How do you hold a Catfish without getting finned? (Beginner Tips)

Catching a catfish is fun until you get finned. If you are an angler but haven’t caught a catfish yet, you don’t know the pain. I am sure you have heard of the nasty surprise a catfish can give you with its fins and that’s why you are here.

So you might be wondering, How do you hold a fish without getting finned?

Well, there are correct ways to hold a catfish without getting finned. When you catch a catfish it is usually very difficult to unhook it and hold it without getting stung by its venomous dorsal and pectoral fins.

Here I am going to write the proper way to hold a catfish without getting stung.

Related: Best Reels For Catfish

So how should you hold A Catfish?

Just follow the following rules before holding a catfish and you will be able to avoid it easily.

Holding the small catfish:

Holding the small catfish is easier than holding the big one. But it does not mean that they are not harmful. Their smaller spines can act like needles and so you need to be very careful while handling them.

When you catch a small catfish you can just hold the fish by the line and grab the tail to avoid these needlelike spines.

Holding the big catfish:

You need to be very careful while holding a big catfish. You need to know where to place your finger and palm in the fish in order to avoid get finned. You also need to know how to lift the fish and modify your hand position when needed.

If you know where the fins are and which ones are more wicked than the others.

Right placement of the hand:

Before holding a catfish you must place your hand correctly. The placement of your hand will determine whether you will get finned or not. At first, you need to know what you should avoid before holding it.

All types of catfish have small pointed fins. These small fins emerge from the very front side of the dorsal and pectoral fins of the fish. So you always have to avoid holding the front edges of the fins.

Gripping the fish:

You need to grip it in the top by placing your hand’s area between index and thumb against the dorsal fin. Let the dorsal fin rest between your index and middle finger and place your thumb just behind the pectoral fin.

In this case, the area between your thumb and forefinger is placed just behind the dorsal spine of the fish.

Modifying your hand position:

If you are unable to grip it in the mentioned way you need to modify your hand’s position by holding it from the back. How can you do that?

Just cover the fish’s belly with your palm and rest your thumb in such way so that it is placed in a safe distance from its dorsal spine. Then place your finger just behind the pectoral fin so that it cannot jab you.

Lifting the catfish:

While lifting the catfish you need to squeeze the fish firmly but gently. You need to grab it by giving pressure equally so that it does not slip away from your hand. Y

our grip should be fixed and if necessary you can make a few minor adjustments while holding it. If you grab it properly you don’t need to worry about it when you lift it.

Using the other hand:

You can use your other hand to get support because big catfish can be very difficult to handle for its weight. So as you keep your one hand on the front of the catfish, placing the other on the tail will make it a lot easier to lift it. It will also help you to control the fish if it starts to thrash around.

Releasing the catfish:

You need to be very careful while releasing the catfish. The way you hold it while releasing it will determine whether you will be able to save yourself from getting finned or not.

You may need to release it on the onboard cooler or you may want to return it back to the river, in both times you need to lower the catfish to the water level and lose your grip in slow motion. Just be careful not to brush your hand on the fish’s back.

Wearing gloves:

Though wearing gloves will not help you get the same sensitivity as not wearing one, still, if you are new angler you can wear rugged gloves to protect your skin from the fins.

Holding while unhooking:

While unhooking the fish at first you need to secure the hook. Then put your fingers below the fins just as I told you before and then hold the fish firmly so that it does not slip out or shake the upper part of its body. Then simply remove the hook from the mouth of the fish.


Holding the catfish is not as difficult as it seems. If you follow the steps properly and can successfully grab one, you don’t need to be worried about holding it in the future. You will be able to hold it properly without any effort.