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Kayak Jug Fishing

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Still Simple, Still Effective!

In our article - "Jug Line Fishing", we mentioned a jug line setup that we like to use when fishing from a kayak.

It is a flagging jug line made from pvc pipe and foam noodles and uses duck decoy weights as an anchor (see picture below).

Still simple to make and still effective at catching catfish... why switch to a different setup?



We are switching to a different jug line setup because there is always room for improvement...

Continuous Improvement Process (CIP) is a corporate "buzz word" often used when laggard companies are seeking to turnaround their business

When implemented successfully, companies become market leaders by offering outstanding products, providing best in class services, and/or cost-efficient processes.

Moreover, CIP is not a one-time and it's done solution. Instead, improvements are sought on an ongoing basis regardless of the success of a product, service, or process.

Bottom-Line: If it can be done better, then go forward and do so!


When we first started using jug lines, we fished from a Jon Boat using jug lines made from painted Gatorade bottles and white Clorox Bleach bottles.

  • They were deployed free-floating, so we had to be prepared to chase them down,
  • The lines tended to slip off the bottles tangling with one another when stored. Oftentimes, we spent the night before a fishing trip untangling them,
  • And, the paint would eventually peel off, so we would have to repaint them, and then re-label the required marker tags.

See sidebar of Clorox Jug Lines used by dnahoghunter!


We used the Gatorade and Clorox bottle jug lines for years. Then, while at a sporting goods store, we saw a commercially made jug line called the Jugger Jug Line (made by Top Brass) that caught our interest.

  • They were easy to store and transport; the jug line also served as a line holder that reduced tangling with other jug lines.
  • We could deploy the jug lines quickly with two people - one person handling the boat and the other person baiting and setting the jug lines.
  • We also liked the ease of setting the line depth by holding the jug line on each end with the tip of a finger from each hand. The line would pay out and the Jugger Jug Line would spin until the bottom was reached.
  • Once set, the patented line clip secured the line and prevented more line from being released.

Note: Video in sidebar shows Jugger Jug Lines being used.


The Jugger Jug Lines worked well, and we used them regularly for several seasons. Then, we happened to learn about Flagging Jug Lines that would signal when a fish took the bait.

Flagging Jug Lines were not available in stores but plans were readily available online, and were simple to make. In short order, we made a dozen to "test" (the excuse we use to go fishing when telling our significant others)!

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Of note from our "tests" are the points listed below:

  • Flagging Jug Lines do signal when a fish is on the line but work best in calm conditions. In windy conditions and where there are lots of waves, they tend to trigger more false strikes.
  • They work well in limited space like in our kayaks because of their compact design. We can stack them easily in soda crates that are secured to the aft deck of our kayaks and will remain out of our way until ready to be set.
  • They work well in current where we use the anchor to hold the jug in place, and then attach a dropper line with a sinker above the hook to suspend the bait.
  • They take more effort to set compared to Jugger Jug Lines as we must unwind the line by hand to the desired depth, then set the clip to secure it compared to releasing the line by holding the Jugger Jug Line on its ends as noted previously.
  • The Flagging Jug Lines cost less compared to the commercially made Jugger Jug Line. We can make Flagging Jug Lines at half the cost of the Jugger Jug Lines when we first made ours.

Note: Jugger Jug Lines are typically sold out during the Spring/Summer months. Also, do check out the video in the sidebar, we are using flagging jug lines but from a jon boat as their are two of us to work the lines.


We started with Gatorade and Clorox bottles to make jug lines, then we used commercially made jug lines, and then we added flagging jug lines made from free plans available online.

Then, while shopping for other things at Walmart, we noticed commercially made jug lines that were being sold at a discount. So, on a whim, we bought them.

The jug lines were designed to be free-floating, came with a twisted cotton line, inline weights, and hooks.

Although they are easy to bait and set, we use them mainly to augment anchored jug lines that we have set. Of note from our "tests" are the points listed below:

  • They are simple and the easiest of the jug lines in our arsenal to deploy... bait it, toss it, then chase it down.
  • We can easily adjust the mainline to the depth desired by winding the line on to the float and then securing the desired length needed with a slip-knot.
  • Since it is free-floating, we must pay attention to them or risk losing them.
  • If a large fish takes the bait, be prepared to chase the jug line down which may not be practical with a kayak.
  • Value priced especially when sold on clearance, costing us less than $4.00 when we purchased them.

Note: Video in the sidebar shows free-floating jug lines as well as the other types of jug lines being used from a jon boat.


The Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Marker Buoy Jug Line is the jug line we are starting to switch to for several reasons:

  • Like the Jugger Jug Lines by Top Brass, they are easy to store and transport as the jug line also serves as a line holder.
  • They are readily deployed by one person despite the limited space in a kayak. Moreover, they can be picked up and reset by one person with minimal effort.
  • When setting the line depth, there is no need to hold the jug line as the line deploys. Instead, the line pays out in the same manner as the line on a marker buoy pays out when deployed.
  • Once set, a line clip is used to secure the line and prevents more line from being released. However, we are continuing to test this. Our hope is we can skip this step - possibly adding an "indicator flag" instead.
  • They can be used as marker buoys to mark underwater structures, points, and drop-offs with no change in its design.
  • They are simple and economical to make!

For details on how to make your own DIY Marker Buoy Jug Lines, see the steps outlined in the section - "Making a DIY Marker Buoy Jug Line", listed below. Also, video in the sidebar is our initial test of the new design; no fish but very promising to see!

Second Field Test of the DIY Marker Buoy Jug Lines

Making a DIY Marker Buoy Jug Line

The DIY Marker Buoy Jug Line combines features of the Jugger Jug Line by Top Brass to the functionality of a marker buoy typically used by Bass and Crappie Fishermen to mark fish holding structure.

Below are details on how to make your own DIY Marker Buoy Jug Line. To make your own, start with gathering the material listed below; all of which are readily available at home improvement/hardware stores.

Material for three DIY Marker Buoy Jug Lines

Material for three DIY Marker Buoy Jug Lines


The materials in the list below will make three jug lines. There will be excess material in some instances; save the excess for the next set of three jug lines you make.

  • One 48" length of 4-1/2" diameter Foam Noodle (see note concerning color)
  • One 24" length of 1-1/4" diameter PVC Pipe
  • Six 1-1/4" PVC Caps
  • Three Trot Line Clips
  • Six Egg Sinkers in size 3
  • Trot Line (length as desired)
  • Dropper Line (length as desired)
  • Three Barrel Swivels (size varies to Trot Line used)
  • Three Hooks (of your choice)
  • Three Duck Decoy Weights (sold in packages of 12)
  • Three Zip Ties
  • Duct Tape
  • Sharpie Pen


After gathering the material, you will need the following tools:

  • PVC Pipe Cutter (or Hacksaw)
  • Hacksaw or Serrated Knife
  • Sharp Knife (like an Xacto Knife)
  • Gorilla Glue
  • Measuring Tape
  • 1/4" Drill Bit or similar tool for boring into Foam Noodle
  • Damp Cloth


  • Using a hacksaw or serrated knife, cut six 2-1/2" wide sections of the foam noodle. Save the excess for the next set of jug lines you make.
  • Using a PVC pipe cutter or a hacksaw, cut the PVC pipe into three 8" lengths. If you opted to purchase the standard 10' PVC pipe length, save the excess for the next set of jug lines you make.


  • Take a damp cloth and moisten one end of an 8" length of PVC pipe.
  • Next, apply Gorilla Glue to the end of the moistened end of the PVC Pipe and to the inside of a PVC Cap.
  • Insert the PVC pipe into the PVC Cap as far as it will go, and then twist 1/4 turn.
  • Then, taking the damp cloth, moisten the PVC Cap and apply Gorilla Glue to the inner edge of the cap (end that faces toward the PVC pipe).
  • Quickly, insert the PVC pipe into the center of the Foam Noodle. Push the Foam Noodle over the PVC Cap so it overlaps the cap by 1/2".


  • Taking the Jug Line side completed in Step 2, insert the PVC pipe into the center of another Foam Noodle. Push it down the pipe so it rests next to the other Foam Noodle.
  • Next, moisten the end open end of the PVC pipe with a damp cloth, apply Gorilla Glue to the pipe and to the inside of a PVC Cap.
  • Insert the PVC pipe into the PVC Cap as done in Step 2, making sure it goes as far as it will go, and then twisting a 1/4 turn.
  • Then, moisten the PVC Cap and apply Gorilla Glue as also done in Step 2, to the inner edge of the cap (end facing toward the PVC Pipe).
  • Finally, push the Foam Noodle (not the one glued in place in Step 2) along the PVC pipe and over the PVC Cap installed in this step so it overlaps the cap by 1/2"
  • At this point, take a 10 minute break while the glue sets.


  • Taking a 1/4" drill bit or similar tool, bore a small hole into the outer facing side of the Foam Noodle.
  • Insert the Egg Sinker into the hole so its about a 1/4" past the Foam Noodle's edge, then moisten with a damp cloth, and apply Gorilla Glue.
  • The Gorilla Glue will react to the moisture and the hole will be filled, securing the Egg Sinker into the Foam Noodle permanently when dried.
  • Repeat the same for the other side making sure the Egg Sinker is aligned directly with the one already installed.
  • When done, let the glue set for about 30". The glue tends to run if not allowed to set. Better to let it set before proceeding to Step 5.


