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Limb Lines?

7195 Views 14 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  KYBOY
Anyone use limb lines for catching catfish?

Just in case the terminology might sound different than what you call them I'm referring to lines tied to limbs along the bank of a creek or river usually. Could be done with a lake that has both over hanging limbs and catfish tho.

Bait them up and go away to come back later and take off the catfish you've caught. Sometimes it will be something other than a catfish too. What else have you caught on limblines?

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Yeah, we used to do that quite a bit. Caught my biggest one using limblines (about 26 lbs.). Anything else could come up, turtles, gar or carp. We would bait with goldfish and run them a couple of times a night. I've been looking at the new circle hooks and wondering if they would be good for limblines or trotlines. Seems to me that the may work pretty well. I might have to start up again just to test it out.
:D Limblines or my favorite! trotlines would come next. Nothing like coming up on a set & watching a limb 3 or 4 inches across being pulled under water by a big ole Tabby! :wink: Then comes the fun part......... grab the line & get that big sucker in the boat :eek: :shock: OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH YEAH!!!!!!!

Tabbycat Elkins 8)
We set these (well call them "bush lines" but same thing) every summer when we go camping. Up until last season you could set up to 3 per person with only a standard fishing license. Now you need to buy tags, but I'll likely go ahead and get the tags as it's so much fun.

Anyways, we usually will put beef heart on our lines, though to tell the truth I've seen cats might so much stuff that I couldn't really say what works best. Each summer we will (as a group of 12 people or so) nab a few hundred pounds of catfish. Never caught anything besides catfish though. Mostly blues, with some flatheads and "swamp" cats every now and then.
I fill my freezer with flathead and channel cat fillets using limblines every spring.

To answer the question about catching things other than catfish....well let me think a bit. Ive caught large mouth bass, crappie, softshell turtles, snapping turtles, those ole common water turtles, eel, water turkeys, great blue heron.......that's all I can think of right now.
If you don’t have a handy overhanging limb in the perfect spot you can also find a green limb about the size of your pinky finger and stick it in the sand about 2 or 3 feet deep and tie your line where the limb meets the bank. We use limbs like this with green tops so you can see them shake when fish are on them. This also makes your lines easy to spot for you and it keeps other fisherman from realizing it’s a set line.

You might think a fish can pull these lines out of the ground but they cannot. I’ve caught a few 30# fish using this method on the Yazoo river and have never lost a line. The only time you might lose a line is if you hook a good size logger-head turtle, something that can get their feet on the ground a pull. The key is to use a limber green stick and tie your line at the dirt level. This works really well.

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While I can't admit to setting for catfish, I can admit to setting lines for turtles. Around here, the biggest river you are bound to find is about 50ft across at the most. I make up about 25-30 lines, and then walk down the brokensword creek, setting lines in all the quiet spots along the way. I use beef cheeks cut from cattle at the meat packing plant I work at during the summer. I usually let them fermint for a couple days, and hook the cubes(about 1.5" across) a couple times. The ligaments in the meat keeps the meat on the hook good, even if there are crawdads around. Usually have the best of luck in farm ponds, with the biggest caught at 26lbs. Most are snappers, with the occasional softshell outta the rivers/creeks.

How are the limb lines rigged, how many lb. test line, hook size, what type of line do you use, how much weight do you use, favorite bait ect. I live about 10 miles from the Ohio river in SW Pa. and a fellow told me he caught a 4 1/2 foot catfish there and I would like to try limb lines
drags said:
How are the limb lines rigged, how many lb. test line, hook size, what type of line do you use, how much weight do you use, favorite bait ect. I live about 10 miles from the Ohio river in SW Pa. and a fellow told me he caught a 4 1/2 foot catfish there and I would like to try limb lines
We generally just go out and find a nice green limb hanging over the water. 1" thick is about perfect. Then take about 50-60# test, and tie a nice large hook on it (sorry, it don't know numeric sizes as I just buy them after looking at them. The round part of the hook should be about the size of a quarter though). The line should be about 4 to 5 feet long. I very often put no sinkers on the line, and if I do, it's not much. Usually the bait will drag it down. As for bait . . . catfish will bit almost anything :). The best bait we've used was cut up beef heart. Very often though we'll just take the fish heads from smaller fish we've cleaned, and hook the heads onto the lines. Check your lines every 5 or 6 hours and the limb will be tugging (usually anyways) if they're a fish on there. Largest I've ever caught myself on a limb/bush line was about 35-40 lbs. A guy at our camp caught one about 70 lbs one year though.
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Hi MgMorden
When you use the 50 or 60lb. test line is it the mono or the black braided type line? If you are using only 5 or 6 feet of line you would be in shallow water wouldn't you? I thought you would tie the line to the limb and throw it out as far as you can. In you opion which way is better?
Thanks Drags
Tying to tree limbs works well where there's tree limbs to tie to, but I do my limblining where there are no trees.

