Best Overall: Ugly Stik Catfish Rod (click to view)
“The Ugly Stik features a patented clear tip, providing extra visibility and more power in its tip. It has comfortable EVA handles so fighting big cats won’t strain your hands. Ideal for anglers targeting different sizes of catfish.”
Best Premium Option: BnM Silver Cat Elite Rod (click to view)
“The Silver Cat Elite Rod features an extra-strong spine and supremely sensitive tip. Ideal for anglers targeting big blue and channel cats, but still works on smaller cats since you can see even the smallest bites.”
Best Budget Option: Berkley Lightning Rod Shock (click to view)
“The Lightning Rod Shock is designed for using braided superlines, perfect for catfish under 20 pounds. It’s a solid choice for anglers on a budget and targeting cats around a lot of grass.”
Catfish are one of the most fished for freshwater species in the United States. Ranging in size from under five-pound up to hundreds of pounds, it’s no wonder why they’re considered a popular sportfish. To go after them, though, you need to take extra care when selecting the right rod for you.
The biggest thing to consider when purchasing the best catfish rods is the size of the fish you’re targeting. You’ll need to choose different lengths and powers based on the fish and bait’s size. You’ll also want to make sure you’re choosing durable materials, guides that won’t wear out easily, and comfortable handles.
With so many options available, it can be hard to find exactly what you need for catfishing. We’ve scoured the market to find the best options for catching catfish no matter what size you’re after, so you can make the right decisions when buying one.
What Is The Best Catfish Rod?
Top 5 Catfish Rods
Table of Contents
- The Rundown
- What Is The Best Catfish Rod?
- Best Catfish Rods In 2021
- What To Look For When Buying The Best Catfish Rod
- Questions & Answers
Best Catfish Rods In 2021
- Best Overall: Ugly Stik Catfish Rod
- Best Premium Option: BnM Silver Cat Elite Rod
- Best Budget Option: Berkley Lightning Rod Shock
- Best for Bigger Catfish: Okuma Battle Cat
- Best Portable: Championship Catfish Rod
Ugly Stik Catfish Spinning Rod
Best Overall Catfish Rod: Perfect for anglers and fish that are tough on rods, with unchallenged durability.
- One-piece, stainless steel guides
- Unsurpassed durability
- Patented clear tip for visibility and strength
Ugly Stik Rods are well known for their toughness, low price point, and quality. Their catfish series of rods combines all of the best features of an Ugly Stik with carefully selected powers and actions for big cats. Overall, an Ugly Stik Catfish rod is an excellent choice for any angler looking after catfish of any size.
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BnM Silver Cat Elite Casting Rod
Best Premium Catfish Rod: Super strong backbone with an extra fast action lets you recognize bites instantly while also giving you the power you need to fight monster cats.
- One-piece, 7.5-foot rod length is ideal for catfish
- X-Grip handles give you a solid grip on the rod even when wet
- Heavy-duty reel seat with low profile keeps the reel weight balanced
Powerful, seven-foot-plus rods are the best choices for larger cats. This one from BnM may be a bit pricier, but it is a great option thanks to the extra-strong rod spine and supremely sensitive rod tip. It is a better choice for anglers targeting big blue and channel cats, but it will still perform well on smaller cats since you can see even the smallest bites.
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Berkley Lightning Rod Shock Spinning Rod
Best Budget Catfish Rod: An optimal rod for braid, the strong backbone relieves the stress of using no-stretch lines on the rod blank.
- Shock absorbing rod blank
- Lightweight and incredibly sensitive
- Strike Amplifying Tip picks up every little tap
This line of rods from Berkley is perfect for catfish under twenty pounds. Coming in both casting and spinning options and designed for using braided superlines, this rod lets you use the gear you’re comfortable with within nearly any fishing situation. It’s a solid choice for anglers on a budget and targeting catfish around a lot of grass.
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Okuma Battle Cat Catfish Spinning Rod
Best Rod For Bigger Catfish: The extra length gives you a better casting distance while also allowing you to handle the biggest catfish you can find.
