How To Make Catfishing Noodles

In this article we are going to discuss step-by-step instructions on how to make noodles for catching catfish and bowfin (aka grinnell).

Bill of material:

Foam pool noodle
3/4 inch PVC pipe
3/4 inch PVC pipe cap
Tape measure
Marker – pen, pencil, sharpie,,,
File or sand paper
PVC glue
Trotline string
Lighter (for burning end of trotline string)
Electric drill
5/16 drill bit
Cable tie (optional)
Circle hooks
5 gallon bucket, my 5 gallon buckets are 13.25 inches tall
Various size weights (optional)
*Colored duct tape (some states require noodles to be a certain color)


Foam pool noodle – These are usually sold by the big box-marts during the summer months. The noodles I bought are called “funnoodle”, measure 55 inches long and are pink. We can expect to get expect to get 6 noodles, with each noodle being 9 inches long out of a 55 inch long section of funnoodle.

A lot of stores sale two different sizes of pool noodles. The one we are looking for measures about 2 1/4 – 2 3/8 inches in diameter, which are usually the smaller of the two sizes.

If the noodle you have is 55 inches long, mark every 9 inches along the length of the foam noodle.

If the noodle you have does not measure 55 inches long, use a calculator to figure out how many sections can be cut from the noodle with no waste. We want as little waste as possible with the foam material. If you need to cut the sections 9.25 inches long, then do so.

Noodles for catching catfish

3/4 inch PVC Pipe – This is your standard white PVC pipe sold by hardware stores. Most stores sell sections either 5 feet or 10 feet long, buy whichever length you want.

We can expect to get 5 sections out of a 5 foot piece of PVC pipe.

Cut the PCV pipe 2.50 inches longer than the foam sections.

Example, my foam sections were cut 9 inches long and the PVC pipe was cut 11.25 inches long.

The importance of the 2.25 inches will be explained later in this article.

Glue caps on – Use the file and/or sand paper to remove any sharp edges from the ends of the pipe.  Isopropyl alcohol can be used to remove any oil or dirt from the end of the pipe.

Swab glue inside the cap, swab glue on outside of pipe, insert pipe into cap, twist about 1/4 – 1/2 a  turn.  Turning the cap and pipe mixes the glue and is suppose to create a strong bond.

Allow the glue to dry in a well ventilated area.  I usually let the caps dry for 30 minutes or so while I work on other stuff.

Insert PVC pipe assembly into a foam section until the pipe cap comes into contact with the foam.

The overall assembly can be no longer than the 5 gallon bucket is tall, which is about 13 inches.

If you added a little bit to the length of the PVC and ended up with more than 1.25 inches, that is perfectly ok.  As long as the overall length of the noodle assembly is no longer than the 5 gallon bucket is tall, everything is going to be ok.

Noodles for catching catfish

Drill hole for trotline – If everything has worked out there should be about 1.25 inches (or a little more) of PVC pipe protruding past the end of the foam.

About 3/4 – 1 inch from the end of the PVC pipe drill a 5/16 hole.

Why drill a 5/16 hole?  Because after a knot is tied in the trotline string the knot may not go through a 1/4 inch hole.

Cable tie – This is optional and not required.

In April of 2013 my wife and I went camping at Martin Dies State Park which is close to Jasper Texas.  While we were camping my wife and I ran noodles.  One noodle must have had something big on it, because the pipecap pulled through several inches of the foam noodle.  That was the first and only time I have ever seen the pipecap get pulled through the middle of the foam.

To prevent the cap from being pulled through the middle of the foam, place a cable tie an inch or so below the cap.

Attaching the hook – Personally, I prefer trotline string over monofilament fishing line.

Trotline string is cheap, it’s easier to tie than monofilament line, and it is somewhat abrasion resistant.  When you the ends of trotline string have a lighter handy to burn the ends.  If the ends are not burned the line will unravel.

Another reason to use trotline string over monofilament line, in a bind trotline string can be used as a replacement for 550 cord.  Boat motor go out?  need to spend a night in the wilderness?  Trotline cord can be used to build an improvised overnight emergency shelter.

A single strand of trotline cord not strong enough?  Braid three individual lines to make a strong rope.

I usually cut a section of trotline string about 30 inches long; after a couple of knots are tied in the line we have a bait depth of around 24 inches.

Noodles for catching catfish

Circle hooks – Why should you use circle hooks over J-hooks?

When a catfish swallows a j-hook, the hook gets hung up in the throat or stomach and may kill the fish.

When a catfish swallows a circle hook, the hook leaves the stomach and catches the fish on the edge of its mouth.

If you want to take wildlife conservation one step further file the barb off the circle hook.  That way if a turtle or undersized fish takes the bait the hook can be safely removed and the fish (or turtle) released unharmed.

Weights – Can define the depth of the bait and can help reduce how far current and/or wind carries the noodle.

When the bait is free floating the noodle is at the mercy of the wind and currents.  But when you make the dropline long enough that it can reach the bottom of the river (or lake), and attach a weight, the noodle has an anchor to help hold it in place.

One of the drawbacks to using a long dropline is that it can get hung up in underwater obstructions.  If a long dropline gets hung up this could prove fatal to a turtle.

The vast majority of fish I have caught on a noodles have been on lines 24 inches long or less.

Noodles for catfishing

5 gallon bucket – The typical 5 gallon bucket measures 13 inches tall.  The noodles as described in this article should measure around 12 inches tall.

Remember earlier in the article when two different sizes of noodles were mentioned?  I suggested that you go with the smaller noodle which measure around 2 1/4 – 2 3/8 inches in diameter.  If you went with the suggested size you should be able to fit 14 noodles in a 5 gallon bucket.

Stand the noodles straight up, form a circle of 10 noodles inside the bucket, then 4 noodles should fit inside the circle.

Use a large snap ring to attach small bleach bottles to the handle of the 5 gallon bucket, for a total of 18 hooks per 5 gallon bucket – 14 noodles and 4 small bleach bottles.


It is our duty to protect the wildlife we come into contact with.

Whether it is hunting, fishing, or running noodles, it is our duty to ensure future generations have the same opportunities we currently enjoy.