A successful journalist and news reporter in the past, George is now focused on freelance work to be able to dedicate more time to the most important things in his life: family, friends, his dogs, and fishing.
John is an avid traveler, hiker, and RVer. Moreover, it seems like he knows everything when it comes to fishing and hunting: his father started sharing all the tips and tricks he knew when John was a kid. No wonder we trust his opinion every time a new article is being created.
Last updated: February 17, 2021
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When it comes to catching catfish, you need to make sure you have the right gear. That includes the right bait, boat, and of course, the best catfish rod you can find. These fish can grow to be massive in size, so you need to make sure that you have a well-built, durable, and sturdy rod so that you can cope with them. Otherwise, you are going to have trouble landing a trophy catfish at all.
In order to find the best rod for catfish, we first looked at power rating, since some of these fish can and will put up quite the fight before they are caught. Next, we looked at the different materials used, since some are stronger than others. Next, we looked at the length of each rod so that you can find one that fits your fishing style. Finally, we paid attention to the line ratings that each of the best catfish reel and rod combos can handle. You need to make sure that the line you are using is just as strong as your rod, or you won’t be able to catch a true monster catfish.
Before we could put together our comprehensive list, we first took tens of hours to read through hundreds of user reviews. This allowed us to not only find the best rods for catfish but also to put together in-depth reviews for each. Of course, if you aren’t ready to make your final purchase yet, we have also taken the time to produce a highly-detailed buying guide, which will tell you everything you need to know to find the right rod for your needs.
When it comes to sports fish, catfish are some of the trickiest that you can try to catch. There are so many different types, and each species behaves in different manners, which means that they require different strategies. Catfish also come in all shapes and sizes, so if you are going to try to catch all of the different species, you will need a rod that is quite versatile. Which is exactly what this model is. It is, quite possibly, the best overall catfish rod on the market.
To start with, it is extremely durable. This durability is thanks to both its length and the material that it is made with. This rod is made out of E-glass fiber, which is both durable and sensitive enough to allow you to catch even the biggest catfish.
The length is another key feature. Since it is so long, it will provide all the leverage you need to catch catfish of any size. Of course, this extra length does make it difficult to store, especially since it doesn’t break down, but it is a small price to pay for all of the power it provides.
Not only is this a durable rod, but it is also very comfortable and versatile. The foregrip is made out of EVA foam, which provides a strong, yet comfortable grip. The rod can also handle a wide range of line strengths, making it the perfect choice for anyone that wants to go out for all sizes and species of catfish.
For anyone who is a casual fisherman, or just likes to keep things simple, a spinning reel and rod combination is the best tool for catching any type of fish. Even though some folks might prefer baitcasting reels for the higher level of control, they can be complex to set up and tricky to use. This spinning reel and rod combination, on the other hand, is, plain and simple, very easy to set up, use, and maintain. This makes it a great option for anyone that wants to spend more time fishing than setting up their rod.
This rod is also one of the easiest to transport. It is so easy to transport thanks to the fact that it can be broken down into two pieces, without having to take apart your rig. All you need to do is let a small amount of line out and pull the top and bottom apart. This two-piece design makes it very easy to fit this rod into your vehicle, even if space is at a premium.
While this reel and rod do work well together, you need to be sure to tighten the reel properly before you use it. This can be a bit tricky at first but can be accomplished after a bit of practice.
When fully assembled, this rod is nice and long, which provides more leverage and power for hauling in a catfish. The O-rings are especially durable since they are made out of stainless steel, which is a great feature since these are usually the first thing that breaks on any rod.
Depending on the type of catfish you are after, you might want to switch up your reel setup. Larger species require a baitcasting reel since the drag can be adjusted to help you tire out any bigger catfish. However, a spinning reel is perfect for long casts and quick outings for smaller fish. This rod will allow you to choose either reel type, which helps to make it one of the best choices for anyone that is looking to get as much bang for their buck as possible.
Something else that helps to make this such a versatile option is the fact that it comes with two different rod tops. One of the tops is if you want a medium action rod, while the other is stiffer to provide you with a heavier amount of power. This versatile design makes this rod a great choice for anyone that is going to fish for different species of catfish throughout the year.
This rod is made out of some of the toughest carbon fiber on the market. It has been rigorously tested to ensure that it will not break, even if you catch a larger fish with it. The rod is, however, not rated for heavier duty lines, so you will need to be very careful if you are looking to catch bigger fish since you can only use up to 20 lb. test.
