Santee rigs are terrific for catching catfish. They keept the bait off the bottom, and when built with a swivel clip they permit the bait to move and turn gently in current. Retailers sell Santee rigs, and you can also make them with monofilament. Which is what I did for a while.
But making a Santee rig with steel wire offers serious advantages: (1) steel line is super strong; (2) the vinyl coating means it is easy to clean; and (3) steel line does not develop memory (twists/bends) or fray like monofilament, nor does it tangle around underwater structure (like branches).
I should add that using a heavy swivel at the end of this means you can easily swap out hooks, depending on the size of catfish you are chasing.
The components are very inexpensive and they all can be bought on Amazon:
- 24- to 36-inches of vinyl-clad stainless steel wire (90-pound test)
- 2 crimp sleeves (make sure the sleeve is the right size for the wire!)
- 1 two-and-a-half-inch peg float
- 1 heavy barrel swivel (1 per rig)
- 1 heavy swivel clip
- 1 pair of wire crimpers
- 1 pair of wire-cutters (if your crimpers do not have a cutter)
As I note in the video, please watch a video on how to crimp properly if you are not experienced at crimping. It is easy to learn, but do it wrong and your crimp will fail—which means your rig will fail.
Once you get the handle of making one of these rigs, you can knock them out in 3 to 5 minutes. And if you want to pimp your rig a bit, consider adding plastic beads on both sides of the peg float. They can add a rattling sound that may draw more catfish.
By the way, if you are new to catfishing—yes, you DO need to use a weight to get this rig to the bottom. So, on your rod line attach a slider-clip above heavy swivel-clip (same as the one above). Clip a 2- or 3-ounce sinker (pyramid or disc) to the slider.
Voila—you are done. Bait the big hook with cut bluegill, shad, or blue catfish (the bloodier the better) or stinky chicken bait.