When it comes to catching spring catfish, it’s tough to beat standard operating procedure. Mainly, rigging a piece of fresh cut bait on a hook, line and sinker. Letting it sit somewhere, catfish can smell fresh fish on the menu, move in to investigate, tentatively “whisker” things over, and then wrap their lips around the sushi of the day.

But spring catfish don’t always feed on bottom. In fact, when they are aggressively feeding, they routinely rise up to pursue baitfish. It’s the perfect time and conditions to take that seductive strip of sushi for a summertime spin.

Spinner rigging is a common tactic for summertime walleye and perch, but it is starting to catch on for other species like sturgeon and catfish in river fishing situations.

In the video above, James Lindner and Nick Lindner are fishing in deep water near a dam where the current is cruising. This is a prime situation to employ spinner rigging tactics when spring catfish are active and hunting for food.

Spring Catfish Spinner Rig
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Choosing the right rig, James recommends a simple #3 VMC spinner with a single hook. This is essentially your standard “minnow rig” for trolling walleyes. Take a thin strip of fresh cut sucker and the hook it through the tip of the strip. You want the meat to be fluid in the water with room to move around in the current.

You’ll want to use a three-way rig to keep this system fishing efficiently. A heavy weight will keep you pinned to the bottom, even in heavy current. Your spinner rig will be suspended a couple feet above, connected to the three-way rig by a short leader. With this system, you can fish extremely efficiently in deepwater, rushing river situations.

As far as rod/reel/line goes, you want something that can handle a tough fight in the current. James prefers an 8’6″ rod paired with a baitcasting reel, spooled up with 20lb test Sufix Siege monofilament line.

With this presentation, you don’t need to jig it or pump it. Let it soak with your rod in a fixed position and your sinker on or near the bottom with a tight line. These dam areas tend to have quite a few snags that will eat up traditional catfish rigs. This three-way spinner rigging system fishes much cleaner and gets hung up less in these situations.