Something else to keep in mind with this rod is that the O-rings are not overly durable. They will work just fine as long as you are careful with them, but if you step on them or close your car door on them, they are very liable to break off.
What we liked:
Comes with two tops
Breaks down for easy transport
Can be used with either spinning or baitcasting reels
Fishing can be, unfortunately, a very expensive endeavor. There are always new things to buy, whether you are fishing for bass or catfish. New rods, reels, lures, and tackle can make it difficult to keep yourself in the game, especially if you are on a tight budget. Thankfully, this rod will not cost you too much but is still a very effective choice if you are looking to get yourself a great catfishing rod. This rod is made out of carbon fiber, so you can rest assured that it is very durable, which is a big plus at this price point.
This is also one of the more compact rods on the market. Though this does cut down on the amount of leverage you will have for landing real monsters, it makes maneuvering around barrier such as trees and bushes much easier. It is also very easy to transport, even if you don’t break it down. Of course, if you do choose to break it down, it is quite useful in that regard as well, since it can be separated into three different sections.
To help make this rod an even more budget-conscious option, it comes with its own protective bag. This bag is a great way to get your rod from your home to the pod without damaging it. This is especially helpful when you consider that the O-rings are very easy to bend. By using this bag, you can help to prevent them from being bent or snapped off during transport.
If you are left-handed, then you know how tough it can be to find a fishing rod that works for you. Almost all of the rods on the market are designed for right-handed folks. This rod, fortunately, comes with a reel that can be set up for either right or left-handed configurations. This helps to make it a great option if you are a lefty, or intend to take a lefty along with you when you go fishing.
Something else that helps to set this rod apart from its competition is the fact that it can be collapsed. Unlike other rods, which can be taken apart into smaller sections, this rod has sections that fit into each other so that it is very small when fully collapsed. This design feature makes it a perfect rod to keep in your vehicle at all times since it doesn’t take up a ton of space.
While this is a very durable rod and reel combination, it should only be used for smaller fish. The line weight limit is quite low, so you want to make sure that you don’t push your luck by trying to catch trophy size catfish. Of course, if you are just going for smaller fish, this rod is a great choice.
This rod is especially flexible, thanks to its combination of both carbon fiber and fiberglass. This material combination makes it very durable and hard to break, which is very impressive for a rod that can be fully collapsed.
If you are a master fisherman that is looking for a great rod and reel setup, then this might be a good option for you. This rod, which is made with durable carbon fiber, comes equipped with a highly durable and effective baitcasting reel. While this type of reel has a steep learning curve, it is a great option if you are looking to land larger fish. Its centrifugal brake helps to make stopping a big fish in its tracks a piece of cake.
Unlike many other catfish rods, this model is quite compact. Though this cuts down on the leverage you can use to land larger fish, it helps to make the rod more maneuverable. This is ideal if you are looking to find a big fish’s hiding spot since they are often found near dense cover, which would be basically impossible to reach with longer rods.
With this rod, you also have a pretty wide range as far as the weight of the line that you can use. It can be used with anything from 15 to 30-pound test, which is appropriate for practically any type of catfish.
The grip on this rod is also one of the better ones that you can buy. It is quite durable, yet very comfortable. Even if you spend an entire day out on the water, your hands shouldn’t get tired if you do decide to purchase this rod and reel combo set.
What we liked:
Comes with a reel
Medium/heavy power rating
Compact for added maneuverability
What could be better:
Reel takes a lot of practice to use properly
Things to Consider
In this section, we will go through all of the different aspects that you need to keep in mind when you are looking to buy the best catfish rod. We have also taken the time answer several frequently asked questions, so be sure to read through these as well if you are still unclear on any information.
What you should know if you want to catch a catfish
Catfish are one of the trickiest types of fish to catch. As such, there are several different things that you need to keep in mind before you head out to your local fishing hold if you want to be successful.
Type of Catfish – When speaking about catching catfish, the first thing that you need to consider is the type of catfish you are after. There are many different types of catfish out there, and each one has different behaviors that you should read up on before you try and catch them. The most popular species are channel catfish, which live in deep channels, blue catfish, which grow the largest, and flathead catfish, which are the most elusive, and therefore, most rewarding to catch.
