When I was a kid and learning how to fish… one of the first knots my Dad showed me was the clinch knot. I used that for years. And then I came across the palomar knot. It’s the go-to knot for me. It’s very strong and it’s very easy to tie.
Grabbing a catfish with your bare hands will definitely make you want to raise your hands in victory!
So, what exactly is “noodling?” Well, it’s basically catching a fish with your bare hands.VIDEOS BELOW…
Some call it hand fishing. Some call it grabbling (or grabblin) or hogging, and of course, some call it “noodling.”
The bottom line is that you are catching a fish with your bare hands!
Even though it might seem scary at first, it can be fun like you’ve never experienced when you #putahandN1!
So, How Can I Learn to Noodle A Catfish?
Do you want to learn to Put A Hand N1? Read below for a step-by-step tutorial!
Time needed: 10 minutes.
How to noodle for catfish:
Always have at least one person in the water with you, spotting you, when you noodle for catfish. Noodling can sometimes require you to go under water and holding your breath.
Don’t overestimate your ability to hold your breath. Also, catfish are extremely powerful fish, so be sure you don’t underestimate their strength. You may also want to wear gloves to protect your hands. They bite hard!
Find where they’re hiding…
Check under boat ramps and in holes in the bank. Some people also noodle in man-made catfish boxes that have been submerged to attract catfish during the spawn.
You can use a stick to probe in the holes. If there’s a catfish in the hole, it will often bite the stick with a distinct “thud.”
Stick your hand in the hole
This can be the most unnerving part of noodling catfish. Be sure to keep your 4 fingers together so you don’t break a finger unnecessarily (see picture below!) Slowly move your hand around in the hole and get ready to get bit!
Once the catfish bites your hand try to close your hand, grabbing its lower jaw. Once you get a grip on it, try pulling it from the hole.
Once you are able, slip your other hand up under the catfish’s gil plate (see picture below). This helps prevent the catfish from “rolling” and getting away.
The roll is very powerful, so don’t neglect this step. On larger fish, you may want to wrap your legs around its tail to lock it up.
There’s nothing like the rush of grabbing a catfish with your bare hands. You’ll be able to handle this step with no problem! And be sure to shout, “Put A Hand N1!”
What Do Other People Say About Hand Fishing?
You might have seen people noodling for catfish on social media. Here’s what some of our friends have to say about this crazy hobbyof catching catfish with your bare hands…
“I love noodling because there isn’t anything that can prepare you for it. Every aspect of noodling is based on your ability to conquer your own fears — you can’t prepare yourself and you can’t practice. There is a level of surprise that is untouched in any other sport or hobby, and the adrenaline rush is absolutely incredible.”
Aly “Aly from Alabama” Schreiber
“Noodling challenges me every time and the feeling of conquering fear is absolutely addicting!”
“There’s just something about the adrenaline rush of going into a hole blind, but expecting to get bit every time! That’s what I noticed the first time I tried it a 12 years old! From the first bite of a little 3 lb blue cat, I was hooked on that adrenaline rush! It’s become something of a passion for me, not just a hobby! Couldn’t really see myself going back to not doing it at this point!”
“It’s just the adrenaline you get from getting on a big fish, and the experience of having fun while doing it. But it all comes down to putting a hand N1 and that’s what I love the most!”
Since learning to noodle catfish, it’s now enjoyable to teach others how to grab big cats(those whiskers though!) Learn more below about how I learned to catch these dinosaurs with my bare hands!
You may have watched these videos and read the stories on this page and said, “There’s no way I’m ever doing that!”
However, you might be one that loves the thought of catching a catfish with your bare hands and wonder, “Is noodling legal in my state?”
Find out if noodling is legal in your state. If so, you can click “more info” to visit that state’s department of natural resources to learn more about the local game laws for legality and restrictions on hand fishing for catfish.)
Is noodling legal in my state?
click on your state
If you want to see pure outdoor joy, watch these videos below of our friends, Andrew Urban and Luke-Avery Urban and “Aly from Alabama” as they noodle some huge catfish! The videos below will make you smile… we promise!
Spawning time is the optimal time to noodle for catfish. We learned that water temperature is key in learning when the catfish spawn happens.
The female lays her eggs in hollow logs, crevices or caverns under the bank, and in holes or openings under boat ramps, which is where we would be searching.
Once the female catfish lays her eggs, the male guards the nest fiercely until the hatch occurs. We found out that they will bite down hard on anything entering the nest!