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- Specifically designed for spinning reels
- The 8-foot glass rod is perfect for giant catfish at and above 50 pounds
- Ideal for bank fishing and trolling while using rod holders
It wouldn’t be a complete list without including a rod that can handle the biggest monster catfish of your dreams. This one from Okuma is explicitly designed for those fish, with the ability to use super-heavy lines, huge spinning reels, and heavy lead weights and baits. It’s the best option for catfish up to and above fifty pounds.
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Championship Catfish Rod
Best Portable Catfish Rod: A 7’6”, 2-piece rod that gives you all the power you need while breaking down to pack away neatly in your trunk.
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- Hard rubber butt keeps you from digging into yourself during fights
- Lifetime warranty for rod breaking for any reason
- Handles heavy lead weights without you noticing
Sometimes you need both portability and power in your rod, and this Championship Catfish Rod delivers both. It also provides great fun on smaller cats, featuring a medium/heavy action instead of the usual super heavy actions. It’s an excellent choice for a weekend trip when you don’t have a ton of storage space and as a solid all-around catfish rod.
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What To Look For When Buying The Best Catfish Rod
Rod power refers to the amount of force you need to bend the rod at its bend point. Remember that this includes the weight of any lures, baits, and lead weights you attach to it.
For catfish, you want to avoid any ultra-lights, lights, and medium-light rods.
Choose a rod based on the size of the fish you’re after. Heavy for the biggest catfish, medium-heavy for mid-sized ones, and medium for catfish around five pounds.
Rod action refers to where and how much the rod will bend. The faster the action, As a result, it’s the less of the rod bends, with fast-action rods only really bending around the tip.
For catfish, you want to lean on the faster end of the spectrum. Fast action rods are great for big catfish, while medium action rods are usually the best for everything else.
The length of a rod directly affects the casting distance of the rod, with longer rods casting farther, getting faster hooksets, and better reach.
A minimum rod length for catfish is typically a seven-foot rod. You want this length because it lets you maneuver around sunken trees and other things that can get you hung up while also offering good casting distance.
Fiberglass and graphite are usually the two materials used for rods. Fiberglass is stiffer with less sensitivity, while graphite offers more sensitivity at the cost of bending easier.
Fiberglass is cheaper than graphite, making the rods more affordable. A composite of the two is usually best for catfish since it gives you great sensitivity and all the stiffness you need to fight the bigger fish.
The line weight on rods is a guide for what size lines will slide easily through the rod guides without getting hung up or causing too much friction. Look for rods with a 10-50 pound line weight rating since these are the sizes you’ll be using the most often for catfish. Outside of catfish, this is also the best rating range for most bigger fish when freshwater fishing.
Questions & Answers
What kind of rod is best for catfish?
The best all-around catfish rods are seven-foot, fast action, heavy power, graphite, and fiberglass composites. In addition, most catfish rods have extremely stiff rod spines with an extra sensitive tip, so you don’t miss bites.
What are the best baits for catfish?
Catfish’s favorite foods change depending on their age, size, and species. As a rule of thumb, smaller catfish tend to feed on insects, larvae, and worms, while larger catfish eat smaller fish species and crawfish. Try to use their everyday foods as the best bait options, or try some artificial catfish baits such as blood and stink baits.
What is the best line for catfish?
Braided superlines are the best option for catfish. They tend to not fray around sunken trees and cut through the grass in the fishing holes catfish tend to hang around. You can also use a heavier line than monofilament lines for the line diameter, and they have nearly zero stretches, making it easier to set your hook in a catfish’s hard mouth.
What is the best reel for catfish?
Catfish are a widespread species in the United States, so they’re a common entry target for beginner anglers. However, as a beginner fisherman, spinning reels are usually your best option because they are easy to learn to use. Also, unlike casting reels, you don’t have to worry about backlash, handedness, or anything else.
What makes a good catfish rod?
Good catfish rods are stiff, bend very little except near the tip, and are extremely sensitive at the tip so you can see when a fish slightly knocks your bait. A seven-foot length gives you the reach and casting distance you need, and a strong spine provides the rod with the raw power you need to force the fish to the surface.