Time of Day – There are many folks out there that will say that catfish can only be caught at night. This is, fortunately for anyone who isn’t a night owl, not true. You can actually catch catfish at any time of day; you just need to figure out when they like to feed so that they will go for your bait.
Weather – The weather will play a big part in catching catfish. The reason for this is because the weather will have a direct effect on the temperature of the water, which will cause some species to hunker down while others will gear up. For instance, in colder weather, blue catfish are best, while warmer waters are better for flathead or channel cats.
Fishing Depth – Another old story for catfish is that they can only be caught at the bottom. While they do spend a lot of time at the bottom of the water, they will rise up and feed in all levels of a pond, lake, or river. This again goes back to the time of day, because, based on what time you are fishing, catfish can be found at different depths.
Type of Bait – Another big rumor that someone started a long time ago is that catfish only go for stinky bait. This falsehood is probably based off of the idea that since they are usually on the bottom of the body of water, that they only like smelly things. This is not at all true, as catfish will go after many different types of a bait based on the time of year and weather. Some of the best baits for catfish include:
Baitfish, such as shad or minnows
Cheese based dip baits
Correct Line – Since catfish can grow to pretty hefty weights, you want to make sure that you have the right line. Of course, the tougher the line, the less sensitive it is. A way to combat this lack of sensitivity is to get a line that is colored for visibility. That way, you will be able to see when it moves because a fish is biting your bait, even if you can’t feel it right away.
Correct Hooks – The hooks you select should not be undersized. The last thing you want is to have fish continuously throw the hook because it wasn’t big enough. Circle hooks are always a good idea when fishing for catfish since their design makes it much easier to guarantee the hook will stay in place.
Correct Reel – Most experts agree that the best reel type for catfish is a baitcasting model. These reels are very sensitive and allow for more personal control so that you can use them effectively. Baitcasting reels can also handle much heavier line, which is essential for catching larger fish. Spinning reels are not quite as effective since they cannot always handle the added heft of the line required to catch catfish.
Features to consider while choosing a catfish rod
As you can imagine, there are many different features that you need to keep in mind when you are looking for a new fishing rod to catch catfish. In this section, we will go through everything you need to know to find the perfect rod for your needs.
On the other hand, smaller and less powerful rods provide more flexibility and maneuverability. They make operating in smaller spaces much easier. These rods are also a lot more sensitive, which will allow you to feel a fish biting the bait a lot easier than if you were using a larger, more powerful rod.
There are several different materials that you can choose from when it comes to finding the right rod for catfish. These include:
Graphite – Graphite rods are remarkably sensitive and flexible. They are not, however, usually very powerful. If you are simply looking to catch as many catfish as possible and don’t need to worry about any monsters, then this is a good material to choose.
Carbon Fiber – Carbon fiber rods are a bit heavier. As such, they can handle a lot more abuse from larger catfish, making them ideal poles for catfish if you are trying to land the biggest fish you can. They are not overly flexible and aren’t as sensitive as their graphite counterparts, making it a bit harder to feel when a fish is after your bait.
Hybrids – Hybrid rods, like the PLUSINNO Fishing Rod and Reel Combo try to use the best of their materials while limiting the drawbacks. These rods are good for beginning fisherman since they provide the best of both worlds when it comes to strength and sensitivity.
Something else that you will want to consider when you are shopping for a rod to use when fishing for catfish is the length of the rod. Depending on the rod strength, you are going to be able to get a longer or shorter rod to fit your needs. Generally, the longer the rod, the weaker it is, so if you are looking for a rod to catch smaller fish, then longer is better. This greater length will also allow you to cast further than you would be able to with a shorter model.
On the other hand, a short rod, like the Entsport E Series – Conqueror 3-Piece Spinning Rod is going to provide a lot more power. Since the rod is shorter, it will not bend as easily as a longer model, give you more leverage to pull in some monster catfish.
Much like the length of the rod, the line that you use is going to affect the size of the catfish you can catch directly. Higher tensile strength lines are better for bigger fish but lack the sensitivity needed for catching smaller ones. No matter what size fish you are trying to catch, you want to make sure that your rod can handle the line that you want to use.
If you are someone that wants to tackle both large and small catfish, then the Okuma Battle Cat Catfish Spinning Rod might be a good choice, since it can handle both heavy and light lines. Otherwise, you will have to look for a rod that fits your fish size preference so that you are prepared when you go out on the water.
