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How to set up your catfish rig when you’re at a lake with big catfish and you experience mainline failures.

Beausoleil is a very popular catfishing holiday venue in Northern France. Since I picked up the keys of this dream lake I’ve learnt a hell of a lot along the way on how to catch them and what can go wrong.

angler holding-a-65lb-catfish-in-the-water

One major problem that continues to rear its ugly head, and that you may find at other catfish venues, is that of mainline failure.

In a normal carp fishing environment such things are exceptionally rare, but at Beausoleil it’s not an uncommon occurrence when you have very large catfish in a relatively small lake.

First let’s look at the problem:

  • Multiple, large and very powerful catfish swimming in a 4 acre, tree lined estate lake with an island, a bridge and under water hazards such as rocks and swan mussels.
  • All leaders (including lead core) are banned on the basis of fish safety
  • Braided mainline is banned on the basis of fish safety

Now, if a catfish does manage to make it round a snag, there is very little that can be done.

It is sometimes possible to go out in the boat and get a better angle on them but this requires a team of experienced guys to pull this feat off!

If the catfish has taken the mainline through the snag, the mainline will fail and from the fish safety point of view that’s a good thing.

What I have also experienced is mainline failure in open water.

Now in the past, based on comments from our visitors, I’ve put this down to the following reasons:

  • Poor knots
  • Inadequate mainline
  • Failure to check for nick and cuts before fishing each night

It turns out that this list in incomplete.

What I believe is happening is this:

Catfish are unique in that they have multiple, very hard and very sharp points on the top of each pectoral fin. I’ve had my arm cut by these when lifting a 62lb catfish in a T-shirt. During the fight, the mainline runs over these sharp points and when the line is under tension the mainline is actually cut through.



Using rig tubing to prevent your mainline from breaking

My recommendation is to use at least 3ft (1m) of anti-tangle tubing. During the main season when the cats are very active, rig tubing is absolutely essential and should be used at all times for both catfish and carp.

I’ve recently been fishing with some 1m lengths of Rig Marole Freefall tubing and I have to say it is the best tubing I’ve ever used by a long way. It’s heavy yet supple, stays naturally straight, is extremely hard wearing and cannot break into bits thanks to its stainless steel wire core. I also recomend that anglers tie a stop knot around the mainline using a short length of mono. Slide the knot down to touch the tubing, wet it and then tighten fully. Cut the tag ends off 5mm long. This simple knot prevents the tubing from sliding up the line during the fight and yet allows the lead to passs effortlessly over the knot in the event of a failure further up the line.

Use specialist catfishing line

Using 30lb + mainline when angling for carp may seem completely over the top but at a mixed species venue like ours, during the summer months, it does make perfect sense. Here’s a couple of recommendations by catfishing experts:

1) P-Line CXX X-tra strong: I’m currently using this for my river carp fishing and it’s survived being dragged through branches nicely. It’s rated at 30lbs and is 0.42mm diameter. I’m trialling this in August 2015 with some friends and will post results following that session. It comes highly recommended for cats up to 100lbs.

2) Teklon Gold: At 0.45mm it breaks at 45lbs so is very strong. We’ve seen mixed results with this with some customers swearing by it and others swearing not to trust it! This could have been down to failing to protect the end of the mainline with an adequate length of rig tubing, either that or the tubing slid up out of the way.

These precautions will never guarantee banking every catfish you hook but it may well enable you to bank a few more than you would otherwise.

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