You want to make some homemade catfish bait?  Yeah,  It’s a great idea and I have made my own catfish bait several times.  Be prepared because some homemade catfish baits are very intensive, made with hard to get or expensive ingredients and can be very time consuming.  However I have made this really simple,  and you can still make some great bait.  

If you want to purchase some Catfish bait,

Just go directly to the end of this post

I have several good brands you can choose from or you can use them to compare how good your own recipe mix is. 

In order to help you out in the best way I can. I have researched a ton of homemade catfish bait recipes. I sorted through different ways to make homemade catfish baits and listed out all the ingredients. I even identified which ingredients seem to be most common in almost all of the homemade catfish baits and prioritized all these so you can see what you should use to make your own catfish bait at home.

First, What are the Different types of catfish bait ?

Catfish bait comes in several different types. You have probably heard of dough ball, punch baits, dip baits, blood baits and stink baits. So let’s review the differences in bait type so you can decide what kind of homemade catfish bait you want to make.

Catfish Dough Bait

Dough Ball

A firm ball of bait that can be placed over a hook. Some type of grain is used as the main ingredient or thickening agent. Dough ball is usually mixed, kneaded and may be boiled. It is a simple quick and easy type of bait to make and is not too messy or stinky to use.

Catfish Punch Bait

Punch Bait

This is a thick sticky bait. It will stay on a treble hook but it’s best to use a spring over the hook shaft which will help to hold the bait on the hook. To load your hook with bait you punch your hook down into bait. This is where it gets the name “Punch Bait”.

Catfish Dip Bait

Dip Bait

 A thin sticky bait which requires a bait holder worm or tube device over the hook. It is similar to the punch bait except that the bait holder is dipped and stirred in the bait. It is much thinner than a punch bait which is why the bait holder is required to keep the sticky catfish bait on the hook.

Catfish Blood Bait

Blood Bait

It’s just what is sounds like. Blood bait is made of primarily dried or coagulated blood. Prepared correctly the blood will harden and can be cut to stay on a hook. Blood can also be added as the main ingredient to other catfish bait recipes whereas they may also be regarded as a blood bait.

Catfish Stink Bait

Stink Bait

A Stink Bait may be any type of catfish bait that stinks. Most often the punch bait or dip bait are considered stink baits due to the strong smell. Although dough ball may stink, it may also have a sweet smell depending on the ingredients used so it is least likely to be considered a stink bait.

Catfish Soap Bait

Soap Bait

Soap bait is actually made with soap or may be entirely soap. Some soaps are good for catching catfish because they use lard or animal fat as an ingredient. You do not want to use any soap that contains deodorants or scents. Use only a pure natural soap such as Ivory or Zote brands. These are both known to be attractive to fish and the scent is slowly released into the water as they soak.

Catfish Bait Categories

Understanding what types of catfish bait there are, let’s consider the ingredients used that are most common and what appears to work the best or exists in the majority of catfish bait recipes.

Homemade Catfish bait Breaks Down Into Three Categories

  • Those that can be used alone such as meat, fish or coagulated blood.
  • Thickening ingredients, normally grains.
  • Flavor adders which can be condiments, spices or canned foods

What is the Most Used Ingredient in Homemade Catfish Bait?

I found in my research sorting through a number of different catfish bait recipes that the number one ingredient used in making catfish bait is Garlic

Garlic would be difficult to use alone, however it is mixed or blended into more catfish bait recipes than any other catfish bait ingredient. Garlic is a good flavor adder because of its strong scent. It will leach into the water and spread for long distances drawing catfish to your bait. For this one reason it would be good to add it into any homemade catfish bait recipe you make.

Homemade Catfish Bait Ingredients

Below are catfish bait ingredients listed in order from most used on top, to lesser used ingredients toward the bottom.  These ingredients found in multiple recipes are used by people who swear that their recipe to be the best. Most of these ingredients you can find in your house already. 

Stand-alone or main meat ingredients;

  • Cheese – any type of cheese, the smellier the better (also catches trout)
  • Chicken livers – may be aged in the sun
  • Hot dogs – This simple bait can be put directly on a hook and fished as is
  • Shad – Shad can be fished dead or alive as can any bait fish
  • Blood – coagulated blood will stay on a hook, fresh blood as a recipe ingredient
  • Worms – night crawlers or garden worms
  • Herring, Skip Jack, Minnows, Shrimp
  • Pork, Turkey liver, Bacon, hog brains

Grains; these are normally used to thicken your recipe.

  • Flour,
  • Bread or bread crumbs,
  • Corn meal,
  • Cornflakes

Flavor adders; condiments and spices

  • Garlic fresh or powder or salt
  • Anise oil
  • Salt
  • Jello – Cherry or strawberry (this mostly used to obtain a red color)
  • Sugar
  • Onion powder or onion salt
  • Dog food or Cat food
  • Molasses
  • Pizza seasoning or sauce
  • Cinnamon,
  • Vanilla, Eggs, Yeast, Peanut butter, soy sauce, tabasco
  • Soap – Ivory or Zote

How to make Homemade Catfish Bait

Professor Higbee's Stream and Lake MapsNow that we have the ingredients to choose from there are a variety of ways to make catfish bait. For dip baits or punch baits achieving a tough dough consistency is not critical. For these baits you can take a mix of the ingredients you want to use and blend them together crating a gooey sticky mix to use with a bait tube or sponge. If it is too thick add a little water.