Spawning of catfish can vary depending on location, however, temperature ranges of 65-84 degree water temperature will trigger spawning action of blue cats and flathead catfish. Some believe 81 is the magical temperature for some species, but again, that can vary depending on location.
Well, whatever the perfect temperature is for each, we were able to experience both species in one outing!
At our first stop, I got to experience what it feels like to get bit on the hand when trying to noodle a catfish for the first time. I learned quickly that it’s best to keep your fingers together when trying to entice a catfish to bit your hand!
The first bite was actually on just my little finger. It sure didn’t feel very good! If you have never experienced how strong the mouth of a catfish is, hand fishing will help you understand very quickly!
Getting a big catfish to bite your hand and then pulling it out of a hole will get your heart beating at high speed!
Luke-Avery said he’s taken a lot of grown men noodling and most of the have yelled underwater the first time they get bit. I was determined to not do that. But, I will say I was certainly startled.
I tried multiple times to grab the catfish in that first hole and just could get a grip fast enough.
Finally, Luke-Avery said to let him try. He stuck his hand into the hole and got bit as well.
When he came up he said, “that’s a blue cat. They bite harder than a flathead catfish does.” (Flathead catfish are sometimes referred to as mud cats, yellow cats or shovelhead catfish.)
We left that hole and moved farther down the boat ramp. Eventually, we were both diving down in 10 feet of water checking other holes. Luke-Avery was able to pull out a nice blue cat.
To “put a hand N1” is a rush quite unlike any outdoor activity I’ve ever tried. I highly recommend it!
My first bare-handed catfish!
When we left there, we went to another ramp where Luke-Avery had noodled some 40+ pound catfish in prior years. We got bit several times but were having trouble landing any cats. Finally, I was able to get a hand N1 and land my first flathead catfish! It was a rush for sure!
It’s fun now to take others to experience this same rush (like when I took our friends from FOB Archery).
I certainly found out that noodling was definitely worth all the hype. Let’s just say that was the first of many trips to come!
So, what’s the big deal with deer hunting and all this “upwind” and “downwind” talk?
Every year hunters make mistakes by not paying attention to wind direction. You can have all the deer in the world on your property. You can have all the “best” and most expensive hunting gear.
But, if you don’t pay attention to wind direction, you will be severely limiting your chances of harvesting a whitetail.
So, let’s learn how to hunt the wind, so that you can give yourself the best chance for hunting success while in the field.
Wind direction doesn’t really matter when hunting whitetail deer… does it?
You’ve probably heard stories of the hunter who rolls out of bed, goes through the local breakfast joint drive-through and gets a greasy sausage biscuit and drives to the hunting land.
Then, gets out of the truck, rides his/her 4-wheeler straight to the bottom of the tree they plan to hunt, ascend, light up a cigarette and shoot the biggest buck of their life.
When it comes to harvesting mature whitetails, you had better be on your A-game when it comes to scent control and wind direction.
Then, when the subject of scent control and wind direction in deer hunting comes up, they point to the wall hanger in the den and say something like, “pffffft, I never pay attention to the wind and you can see I’m doing just fine.”
Sure these stories are out there, but don’t be fooled. A mature whitetail didn’t become mature by “throwing caution to the wind.” A whitetail’s nose is its best defense and you are one of the most offensive smells around.
So, if you hope to have sustained success in the deer woods, you need to be serious about scent control. For bowhunters, who typically need to get a close shot to get the kill, it’s even more critical.
So, if you’re still reading, you must want to learn about how to hunt the wind in a way that keeps your scent away from a buck’s nose.
When it comes to wind direction, the key is to stay “downwind” of the deer you are hunting. But, what does “downwind” and “upwind” really mean?
How to “hunt the wind”
Being “downwind” of a deer means that if you were looking straight at the deer you hope to shoot, the wind would be blowing in your face. Thus, the wind would be blowing your scent away from the deer.
Conversely, if you were “upwind” of the deer, the wind would carry your scent “downwind” toward the deer (not what you want).
So, you want the deer to be upwind of you, and you want to be downwind of them. Got it?
Let’s take a look at the diagram below, which might help clear things up.
In this graphic, the yellow indicates wind direction. If deer are typically in the location indicated in this graphic, a hunter would want to approach the stand location from the “downwind” side of the deer, so they would not be alerted by the hunter’s scent.
It’s not just about being in the stand
So, let’s say you are in the stand (or from the ground) and you’re overlooking a field where you know the deer feed. You are downwind of where you think the deer will eventually be. You are golden, right?
Well, maybe not.
You’re scent doesn’t just matter when you are in the deer stand. It matters well before you even sat down!
