If you want to buy a catfish rod for your arsenal, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve rounded up the ten best catfish rods specific for 2022. These reviews provide pros and cons for each, along with specifications like length, action, weight, and materials. There’s also a price guide to help you find one that fits your budget. Our Buyer’s Guide gives plenty of information on the features and functions of these catfish rods. And we answer some of the most frequently asked questions relating to catfishing methods, equipment, and bait. So have a read, choose your weapon, stock up on chicken livers and go get those catfish.

Popular Choice

Big Game Spinning Rod BERKLEY

★★★★★

BERKLEY Big Game 2 Pieces 8 ft best catfish Spinning Rod

Top PickMost Popular

Catfish Casting Rod UGLY STIK

★★★★★

UGLY STIK Medium-heavy 2 Pieces Catfish Casting Rod

Best Value

Tiger Elite UGLY STIK

★★★★★

UGLY STIK Tiger Elite extremely light best saltwater and and freshwater fishing Rod

ALL THE CATFISH RODS THAT WE TESTED

UGLY STIK Catfish Casting Rod

OUR TOP PICK

UGLY STIK Medium-heavy 2 Pieces Catfish Casting Rod

General Impression

When it comes to great catfish rods, many anglers think of Ugly Stiks – and for plenty of good reasons.

Ugly Stik catfish rods follow the same pattern as nearly all of the other Ugly Stiks, with a composite blank material that is manufactured out of both graphite and fiberglass. The end is equipped with a clear tip for added sensitivity, and the guides are fashioned out of stainless steel. Yet unlike the other Ugly Stiks for freshwater species, the catfish casting rod is slightly longer to provide more leverage.

Nonetheless, the catfish rod still functions very much the same as the other models, and provides an incredibly impressive level of sensitivity and power. Overall, anglers can turn to an 8 foot Ugly Stik for nearly any type of freshwater species, as the rods are not only good catfish poles, but also great sturgeon and salmon poles.

Specifications

PIECES: 2 Pieces
PRIMARY MATERIAL: Graphite/fiberglass composite
LENGTH: 8 ft
ACTION: Medium-heavy
ROD WEIGHT: 12 oz

PROS

  • High-quality composite blank
  • Stainless steel guides
  • Clear tip for sensitivity
  • Impressive level of power

CONS

  • Moderately stiff

UGLY STIK Tiger Elite

BEST VALUE

UGLY STIK Tiger Elite extremely light best saltwater and and freshwater fishing Rod

General Impression

The Ugly Stik Tiger Elite may not be specifically designed to be a catfish rod, but the rod is undoubtedly one of the best options when angling for the slimy species. The Tiger Elite is an Ugly Stik catfish rod model which is made as a general-purpose rod for both saltwater and freshwater fishing. Hence why it even made it on the list of the best saltwater fishing rods.

The product’s guides are crafted of stainless steel, while its blank is comprised of a graphite/fiberglass composite. The unique combination makes the rod extremely light, but also wildly powerful. Saltwater anglers often pull sizable sharks in on the piece, while freshwater anglers bring both catfish and sturgeon in easily.

Anglers that toss on a size 8500 reel with the 7 foot rod can rest assured that they can bring in nearly any species, as the two sizes comprise the best catfish rod and reel combo to tackle trophy fish.

Specifications

PIECES: 1 Piece
PRIMARY MATERIAL: Graphite/fiberglass composite
LENGTH: 7 ft
ACTION: Heavy
ROD WEIGHT: 9.5 oz

PROS

  • One piece stainless steel guides
  • Lightweight rod blank
  • Stainless steel cushioned reel seats
  • Great power/action combo

CONS

  • Lacks a hook keeper

BERKLEY Big Game Spinning Rod

General Impression

For those fishing enthusiasts that are after catching some big fish, but do not want to break the bank, Berkley comes in with a super-affordable yet quality-made spinning fishing rod.
Made from a special blend of tubular fiberglass, it also features a modulus blank made of a unique X-veil synthetic composite that delivers quite the tensile strength. This fishing rod’s titanium line guides with zirconium inserts are rust-proof, so fishing in saltwater or freshwater is a breeze.
Handle-wise, Berkley’s Big Game spinning rod features an EVA and TAC split foam handle that ensures utter comfort.

