number” when it comes to how much weight to use.
If you are not sure what size weight to use start with one ounce and you can work your way up or down in size from there. I generally use 1.5 to 2 ounces of weight fishing in lakes, reservoirs and smaller rivers
Barrel Swivel - Tie a barrel swivel onto your mainline below your slip sinker using a Palomar knot.
Cut a length of 40-50 pound monofilament leader line.
The length of leader is going to be something you will have to experiment with on your lake or river and again like many things with catfishing it may vary from day to day.
The most common leader lengths are anywhere from 18 to 36 inches.
You can use leaders that are shorter or longer than this, it just depends on the application, wind and where the catfish are in the water column. The further up the fish are from the bottom the longer you will make the leader to get into the “strike zone”.
Tie your hook on the leader line using the quick and easy snell knot.
I prefer to use the 8/0 Team Catfish Double Action Circle Hook or the 7/0 Daiichi Circle Chunk Light for blue catfish and a 5/0 Team Catfish Double Action circle hook for channel catfish. You can also use a treble hook for fishing with prepared bait using this setup (though I rarely use this rig for channel catfish as I have more success with the Secret Catfish Rig).
2” Slotted Foam Peg Float
The peg float is used to hold the bait off the bottom of the lake or river. The longer the leader line the higher the bait will float in the water column. The shorter the leader line the lower it will float in the water column.
Slide the peg float onto the leader line and insert the pegs. By using a slotted foam peg float you can quickly and easily add and remove the float as needed (or replace them when they get damaged).
The peg float will set about 2-3” down the leader line from the hook.
Attach Leader To Barrel Swivel
The final step is to tie the leader to the barrel swivel using a trilene knot.
The Santee Rig For Drift Fishing
Again, you can use this for drift fishing or anchored fishing.
You can certainly use the same setup for both applications by using an no roll sinker or egg sinker but making some minor changes will greatly reduce the number of “snags” or hang ups as well.
Instead of using an egg or no roll sinker consider switching and using:
When drift fishing use a Team Catfish Sinker Bumper between the weight and the barrel swivel. This will help prevent weakening the knot are causing the line to weaken due to constant rubbing and banging onto the knot and line around the swivel.
The use of these style sinkers when drift fishing will help to greatly reduce the amount of “snags” or hang ups when you are drift fishing. It won’t completely eliminate the problem but it will help to reduce them it.
Santee Cooper Rig Instructional Video
Here’s whats covered in this video on this catfish rig.
- Basics of rigging and how to tie this
- Applications for using the santee rig
- How long to make the leaders
- Getting the baits into the “strike zone”
- Some tricks to help you catch more catfish using this setup
Be sure to check out the catfish rigs page to get more information on different rigs and in depth tutorials on catfish rigs for all different species and catfishing techniques.