How To Make Homemade Catfish Bait? (10 Best Recipes)

How To Make Homemade Catfish Bait? (10 Best Recipes)

Since catfish spend the majority of their time at the bottom of waterways, where visibility is minimal, they must rely on their senses of touch and smell to find food. Catfish have an especially keen sense of smell. They are attracted to baits with strong aromas. For making catfish bait at home, many anglers have preferred recipes. The secret is to test out various recipes to see which one works best for you.

Why Can’t I Find Good Homemade Catfish Bait Recipes?

First and foremost, when someone creates and produces bait using a formula or a recipe that has been passed down, it typically involves them selling the finished product and they are not eager to divulge the trade secrets that they have worked so hard to perfect.

The bottom line is that there aren’t many significant differences between baits. You can create a formula on your own after dissecting the fundamental ingredients.

You are probably not going to be able to copy a bait that is sold in stores exactly. The businesses that produce these goods have been honing them for years. They are fully aware of what makes them function, what must be done to bring out the best in them, the precise proportions of the ingredients to be used, the appropriate amount of time to let the ingredients sit, and so forth. When you’re selling it and have had years to perfect the process, it’s a fine-tuned one.

However, you can create your own basic recipe, modify it by adding or removing ingredients, and experiment to see what lures fish and what doesn’t until you have it down pat.

Are You Really Interested In Creating Your Own Homemade Catfish Bait?

To determine whether making your own homemade baits is worthwhile for you, you must first ask yourself that question.

  • Would you rather spend your time making baits or fishing?
  • Would buy a bait that has been tried and true and you know will work be preferable?
  • Are you willing to spend money on a project that may or may not succeed?
  • Is buying something already made cheaper or making you’re own more expensive?
  • Will there be a location where you can make it without it being a nuisance if you decide to make your own “stink bait”?
  • Are you willing to invest the necessary time to truly make your own catfish bait the proper way (the MOST effective “stink bait recipes” do not take only a short amount of time to prepare)? The majority call for ingredients to sit either together or apart for extended periods of time.

Many of the producers of the best baits on the market, in my opinion, are people I know. I have observed many of these manufacturers creating their goods, and I am fully aware of the components of some of them as well as the precise manufacturing procedures. A LOT of work goes into making catfish bait.

The Three-ingredient Secret To Homemade Catfish Bait

It’s no secret that catfish bait recipes can be closely guarded, but after trying dozens upon dozens, we’ve discovered that the best ones share some characteristics that enable them to be variations on a few basic themes.

  1. The first common element is a stinky protein, whether that’s sun-ripened minnows, over-ripe cheese, or just livers that have been left out to turn.
    To add protein to homemade catfish baits, even basic hotdogs can be used.
    When properly processed, cheese and liver make a pungent bait that is among the most frequently used proteins in catfish bait recipes. But keep in mind the simple substitutions, like sardines or dog and cat food.
  2. The second is a thickening agent. This can be flour or bread in some situations, but in others, desiccating the protein and firming it up can be accomplished by simply adding more salt.
    The best flour for dough baits is flour, but you’ll need to knead it for 10 to 15 minutes to get the sticky glutens that give it its distinctive texture.
    Cattail fluff alone is the best punch bait, bar none. It quickly thickens your bait into a solid, sticky mass when added.
    Nothing makes a better thickening agent for punch baits than cattail fluff.
    Oats and cornflakes, which are thickening agents, are better avoided because carp are more likely to be drawn to them.
  3. The final element is an additional flavor or scent. Blood, sardine oil, anise extract, and a number of other ingredients can also be used in place of the frequently used garlic, among a number of other options.

As you can see from this, you can make a successful homemade catfish bait if you use one of each ingredient and modify the ratio to achieve the consistency you desire.

The 10 Best Homemade Catfish Bait Recipes

There are many different catfish bait recipes, both easy and difficult. Many variables can affect how effective they are. Adapt recipes as necessary and try whatever works best.

Minnow Jelly Catfish Bait


  • 1 lb of minnows that have been allowed to rot for about a day
  • ¼ cup of water
  • 1 box of Jell-O. Most anglers recommend cherry
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese or other hard cheese
  • 3 tbsp garlic salt
  • 3 tbsp onion salt
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 cup bread or cracker crumbs
  • Flour as needed


  • Add all of these ingredients to a food processor and mix
  • Dump into a bowl and add flour as necessary to create a dough
  • Using a treble hook, form the dough into small balls. Extras can be stored in bags in the fridge
  • NOTE: This bait may not work with other fish species

Simple Garlic Livers Catfish Bait


  • 1 container of garlic salt
  • 2 lbs chicken livers


  • Line a cookie sheet with tin foil
  • Cover with a layer of chicken livers
  • Sprinkle liberally with garlic
  • Layers should be repeated until all of the livers and about half of the garlic is consumed.
  • Set aside for 3–4 hours, preferably outside. AVOID SETTING IN DIRECT SUNLIGHT.
  • Place mixture in a container like a bucket
  • Stir in half of the remaining garlic
  • For a few days, let the mixture sit covered. It is best to leave this outside of the house because it will smell.
  • Before you’re prepared to go fishing, combine the remaining garlic.

The garlic gives this mixture its flavor. The hook will stay on the liver, which serves as bait. The liver will have been dried out and made harder by the salt.