Specifications

PIECES: 2 Pieces
PRIMARY MATERIAL: Tubular Fiberglass
LENGTH: 8 ft
ACTION: Medium Heavy
ROD WEIGHT: 0.26 lbs

PROS

  • Affordable
  • Light
  • Durable
  • Beginner-friendly

CONS

  • Not suitable for line weight over 30 lbs

OKUMA Battle Cat

General Impression

The Okuma Battle Cat may sound more like a video game character, but there is no doubt that it is one of the best catfish rods currently on the market. Practically all of the anglers who have got their hands on a Battle Cat swear by the quality of the heavy-duty catfish fishing rods. The true appeal behind the catfish rod is the supreme comfort and convenience that they provide. 8 foot Battle Cat models are crafted with a 6 inch foregrip and 14 inch rear grip to give anglers plenty of hand space. This is further complemented by the E-Glass blank, which provides an incredible level of sensitivity.

While the rod is revered as one of the greatest while it is in action, it is one model that is fairly difficult to transport. The 2 piece sections come together near the base of the handle, which leaves anglers with a piece which is roughly 6 feet, and another around 2 feet. Nevertheless, the rod’s performance elevates it far above other good catfish rods.

Specifications

PIECES: 2 Pieces
PRIMARY MATERIAL: E-Glass
LENGTH: 8 ft
ACTION: Heavy
ROD WEIGHT: 17.4 oz

PROS

  • Double foot welded guides
  • Comfortable EVA/cork handle
  • Convenient hook keeper
  • 2 piece connection near handle not mid-blank

CONS

  • Difficult to transport

TEAM CATFISH Thunder Cat

General Impression

The Thunder Cat by Team Catfish may sound just like the radical cartoon from the 80s – but fear not, there is nothing cartoonish about the piece. The Thunder Cat is the best catfish rod from Team Catfish’s lineup, as it is crafted with a high-quality E-glass and a graphite reel seat. Though its color scheme is somewhat ordinary, the catfish rod makes up for that aspect with its extraordinary performance. Anglers wielding the piece can fish from muddy river banks, and rest assured that their rod will never incur much damage, or become slippery from rain or mist. Best of all, the heavy action is well equipped to take on all sorts of monsters lurking in the depths.

Specifications

PIECES: 1 Piece
PRIMARY MATERIAL: E-Glass
LENGTH: 8 ft
ACTION: Heavy
ROD WEIGHT: N/A

PROS

  • High-quality E-glass blank
  • Anti-slip EVA foam handle
  • Durable reel seat
  • Well-positioned reel trigger

CONS

  • A bit flexible and wiggly

OKUMA Longitude Surf Graphite Rod

General Impression

Featuring a durable frame with aluminum oxide inserts that are particularly treated to keep the rust off when saltwater fishing, this Longitude Surf model will deliver accuracy and comfort.
The Longitude Series are known to be sturdy yet flexible, with enough strength to reel in some big fish without straining your wrist, and you can use any fishing line.
The grip part is nicely layered with premium-grade cork that will ensure a firm grip with no chance of slipping, even if you’re out fishing all day. Featuring stainless steel hooded reel seats means your reel stays in place when you cast or pull out the big fish.
Also, the 1-year limited warranty is a nice touch.

Specifications

PIECES: 2 Pieces
PRIMARY MATERIAL: Graphite Composite
LENGTH: 12 ft
ACTION: Heavy
ROD WEIGHT: 0.12 lbs

PROS

  • Durable 
  • Flexible
  • Versatile
  • Warranty included

CONS

  • Might be too long for some

EAGLE CLAW Catclaw Casting Rod

General Impression

Particularly made for the angler that’s after accuracy, sensitivity, and longitude of the cast, the Catclaw model, courtesy of Eagle Claw catfish rod is the right pick. The graphite and glass blend ensure a sturdy, endurable piece of fishing gear. Featuring aluminum oxide line guides means that your line will stay in place, knot-free, even if you find yourself struggling to reel in the big fish you were after.
No matter how long you stay out fishing, the EVA handle will make sure you’re comfortable enough. Also, being a 2-piece catfish rod makes it easy to transport for the traveling anglers.

