Ancient secret recipes and backwoods distilleries aside, comparisons between the concoction of catfish bait and the manufacture of moonshine come rather naturally. That goes double for the bootleggers themselves – those old crusty characters who brew their batches with the utmost in craftsmanship and care.

Picture ancient patched overalls and grizzled grey beards; tin sheds and ramshackle roofs; eccentric ingredients scratched onto broken chalkboards; shrewd “scientists” hunched over barrels of odoriferous elixirs. After years of tinkering and hundreds of attempts at making the blessed batch, the mixture finally melds, and something truly special results.

In the case of catfish bait—or more specifically, dip bait—the whiskery wizards at Rippin Lips have recently released a soon to be legendary potion. Bearing the minimalist mark Bootleg, the new (but old) dip bait recipe will soon be available for mass consumption—welcome news for anglers and catfish alike.

Formulated with a blend of carefully chosen cheeses and other catfish-craving ingredients, Bootleg is a thick, extra sticky dip bait that adheres to hooks like a gob of glue. Ironically, it’s also one of the cleanest and most-user friendly catfish baits on the market.

“In all my years of catfishing,” says legendary angler and Rippin Lips pro-staff, John Jamison, “I’ve tried nearly every dip bait there is. There are certainly some decent products out there. But Bootleg is just a little different—it’s super sticky yet really easy to work with. It clings to dip worms and tubes better than other baits. But you’ll still have to re-dip often, because channel cats and blues eat this stuff up pretty fast.”

Following countless trials and assorted batches, Rippin Lips landed on two delicious yet distinctive blends: Batch No. 17 – Sweet & Sticky and Batch No. 131 – Bold & Bloody.

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Rippin Lips pro staffer, John Jamison: “Bootleg often outfishes any other bait out there.”

“Old number 17 is a great all-purpose dip,” Jamison offers. “You can fish it in lakes or rivers. It’s especially good in heavy current. Just dip your tube or worm into the jar with a stick and push it down into the bait. Make sure the lure’s well coated with Bootleg, so it continues putting off a powerful scent trail—like a miniature chum line. Won’t take long for any cats in the area to find and gobble it up.”

Jamison adds that Bootleg’s other flavor—Bold & Bloody—excels in spring, late summer and early fall. “To brew Batch 131, we’ve added an ingredient catfish absolutely drool over—real livestock blood. This batch is loaded with Bootleg’s secret cheeses plus an extra kick of amino acids, which can be an awesome bite inducer.”

Packaged in special 15-ounce jars, Bootleg uses heat-gathering black lids that help keep bait soft and workable in cooler conditions. Jamison says that in hotter weather, he prefers to stow jars of Bootleg in a cooler to maintain the bait’s optimal consistency.

“Honestly, as much as I like fishing with cutbait,” he affirms, “In summer, Bootleg often outfishes any other bait there is, especially in terms of sheer numbers of nice fillet-size catfish. Anyone who hunts cats owes it to themselves to try a jar and experience some great fishing.”

Dena Woerner

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