In my experience, bluegill can be caught on just about anything including bare hooks and even a few times with my hands. Catfish, they like smelly stuff. Chicken liver works great too, or a mass of worms. I never liked using treble hooks for catfish like some people do though. One tip for using chicken liver, since liver breaks easily and doesn't stay on the hook, is to use cut up pantyhose. Cut out a square, wrap the liver up, and then run your hook through it. For largemouth, I use soft plastic too, but the Bass Pro Shops branded stuff. Had more success with their Stik-O jerkbait rigged wacky, but if you want to spend the extra cash a lot of people love the Senko. I've stuck mostly with jigs with big tails for smallmouth and walleyes.
Live bait works pretty well and IMO doesn't require as much technique. Can cost a bit more per outing depending on what you get. Big shiners and crayfish work well. Worms are cheap and work too, but a lot of people tend to hook the worm too much until it looks like a ball which doesn't work as well as hooking it once or twice. You want the worm to wriggle.
Anyways, to add onto some basic tips given by scotty:
- keep hook sizes as small as possible
- don't constantly change out your tackle if it isn't working
- for catfish, try chumming the water with bread or corn before fishing
The cake is a lie.