What is Hand Fishing(Noodling)?

You went out fishing for catfish. You took the required equipment with you. Unfortunately, you were not successful at all. Forthwith, you want to take a chance at hand fishing, which is assumed as a beneficial method to catch catfishes. Is there any way you could get a guideline on How to use your hand to make hand fishing work? Stick to the article, and you will get the answer.

Hand fishing is a fishing technique in which the noodler uses his hand as bait. You are not required to have a fishing rod or a boat. Simply you need to enter the water, feel the holes or areas where there is a probability of finding a fish.  Wait for the fish to lurch out and grab it from its gills. For safety reasons, hand fishing should be done in shallow water.

What is hand fishing? Why is it called noodling?  Does noodling hurt the angler? Will catfish bite off your finger? Why is it considered illegal? If you are the one striving for such questions, then glue yourself here. You are going to get the most appropriate answers to your suspicious questions.


Detailed Information about Hand Fishing(Noodling)

Hand fishing is an old method of catching fish. It is also known as “noodling.” This unique method requires no equipment but your sturdy and fast hands to catch the fish. Clearly, this method is not for everyone, particularly when you are after catfish. If you are not careful, you might end up getting struck by one of these fishes. You will find yourself in a lot of pain if a fish decides to bite.



How do you hand fish?


Wade out into the water where you expect the catfish to be. Anglers Wear protective clothing to avoid injuries and to get more comfortable. Normally, you end up finding catfish in logs, holes in grassy areas, and under rocks.  After wading out, start searching for catfish in holes, under the rocks, and so forth looking for it. Wherever you feel the fish, grab hold of the fish and pull it out of the water.



Why is it called noodling?

Noodling is a common name for and fishing. It is called noodling as the anglers wiggle their fingers like spaghetti to invite the fish to bite. When the fish gets attracted, the anglers stick their arms down the fish’s throat and pull it out by the gills.  You use your fingers as bait and the catfish’s bite as a hook.


What is good/bad about it?


Noodling is not a very favorable procedure. There are obvious dangers to this method. Which may include:

You put your arm down deep in water that goes to the hole and the fish. If the fish decides to bite, you can receive serious injuries. Moreover, there is always a risk of drowning, especially if you are after a larger fish that stays in deeper water. You might lose your finger or catch a subsequent infection.

Additionally, you might end up going closer to spots where alligators, snakes, snapping turtles, or muskrat are found living.


How it is effective/less effective compared to other fishing methods

It is less effective compared to other fishing methods since the noodler risks his life wading out in water searching for a fish. He attracts the fish using his hand as bait. Moreover, there are no such protective gears that a noodler wears while doing hand fishing. While in other fishing methods, generally, you stand on the boat, and equipment is utilized to snag a fish. Which comparatively sounds less dangerous.

Do Noodling Hurt?


Well, it depends on the type of fish you decide to catch. If the fish has sharp and long teeth, it will hurt your arm or finger, especially if it starts rolling. If it doesn’t bite, fortunately, grab it and wiggles your fingers through its gills, and hold on to it, making it harder for it to bite.

However, there’s always a probability of damaging or hurting the fish while catching it. Possibly by damaging the egg clusters or harming the fish itself.

Is Noodling for catfish dangerous?

Yes, Fishing or noodling isn’t quite an easy or relaxing method. It is somewhat dangerous. Since catfish are very strong when it comes to fighting for their lives, they can easily pull an angler underwater. For this reason, it is advised to hand fish for catfish with a partner. The partner can help subdue a fish, pull his angler friend out when trouble strikes.


Can catfish bite your finger off?

There are plenty of catfish species, and they are nearly similar. Although they don’t have sharp teeth, In an attempt to defend their nest or to escape, they might bite your fingers, making them bleed. Some species can clamp onto anglers’ hands too. However, the injuries are not usually considered dangerous.


How do you hand fish for catfish?

Anglers reach underwater to natural cavities formed by tree roots, log riverbanks to capture a catfish by hand. When the catfish bites on the arm or hand, the noodler pulls the catfish out of the water from its cavities. This method is primarily used for catfish and blue catfish because they build their nests in small rivers and streams.


What US states allow noodling?

States that have legalized noodling are listed down below:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • Oklahoma
  • Tennessee
  • Wisconsin

Why is catfish noodling illegal in some states?

Noodling is generally catching catfish with bare hands and is mainly practiced in the States Hern United states. Overall, it seems a great way of harvesting fish, but the pulling procedure tends to damage the fish. Thereby, for noodlers’ safety and the sustainability of fish populations, this technique is considered illegal in some states.

Steve Hudson

I have been an outdoor activities enthusiast from teenage. I have been going out with my parents on different outdoor activities such as camping and hiking. After moving to a town surrounded by three well known fishing spots, I started fishing and started using all kinds of tricks and equipment to make the most out of each adventure I pursued. Over the years I have been camping outdoor, hiking and following my passion of enjoying life at full. Few years ago, I started writing about my thoughts, experiments and ideas about outdoor, fishing, hiking and more. This blog is a compilation of that plus tips, ideas and products that can make life more meaningful, enjoyable and a pleasant.

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