For a true channel catfish challenge, tackle Canada’s whiskered giants on a fly rod
LINES AND LEADERS
Contrary to what many people believe, channel cats are not exclusively bottom-feeding scavengers. Rather, they’re top predators that feed throughout the water column. So, if you see cats slashing at baitfish on the surface, you don’t want to be stuck with just a sinking line.
I typically bring three different fly lines to the river, allowing me to fish the entire water column, top to bottom. For times when cats are actively feeding, I have a floating line to fish streamers. Then I have a Type 6 sink-tip line, which sinks at a rate of six inches a second. For this, I prefer Rio Products’ InTouch with a 15-foot density-compensated sink tip, although a Type 6 line with the standard 10-foot sinking tip will do, as well.
Finally, I also bring a Type 6 full-sink line. With the full-sink, it’s imperative to use a stripping basket to hold the coils of unused line you’ve stripped back. If you just drop the line at your feet, it will get snagged on the river bottom.
As for leaders, you don’t have to be fancy. There’s no need for tapered leaders, so my basic set-up is nine feet of 15-pound-test monofilament line. Of course, I shorten that when using a full-sinking line or lengthen it when using a floating line.