One thing deer hunters often ignore is how their entry and exit to and from their deer stand impacts the deer they are hunting.
So, the hunt actually begins before you take one step toward your hunting location.
When you are making your way to your deer stand, the wind is carrying your scent just as it does from the stand.
So, unless you want your hunt to end before it even gets started, you need to be sure that you have thought through the wind direction as it pertains to how you are going to get to your stand.
If you are going to use the wind to your advantage, your hunt begins long before you actually sit down in your stand.
This means you need to know where the deer typically are during the time you plan to enter. Are they bedding? Are they feeding? Where are these locations in regard to your entry route?
And it’s the same for your exit route. If your scent gets blown toward the deer when you leave your stand, you have just educated those deer to your location.
So, if you are trying to avoid danger, are you going to continue to go back to where the danger is every day? Well, neither would a deer. They are trying to stay alive and that means avoiding the danger, which in this case, is YOU!
So, be sure you are paying attention to wind direction as it pertains to your entry and exit routes.
Let’s be clear, you can never truly “fool a deer’s nose.”
But, there are some things you can do to make it harder for them to bust you.
You can never totally fool a buck’s nose, but you should do everything you can to make things more difficult for him to bust you. (photo by Jeff Coldwell)
Kill that clothing scent
Take a whiff of your laundry detergent. Smells nice, doesn’t it?
Not to a deer.
What might smell great to you could make a deer want to leave the county. So, what can you do about that?
It’s a good idea to wash your clothes in a scent-free detergent. Baking soda is also a good scent “eliminator.” There are lots of these types of scent-killing hunting detergents on the market, so you’ll have no trouble finding them at you local sporting goods store.
But, when it comes to deer hunting, that sweet smell of typical detergents that we discussed above… you want to avoid that in your shower soap as well.
Be sure to get a good scent-killing soap to use when showering before the hunt. And, don’t be afraid to be generous. You’re after an animal that lives and dies by its nose, so give yourself the best chance possible to NOT STINK!
Well, of course you want to have hunting clothing that will keep you warm in cold weather, but that doesn’t mean you have to wear all of it while you are walking to and from your stand or hunting location.
Plus, if you sweat on your way to the stand in an attempt to stay warm, you are going to end up being cold anyway when the sweat cools your body down. Nothing like being we in cold weather, right?
Many hunters are hunting on public land, which can mean a long trek to the final hunting destination. So, if you have a long walk to where you are headed and know you are going to work up a sweat, consider starting out by removing a layer or two. You might be a little bit cold when you start walking, but your body will warm up as you get moving.
Then, once you arrive at your stand or hunting location, you can put the layers back on, so that you will stay warm during the hunt. By doing this, you not only will be warmer, but you’ll avoid much of the odor that sweating causes.
Well, remember, wind direction is the most important scent control tactic you need to pay attention to, but if you can gain any kind of advantage in harvesting a whitetail (especially a mature buck), should you do it?
Use cover scents
The use of covers scents can be helpful in shielding a deer from your scent. There are a variety of cover scents available, such as racoon or fox urine, acorn scent, pine, etc.
Just be sure to native to your area. So, if there are no oak trees in your area and you use an acorn cover scent, this could have the opposite effect you are intending.
A deer may be on high alert when smelling this, since it is not a smell they are used to in that particular area. So, take care in choosing the “right” cover scent.
Find out what deer hunting and playing the lottery have in common. Stick with us for the N1 Outdoors N1 Minute.
Suppose I knew the five winging numbers to the lottery and all you had to do was guess the order they go into to win. How many of you would refuse that information and instead, decide to guess the numbers yourself and the order they go in?
Hopefully none of you, but that’s exactly what many deer hunters do every season by not paying attention to the wind.
Wind direction is critical in deer hunting
All the scouting and trail can picture is in the world won’t make up for poor planning when it comes to wind direction.
For you bow hunters out there, it’s even more critical. Always be aware of which way the wind is blowing, not only in regards to stand location, but also in relation to the entry and exit routes to and from your stand or hunting location. The last thing you want is for your hunt to end with deer blowing before it even gets started.
Stay downwind of the deer in all situations. For those of you not familiar with the terms “upwind” and “downwind,” an easy way to remember, is to be sure the wind is in your face when approaching and hunting your favorite trail or location.
Paying careful attention to wind direction certainly won’t help you win the lottery, but when combined with effective scouting, planning and accuracy, it will increase your chances of seeing and taking more deer.
We hope you have a great week and remember… “where the moments happen, we’ll meet you there.” We’ll see you next time.