Specifications

PIECES: 2 Pieces
PRIMARY MATERIAL: Graphite
LENGTH: 8 ft
ACTION: Medium Heavy
ROD WEIGHT: 2.4 oz

PROS

  • Comfortable
  • Compact
  • Durable
  • Accurate
  • Affordable
  • For men and women

CONS

  • Not for very large fish

LURERA Catfish Casting Rod

General Impression

LurEra certainly isn’t one of the most popular fishing brands on the market, but that surely doesn’t stop the manufacturer from creating some of the best catfish rods that money can buy.

The LurEra catfish rod is a model that truly grabs the attention of any onlooker. All rods are fashioned with black and white camouflage handles that blend perfectly with the black carbon fiber blank. But the beauty truly is skin deep with the model, as it is crafted of 30 ton carbon fiber which holds its structural integrity when fish well over 100 pounds fight from the other end.

But all of that power and beauty would be useless without a decent level of comfort. Thankfully, anglers can find just that in the EVA handle which provides a soft and cozy grip for long days on the water or riverside. And due to the rod’s relative shortness compared to other cat rods, it can be packed away into a fishing backpack to make travel extra easy.

Specifications

PIECES: 2 Pieces
PRIMARY MATERIAL: Carbon fiber
LENGTH: 7 ft
ACTION: Heavy
ROD WEIGHT: 9.3 oz

PROS

  • Lightweight and balanced
  • Strong and durable ceramic guides
  • EVA handle for non-slip situations
  • Excellent visual design

CONS

  • Only 6 attached guides

KASTKING Brutus Spinning Rod

General Impression

KastKing Brutus catfish rods are “Brute Tuff” and ready for you to challenge them to the toughest fishing brawl. The Brute Tuff composite graphite/glass blank stand up when other rods fail. KastKing’s combination of carbon fiber and fiberglass result in incredibly durable fishing rods. Brutus delivers a lifetime of fishing fun without sacrificing the performance and feel that all anglers desire. Every Brutus catfish rod features chartreuse “Strike Tip” for early strike detection in low light conditions.

Specifications

PIECES: 2 Piece
PRIMARY MATERIAL: Stainless Steel
LENGTH: 6.6 ft
ACTION: Fast
ROD WEIGHT: 17-25 oz

PROS

  • Double footed guides for increased strength
  • Comfortable shrink wrap handle
  • Ultra-durable fiberglass blank

CONS

  • Plastic reel seat washers

KASTKING Blackhawk II Telescopic Fishing Rod

General Impression

The Blackhawk II catfish rod model is a telescopic fishing rod that’s compact, so you won’t feel burdened with all the accessories for your fishing trip, since it can easily fit in your bag.
Blackhawk’s floating guide system will make expanding or contracting the catfish rod a matter of seconds. Using just the right combo of fixed and floating guides makes retraction easy, coming down to a sinch of its actual length, while still retaining superb casting control, line presentation, and blank maneuvering.
Featuring a sturdy and long-lasting EVA handle means you can enjoy fishing for as long as you’d like. Also, coming in 14 different lengths makes KastKing’s Blackhawk a neat choice for both men and women.

Specifications

PIECES: 1 Pieces
PRIMARY MATERIAL: Carbon Matrix
LENGTH: 7 ft
ACTION: Medium
ROD WEIGHT: 4.6 oz

PROS

  • Compact
  • Lightweight
  • Reinforced reel seats
  • Saf-T Keeper Hook Holder
  • Fast assembly
  • Affordable
  • Durable glass tip

CONS

  • Won’t endure over 30 lbs of line weight

BEST CATFISH RODS
Buyer's Guide

Material

Sporting goods can be fashioned of multiple different materials these days. As technology improves, so too do the elements which make up the tools.

In modern times, the best catfish rods are made of a variety of high tech materials. Though graphite and fiberglass still make up the majority of the market, composite rods have crept their way into the mainstream eye as well.