  • Once the glue sets and no longer runs, take a Zip Tie and insert it through the gap at the end of the Trot Line Clip.
  • Next, secure the Trot Line Clip to the PVC Pipe and adjust the Trot Line Clip so it rests perpendicular to the Foam Noodle.
  • Then, using a sharp knife, cut a slit in the Foam Noodle that will allow the Trot Line Clip to be inserted and kept out of the lines way when it pays out.
  • Before proceeding with this step, do review the pictures in the sidebar to understand the placement of the clip.


  • Attach one end of the Trot Line to the PVC Pipe, and then cut to the desired length. In our case, we use 20 feet as we tend to fish depth of 10 to 15 feet. The extra length gives us a little buffer if needed.
  • Attach the other end of the Trot Line to the Decoy Weight.
  • Then, tie a dropper loop at the depth you plan to fish. We tend to set the dropper loop two feet from the Decoy Weight.
  • Next, assemble the Dropper using a Barrel Swivel, Dropper Line, and your preferred hook, and then attach it to the Trot Line as the dropper loop.
  • Finally, wind the Trot Line onto the PVC pipe. When you get to the Dropper, secure the hook to the Foam Noodle. And, when you get to the end, bend the Decoy Weight around the PVC pipe to store/transport tangle-free!


Depending on the regulations in your area, jug lines may require a tag as well as the color of the jug line may be limited to a certain color.

Previously, in our state - Texas, jug lines required a tag that included name and address information and the date the jug lines were set.

In addition, the color was limited to white for non-commercial fishing and orange for commercial fishing.

As of 2017, non-commercial jug lines can use any color except orange. Commercial jug lines continue to require an orange color.

For the DIY Marker Buoy Jug Line as used in Texas, the final steps are:

  • Cut a 5" piece of Duct Tape and place it on the Foam Noodle's curved surface just above the Counterweight.
  • Then, using a Sharpie Pen, we write our Name and Address onto the Duct Tape.
  • Next, cut a 5" piece of Duct Tape and place it on the other Foam Noodle's curved surface but this time directly opposite of the Counterweight.
  • Then, using a Sharpie Pen, we write the date for the day we are setting the jug lines.
  • When deployed, the jug line will sit on the water with the Name and Address label underwater and the Date label above water. If this is not the case, adjust the placement of the labels accordingly.

All done... Time to go Kayak Jug Fishing!

PS: Be sure to check the regulations in your state before using jug lines.

Texas Tagging and Marking Requirements

Retrieved from

Retrieved from

Suggestions and Tips

Below are suggestions and tips to keep in mind when kayak jug fishing regardless of the jug line setup you are using.

  • Circle Hooks: We like to use Mustad Circle Hooks in size 6/0 in our area when setting trot lines and anchored jug lines. The lines will tighten and allow the circle hook to set properly in corner of the Catfish's mouth. Moreover, the hooks are extremely sharp right from the package, so we can use them immediately without the added effort of sharpening them ourselves.
  • J Hooks: When we set free-floating jug lines, we use J Hooks as the lines remain loose as they drift in the water and does not allow a circle hook to work properly.
  • Fresh Bait: Fresh bait tends to work best for us with live bait being the most consistent producer of Catfish for us. Typically, we will use our cast net to catch our bait - Shad. However, when the Shad are not cooperating, we will fall back on store bought frozen Shad.
  • When targeting Blue Catfish, we use Shad. Channel Catfish will take Shad, Stink Baits, and Grocery Store Baits like Cheese, Hot Dogs, Chicken and Beef Liver. Blue Catfish seem to strike only on Shad in our area.
  • When we set jug lines, we will set them in groups of three or four at different depths. Once we see a pattern where the Catfish are favoring one group of jug lines over others, we will move the other groups to the one that is getting bit.
  • Bring a net and be prepared for a Bruiser or two to take your jug line. Larger Catfish have extremely abrasive (more like sandpaper) mouths; do stray away from landing one by grabbing it by the mouth. As a fallback, if you don't have a net (or it's not big enough), try grabbing the Catfish under its mouth using the gill slits to land it.
  • Bring pliers or a hook remover tool. It's much easier to unhook a Catfish compared to using your fingers, especially with circle hooks that require the "extra roll" of the hook to unhook it from the Catfish.
  • Trot Line Clips: We like to use them because it allows for ease of baiting/re-baiting of our hooks. That is, we will have one set in use attached to our lines. As they are fished, we will have another set pre-baited and ready to replace others when needed. Also, in the case of larger Catfish, we can readily remove the dropper from the main line quickly in the event we get tangled with the line.

For the DIY Marker Buoy Jug Lines, do experiment:

  • We have tried mono-filament and traditional nylon trot line to see which one works best.
  • We also left the line unsecured to "test" if a line clip is needed or not.
  • Also, don't forget, they do double duty as a Marker Buoy!

PS: Do send your suggestions and tips using the Comments section below. Also, do check out the video below. We used a DIY Marker Buoy Jug Line, a Flagging Jug Line, and a Jugger Jug Line to catch fish that round!

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