The three-way rig

By Jerry Purviance

All though not snag-proof in the worst of situations, the three-way rig does better than previous rigs discussed. Adopted from walleye anglers, catfish anglers have found it to work great, especially in rock-laden river beds. Just like the Santee Cooper rig, the 3-way rig is designed to get the bait up off the bottom and in the line of sight of the catfish. Up till now, the previous rigs have all been strung in a straight line.

The most important part of the 3-way rig is the 3-way swivel. The swivel will look like a large ring with 3 smaller rings protruding from it. Imagine the face of a clock: the smaller rigs will be in the 11, 2, and 6 o’clock positions around the main ring. Your main line will get tied to the 11 o’clock position. A small length of leader and a dipsey or bank-style sinker is tied to the 6 o’clock position. Finally, a good length of leader with a hook of your choice is tied to the 2 o’clock position. Leader lengths will be to your discretion and as the underwater terrain warrants.

I like to fish the Iowa river next to the hydraulic lab in Iowa City. Very rocky, very swift. Using a Carolina rig or a Santee rig there will end up with a lot of lost tackle. The 3-way rig is perfect for this type of fishing. The sinker will sit on the bottom to keep you anchored while your bait floats up with the current, keeping the hook from getting entangled in the rocks. Not to say that once in a while your sinker won’t get caught in a crevice or two. But instead of losing the whole rig, you only lose the sinker.

I tend to use lighter mono leader on the sinker; that way, if it does get hung up, it will break loose pretty easily. Here again fishing with a tight line is the way to go. Another awesome place to use a 3-way rig is the front or current side of a wing dam. Wing dams provide an excellent ambush spot for catfish that will patrol the base of them looking for dinner that’s getting washed in to them. As with all these rigs, any modifications can be added or subtracted to tailor to your situation. You can also add a peg float on the hook leader of the 3-way rig to give extra lift. I gave you the basics and you can experiment from there. If you’re catching fish, I’m not going to tell you your setup is wrong. Tons of variations exist on the Internet and are only a click away.

Give these rigs a try and see if your results improve. I hope you enjoyed this series. Remember, if you have topics you would like me to discuss or questions, please feel free to drop me a line at [email protected], or give me a call on the show.