Tackle for Monster Cats



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Catfishing for the Blues on the James River in Virginia.

The Lower James River in Virginia

So where do you start?? or maybe the question should be how do I gear up for those trophy size blue cat on the James River??

**Note** Remember that the lime green text are links!

When you hear story after story of catfisherman on the James River and the big-gon getting away. When trying to pick up their rod and the fish just about drags them out of the boat. Tales of the rod going down and when reaching to pull the rod out of the holder it would not budge, or the fight lasted nearly 20 minutes and I never gained any ground on the fish. Tales of reeling and reeling and the cat would take back just as much and .. finally the hook just popped out , the line broke or even the hook straightened out....

So go prepared to catch the fish of a lifetime!!!!!


Your rod must be powerful enough to bring in the biggest fish in your waters. You have to be able to bear down when you need to and drag the fish away from cover. I would recommend no less than a medium heavy action rod. A rod with a line class rating from 30-60lbs is recommended. My preference for rod length is 7'. I really like the feel of the Tiger medium-heavy 7' rod.


Many serious catfisherman use a saltwater reel, which is designed to take punishment and dish it out too. You have to be prepared to tighten down the drag and reel, remembering to pump the rod. Smaller reels may not hold as much as 250-300 yards of 40-50 lb test line, which at times may be needed if you catch that fish of a lifetime. Just remember there are blue catfish in the James River that exceed 100 lbs. I would look for a gear ratio of at least 5.3:1.


Should I use mono or braid?...What lb test should I use? Line choice is very important.

WELL....I have used a guide to get familiar with the James, he has fished the James for the past 38 years and doesn't like braided line at all. He says it will break easer than mono and I think I would have to go along with that. Just in tying knots I have found the braided line will break much easier than mono when using pliers to snug the tag line on the knot. The mono leader absorbs the shock of sudden jerks and runs from the catfish, and gives the quality of abrasion resistance not found in braid. I have seen 30 lb test snapped into like it's nothing. My preference is at least a 40 lb mono test line with a 80 lb test leader, with the leader length ranging from 12-30 inches long.


The majority of catfisherman on the James use circle hooks, with very little damage to the fish. I use the 8/0 Gamakatsu Octopus Circle hook. I have heard that the Daichii Chunk Lite Circle in 7/0. is also a good choice. And I have been told of the Gamakatsu hooks have been straightened from time to time.

I had been using the Gamakatsu Octopus Circle 8/0 hooks with out a lot of complaints,

Owner SSW 10/0 circle hooks  are a great hook, but expensive.

I have been snelling all my hooks and then tie a palomar knot on the swivel.

Weights/Sinkers/Gill Nets:/

No Roll Sinker w/the clip from 2 to 16 oz. Contact Captain Hunter Tucker for this specialized sinker. Captain Hunter can also help with your gill net needs. He also tries to keep Dance's Sporting Goods, Colonial Heights, VA stocked with this style sinker and gill nets. Contact links below:

Captain Hunter Tucker
Website: HawgHunterCharters, LLC
Phone: 804-731-3552
Email: hawghunter76@hotmail.com

Click image for full view

    Disc Sinker w/the clip
Click image for full view

How much is enough? On the James , 10 oz weights should keep you on the bottom but I have seen up to 14 oz weights being used. Most fisherman use a sinker slider and change the sinker according to what the tide is doing but no less than 4 oz. I use the disc up to 14 oz w/ the clip for the sinker slide.

GREEN TOP SPORTING GOODS and  FIN & SKIN BAIT SHOP has the River/Disc Sinker up to 10 ozs.

 Most guys are now changing over to the yellow heavy duty thicker walled
sinker slides for the
heavier sinkers. Most tackle shops now have them in
stock or you can find them on line.



Sinker Slide w/the
Duoloc Snap
Click small images for full view

These thicker walled sinker slides last longer with the heavier sinkers.




Don't skimp ... buy some rated at 110lbs for saltwater fishing. Also, don't forget to pick up some beads to protect your knots from those enormous weights!. Sometimes when ordering swivels even though they may be rated at a 100 lb test or more the ring could be a little on the small  side making difficult or even impossible to tie the desired knot with a 80 lb test leader or better.
I have used the Rosco Barrel Swivels - Black finish, # 38-482-567-00, 350 LB, 1-1/8", SIZE 4/0, 24 PACK, from Bass Pro.


This rig allows the fish to pick up the bait and move a
little without feeling the resistance of the weight.

  Landing Net


..don't forget it.....a Salmon Net works well....expect to catch that fish of a lifetime

A Frabill Landing Net is hard to beat sizes up to 29" x 34" and that's not to big for a 100 pound  Blue Cat!!!

The Camera....The Camera.....bring it along: !

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