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Three Way Rig For Catfish: It’s Popular, But Is It Good?

three way rig catfish

The three way rig is probably one of the most well known catfish rigs.

Many people use the three way rig because others have told them that they need to use it or simply because it is one of the most well known ways of rigging for catfish.

Popularity of the three way rig has a lot to do with misinformation passed around among catfish anglers and also tackle shops pushing pre-tied three way rigs to catfish anglers.

The traditional three way rig requires the use of three way swivels and requires a lot of steps so if you want to use a rig that is this style modified three way rig is often a better option as it is easier to tie and does not require the use of a three way swivel.

The three way rig will certainly catch fish but if you ask more experienced anglers you’ll find they prefer to use catfish rigs like the slip sinker rig or santee rig.

When To Use The Three Way Rig

The three way rig is designed for situations where you need to keep your bait off of the bottom.

It can be used for anchored fishing or drift fishing and will work for all three species of catfish.

Tackle Items Needed

Check out our tackle page for more suggestions on tackle.

Leader Line – Like Offshore Angler Tight Line – 1/2 lb. Spools in 40 Lb Test

Barrel Swivel

Three-Way Brass Swivel

Hook Of Preference – See our tackle page for hook suggestions

Weight (Sinker) Of Preference – Like Bass Casting Sinkers

How To Tie The Three Way Rig

To tie this rig you need to first cut your leader line that will run from the bottom of the swivel to the weight (sinker).

Your line running from the bottom of it needs to be longer than the leader that will run from your hook to your swivel.

For this example we are going to cut the line from the swivel to the weight at eighteen inches. Attach the weight line to the bottom of the three way swivel on one end and then attach the sinker on the other end.

Now cut your leader line for your hook. For this purpose we are going to use a twelve inch line. Attach the leader line to the side of the three way swivel and then attach the hook to the opposite end of this line.

Tie your mainline to the top of the three way swivel.

Other Three Way Rig Options

Some anglers will use a light weight line from running to the sinker, like ten pound test fishing line. This is done so if the weight snags, the line can be broken easily and you can add a new line and weight instead of losing the whole rig.

You can add a 2” split foam peg float to the leader line a few inches from the hook to help with bait presentation also.


To get more tutorials and in depth information on catfish rigs, check out the catfishing rigs tutorial.


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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. Neil Kolban says:

    2010-05-14: The first link in the page should point to the slip sinker rig page but instead points to the santee-cooper rig.

  2. Ron Milliman says:

    Chad, I tie what turns out to be a very similar rig, but I do it all out of the line coming off my rod. I slide the hook up the line several inches, leaving plenty of extra line to tie my sinker on the bottom. I make a loop from the line the hook is through, giving me about a 4″ loop. I secure this loop so it doesn’t slip and stays a 4″ loop. Then, I tie my sinker about 15 to 18″ below the hook. When I’m done, the only hardware I have is the hook and the sinker. One thing I really like about your rig is that it is easy to tie a much lighter weight line for the sinker, resulting in loosing only sinkers, not the entire rig! Your website is the best on the web for catfishing — no contest

  3. Jim McIntosh says:

    I use the 3way a lot with live bait and have had very good luck with it. One more thing you could tell, is to let their reel be in free spin mode, that helps a lot. For my hook line I only use 6 to 8 in.

    P S Ilike the fact on a liter sinker line, makes a lot of sence.

  4. Good information and very interesting. I’ve never used any other rigs but the old tried and true single hook and sinker with live perch and it’s always worked well, but I was wanting to try out this 3-way rig to see how it works.


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