I cut poles that are somewhere around 12-14 ft. long and slender. I've used willow, hickory, birch, persimmon, and mimosa. I like willow best, but so do the beavers, so if I use willow, I'm going to loose some to the beavers. They don't seem to bother the other types of limbs much.

I stick the poles in the mud, and wire them to old submurged stumps. I limbline flooded creek channels where lakes have been flooded, and my poles are far from the shore line for the most part. The stumps are where trees once lined a creek.

I like 180 pound test tarred line, a one once round sinker above a real large swivel. I don't remember the size of the swivel, but they aren't the ones you usually find at the local tackle shop....they came from a place called Memphis Net, there a website for it. My weight and swivel are close to the surface, and some might be a foot or so below the surface. I put my hook, on a loop below the swivel. I can change hooks easily like that, and hooks need to be checked often because the points and barbs will deteriorate pretty quickly over the time they are in the water.

I used to use 7/0 kahle hooks, but had alot of trouble with them being straightened or being broken, and switched to a saltwater circle hook....I can't remember for sure , but seems like they were 12/0's. They worked well, but the points and barbs still didn't last long.

I tried some new eagle claw hooks last spring, I believe the line of hooks are called pinnacle, and they are stainless steel circle hooks. I like them very well, and I believe I used the 12/0's.

Sorry I'm not positive about some things here, but my stuff is down in the barn. I can check things later if you really need more detail. You can find those stainless hooks on the Eagle Claw website.

I catch some nice fish, and even though it seems like I use some big equipment, I still get my ass whipped. I have hooks broken off, lines broken, poles broken. About the only thing that hasn't failed are those big swivels and the stainless hooks.

I use live perch, bream, bluegills....whatever you wanna call em. All sizes from about 3 inches to as big as they get. If I don't use live bait, I'm just feeding the turtles.
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Use limb lines for cats on Mo. river. drive boat up to set and check. if you use blood or liver you will catch cats, if craw fish or worms, bass, white bass, gar, carp, sturgeon, saugar, or anything else that swims in Mo. river. As a matter of fact, it was in the paper that a bull shark was caught in the Mo. river around St. Jo. Big one too.
Have also used limb lines to catch gators when I lived in Lafitte La. Used rotten chicken, that was their favorite. My friend had a licence to catch gators because he owned land. Got a 12' one day. His biggest is a 14'. It was quite an experience in a 16' boat.
Hey Guys, bush lining is a favorite of mine, I'd rather bush line than fish with a rod and reel. 7/0 mustad is my favorite hook, the gamakatsu octopus 4x 7/0 worked good but if you run them for a few days running the darn barbs rusted clear off! the mustads need to be sharpened when you get'em but they really hold up well.

Hey P.Dog, what kind of leader material did you guys use down there for them gators? What size hook did you use? Have to have some awful heavy equipment to hold them buggers I'm sure!
Take it easy
The hermit
Hey Hermit,
If I recall they just used a stout braided line, it was black, can't say what it was made of. For a hook it was a big one, about 2" inside diamiter. And hook had to be made of plain steel. Because when you hook a small one, you just cut the line and the biologists say that the gator stomach acid will disolve it in 6 mos. they say it does not hurt them. I guess they are as tough as they look.
We use limblines a lot. I prefer black tared line with a pyramid or bank sinker with a octopus circle.
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