The Lunch Special Catfish Bait


  • 6 slices of white bread
  • 4 tbsp of peanut butter
  • 3 beef bouillon cubes
  • 3 slices of lunch meat
  • A sleeve of saltine crackers
  • 3 tbsp each of garlic salt and onion salt


  • Melt the peanut butter in the microwave until it is a liquid
  • Dissolve bouillon cubes in ¼ cup boiling water
  • Add ingredients to a food processor
  • Mix until smooth
  • Seal and allow to cool
  • Roll the mix into balls and set on treble hooks

Cheese Liver Catfish Bait


  • 8 oz of chicken liver
  • 1 lb of cheese
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 whole, small catfish bait fish such as bluegill or shad
  • One can of dog food


  • Chop the chicken livers
  • Melt the cheese in the microwave
  • Mix the chopped liver and cheese together
  • Add to a food processor
  • Toss in the garlic powder, dog food, and bait fish
  • Add flour as needed to thicken
  • Blend the ingredients until completely pureed. Add more flour if necessary to create a doughy consistency

This mixture is relatively simple. You’re done when the mixture reaches the proper dough-like consistency. You can start fishing right away by simply attaching it to a hook. In the refrigerator, keep any leftovers. Don’t worry if you don’t have any chicken liver on hand. Any type of meat might work in this recipe.

Beer Meal Catfish Bait


  • 1 can of beer. Ideally a stout or something strong with a big flavor
  • 1 lb of oily fish. Tuna, shad, or even rotten minnows
  • 3 cups of cornmeal
  • 3 cups of flour
  • 2 cups of oatmeal
  • 8 ounces corn syrup
  • Chicken livers, shrimp, or other meat


  • Chop up fish and livers or shrimp into small chunks
  • Add all ingredients to a large bowl
  • Mix thoroughly. You want to create a thick batter, like peanut butter
  • If more beer is required to thin, do so. Use milk if the beer is gone
  • For two weeks, leave it outside covered. Check the consistency every few days and add liquid if necessary

Clean Catfish Bait


  • ½ cup of sugar
  • ½ cup of water
  • 3 bars of Ivory Soap


  • Dissolving sugar in a pot of water on the stove at medium heat
  • Continue to heat over low to medium heat
  • Use a cheese grater to grate the soap into the sugar water
  • Mix the soap until it’s dissolved and continue to add more until it’s all melted
  • Add mixture to ice cube trays
  • All to set until firm but still malleable enough to come out of the trays without breaking
  • Remove cubes and cut them into bait-sized chunks
  • Store in an air-tight container

Even though it sounds strange, ivory soap works well as catfish bait. Ivory must be used because catfish prefer it and it is also free of the majority of additives. Don’t let the mixture solidify in the ice cube trays, please. When you try to remove firmly set soap, it will break. This works best with silicon ice cube trays because you can easily pop the cubes out of them.

Stank Catfish Bait


  • 2 lb of chicken livers
  • 2 lb of shad
  • 2 cups of bacon fat
  • 6 cups of oatmeal
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 2 cups of cornmeal
  • 1 package of Limburger cheese or other smelly cheese


  • Fill a bucket with chicken liver, shad, and the bacon fat
  • Cover loosely and place in the sun for at least 1 week or until the fish has dissolved
  • Add the remaining ingredients and stir thoroughly
  • Return to the sun for another week
  • Stir in cattail fuzz to thicken and make punch bait

Although this stink bait works well, caution must be exercised when using it. If it spills, the odor is very difficult to remove from the fabric. Use with caution.

Shad Dough Catfish Bait


  • Leftover shad. Ideally 20 or 30 small ones
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • ½ cup cornmeal


  • Add mix to a food processor and blend thoroughly
  • Pour into a sealed container and let sit for about a week
  • Mix daily
  • Use sponges as sponge bait

Dogs For Cats Catfish Bait


  • 1 package of hot dogs
  • 1 package of sugar-free cherry Kool-Aid
  • 1 jar of chopped garlic packed in oil


  • Chop the hot dogs into bait-sized pieces
  • Put the hot dog pieces in a large, zipper-sealed freezer bag
  • Dump in the Kool-Aid
  • Add 3 or 4 large spoonfuls of garlic
  • Fill the bag with enough water to cover the hot dogs
  • Allow it to sit in the fridge overnight
  • Use chunks as they are as bait

Blood Catfish Bait

Online, you can find a plethora of recipes for catfish bait made from blood. This is a recipe for a straightforward but potent catfish lure.


  • Blood, about a gallon. Beef, chicken, or turkey are all suitable options. You can get this from butchers or slaughterhouses


  • Pour the blood into large baking pans
  • Let the blood sit in a fridge for about a week until it is solid and rubbery
  • Remove from fridge and leave out in the sun until it crusts over
  • Cut into cubes and refrigerate

Although the blood is thin in poultry, it eventually coagulates more effectively. When submerged, they both bleed out readily.


We’ve tried and tested each of these catfish recipes, and we can attest to their success. Please be careful where and when you make these mixtures, store them carefully, and avoid opening ripened bait close to other people. Their divorce-inducing stench and mess are unreal.

As always, we’d love to hear from you. Do you have a go-to recipe or advice that we missed? 

Please let us know in the comments section below.