7 Best Catfish Rods and Reels for Monster Catfish

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When it comes to chasing MONSTER catfish, you need the best catfish rods and reels you can get your hands on.

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

Best Catfish Rods And Reels

Best Catfish Spinning Reel
PENN 1403983 Slammer III Spinning
Best Catfish Rods
KastKing KatTech Catfish Rods 8'0" H Power Fast 2 Pieces Casting
Most Durable Catfish Rods
OKUMA Battle Cat Catfish Spinning Rods (2-Piece), 7-Feet 6-Inch/Heavy, white
Feature 1
Fully metal body and gear housing
Made of 24T Graphite combined with linear S-Glass for incredible strength and lifting power
Durable and powerful E-glass blanks
Feature 2
Cut with a CNC machine
Fuji double footed MN guide frames with SiC rings
Cork Rear grip prevents binding in rod holders
Best Catfish Spinning Reel
PENN 1403983 Slammer III Spinning
Feature 1
Fully metal body and gear housing
Feature 2
Cut with a CNC machine
Best Catfish Rods
KastKing KatTech Catfish Rods 8'0" H Power Fast 2 Pieces Casting
Feature 1
Made of 24T Graphite combined with linear S-Glass for incredible strength and lifting power
Feature 2
Fuji double footed MN guide frames with SiC rings
Most Durable Catfish Rods
OKUMA Battle Cat Catfish Spinning Rods (2-Piece), 7-Feet 6-Inch/Heavy, white
Feature 1
Durable and powerful E-glass blanks
Feature 2
Cork Rear grip prevents binding in rod holders

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!

Best Catfish Rods Reviews

1. KastKing KatTech Catfish Rods

Best Catfish Rods

These KastKing KatTech rods make catching catfish a breeze. Made with their composite graphite and S-glass construction, these fishing rods are good enough for either a tournament or a day out chasing monsters.

We really like the Fuji double-footed MN guides with their SiC rings because they are super durable and never seem to break even when you’re stressing them to their limits making this our choice for the best catfish rod on our list.

Between the strength and the sensitivity, this rod takes the cake for the best catfish rod in our lineup. Lay it on your catfish rod holder and wait for the bite!

2. Okuma Battle Cat Catfish Spinning Rods

Most Durable Catfish Rods

OKUMA Battle Cat Catfish Spinning Rods (2-Piece), 7-Feet 6-Inch/Heavy, white
  • 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 catfish 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 a rod holder
  • Double foot stainless steel eyelets.
  • Heavy-duty stainless steel hook keeper.
  • Two-piece construction for easy transport.

3. BnM Silver Cat Elite Rod

Best for Night Fishing

The B’n’M company has really outdone themselves this time. This catfish rod has a double locking reel seat with aircraft-grade aluminum, which is a nice touch to the standard plastic seats out there.

Not to mention the color on this rod is bright, which makes it nice to see while night fishing.

They use an E-glass blank, which you know can take a beating from a monster cat. It’s one piece so you can rest assured however much power you need to put on the rod, it has your back.

This rod has no problem bringing in 20+ pound blues out of the water!

4. Team Catfish Rods Thunder

Best for Easy Transport

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

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.
  • It has a sensitive tip to help you see when your fish is tasting your bait.

5. Ugly Stik Elite Casting Rod

Best on the Budget

Ugly Stik® Elite Casting Rod
  • Ugly Stik Clear Tip design delivers extra strength right...
  • Ugly Tech Construction with added graphite for lighter...
  • Ugly Tuff one piece stainless steel guides provide maximum...

Sometimes you need a rod to double duty and not just be one species-specific.

That’s why we added this Ugly Stik Elite to the mix because it will handle the job of most catfish you throw its way and whatever other fish you want to target on future trips.

This series of rods have excellent versatility for wide use of applications.

It’s an Ugly Stik Catfish Casting Rod so you know right out the gate it’s going to be tough and come at an affordable price.

This is a great casting rod so be sure to throw on your favorite baitcaster or conventional and let her rip.

6. Shakespeare Ugly Stik Catfish Spinning Rod

Best One-Species Specific Version

Ugly Stik Catfish Spinning Rods, , 8 feet
  • Medium heavy actions
  • Ugly tuff one-piece stainless steel guides
  • Ugly stik clear tip design

As we mentioned above, we think you can’t go wrong with an Ugly Stik Catfish Rod. If you’re looking for a one-species-specific version then here’s your best choice.

We recommend going with the 8-foot model because it gives you a little extra rod to play with and opens up the lake or river a bit more.

We like the white color of this rod to help most catfish anglers see better while night fishing. This rod has no problem throwing 4-6oz weights and can bring in the 20-pound catfish without a sweat.

7. Shakespeare Wild Cat Spinning/Spincast Fishing Rod

Best Budget Catfish Rod

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 fishing rods Shakespeare makes.

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

1. PENN Slammer III Spinning

Best Catfish Spinning Reel

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.

2. Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3 Catfish Special Round Reel

Best Catfish Baitcaster Reel

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

The larger handle on this reel is enough to make a catfish angler take notice. A 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.

3. Ming Yang Black CL60 Baitcasting Reel

Best Value

Ming Yang Black CL60 Baitcast Fishing Reel Muskie Catfish & Saltwater
  • 2 BB with 1RB / 4.2:1 Gear Ratio
  • Ming Yang CL60 Muskie Catfish Reel
  • One-way Clutch Anti-Reverse Bearing

This reel is all you need to catch big fish. It casts and reels smoothly, and has plenty of cranking power, and drag for a catfish.

It’s a great reel for the price. If you’re on a budget, you can easily replace your expensive reels with this one.

Other features include:

  • One-way clutch anti-reverse bearing
  • Tough and durable
  • Cast smoothly, reels smooth

4. KastKing Sharky III Fishing Reel

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 III spinning...
  • PURE POWER - You will love Sharky III spinning reel's...
  • K.I.S.S. - Sharky III spinning reels are sealed with a KISS!...

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.

This reel is a favorite with “The Coach” for a wide variety of tasks, from calico bass fishing off the cliffs of Southern California to 20-pound flatheads in the Imperial Valley.

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.

What Makes A Good Catfish Rod?

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

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, 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, ugly situations.

What Makes A Good Catfish Reel?

The best catfish reel needs to have the toughest gears available. It has to be 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 can be indispensable 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 the tension on the line.

Catfish Reel Specifications

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

If you are bank fishing you need a very strong reel that’s easy to cast. Catfish round and conventional 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 unable to turn that big dog away from those snags!

When choosing your catfish reel, make sure that it is made out of brass, steel, and carbon steel. Brass and carbon steel do not break easily under 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 extra line. You WILL snag your bait into trees and rocks and you may need to break your line at times.

If the catfish reel you are using does not hold a lot of lines, you better hope you don’t hook a big fish. If you catch 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 also true 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, if you fish for that hundred pound plus flathead, blue, or redtail catfish.

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

Insider Advice

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 yourself some new gear, and fishing rods, and catch some big guns’!

Jon Stenstrom
Founder & Angler
Jon Stenstrom is a fishing enthusiast. He has over 25 years of fishing experience, and 6 years of spearfishing experience, and is currently learning how to boat. Jon has his Open Water PADI Certification and FII Freediver Level 1 Certification. Jon has traveled the world to fish and dive, most notably in the Great Barrier Reef, Baja Mexico, Thailand, and Malaysia. More Articles
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Articles » Gear Reviews » 7 Best Catfish Rods and Reels for Monster Catfish