How To: Make Jug Lines For Catfish

By | July 1, 2015
From Xplor: July/August 2015

There are many ways to catch the fish affectionately known as “Mr. Whiskers.” Jug lines are fun, easy, and effective.

Know the Rules

You must have a fishing permit and follow a few special rules when jug fishing. Get the lowdown at

Fishing Tips

  • When: Catfish are most active at night, so fish at dawn, dusk, and after dark. They also go into a feeding frenzy when rivers rise after a storm.
  • Where: On lakes, areas containing large rocks or flooded trees are usually catfish hot spots. Also try letting a gentle breeze drift your jugs across shallow flats. On rivers, set your jugs where shallow water drops off into the main channel or in the slow water behind wing dikes.
  • How: Catfish rely on their sense of smell and touch to find food. So bait your hook with something stinky — such as chicken livers, cut gizzard shad, or “stink bait” — or something wiggly — such as live bluegill, crayfish, or worms.

Here’s what you need:

  • Empty 2-liter plastic bottle
  • Fluorescent orange spray paint
  • Reflective tape or duct tape
  • Permanent marker
  • No. 9 braided nylon line
  • 2-ounce egg sinker
  • 1/O barrel swivel
  • 6/O circle hook

Here’s what you do:

  1. Spray paint the bottle fluorescent orange. This will make the bottle easier to spot at dawn, dusk, and at night — when catfish are hungriest. When the paint has dried, wrap tape around the bottle. Use a marker to print your name and address, or Conservation ID number, on the tape.
  2. Cut off a 20-foot section of nylon line. Ask an adult to help you melt the ends of the nylon with a flame so the line won’t unravel.
  3. Tie a loop in one end of the line. Thread the other end of the line through the loop to make a bigger loop, like a lasso. Place the “lasso” over the neck of the bottle and cinch it down tight.
  4. Thread an egg sinker onto the free end of the line. Tie a swivel below the sinker using a Palomar knot. (Search the Internet for tying instructions.)
  5. To make a leader, cut off a 20-inch section of line and melt the ends. Bring the two ends together, thread both through the eye of the hook, then tuck the ends through the loop you just made and pull tight. Tie an overhand knot an inch above the hook. Tie the loose ends of the line together with another overhand knot, leaving a 1-inch tail.
  6.  Thread the hookless end of the leader through the eye of the swivel. Bring the hook up through the loop you just made and pull tight.
  7. To transport your jug, wrap the line around the bottle and tuck the hook into the tape. Now you’re ready to fish!

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This Issue's Staff

Brett Dufur
Les Fortenberry
Karen Hudson
Regina Knauer
Angie Daly Morfeld
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White