Liver for Catfish Bait [Chicken, Beef, Deer, Pork, etc.?]

Liver for Catfish Bait

Catfish love anything that smells strongly, and baits that seem disgusting to you are a treat for that fish. Many anglers rely on that when choosing the best catfish bait.

Liver is one of the classics. It is widely available, easy to use, and can be used either alone or as in ingredient of DIY catfish baits.

Chicken liver for catfish bait is probably the most popular choice, but it is not the only one. Liver from various animals, even wild ones, is a good bait. It works so well because of high blood content and the ability to spread smell through water.

Of course, the efficiency of liver depends on your local waters and catfish species you are trying to catch, so make sure that you know where and when to use it.

Unlike some other species, catfish can be caught on a variety of baits, and those are chosen in accordance with their smell and taste, and not color and general appearance.

Here I will tell you more about using liver as catfish bait and share a simple recipe that will attract even the laziest catfish!



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What Does Catfish Eat in the Wild?

Catfish are not picky eaters, and they eat almost anything. Of course, their diet changes as they grow. Smaller fish eat small foods like algae, beetles, fish eggs, and insects.

As they grow, they start to change their diet. Catfish have no teeth and can eat only what fits into their mouth. When they gain some size, they start eating snails, worms, crustaceans, shrimps, and baitfish.

Very large specimens will eat anything, from larger baitfish, to frogs, and even birds and mammals that accidentally end up in the water. When food sources are reduced, they will even scavenge for food.

Grown catfish diet varies from species to species. Channels will eat almost anything, and this is why liver works the best for them. Flatheads mostly eat live prey, while blue catfish are something in between.

Can You Use Liver for Catfish Bait? [And Why Do Catfish Like it?]

Using liver for catfish is very productive. Whether it is chicken liver for catfish bait or even deer liver for catfish bait, they will love it. Of course, there are some differences between livers, and I will mention them in the next chapters.

Liver has a high blood content, and strong scent. Blood is lowly released, and it is carried by the water through great distances. Liver can attract catfish from a distance and that makes it so good. Smell is not the only feature, as smell needs a “carrier”. Blood is that carrier and it works excellent.

Liver can be used as it is, or you can even add a bit of garlic or similar spices to increase the efficiency. It is also a common ingredient of baits like stink bait.

But why do catfish love it? Well, catfish rely on their sense of smell and not sight to find food. So naturally, strong smells attract them. Their barbels are full of olfactory sensors that detect scents. All kinds of strong scents attract them, including cheese and similar smelly foods.

Liver for Catfish Bait - Chicken

How to Use Liver for Catfish Bait? [On Hook!?]

Although it is one of the most effective catfish baits, liver has one flaw, and that is firmness. Liver is soft and delicate. Depending on what kind of liver it is, firmness can vary, but majority of them are not as firm as many other baits.

Anglers use it on a hook, but it can fall off easily and cause many frustrations. To make sure that it stays on a hook, use bait thread. Bait thread is used to tie baits, and it looks similar to dental floss/sewing thread. You can buy it in many tackle and bait stores or order it online.

HOW TO: Take the liver and pierce it with a hook a few times from one side to another to conceal the hook. Then take a piece of bait thread and wrap it around to hold the liver in place. Tie it up, cut off extra thread, and you are ready to use the bait. Make sure that the hook point stays out of the liver so that fish can get hooked.

Some anglers use mesh for the same purpose, and that is also a good option. I prefer baiting thread. You can try both options and see what works better for you.

Here are some tips for easier use:

• Use only fresh and not defrosted liver. Freezing breaks the bond in tissues and that makes them even softer.
• Use them cold.
• Use barbed hooks (not barbless) if you don’t plan to release fish.
Cast gently.

What is the Best Liver for Catfish Bait? [Chicken, Beef, Rooster, Deer, etc.?]

Liver is affordable and widely available, at least chicken or beef.

Deer liver is mostly used by hunters who are also anglers and may not be the cheapest option. You can use any of those, but they all have some advantages and disadvantages.

#1: Chicken Liver for Catfish Bait

Chicken liver for catfish is great for many reasons. It has very high blood content, it can be bought in any supermarket, and catfish love it. When it comes to scent and attractiveness to fish, chicken liver is the best. However, it is very soft and delicate.

If you can, try to get rooster liver. It is equally effective but a bit stringer and easier to use on a hook. It even has a bit higher blood content. Turkey liver is the same. Basically, any liver from poultry is an excellent option.

#2: Beef Liver for Catfish Bait

Beef liver is another great option. Many anglers get them in local butcheries. But, similar as chicken liver, it is very soft. Anglers mostly use a bait mesh to hold it in place.

Beef liver for catfish bait works great because of high blood content, similar to rooster liver. Some anglers say that it stays on a hook better, but I don’t necessarily agree with that, as I always used thread with it. Channels love it, and together with chicken, it is my liver if choice.

Liver for Catfish Bait - Beef

#3: Deer Liver for Catfish Bait

Using deer liver for catfish bait is possible, but I wouldn’t say that it is a best option. If you are a hunter and have some livers stashed, use it.

It stays on a hook much better than chicken or beef liver, and that is a big advantage. However, in my experience, catfish prefer previously mentioned livers over deer liver.

This liver is good for attracting catfish, so you can chop it, spice it up, and use it for chumming, or even make a great stink bait together with other ingredients. But, when it comes to using it alone, it is not that effective.