Graphite rods are notoriously sensitive, as the molecular makeup allows them to transmit even the slightest motion directly into the hand of the angler. As a result, they are extraordinarily ideal for catching fish which barely nibble at bait. However, catfish don’t act the same way as those light biting fish, as they typically suck the bait in and slowly pull.

On the contrary, fiberglass rods are far less sensitive, but much more durable than graphite. The flexible and bendy rods can take an absolute beating, and still snap back to their original shape. Plus, they often possess a higher power rating, which permits anglers to pull harder and lift more weight without worrying that the piece will snap. Many of the best catfishing rods are manufactured of fiberglass.
The third, but equally important material is composite. Composite rods are products that blend together elements such as fiberglass, graphite, boron, and keratin. The unique mixes create tools which can withstand all sorts of pressure, but also transmit even the lightest touch. As technology continues to advance, the presence of composite rods in the catfish world continues to grow. If the materials that went into composite rods were cheaper, then nearly all catfishing poles would be made of the mix.

Power

Freshwater fish don’t often exceed 100 pounds. The salt-less environments rarely provide enough nutrients for fish to grow so large – but catfish are an exception. The not-so-furry felines of the streams can grow up to 600 pounds in some freshwater environments, making them the heaviest freshwater species in existence. But combating all that weight certainly isn’t easy, and the only way to efficiently fight such a fish is with some seriously heavy gear. Thankfully, there are plenty of good catfish rod and reel combos that can handle the beasts. When angling for catfish, most anglers need to select a rod which is medium to heavy power. The power, which is nothing more than the sheer lifting weight of a rod, is a critical factor to analyze when shopping for rods. Heavy duty catfish rods must be used when angling for 100 pound monsters, whereas medium and medium-heavy rods are more suitable for fish under that limit. Anglers that make the mistake of purchasing a basic “cat fish pole” with a light power will be disappointed the moment a fish bites the hook, as such a weak blank will snap when great pressure is applied.

Overall, the greatest catfish poles and reels are those equipped with a higher power rating. Having too much power almost never causes issues, whereas having too little almost always does.

Action

The action of a rod is the component which determines where a rod bends when pressure is applied from a fish or snag. The length of the rod can bend anywhere from the very tip, clear down to the handle. Depending on the material used and the manufacturing process, the bend can be practically anywhere.

In order to make things simpler the action of a rod is classified into different speed groups. Fast action rods bend at the very tip of the piece, and snap back to their original position almost instantly. Such a variant is ideal for fish which quickly bite then move on.

Moderate action rods on the other hand, bend in the middle of the blank, providing a solid mix of both speed and shock absorption. Many catfish spinning rods come equipped with a medium action, due to its relative balance.

Finally, there are slow action rods. These are the puppies that absorb loads of shock, and bend as far down as the handle. A rod equipped with a slow action is great for setting the hook on fish with soft mouths, or those that take the bait and run. Unlike fast action rods, slow action rods give the fish more of a chance to suck the bait in, before it is ripped out of their mouths.

Overall, many anglers prefer a slow or medium action catfish rod and reel combo to ensure that they set the hook on the whiskered beasts, without totally ripping the bait out of the fishes mouths. The increased flexibility also aids anglers in the fight to wrestle in excessively heavy species such as those weighing over 100 pounds. However, when in doubt – do your research.

Length

Although catfishing rods come in all sorts of different lengths, there is no one-size-fits-all rod. The length of a rod can either make angling a whole lot easier or more difficult. Longer rods typically allow anglers to cast far greater distances, whereas shorter rods are more ideal for finesse fishing. Those who angle in dense coverage often find it nearly impossible to wield an 8 foot pole, as there just isn’t enough casting room. On the contrary, those wielding a 5 foot pole on a river side may be plagued by the short casting distance that such a length permits.

Yet, the casting is not the only factor which is affected by the length of a rod – so too is the power. Longer rods typically provide more power, and permit handlers to lift far greater amounts of weight. Short rods on the other hand, don’t provide nearly as much power due to the decreased amount of leverage. When angling for large species of catfish, anglers should opt for a long model nearly 8 feet. Those who seek reclusive cats in dense coverage are better off with short a short catfishing rod around 5 feet.

