How to Catch Catfish with Controlled Drifts

Controlled Drifting is the act of making sure that your drift stayed in line with the type of structure you are targeting by using your trolling motor. This technique is great for catching numbers and size of catfish. You can work your river or lake very efficiently. If you’re having trouble figuring out how to catch catfish in your body of water, trying controlled drifting is your solution.

How do you Control Drift?

To control drift you must first have a target structure that you are trying to fish. A few structures that you could target with controlled drifting are listed below:

For Lakes:

  • Channels
  • Points
  • Ledges
  • Weed lines

For River:

  • Ledges
  • Jetties
  • River Points
  • Creek Mouths

In most cases, you will need to use some type of depthfinder in order to find these places. Using a depthfinder is very easy tho. Simple drive a zig zag pattern across the area that you suspect has a potential for holding catfish. Once you find an area that you think will hold catfish, you can make them on your GPS if you have one or throw out marker buoys.

Your goal is define that area that you must keep you boat in.

After you have defined your area or structure to fish, you should get up wind or current from that area. Using the wind or current to your advantage minimizes how much you must use your trolling motor. As you drift through the area, you will use your trolling motor to stay on course. I prefer to keep my trolling motor on low and continuously use it instead of being off and on it. Doing this can spook the catfish if the water is shallow. This method is simply following the ledge or a specific depth on a point, called the Straight Line approach.

  • An example of this would be when you follow the break line of a ledge. You will control your boat to stay right over where ledge breaks off to deeper water.
  • Another example would be when are targeting fish at let’s say 12′ deep. You will follow around a creek or main lake point making sure that your boat is in 12′ of water.

That’s not the only way to control drift. You can also pull a Zig-Zag Pattern. In this approach, you will define your area the same way. The difference is that you will use your trolling motor to continually travel back and forth across your target structure. This method is similar to drawing a winding road as your path to follow.

  • for example, say that I’m fishing a ledge. I will start at the ledge break line and move the boat to the right of the ledge, where the flat is. Then I will slowly make a ‘U” turn back over the ledge break and over to the left of the ledge, where the deep water is. I will then follow back over the ledge to the flat again and repeat the process. I do this all while continuing to move down wind or current of my starting point

How do I present my bait?

To properly present your bait, you should use a vertical presentation. Lower you weight to the lake bottom, then reel in 1′-4′ of line so that your bait is suspended off bottom. This type of presentation reduces snags by keeping your bait over most of the cover. This also keeps your bait right over the fish which is a perfect place for a catfish to attack it.

I use a Carolina Rig with 1-2 oz sinker. This rig fights off snags well and gives catfish enough free line to easily take the bait. Make sure that you have a shorter (8-12 inch) leader line for better control over your bait.

I will use shad cut bait 90% of the time. Shad are so abundant that they are natural what catfish eat but choose whatever baitfish is most prominent in your location.

Why should you use a Controlled Drift to catch catfish?

Controlled drifts are highly efficient. This techniques allow you to target specific areas that catfish use while actively searching for the school. Not many catfishing techniques can find fish as fast as this technique.

Its a great technique for large catfish. Since you will be working areas that large catfish regularly use and actively looking for them, you raise your odds of finding a truly big catfish as compared to free drifting.

You can be actively involved in your presentation and control how you wish to target your fish. Most cat fishing strategies are based on sitting back and doing nothing. This method is for the man/woman that wants to be involved in how they catch catfish. You can follow the break line as tight as you want to. Or maybe you what to cover a wide area, so you do a large zig zig pattern. Its purely your choice.

This is a great technique for catching large numbers of fish. If you are looking for dinner or a good time with the family, you can use this method to catch fish after fish. 20 plus fish days are common.

Well guys that concludes my write up about Control Drifting. Use this technique the next time you go out fishing and let me know how it goes for you. I’ve got a feeling that you’ll enjoy catching the fish that comes with this technique

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