How can winter catfishing help retailers sell more tackle? Many anglers, especially those new to the sport, tend to hang up their rod and reel when the weather gets cold, but there’s an opportunity to sell these sportsmen and women on pursuits like winter catfishing, and in the process sell more tackle in the off season.
Retailers don’t have to convince customers to invest in specialty catfishing tackle. By educating customers on how to repurpose warm-weather bass gear, retailers can get them started while offloading leftover warm-weather bass tackle. From there, anglers can expand and refine their rigs as they progress.
Bullet Weights pro angler Jeremy Lawyer has been able to illustrate how to catch catfish in the winter with some smart tackle and tactics – both of which retailers can in turn provide for customers. In fact, one of Lawyer’s favorite ways to stay sharp in the off season is to hit the water in search of catfish, and he and his buddies have caught as many as 100+ in one day.
Repurposing Bass Gear
“One of the best things about my setup is we use a lot of the same tackle that we do for bass,” Lawyer said. “Sometimes I’ll tangle with a big catfish while fishing for bass during the summer, so I thought, surely we can put this heavy bass tackle to good use.” For retailers, this presents an opportunity to sell through leftover bass tackle from earlier in the year, as well as a chance to sell new anglers products they can repurpose next year. It’s a smart investment for anglers who want to get the most out of their gear.
Lawyer starts with one of the standard rods in his lineup like a 7-foot 6-inch Denali rod or 7-foot 10-inch Denali flipping stick instead of a traditional 7-foot catfish broomstick that’s harder to cast. Lawyer then sets up a Carolina rig – a great option for seasoned anglers and beginners alike.
- Line and Leader
The first part of Lawyer’s rig is a heavy Sunline braid line, at least 50 pounds and preferably a high-visibility color like yellow or white. For a leader, Lawyer recommends 18 inches in length but in a green or black color to blend into the water. He also suggests using a few beads on the line to protect your knots.
- Heavy Sinker
For a sinker, Lawyer switches from a ½ oz or ¾ oz Bullet Weights egg sinker he usually uses for bass and steps up to a heavier weight. Specifically, Lawyer recommends a 2 to 3 oz Bullet Weights egg sinker. This is heavy enough to keep slack out of your heavy line.
Lawyer uses a barrel swivel such as a Spro Power Swivel for a couple of reasons. First, it keeps line twist to a minimum between the leader on the hook end and the weight system. Second, when the fish takes off with your bait, the weight will stay in place and the line will slide through the hole so the fish doesn’t feel resistance and immediately spit out the bait.
A j-bend or full circle hook cuts down on the need to jerk your line. Instead, according to Lawyer, you can just quickly wind up the slack in your line and lean back on the fish to set your hook. This is easier for beginner anglers and makes it more likely they’ll hook the fish in the mouth instead of gut hook and unintentionally kill the fish. In terms of specific hooks, Lawyer likes a 4/0 to 8/0 Gamakatsu circle hook or Nautilus Light hook.
- Rattling Float (optional)
According to Lawyer, rattling floats have become more popular over the last several years. Thread this hookless spook bait on your leader between the sinker and your bait depending on how high up you want your bait to float up off the water.
For retailers, explaining to new anglers how they can optimize their rigs for winter catfish with specific leader, sinkers, swivels, hooks and more, gives them an opportunity to sell through excess consumables from the summer.
Setting up the right rig is only half the battle, and retailers can help anglers put their new tackle to the best use with some tips and tactics.
Lawyer says the first thing he and his buddies will do is go out on their pontoon first thing in the morning looking for shad on their Garmin to use as bait. Even in the coldest water, shad will bunch up near the surface and can be caught with a throw net. You can then hook whole shad or cut bait directly onto your hooks.
Lawyer and his buddies will typically throw out 10 to 12 rods depending on the number of guys in the boat, state laws and the local regulations. He recommends idling over ledges, river channels and flats that roll off into river channels. Ranging in depth from 30 to 70 feet, these are all places where catfish schools will pull up to feed.
Anglers can find success with this catfishing strategy in the north before open waters freeze over as well as across the south. With some repurposed bass fishing gear and a few key items, new and seasoned anglers alike can discover the joys of winter catfishing.
“It’s easy to get bass tackle and repurpose it,” says Lawyer. “Buy a handful of Bullet Weights sinkers, a few Gamakatsu hooks, swivels and a few spools of beefed up 50-pound Sunline braid and get after it. And in my opinion, it makes chasing catfish feel a little more sporty and a lot more fun.”
Selling More Tackle in the Off Season
Fishing all year round doesn’t have to be a hard sell for retailers. By keeping a few critical pieces in stock for Carolina rigs and by showing new anglers how to put them to use, retailers can help turn novice or even fair-weather anglers into repeat customers who hit the water year-round and ultimately buy more tackle season after season.
When it comes to keeping a wide variety of tried-and-true sinkers on your shelves, Bullet Weights looms large. From small town gas stations to large sporting goods stores, Bullet Weights sinkers have been trusted by anglers for over 50 years to give them the performance they need on the water.
To learn more about Bullet Weights and to see their full lineup of innovative sinkers and tackle products, check out bulletweights.com. If you’re not already carrying Bullet Weights products, become a dealer today by emailing [email protected].