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Best Catfish Rods and Reels: Use the Right Gear to Bring in the Large Cats

Catfishing rod and reels have to hold up to extreme fish weight. It is not unusual to hook a 20 lb catfish.

I have personally seen some of what I thought were “good” reels stripped out by a big catfish…not to mention broke rods. Using the perfect set up with the best catfishing tips, you’re bound to catch some monsters!

Top Catfish Rods:

Top Catfish Reels:

The best catfish rods and reels is a difficult topic.

Large catfish in water
If you have the right gear, you’ll catch this guy with ease.

There are hundreds of options to choose from that would get the job done.

In this article, we will cover what kind of catfish rods and reels are the best and will last the longest!

What Makes A Good Catfish Rod?

The best catfish rods are made with a fiberglass constructed blank. The reason for fiberglass and not graphite is because the glass has greater strength. However, with the negative side effect of less sensitivity.

The rod has got to be stiff with not a lot of play in the tip. You want to be able to set the hook into the mouth of even the largest flathead catfish.

A heavy action rod is required. It adds strength and durability even in the toughest most unideal situations.

Man fishing for catfish on boat
With the right gear you’ll have an enjoyable day on the water. Source

What Makes A Good Catfish Reel?

The best catfish reel needs to have the toughest gears available. It has to able to handle the strongest fish as well as the swift river currents.

The drag needs at least 20 pounds to keep tension on the fish as you fight it to aid in wearing it out.

A bait clicker is ideal because it reduces the need for bells on the tip of your rod. Also, this allows for the reel to free spool when the fish takes the bait instead of spitting out the bait when it feels tension on the line.

Catfish Reel Specifications

If you are bank fishing you need a very strong reel that’s easy to cast. Catfish baitcaster reels make it a whole lot easier to cast far.  They are also extremely accurate to ensure you can get your bait exactly where you want it.

Your catfishing reel needs to have a gear ratio between  5.1-6.1. This is because when reeling in a strong catfish you need a medium rate of retrieve. Too fast and you will break your line. Too slow and you will be fighting the fish for hours!

Catfish in water
We’re coming for you catfish! Source

When choosing your catfish reel, make sure that it is made out of steel and carbon steel. Steel and carbon steel will not break quickly and under moderate stress. You will find some reels that are made of polymer as well as aluminum.

Polymer and aluminum make VERY good bass reels but not catfish reels when you do not know if you will have a 10lb catfish or a 100lb catfish.

A catfish reel has got to have a lot of space for the excess line. You WILL snag your bait into trees and rocks and you will have to cut your line.

If the catfish reel you are using does not hold a lot of line, you better hope you don’t catch a big fish. If you catch a catfish bigger than you are prepared for, the fish will either

  1. spool out 100 yards of line
  2. take your rod from you
  3. or simply snap your line.

This is if the drag is not set properly.

Not to mention that when fishing for catfish 300 yards of 80lb test mono takes up A LOT of space.

Best Catfishing Rods And Reel Reviews

Best Catfishing Rods

Team Catfish Rods Thunder 7’6” MH

Team Catfish Thunder 7'6 MH Action (2pc Spinning Rod)-TC7-6MHS
  • The THUNDER CAT series of professional grade...

This rod has what you need to land the big ones. It offers a two-piece design for easy transport in any vehicle or boat.

The sensitive tip allows you to feel even the slightest nibble. With this, you can be prepared for a secure hook set.

Other features include:

  • Great 2-piece construction for easy transport.
  • Made out of E-Glass blanks for strength and durability
  • Long Anti-Slip foam grip handles so you will not lose your rod or your fish.
  • Has steel support rings on the shaft to aid in strength and to reinforce the rod.
  • Has a sensitive tip to help you see when your fish is tasting your bait.

Best Low-Cost Catfish Rods

Rippin Lips Super Cat Casting Rod with Glow Tip, 7-Feet 6-Inch/Medium-Heavy

Rippin Lips Super Cat Casting Rod with Glow Tip, 7-Feet 6-Inch/Medium-Heavy
  • Proprietary Cat-Glass composite
  • High quality components
  • Split Grip design for Bump'n or Casting

This rod was built with “big cats” in mind. Two different grip designs built into one rod, that allows you to quickly change hand positions.

Other features include:

  • Made out of special Cat-Glass materials.
  • Split grip design for Bumping or Casting.
  • Has extra strong chrome plated stainless steel eyelets.
  • The tip of the rod is glowing in the dark to aid you in fishing at night.

Best Catfish Spinning Rods

Okuma Battle Cat Catfish Spinning Rods

Okuma Battle Cat Catfish Spinning Rods (2-Piece), 7-Feet 6-Inch/Heavy
  • Durable and powerful E-Glass rod blanks
  • EVA fore grip for comfort
  • Cork rear grip reduces binding in rod holders

Designed specifically for spinning reels. This rod allows you to attach any spinning reel you like.

The cork grip handle provides comfort with an old school look.

Other features include:

  • Sports a durable and powerful E-glass blanks.
  • Cork Rear grip prevents binding in rod holders.
  • Double foot stainless steel eyelets.
  • Heavy duty stainless steel hook keeper.
  • Two-piece construction for easy transport.

