You are here:


Listen up clonking fans!

Clonking is without doubt one of the most thrilling methods of catfish angling. Thick crescents of rising fish on the fishfinder, attracted by the sounds of the catfish clonk, provide all the confirmation you need. However, it’s also the insight into the underwater world and the certainty of what’s happening with your bait that make this fishing method so incredibly appealing and exciting. When properly executed and with the right tackle and bait presentation, clonking can produce magical moments for catfish anglers on many waters. But first, you need the right approach and tactics.

Getting started

If I’m familiar with the water, I’ll head straight to the chosen hotspots, which might be deep areas, highly structured bottoms or obstacles in the water. I’ll fish these intensively. If I don’t know the water and the hotspots where I want to fish aren’t obvious, then locating the fish becomes all important.

On stillwaters, the best idea is to make use of the wind and allow yourself to drift across the water while clonking. Your drifting speed should be no higher than 3 km/h. Drift socks and electric motors can help out if you're drifting too fast. This allows you to get to know the water and make a quick first impression of its features.

Ultimately, the clonking sounds made with the catfish clonk are the key to success. Some days, a higher frequency of sounds will tempt the fish and, other days, a lower frequency will be more effective. As a guideline, you should initially strike the water a number of times, around three to eight, at irregular intervals every ten metres. If no bites materialise, adjust the frequency according to the activity of the catfish and the associated signals on the fishfinder.

In this situation, the fishfinder should be set so that your own bait can be spotted as a line on the display. This allows you to precisely target any crescents (fish) that appear by raising or lowering your bait and to increase your catch rate.

A guiding principle

Do NOT clonk for fish that are rising or holding in a layer of water. Just fish for them! If a fish is heading towards the bottom, leave your bait where it is and start clonking again. What you’re trying to do is to activate the catfish and reawaken interest in your bait. Seeing this drama play out, makes all the effort worthwhile.

Choosing the right tackle

Rods between 1.6 metres and 2.4 metres are normally used for clonking. We also need a small fixed-spool or multiplier reel with a line capacity of around 150 metres of .35 mm braided line. In most cases, vertical rods and spinning rods aren’t fit for purpose. Ultimately, the chosen equipment should be lightweight and easy to handle, yet robust enough to take on fish over the two metre mark.

Inline rods are particularly recommended for clonking since they have no rings and, as the name suggests, the line runs through the inside of the rod. Even in strong wind and with careless movements, the line cannot tangle around the rod. With a ringed rod, this can cause chaos on a boat if you get an unexpected bite and, in the worst case scenario, can result in snapped line.

Catfish clonks are ten a penny. There are no limits to the shapes, colours and depths that can be used. In my opinion, however, simple use and good handling are essential. The sounds must be made easily and effortlessly so the catfish angler can enjoy hours of pleasure. I recommend carbon clonks since they’re lightweight and fulfil the above criteria.

Last but not least – the bait!

One of the best baits when clonking is lobworm. Lobworms are easy to get hold of and transport. They’re also incredibly effective and they're allowed everywhere. That’s why I consider lobworm, combined with a teaser, to be the number one clonking bait. Baitfish are also successful baits for clonking but they're harder to get hold of and transport and the legal situations in some locations can make them more difficult to use.

In this day and age of increasing pressure to perform and growing personal obligations, it's essential to deliver success in the shortest possible time frame. You don’t have to spend several days on the water. Normally, just a couple of hours can be enough to make the desired contact with your target fish.

Give it a try and watch your own dramatic scenes unfold on the fishfinder. Clonk and ye shall find.

I wish you success and fun on the water...

Michael Koch
Black Cat - The Spirit of Catfish Angling