Catfish Fishing in the UK: A Comprehensive Guide to Tackle and Technique

catfish fishing in the uk

Catfish are becoming increasingly popular in the UK as anglers attempt to catch one of these powerful fish. Catfish can be found in many locations throughout the country, but you need to have different skills and techniques than other species to catch them. This article will provide all the information you need to successfully catch catfish in the UK.

Understanding the Species

Let’s first look at the different catfish species found in the UK. The European Wels and Channel Catfish are the most common. The Wels catfish, an introduced species from Eastern Europe, has flourished in many of the larger rivers. The Channel Catfish was imported from North America to angling. Both species can reach over 6 feet in length and over 100lbs in weight.

Location, Location, and Location

It can be difficult to find catfish in the UK as they are often quite shy during the day. Catfish are active at night so fishing in darkness can prove very productive. Large rivers, canals, and stillwaters are great places to find catfish. You should look out for features such as submerged trees, weedbeds and underwater ledges. These are all great areas for catfish.

Tackle and Equipment

Catfish require special tackle because they are extremely powerful fish and can put a lot on your gear. A rod with a test curve of 3lbs or less is a good starting point. However, many anglers prefer rods with curves of 4-5lbs and more. A strong spinning reel or multiplier reel loaded heavy line is essential. Braided line is a popular choice for catfish fishing, as it allows for long casting distances and excellent bite detection.

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Bait and Technique

Catfish are very picky about what they eat. Popular baits include deadbaits such as mackerel, herring or sprats as well as livebaits such as roach, Rudd or small carp. Anglers swear by unusual baits such as luncheon meats, Spam, or dog biscuits. It is important to use a bait that sticks well to the hook and leaves a strong scent in the water.

It is important to properly present your bait when fishing for catfish. When fishing from the bank, many anglers use the lift and drop technique. This involves lifting the bait off of the bottom every few minutes to make a scent trail and sound that attracts fish. Anglers can fish from a boat or float tube and experiment with different retrieve speeds and depths to find the most effective approach.

Other considerations

There are some other factors that you can consider to increase your chances of success when angling. First, it is important to choose the best time of year to target catfish. The most productive months are usually May-September, when the fish are most active. It is important to fish with a partner, or in a group, when targeting catfish. These fish can easily overwhelm a single angler. Remember to always be safe when fishing for catfish. Always wear a lifejacket if you are fishing from a boat, or from the bank in fast-moving water conditions.


Catfish fishing in the UK is a rewarding and fun pastime for those who have the skills and knowledge to catch these powerful fish. You can increase your chances to catch a big catfish by understanding the species, using the right bait and tackle, and applying effective techniques. This exciting form of fishing is safe and easy to learn.

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