How Do You Troll For Catfish On A Kayak?

As an angler, there are a lot of fishing techniques to try when fishing for catfish. The name catfish refers to a broad group of fish that includes 37 families and is common in freshwater and saltwater bodies. This also explains why different anglers have mastered various fishing techniques to catch the biggest catfish, including trolling on a kayak. 

So, how do you troll for catfish on a kayak? 

First, you need a good rod holder to hold the pole. Ensure you’re using the right lure to catch catfish, then start paddling fast enough to where the top of the rid is barely shaking. Keep the drag of the line semi-loose to allow the fish to take it when it bites. If you notice the rod’s tip bending, you likely have a fish on the line. 

Trolling from a kayak takes time to learn, but once you know how to get started, you’ll never want to fish from land again. This article will explain the technique in more detail as other tips to help you catch more catfish. So keep reading. 

What is trolling for catfish?

Trolling refers to a fishing technique where one or more fishing lines are dragged through the water carrying bait to attract fish. In most cases, the line is dragged behind a moving kayak or boat, but it can be moved from one side to another if the yak isn’t moving. 

This fishing technique targets pelagic fish but can also target catfish that love to stick to the bottom of the deepest point in the water where there’s enough oxygen to support their survival. 

If you want to practice trolling for catfish on your kayak, you need a trolling motor that allows your yak to move slowly through the water. 

This slow movement will tempt catfish to follow your bait or lure because the fish think that your lure is living prey. You can also keep the kayak afloat where it moves with the current. 

How do you troll for catfish on a kayak?

Once you’ve picked the right spot to go fishing for catfish, you must be ready with suitable equipment. Here’s what you need to pack. 

  • Fishing pole with the correct strength (12-17 pounds)
  • A dragging sinker will be the primary tool you can use to catch catfish. However, if you don’t want to buy a dragging sinker, you can try a DIY one
  • Fishing leader (to protect your main line against breakage)
  • Chain swivel. 
  • Rattling float.
  • An eight on circle hook. 
  • Chunks of bass bait or a skipjack head for bigger catfish. A plastic lure or small live bait will work for a smaller fish. 

When trolling on a kayak, you can set up two rods and move your yak slowly through the water. In some cases, you might need to use outriggers to prevent the lines from getting tangled or downriggers to keep your bait at the desired depth. 

However, trolling won’t need much preparation or setup when the wind isn’t that strong. 

There are two things that you need to take into consideration while you’re trolling. The first one is the right place to troll. Trolling works best where there are plenty of fish. 

So, you need a fish finder to make sure that you can locate where the fish are gathering. 

The second one is casting at the proper depth, which is crucial, especially when targeting catfish. You need to ensure that your bait or lure is located near the bottom where you can find these fish. 

After setting up your trolling bait, you’ll have to either keep the kayak in place or move it slowly using a trolling motor. In most cases, you’ll have to do some scouting to find high-quality fish. When you choose to troll, you have to be patient because this technique can result in a lot of pecking at your bait. 

Once you feel a catfish pulling at your bait, you can reel in. Of course, a larger fish will put on a fight, but it will be totally worth it, whether you’re catching and releasing or collecting your catfish. 

If you plan to keep your bigger catfish, make sure that your kayak is steady enough so it doesn’t flip or move too much if the fish is too aggressive. 

With two lines set up, you might get your lines tangled, so you need to move them slowly and get them untangled, so you can keep on fishing until you run out of bait. 

Tips for trolling for catfish

The idea is to cast your bait at the same speed as the fish you’re trying to catch and the prey it targets. This is why you need to study the current and speed. Here are some tips for trolling for catfish. 

  • Make sure that your lure or bait isn’t moving too fast. The bait should act like live prey to tempt your catfish to follow it. 
  • Change direction and alter your speed as you’re trolling, as this will be more convincing to catfish. Since live prey doesn’t always move in a straight line or at the same speed, your bait should behave similarly. 
  • Learn about your target species. Blue catfish prefer dead freshwater bait over live bait. If you’re targeting flathead catfish, live bait will work better. 
  • If you’re using live bait, make sure you’re moving your yak slowly to give your bait a chance to swim naturally. 
  • Anchoring will help you position your yak at the right spot to catch more catfish. If the wind is a bit strong, drifting lets the yak move with the current. You can also use a trolling motor for slow and controlled movement. 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using trolling for catfish?

There are several fishing techniques that you can use to catch catfish but trolling has a lot of benefits because it’s a versatile fishing technique. It also works as a suitable fishing technique for beginner and experienced anglers. 

Advantages of Trolling

  • Trolling can help you catch many fish species, including catfish, salmon, and trout, in freshwater. In saltwater, trolling will work for nearshore fishing to catch tuna and mahi-mahi. 
  • You don’t need a lot of equipment to be successful at trolling. On a kayak, you can use two rods or more if you have a bigger yak. 

A stiffer rod will be more suitable if you’re targeting bigger fish. A simple trolling reel is enough, although you can invest in a line counting reel. A monofilament line is usually suitable for targeting bigger fish. 

Disadvantages of Trolling With Catfish

  • Learning about the right speed and depth to target your fish takes more time. You might spend a long time without catching a fish if you’re casting your bait too shallow or fast. 
  • Trolling works best on cloudy days or at sunrise and sunset. It might not be the best fishing technique to follow if the visibility is high in water. 
  • There’s always the chance of your lines getting tangled, especially if the wind is strong or you’re targeting big fish that move a lot. 
  • Outriggers and downriggers are essential to keep your bait in the proper position. Without these tools, you might subject your bait to a lot of pecking, even if you’re not catching any fish. This means that you might lose valuable bait.


Trolling is a selective fishing method that allows you to catch catfish and other freshwater and saltwater species. It’s a suitable fishing technique for beginner and experienced anglers because you don’t need a lot of equipment. 

You need to be careful about choosing the nature of the bait, its speed, and its depth, as this will help you catch more catfish. 

The idea depends on casting live, dead, or plastic bait and then dragging it behind your kayak or boat. And you can use two or more rods to catch multiple fish at the same time. 

However, you need to be careful about choosing the speed and depth of the bait to tempt catfish to chase it.

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