Blog 007 | Catfish On Popped Up Lobworms

Blog 007 | Catfish On Popped Up Lobworms

Spending a few hours into darkness each spring targeting catfish is something that I really enjoy during early season, March to May, before the water warms up too much. A method that has served me well with cats to over 50lb is popped up lobworms.

DA - Short sessions into darkness work for me.

Short sessions into darkness work for me.

If you are wondering why I only mentioned a period of three months for this approach it is not because this method won’t work throughout the year, but really because as the water warms, nuisance species such as bream and perch become far more active and start nibbling away at the worms, often stripping these in a matter of minutes. This is both frustrating and expensive if you’re buying these from a tackle shop!

The rig I use is very simple and is something I will go into in more detail later but before doing that let’s just have a very brief look into more major items of tackle needed before heading out. 

Beefing it up

Catfish are very powerful and a twenty pounder will give you a right run around even on hefty kit so although many anglers targeting carp land big cats, I would suggest if you are going to target these by design, or fancy targeting both carp and cats that you beef your kit up accordingly. This article isn’t aimed at the all-out catfish angler fishing venues such as Wintons, Furnace or Crows Green where cats approaching and in excess of 100lb are possible, but the general specimen angler, like myself that’s fishing a club lake, such as Farnham Angling Societies Badshot Lea, where most cats are in the 10lb-40lb range along with the outside chance of a 50lb+! 

DA - A thirty on the worms from Badshot Lea

A thirty on the worms from Badshot Lea!

The rods I use are 12ft 3.5lb t/c rods, teamed up with big pit wide spool reels loaded with 20lb mono, more than adequate on such a venue when you’re hoping for cats but don’t want to completely ruin the chance of a carp as well. Along with these items you will need a big landing net and weigh sling, oversized unhooking mat and some long forceps for removing the hook. Another item of kit that is a must use, are back leads as these will pin your mainline down and simply allow a catfish to be played out without fear of taking the other rod out. If you don’t use them, one day you will find out why you should have! 

DA - Ignore these at your peril.

 Ignore these at your peril.

Detecting nuisance species

As for the rig, I keep everything very simple and although I prefer a semi-fixed set up I would recommend that on your first visit that you try a simple running rig. The reason being is that if there are nuisance species attacking the worms you will be aware of this by the continuous bleeping of the alarms. Bolt rigs are far less sensitive, especially when using back leads as well and if you’re not recasting regularly and become lazy, you may just be fishing with no hookbait! If nuisance fish aren’t a problem then two rods on bolt rigs is the way forward. Another problem with running set-ups is you tend to get quite a few runs that are aborted. If you are getting pestered by small fish then this is the time to switch over to large pellet, boilie, fish section or squid, anything that gives you some respite and allows you to be selective.

Check the rules

If you are confident that your tackle is up to the job then leadcore is an option and will pin everything down near the business end. This will reduce the liners that you will experience when cats move into the swim and provide some protection if the venue has gravel bars etc which may cut through mono line. Some fisheries insist that tubing is used which is a very sensible option as its more fish friendly as opposed to mono or leadcore rubbing against the fish. 

DA - Swivels need to be strong.

Swivels need to be strong.

Keeping it simple

The rig itself that I use consists of a 2.5oz inline lead with a strong swivel that pushes into it easily and creates the bolt effect. I'd recommend against using one that locks in place and needs excessive pressure to release. The hook length material has to be created from an abrasion resistant material as cats have thousands of tiny teeth that will simply cut through mono and / or weak hook length. I vary my hook lengths, fishing one rod on a twelve inch trace, the other around twenty inches. I would also not recommend a really short hook length when using this method as it seems to just prick the cats resulting in hook pulls. On the business end is either a size 4 or 2 barbless hook (be sure to check the points every cast), attached knotless knot style, leaving a long hair onto which a 12mm foam ball, cut in half is mounted.  

The messy job

If you are buying your lobworms, I would recommend that if you are keeping these in the fridge for any length of time that you add either some shredded newspaper or moss as it tends to toughen the skin up which helps when casting. To mount the worms, I would use three or four and simply thread half the foam ball followed by the worms onto a baiting needle before pulling them onto the hair and securing. Check that these are popped up in the margin before casting out and if they don't, simply inject the head of one worm with some air using a fine syringe. 

DA - Simple and effective.

Timing your arrival

Cats are very nocturnal and by far the best time is the first two hours into darkness, so for me short evening sessions in spring work well but cats will come throughout the night and if your limited to daylight hours then pick the stormiest day possible as high pressure, cloudless skies and sunshine is more often than not, a non-starter. 

DA - One in daylight, bonus.

One in daylight, bonus.

So there you have it, if you want to catch your first cat or have the odd one turn up during a carp session then all you need to do is beef your kit up and add a few items of bigger, more powerful components (many of which will be available through Decoy Angling soon once properly tested) to your tackle box.

Tight lines,


About Duncan Charman:

As a capable and talented angler, Duncan is widely regarded as one of the most successful all-round anglers in the UK with personal bests including a 31lb pike, 16lb 5oz barbel and 140lb catfish alongside breaking two separate British Records (silver bream and pumpkinseed). 

In the public eye, Duncan is an Ambassador to the Angling Trust, a regular writer for the biggest magazines in both the United Kingdom and Europe (Anglers's Mail, Blinker etc) and has also made appearances on Sky Sports’ Tight Lines. Duncan is also an author having written his own book - Evolution of an Angler.

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