How to successfully drift for catfish

Jason Wolfe catches catfish of all sizes when drift fishing on lakes across the Carolinas.

Drifting catches fish, but what’s the proper way to do it?

Drifting for catfish is a popular method of catching whiskered fish throughout the Carolinas. And it sounds simple enough. Just cast some bait out and let the wind carry you, and pretty soon, your bait will catch the attention of a catfish.

And that is the basics of it. But, as with most topics, there is more to it than that, especially for anglers that have consistent success.

Questions that come to mind for first-time drifters include: How do you keep the hook from catching on the bottom? How do you keep the weight from snagging in all the sunken tree limbs and other debris? What if a catfish is not exactly in the path of your bait? And if using multiple rods, how do you keep all the lines from tangling?

Jason Wolfe of Wolfe’s Guide Service shows how it’s done in this video. One thing he didn’t mention is that he spaces his rods out evenly with rod holder, and uses planer boards to take the lines on the ends far away from the lines behind the boat. You’ll see the planers in the video.

And while drifting with the wind is common, sometimes anglers will use their trolling motors to keep them on a well-defined line, letting the wind do the majority of the pushing work.

We made this video on Lake Wateree, but Wolfe uses this same technique on lakes all across the Carolinas. He uses it to catch blues, channels, and the occasional flathead. And with the same gear, including the same size hooks, he catches them in all sizes, from frying size fish to trophies.

Click here to read about youth angler Paisley Wolfe catching a 61-pounder while drift fishing.

Brian Cope
About Brian Cope 1480 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina.

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