Flathead Catfish Baits
Flathead baits primarily used are live baits, meaning you catch baitfish, keep them alive, and chunk'em out to catch a flathead.
Now many people will tell you that they catch just as many flatheads on cut bait as they do on live baits. We are not disagreeing with that, it's just that most catfish anglers target flatheads with live bait.
Flathead catfishing is almost like hunting. You search around the body of water you are fishing until you see the big flatheads on your fish finder. Then you chunk out some live bait and wait for the fight.
Your most common bait fish used to catch flatheads are bream, sunfish, crappie, blue back herring, gizzard shad, bull head catfish, smaller channel catfish, suckers, and goldfish (gold fish are not legal in every state and some states do not allow you to use "game" fish – most states allow you to use "game" fish as bait as long as you catch it with rod and reel – check your local fishing regulations.)
The best live baits to use are the ones found in the body of water you are fishing. What is native to that body of water? Does the lake or river have bread, crappie, shad, bullheads, or any other type of smaller fish? If so, experiment around and find out which bait flatheads prefer for that body of water. I have eaten many of flathead and when cleaning them I have found just about everytype of fish in their stomachs. On one particular body of water I was mainly using live bream as bait. After a few trips and a few dozen smaller flatheads in the cooler I saw a trend while cleaning them. Most of the flatheads had crappie in their stomachs. I did my homework and found out if I caught the crappie on rod and reel then I could use them as bait to fish for flatheads. After the next few trips with only using crappie for bait, I noticed my numbers and size of the flatheads I was catching had increased.
OK, now you should know that flats prefer live bait, they are predators. You have also learned to do some experimenting with different types of baits. If you catch some good eaters and clean them, take notice of what you are finding in their stomachs. The stomachs never lie.
One method you can use, if you prefer cut bait or can not keep bait alive, is to add a spoon or blade on your line in front of the cut bait. This provides flash and entices flatheads, like mimicking a live bait with vibrations.
We will later discuss the debate of "use big bait to catch big catfish!"