Many recipes call for the meat or fish ingredients to be left out in the sun or stored for a period of time. This is will cause them to spoil or ferment. It will increase the “stink” factor. The time will vary but usually 3 to 5 days or more with some recipes allowing up to a year before they are used. Although this may make a difference it is not necessary to make a bait that will catch fish. You can experiment by making a large batch and splitting the mix. Use some immediately and store the rest to try later to find out if it is worth the wait and stink.

Many of us like to have a bait that can be rolled or torn into bite size pieces and placed on a hook. To do this take most any mix of ingredients and add flour. Work in enough flour a little at a time for the bait to thicken. With the right ratio of bait mix and flour you will be able to make a tough dough that will stay on a hook. If all the ingredients are dry a little water will help it all stick together.

Example Recipe Using Suggested Ingredients;

Sometimes it is easier to follow a recipe directly. Here is an example of a recipe, which I made myself, to show how you can use the information I have provided above. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Making Homemade Catfish Bait is messy business.

Select ingredients which you have available. I just went shad fishing yesterday so I have some fresh shad available to use for bait. It will be my main ingredient. I also see that cheese and garlic are at the top of their list. Since I have both of these I’ll include these in my recipe. Now, just to make it interesting I’ll also add some salt and molasses. Since this is the first time I have made this recipe I’ll call it, Ricks Mix #1;

To determine quantities use you own judgment. The bulk of the bait is made from the main ingredient. Use a lot if you want to make enough for several fishing trips. Not so much if you just need a little. Add just enough flavor adders to insure it will be well saturated with the flavor you want to come out.  A mix of liquid and dry ingredients helps determine the consistency of the bait.

Ricks Mix #1

  • 1/4 lb shad
  • ¼ lb shredded cheese (Colby jack in this case)
  • 1 tbls salt
  • 2 tbls garlic powder
  • 1 tbls molasses

Add Flour to thicken


Put all ingredients into a bowl except the flour. Using your hands squeeze the ingredients kneading it all together.

(I found that the cheese is in clumps and I would like for it to mix in better so I put the bowl and mix in the microwave for about 45 seconds to soften the cheese.) If it is too hot to handle use a wooden dowel or spoon to crush and mix all the ingredients together. (At this point you’ll find it is very soft and sticky)

Make into dip bait;  Add more liquid either water or more molasses and stir until you reach the consistency desired.


Make into a dough ball;  Sprinkle the bait ball with flour and knead with your hands. Continue this process until the dough gets thick and tough enough to stay on a hook. (It took me about 5 – 10 minutes adding flour and kneading the dough until ready)

Go fishing or place the dough in a plastic bag and keep it in the fridge. If it dries out before you use it you can add a little water and work it some more to restore it to the desired consistency.

You can use this process for just about any variation of the ingredients you choose to use.

Select a main ingredient from the stand alone list and a few other adders to mix up your own concoction.

Every ingredient on the lists are heavily used in many known recipes. I did not list every ingredient I found. Those not commonly used in more than one recipe are not in the list.

I am confident that any jngredient combination will catch most catfish. These kinds of baits work best on Channel Cats, White catfish and Bullheads however you can also catch Flatheads and Blue catfish on stink or dough bait. I am sure however that some variations will work better than others in your lake or stream. It is best to experiment and find what works best for your fishing spot.


Here are some Catfish baits you can purchase. These are tested and proven to attract Catfish.  I like to use them as a good standby if I don’t have any of my own, but these are great to use for testing against your own special catfish bait mix to find out which mix works the best.

Buy these today and see if you can’t make your own bait that will beat these proven favorites!


Berkeley Catfish bait Chunks – Berkley Catfish Power Bait Chunks

Research shows that catfish respond three times faster to PowerBait Catfish Chunks than to standard dough baits. The three flavors have been formulated specifically to appeal to catfish. And the preformed chunks make rigging quick and easy without the mess associated with other catfish offerings. Flavors: Fish, Blood, and Liver.


Magic Premium Catfish Bait – Magic Premium Catfish Bait –

This bait is fortified with Ultrabite catfish-specific pheromone attractant that stimulates catfish to feed. 6 oz. Colors: (001)Natural Chicken, (002)Liver Brown, (003)Midnight Blood.



Yeh Mon Catfish Bait – Yeh Mon!!! Catfish Bait –

Are you tired of the stink, fish oils, tissues or extracts found in most stink baits If so, pick up a package of Yeh Mon! Freshwater Catfish Bait and prepare to be amazed. Its proven scent technology makes the scent activate in the water, leaving you with clean smelling hands before and after you put it on the hook. It features a fiber mesh that keeps the bait together to survive numerous strikes, catches and re-casts.


shad catfish bait

  – Catfish Charlie, Catfish Dip Bait –

This 12-oz. tub of bait is moldable to stay on any hook or baitworm. Available in the flavors big cats have taken a liking to. Available: Cheese, Blood, and Shad.



Catfish dynamite dip bait  – Strike King Catfish Dynamite Dip Bait –

Big catfish hunt by scent and feel in murky water. This dips powerful scent will bring them in from a distance. In testing its proved to be one of the most effective dips on the market.



  - Gulp, Catfish Dough -  – Gulp , Catfish Dough –

With Berkley Catfish Dough, anglers have the most potent scent dispersion ever in an artificial bait. Formulated to be long-lasting and stick to the hook. Flavors: Bloody Blood, Bloody Chicken Liver, Bloody Shad