Best Shakespeare Catfish Rods

Shakespeare Wild Cat Spinning/Spincast Fishing Rod (2-Piece)

SHAKESPEARE Wild Cat Spinning (2 Piece) Medium-Heavy Handle B 8' Fishing Rod
  • High-strength, responsive spinning rod specially...
  • Tubular glass blank construction combines rugged...
  • Stainless steel guides with ceramic inserts help...

This is the perfect rod if you are on a budget, or just need an extra rod for the boat. However, don’t let the low price fool you. This rod has many of the same features offered by the more expensive rods.

Other features include:

  • High-strength, very sensitive.
  • Glass blank adds strength and durability.
  • This rod is very balanced.
  • Stainless steel guides with ceramic inserts.
  • EVA foam handle for comfort and extra grip.
  • An ideal choice for catfish anglers on a budget.

Best Catfishing Reels Reviews

Best Catfish Reels

PENN Slammer III Spinning

Penn 1403983 Slammer III Spinning
  • Full metal body, sideplate, and rotor
  • Cnc gear technology
  • IPX6 sealed body and spool design

All-around a great reel. This reel will hold up to the often brutal conditions of saltwater fishing as well as holding just about anything you hook up to…

Other features include:

  • Fully metal body and gear housing.
  • Gears are cut with a CNC machine
  • IP6 sealed body and spool designed to fish saltwater or freshwater.
  • Sealed slammer drag system as well as a Dura-Drag material system.

Best Catfish Baitcasting Reel

Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3 Round Reel

Abu Garcia C3-6500 Ambassadeur Baitcast Fishing Reel
  • Baitcast fishing reel designed for strength,...
  • Engineered for smoothness with 3 stainless ball...
  • Carbon Matrix drag system provides smooth and...

The larger handle on this reel is enough to make a catfish angler take notice. This larger handle allows you to really turn the reel without having to try to reel in a big cat using two fingers.

Other features include:

  • Designed for smooth operation, strength, and precision.
  • Carbon Matrix Drag system provides smooth and consistent drag.
  • Six-pin centrifugal brake applies constant pressure for an extremely precise cast
  • Bigger cranking handles and knobs for added torque for hard fighting fish.

Best Low-Cost Catfish Baitcasting Reels

KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel

KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel, Right Handed Fishing Reel,Rover60
  • BULLET PROOF - All NEW and improved for 2019! The...
  • MORE POWERFUL - You will love the stronger, more...
  • SUPER SMOOTH - KastKing Rover reels have premium...

Conventional reels have long been a favorite for catfish anglers. They are tough and for the most part, maintenance free.

This reel just brings that same reliability into the 21st century with a few more added perks that will help you land the big ones!

Other features include:

  • Reinforced Hard anodized aluminum side plates and spool
  • Precision machined brass gears.
  • An Industry First stainless steel worm gear driving the reel.
  • Stainless steel internal shaft.

Best Low-Cost Catfish Spinning Reels

KastKing Sharky III Fishing Reel

KastKing Sharky III Fishing Reel - New Spinning Reel - Carbon Fiber 39.5 LBs Max Drag - 10+1 Stainless BB for Saltwater or Freshwater - Oversize Shaft - Super Value!
  • NEXT-GEN - The brand new design KastKing Sharky...
  • PURE POWER - You will love Sharky III spinning...
  • K.I.S.S. - Sharky III spinning reels are sealed...

This reel offers quality and durability at a budget-friendly price. The fact that all the inner working parts are completely sealed, allows you to take this reel on the ocean as well as creeks and lakes.

Other features include:

  • High Percentage fiber infused graphite body for strength, durability, and to be lightweight.
  • Triple disk carbon fiber drag.
  • The whole body is infused with KastKing’s Patented K.I.S.S (KastKing Intrusion Shield System) coating to keep fresh and saltwater out of the reel.
  • Braid line ready spool to take the need of monofilament backing on your reel.

Best Catfishing Rods And Reels Final Thoughts

Picking the Right Catfishing Rod

As far as which catfishing rod to get it is all a matter of personal preference.

But the winner here is going to be the Rippin Lips Super Cat 7’6” Med-Heavy rod.

It is designed to a higher standard than the others quality wise.

The Super Cat is designed for ease of use as well as extreme corrosion resistance to allow the rod to last generations!

Man on a boat looking for catfish
We’ll see you on the water! Source

Picking the Right Catfishing Reel

The Penn Slammer III is going to be the winner here.

Its design is far superior to the other reels, it can be used in saltwater as well as freshwater.

No matter if you’re a beginning catfish angler or a seasoned angler these catfishing rods and reels are for you! They work very well for anything from 5lb cats to 100 lb cats. Go out and get you some new gear and catch some bigguns’!


Q: What’s a good Catfish Bait?

A: The best catfish bait I have found thus far would have to be either cut bait (cut up fish) or rooster liver.

Q: What’s the best line for catfish?

A: 80 lb Berkley Trilene Big Game is the strongest line I have found to date.

Q: What is the best reel type for catfish?

A: The best reel type would have to be a spinning reel as they are versatile!

Q: What is the easiest fishing reel to use?

A: The easiest fishing reel to use is the spinning reel. Baitcasters can be finicky at times.

The Anglers Behind This Article:

Johnny Harvill

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