Prime Cuts-Catfish Cutbait

Cut fish is, hands down, one of the best baits on the planet for catching monster catfish!  Fresh, frozen, or rotten, these are baits every catfish angler should give a try.  Probably the most common questions I hear from new catfishermen that want to try cut bait, is how to cut it and how to hook it.  There are several different ways to cut fish for bait.  Sometimes, fish will prefer one cut over another and some, work better in certain situations.  Here we will cover a few good ways to cut and hook cutbait and, why some cuts work best in certain situations.


One of my personal favorites!  Fish heads work great for big  fish and can be fished with nearly any rig, in water fast and still.  Just cut your bait fish of choice behind the gills or pectoral fins.  This cut can be hooked through the lips and up through a nostril, through the eyes, or through the top corner near the cut.  I personally usually hook through the eyes unless it is a very large bait, in which case, I hook through the lips.


Another top choice for many catfishermen.  As with heads, steaks can be fished with success using nearly any method, in any type of water.   Steaks are cut vertically behind the head of the fish, through the spine, and may be cut in any thickness.  A steak may be an inch up to 5 inches or more in width, depending on the bait size and the size of the fish you are targeting.  A hook can be placed anywhere along the perimeter of the bait, just be sure to go through both layers of skin.  This will help keep it on the hook during casting and when fish strike it.

Gut Pockets

(I will get some pic up soon!)

Gut pockets are simply just the entire gut section of a baitfish.  They can be fished with any method and can be very effective even if other baits are not producing.  To start this cut, turn the fish on its back(vertical).  Cut through the belly, just behind the head, and stop at the spine.  Next run your knife through the fish, toward the tail, staying against the spine.  Hook the pocket across the opening through both outer skins.  This will keep the guts from being slung out on a cast.


This is a cut I do not use often but, it can be especially effective when fishing in current or even drift fishing.  When hooked properly, it can appear similar to live bait and gives off a decent scent trail.  To make this cut, lay the fish on its side and make a cut behind the head in to the spine.  (You can also start at the tail and cut up to the gills)  Turn the knife sideways and cut back to the tail  staying right next to the spine. (this method will include rib bones)  To fillet with no ribs, start just behind the head at the mid point of the baitfish.  Cut down the center, folding the meat back and scraping the ribs with the knife tip.  Once you have all the meat off of the ribs, just cut down to the tail.  I have seen many people repeatedly thread a fillet onto a hook like a worm. This will work at times but, in moving water, being hooked once or twice with a “tail” trailing the hook will make it appear to swim making it very attractive to passing catfish.


This is a great cut for small baitfish that just don’t have alot of meat on them.  With large baits, it is also great for targeting very large catfish.  This cut works well in about any situation but, works similar to a fillet in moving water and can mimic a live fish.  To make this cut, start at the tail and cut towards the head making sure to stay next to the spine with the blade.  Cut through the center of the fish and stop just behind the gills.  Hook this through the eyes or nose and take the tail end of the cut, pull it up, and hook the end.  This will expose the entire gut pocket.

Catfish love cut baits!  If you are not including cut fish in your bait arsenal, you are definitely missing out on some great fishing.  Give these cuts a try and let us know how you do.

Feel free to post pictures of your catch on’s Facebook page too!


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

14 Responses to “Prime Cuts-Catfish Cutbait”

  1. James Keyes
    September 11, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

    Hi…On the Butterfly, I butterfly both sides, then cut the middle out to where you have nothing but the head and 2 flaps…this leaves guts and 2 flaps leaving a realistic looking bait…thats another way to do it…works GREAT on the Mississippi River for large blue or flatties!!

    • Catfishadmin
      September 11, 2011 at 7:51 pm #

      I will definitely have to try that! Thanks James!

      • Torvaldsberg
        January 11, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

        When using bluegill, I often( if they are big enough, fillet them. The fillets go in the cooler to keep the wife happy. Then I cut diagonally from the back of the head down to the start of the anal fin. This leaves a head/gut-pocket combo that the Flats love, especially in the early spring.

        • Catfishadmin
          March 23, 2012 at 6:43 pm #

          We have caught some really nice blues using the head and filleted carcass. A good friend Shelby caught one that went 40lbs on the carcass of what was a 5 lb common carp. Biggest bait I ever saw anyone use lol.

  2. J. Prete
    August 16, 2012 at 10:36 am #

    A bait I always had real good luck on growing up was drum gills. I don’t have the time I used to have to fish, but I used to catch loads of big flatheads on these. I would catch 5-10 drum, “I think they are also called silver perch not sure” and break their neck back as you do a trout. You then stick your fingers up behind the gill closest to the head and cup your thumb around the chest plate where the other side of the gills attatch. Rip that whole chunk of meat out with the gills. Run a circle hook through the center of the gills without actually hooking into them and hook through the chest meat. This bait will stay on the hook and remain useful all night cat after cat. It works best if you are fishing moving water such as a dam or hot water discharge from a power plant, but I have also caught many on it in lakes.

    • Catfishadmin
      August 22, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

      Excellent Jason! I have never caught one on cut drum but, I do catch as many on cut bait as I do live. The key is FRESH bait! If you get out again soon, please get us some pics of the process if you can. Thank you Sir!

  3. Dave Ekelman
    October 13, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

    I caught a 32lb blue cat on a gob of night crawlers.For channel cat I
    Use spoiled shrimp and they go crazy over it.

  4. Anthony
    August 3, 2013 at 10:38 pm #

    have you ever used XXX Blood bait? ive seen a few videos from team fatboyz and they swear by it. Ive only been able to find it online and its expensive.

    • Catfishadmin
      August 6, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

      Yes I have. I have had luck with it when nothing else would catch fish but, I only had a couple tubs. I say, its worth a shot.

  5. Charlie
    September 7, 2013 at 9:51 pm #

    If I am cutting bluegills, how big should the pieces be? I feel the cut bait I have now is too big.

    • Catfishadmin
      September 17, 2013 at 8:02 pm #

      You would likely be surprised at what even a small catfish can actually fit in their mouths. It really depends on how aggressive the bite is and if you are targeting large cats. Sometimes even bigger fish will prefer a smaller bait but I do not believe that is usually the case. We do on occasion throw baits up around the 1 lb mark and the size of an open hand. What species are you after and do you have any idea what sizes of fish are common in your particular body of water?

  6. T.Clark
    October 2, 2015 at 11:02 pm #

    I am SO thankful for the butterfly cut and have caught MANY a flathead on them. I will have to try these others mentioned as well.

    Thanks for all you do for all of us addicted to catfishing.



  1. Catfish Cut Bait - July 17, 2011

    […] Cut Bait Here are a few of my favorite cuts. How I like to cut, hook, and fish my cutbaits. Prime Cuts-Catfish Cutbait Attached […]

  2. Team Catfish 8/0 Double Action Hooks | Catfish Training-How to catch catfish. - November 16, 2012

    […] the fish are biting short and wanting smaller baits.  We have had great success with them using cut baits and live baits as […]

Leave a Reply