#4: Pork Liver for Catfish Bait

And the last option is pork liver for catfish bait. It stays on a hook better than poultry liver, and it has very high blood content. It attracts fish, and they will congregate in the area, however, when it comes to biting it, I have noticed that they hesitate a bit.

Same as deer liver, it works great for chumming. You can even spice it up a bit to make it more effective. I can’t explain why catfish prefer poultry over pork, but probably due to its softness. Although it makes it harder for anglers, it is definitely the best. Pork is probably my last choice.

Liver for Catfish Bait - Pork

What is the Best Liver [DIY] Recipe for Catfish Bait? [Homemade]

I already mentioned that I prefer chicken liver, so here is one of my favorite chicken liver catfish bait recipes.

It is simple, and it does not require any special ingredients. There are dozens of recipes, some are more complicated than others, but a simple approach often works the best.


• One pack of fresh chicken liver.
• Garlic powder (or cheese powder if you don’t have garlic powder).
• Anis oil.
• Flour (optional but very effective).


STEP #1: Take a large bowl and put the liver inside. Make sure that you pour in all the blood from the pack too. If the liver is large, chop it to smaller pieces with a very sharp knife.

STEP #2: Add enough garlic powder to completely cover the liver.

STEP #3: Add a few drops of anis oil.

STEP #4: Use your hands to mix all the ingredients together and to make sure that all liver pieces are equally covered in spices.

STEP #5: Add just a bit of flour and then mix again. This is basically the secret ingredients that not a lot of anglers use. Flour will make it a bit firmer.

STEP #6: Put everything from a bowl to a plastic container with an airtight lid and place in a refrigerator. Let it sit for 24 hours.

And that’s it! You are ready to use it!

Some anglers like to cover the liver in garlic salt and dry it out in the sun. It resembles jerky when the process is done, and it has much longer shelf life. However, the process shrinks the liver and removes blood. I prefer to use it with all the blood content I can get.

Do Catfish Like Rotten Chicken, Beef or any Other Liver?

The smellier the better may be true for catfish, however, rotten meat is something that I never use.

You can use slightly spoiled meat. Maybe it expired a few days ago, or you have some barbecue leftovers from last week that are not safe for human consumption. You can use it as ingredient of DIY baits, and it will work fine.

Completely rotten meat will rarely work. Catfish prefer fresh bait, and it is a misconception that they will eat any meat, including rotten one, because they are scavengers. They scavenge for food when there are no other food sources and that is not their normal diet. If you are fishing in such conditions rotten meat may work, however, in 9 times out of 10, it will bring nothing but disappointment.

Use fresh liver, or any other bait. Slightly spoiled is fine, but rotten is something that I wouldn’t recommend.

5 Reasons Why Using Liver for Catfish Bait is Good

Liver is an excellent bait if you are targeting channel catfish, especially those that are small to medium size. There are various reasons why it is good, and here is the top 5!

1. Liver is excellent for beginners

Liver works best for small to medium size channel catfish. It will not catch you the record size fish, but that is perfectly fine if you are still learning. Using it is fairly simple, and you will learn how to use bait thread and mesh.

2. Liver is cheap and easily accessible

Liver is often reasonably priced, and it can be bought almost anywhere. You can find it in supermarkets, farms, butchery shops, or it can even be a leftover from a hunter you know.

3. Liver has very high blood content

As already mentioned, blood is an excellent smell carrier, and the bloodier it is, the better for scent spreading. Unlike regular meat or some other organs, liver contains a lot of juice, and that makes it superior to many other meats.

4. Liver is versatile

Liver is excellent for those who are just discovering the world of DIY baits, as liver can be used in numerous ways. You can blend it together with many various ingredients to make stink bait, punch bait, or even some smelly version of a dough bait. If that is not something you prefer, you can simply add a bit of garlic. Or just buy fresh liver and use it as it is. Whatever you like, it can be done with it!

5. Catfish love liver

All of these reasons wouldn’t mean a lot if catfish were not interested. But luckily, catfish love the smell and taste of liver, especially chicken liver! To make it even more attractive, spice it up to see the results!

Other Secret Catfish Baits [Good Alternatives to Liver]

Sometimes, you can’t your you won’t use liver, and that is fine. There are many alternatives to liver, and they can be equally effective. Here are some of my favorite catfish baits!

Shrimp (dead or alive)
Live fish
• Cut bait
Hot dogs
• Stink bait
• Dough bait
Dog food
Punch Bait

As you can see, your options are almost unlimited. All of these baits can be spiced up or customized to fit your specific needs.

All of these are great for channel catfish, that is often targeted by beginner anglers. If you want to catch a flathead, go for live bait, and use either freshwater shrimps, crayfish, or baitfish. In my experience, baitfish works the best.

Blue catfish will often go for cut bait. Just make sure that it is fresh.

Liver for Catfish Bait - Boilies


Using liver for catfish has many benefits. This bait is very effective, mostly due to its high blood content and strong scent.

Chicken liver for catfish bait works the best, although it is soft, and it is hard to keep it on a hook. It may be a bit tricky, but the use of bait thread or a mesh will help you a lot.

If you are a beginner, try out various recipes and see what works the best in your waters. Liver will mostly bring you smaller or mid-size channels, but there is a chance that you land some other catfish species while using liver too!

About Me

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I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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