If you are going to be fishing using a lure rather than bait, then you need to be sure to use one that is heavy enough to get to your desired fishing depth. As we mentioned before, catfish are generally found on the bottom, but can also be caught in shallower depths as well. Once you have determined how deep you need to be fishing to get some action, you need to be sure to select the appropriate lure weight.
Of course, if you are using bait, then you need to weight it down in some manner. This can usually be accomplished by attaching weights to your line, though it can take some experimentation to find the right amount, so your bait sinks to the right level. This extra weight should also be factored into the line strength that you use since it will add extra pull to go along with the fish you catch.
If it comes with a reel
When it comes to buying a fishing rod, it is always a good idea to look for one that either comes with a reel that you like or is compatible with the one that you want to use. The two best types for catching catfish are spinning and, especially, bait-casting reels. Some rods are compatible with both types of reel, while others will only work with a certain type, so be sure to read the fine print carefully so that you can make sure to get the right reel for you.
As is the case when you get any new gear, you want to make sure that you look carefully for a good warranty. Even if you buy the best equipment in the world, there is always a chance that something will fail, so you want to be certain that you will be able to replace anything that is damaged through normal use, so you don’t need to pay for it again.
Of course, you need to be careful, because some companies will claim that they offer a long warranty, but will actually only cover some types of damages. It is always a good idea to read through any warranty information so that you are completely sure that you are covered in the case of any accidental damage.
Fishing rods, even those that are specially made for catching elusive catfish, are relatively straightforward pieces of gear. There are not too many different features that you need to look for, though there are definitely some extra features to keep in mind. For instance, you might want to make sure that you get a rod that can be taken apart. Some of the rods on the market are quite long, which might make them rather unwieldy to fit into your car without being able to break them down like you can with the Entsport E Series – Conqueror 3-Piece Spinning Rod.
You also want to make sure that the O-rings on your rod are made out of the best materials possible. These rings can easily be snapped off if they are not durable enough, so you should look for some like those on the KastKing Centron Spinning Reel, which are made out of stainless steel.
How to set your rod up
Once you have selected the rod of your choice, you need to get it set up so that you can go out and land some catfish. There are several different steps to follow, which are listed below:
Select a reel – The first thing you need to do, as long as your rod didn’t come with a reel already, is select the right reel for your rod. As we mentioned before, some rods use spinning reels, while others use bait casting. Some others can be used with both, so be sure you get the right reel for your rod.
Select your line – Next, pick the line that you want to use. Remember, certain rods can only use a certain pound test of line, so be sure to match the line up to your rod.
Put the line on the reel – Once you have the line selected, you need to put it on the reel. Tie a simple knot around the reel spool, and slowly reel in the line. Make sure that it doesn’t become entangled as you are adding it and keep it taught so that it goes on firmly.
Pass the line through the O-rings – Once your reel is full, you can take the line and feed it through the O-rings on the rod. Be sure not to skip any along the way, or you might not be able to land any fish.
Attach tackle – Finally, you need to attach your preferred tackle. This might include weights, hooks for bait, or lures. Make sure that you attach your gear as tightly as possible, so you don’t lose any fish or gear while you are out.
The weight rating for your line is going to depend on the type of catfish you are going after. If you are searching for larger blue catfish, then you are going to want a heavier line. If, however, you are after smaller species, you can get away with a lighter, and more sensitive line weight.
Catfish rods can also be used for any other larger sized game fish, such as largemouth or smallmouth bass, pike, or muskellunge. These fish can get rather large as well, making these rods a good option for them too.
Of all the different catfish rods out there, the Okuma Battle Cat Catfish Spinning Rod just might be the best overall. It is nice and long, which provides plenty of leverage for fighting larger fish. This rod is also versatile, thanks to the fact that it can handle a wide range of line weights. If you are looking for a rod that can be used on pretty much any catfish species, then we highly recommend you check this one out.
Spinning rods like the KastKing Centron Spinning Reel are a great option for anyone that wants to focus solely on fishing, rather than reel settings. This rod can also be broken down with ease, which makes storing and transporting it a whole lot easier.
When it comes to having the best catfish rod, it is a good idea to keep your options open. The TROUTBOY Fishing Rod is a great example of this. It comes with two different tops, which gives you the option to use it as a heavy or medium power rod, depending on the catfish you are after.