Using Liver for Catfishing Bait

Liver is one of the most widely used baits for catching catfish.  It is readily available nearly anwhere, inexpensive, and is known for catching large numbers of “eater-sized” catfish.  Livers strong smell and large amount of blood can call channel cat in from great distances.  Chicken or turkey livers are preferred but beef or just about any other animal liver will work.  Although liver is commonly used on a treble hook, in this article, we will show you a few ways to make it stay on a standard J or circle hook much better.  I do not like to use trebles as they are often swallowed making a successful release impossible.

Magic Thread

Nothing really magical about Magic Thread, this is simply elastic sewing thread.  It can be used to hold a chunk of liver on a J or circle hook very easily with no knots.

  1. Thread a piece of liver repeatedly on to your hook.
  2. Tear off a 6-8 in. piece of thread and begin wrapping it around your liver and hook.
  3. Continue wrapping until there is only an inch or so left, pull it tight, and go fish.  The elastic should hold without a knot.


While this method is somewhat laborious, it is one of the best ways of keeping liver on the hook.  Making these pouches is easy, inexpensive, and materials needed are easy to find.  You will need “magic thread”, scissors, panty hose or bait mesh, and of course liver.

  1. Take your liver out of the tub and try to shake off some of the blood.
  2. Using scissors, cut your livers up into bait-sized pieces.  1 1/2-2″ cubes or so.
  3. Cut the panty hose or bait mesh into 2-3″ squares.
  4. Place one piece of liver onto a square of panty hose or bait mesh.
  5. Pull the mesh tight around the liver and wrap the top with a few turns of thread to seal.
  6. Put all of the pouches back into the tub and refrigerate for your next trip.
  7. Hook the pouches once through the hose and catch some fish!


There are several ways of curing livers for catfish bait.  One good way is to simply dehydrate them in a food dehydrator.   When they are cast into the water they will rehydrate and begin distributing scent.   They can be stored in ziplock bags and cut into bait sized pieces as needed.  Dehydrated livers will keep for up to a year when packaged and refrigerated.  Another way to dehydrate livers is simply to place them on racks of hardware cloth and set them in the hot sun for a few days.  Livers can also be salt cured.  Salt curing takes less time than sun drying and also allows the option to add other flavorings.  Salt curing is commonly paired with a large amount of garlic powder, which in known for calling in channel catfish.

  1. Curing livers can be done on cookie sheets but, I prefer doing it on 2′x2′ racks made from hardware cloth
    that you can purchase online or at your local hardware store.  This will allow the moisture and excess blood to drain away reducing the cure time.
  2. Remove the livers from the tub and spread them out onto your rack being sure they are not touching each other.
  3. Cover the liver thoroughly in salt or in a salt and garlic powder mixture.
  4. When they become dark brown and no longer feel moist, flip them over and repeat.
  5. Continue this process until they feel like soft jerky and are not moist to the touch.
  6. Cut into bait-sized pieces and store them in ziplock bags in the refrigerator.

For the beginner catfisherman and to put some nice channels on the table, there are few baits as productive, easy to use, and readily available as liver.  Be sure to look at our other articles for more great catfishing bait ideas!

Do you use livers for catfishing?  Do you prepare them in a special way?  Please leave us a comment below.

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12 Responses to “Using Liver for Catfishing Bait”

  1. CJ
    July 17, 2012 at 10:14 pm #

    Any favourite dough baits?

    • Catfishadmin
      July 24, 2012 at 9:25 pm #

      I really have not used many dough baits. I have had great success with dip baits like Sonny’s, Secret 7, and Sudden Impact.

  2. Jack Merwede
    October 3, 2012 at 7:05 am #

    Problem solved with BaitBagZ!!

  3. Degfish31
    October 22, 2012 at 2:55 pm #

    1st- thats how i’ve been using the Pouches with liver
    2-elastic sewing thread i have some but haven’t got to try it yet
    3-Curing tried it but had better luck with the 1st one

  4. jeremiah anderson
    January 2, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

    liver is my go to bait for channel. never used anything to contain it on my hook. only flip it once in a blue moon. just learned how to use it and cuts down on prep time.

  5. Barry mattinson
    March 16, 2013 at 1:38 am #

    I also wrap my baits in panty hose to stop small fish stripping them ! But I wrap mine round foam so i have a floater then wrap them then put them to soak in the chosen bait flavour and leave to soak for 5 months

  6. Mark Mitchell
    August 10, 2013 at 12:19 pm #

    I do use chicken livers but I also get a fresh garlic clove, dice it up and put it in the chicken livers for at very least a week. I also use pantyhose to bait but when I do I will add a blood bait to the livers. This gives off a nice garlic chicken liver blood smell. They love it. Just got to watch for the turtles as they like it too unless your up for making some turtle soup.

  7. Dillen Wright
    December 28, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

    I agree on not using treble hooks. I use O Hooks for catfishin’ and a lot of times I have a hard time removing the hook because they some how magically swallow the O Hook just like a treble. Lol

  8. Elaine perry Verdin
    February 9, 2014 at 2:47 pm #

    Thank you for this info….I will use a dehydrator and go by these instruction. I may also try the panty hose material…
    I do appreciate your knowledge of cat fishing!!!! :-)


  9. catfish brown
    May 4, 2014 at 11:42 am #

    I use surgical tubing gauze with a circle hook,it works great.Never lose your bait while casting and the scent seeps through better than pantyhose.


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    [...] around the liver and pull tight. No need for knots. Also check this article I did a few weeks ago. Using Liver for Catfishing Bait Matt Bredfeldt Reply With [...]

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