BEST CATFISH RODS
FAQs

1. Catfish rods vs catfish poles

Technology has made sport fishing far easier than ever before. There are now countless brands which manufacture high quality tools that allow fishermen to catch prized fish. However, there are still and abundance of fishermen using catfish poles, which are old-school tools used to catch the trophy fish.

Catfish poles are nothing more than a stick equipped with a line at the end. The contraption is then shoved nearly 2 feet into the riverbank, where it resides and waits for catfish to bite. Bait is of course attached to the end of the line, which dangles just a few feet under the water. Although the method sounds simple, it is nearly as effective as the best rod and reels for catfishing.

Now, onto the modern stuff. Today’s catfish rod and reels are comprised of a high quality blank, with an attached reel that bundles line together. That line is then cast out through the guides of the rod, and hurled into the body of water. It is the most common method of fishing, and is what most people think of when imagining the sport.

2. What’s the best line for catfish?

There is a hot debate between which type of line is better – braided or monofilament. Braided line is extremely thin, which gives anglers the chance to put far more of it on their reels. It’s memory free, which means that it doesn’t develop curls and shapes after years of use. However, the variant is hardly resistant to abrasion at all, and breaks easily when it is rubbed on any nearby object or surface.

Monofilament, on the other hand, is a slightly thicker, but more abrasion resistant variant of line. Many catfish anglers like to use the material, due to its ability to stretch or shrink when needed. Thus, when anglers set the hook on fish, the monofilament absorbs a large amount of the blow, rather than transmitting the force directly into the fish.

At the end of the day, both variants can be relied on for catfishing. It is just important to note that simply having the best catfish rod and reel isn’t enough to catch big fish – quality line must also be included in the mix to achieve the best results.

3. What’s the best reel type for catfish?

The best catfish reel and rod is likely a baitcasting, or casting combination. Casting rods are a variant built for hurling bait a long ways, or fighting heavy fish. They contain a set of guides over the top of the blank, rather than under. And unlike a spinning rod, the reel is mounted on the top of the blank.

However, casting reels have multiple advantages that make them more ideal for catfishing. For one, casting reels are far smaller than spinning reels of a comparable power. A size 4000 casting can be nearly half the size of a spinning reel. Additionally, the variant holds more line, and possesses more power in relative terms than a spinning reel.

While they do often cost more, the numerous benefits associated with such a reel make them the wisest choice. Overall, the best rod and reels for catfishing that an angler can choose are likely casting variants, due to their extreme power, compact size, and hurling distance.

4. What is a good catfish bait?

Catfish are no doubt some of the least picky eaters at the dinner table, but that doesn’t stop them from still having their own favorite meals.

For decades, anglers have sworn that the best catfish bait is chicken livers. The stinky innards of the chicken put off a potent aroma under the water, which draws cats out from all corners of the murky depths. It is definitely the most typical bait on the market – but it has earned that title due to its great success at attracting channel cats and other similar species.

Of course, there are still plenty of other great baits, such as cut up fish pieces. Those who forgot to pick up chicken livers from the market can simply catch small panfish such as crappie, and filet them into small cubes. The small cubes put off foul aromas, which can attract some pretty large catfish.

5. What is the best fishing pole for catfish?

The king of all catfishing rods and reels is the Okuma Battle Cat. The Battle Cat is a rugged and tough rod which makes wrestling in massive fish a breeze. Not only is it one of the best catfish rods, but also an ideal sturgeon pole.

As for specs, the Okuma Battle Cat is a rod which is manufactured out of E-Glass and double foot welded guides. The combination makes for an incredibly strong and durable piece, which can pull creatures from the depths clear up to the surface.
The only flaw that anglers may notice is that the rod is a catfish spinning rod, rather than a casting rod. A size 3000 spinning reel is far larger than a size 3000 casting rod, and offers less distance when casting. Nevertheless, the Battle Cat offers plenty of power, a sturdy build, a hook keeper, and a 14 inch rear grip to provide extra comfort for long days of angling.

6. What is the best catfish rod and reel combo?

The best rod and reel for catfish is likely the Okuma Battle Cat outfitted with a Penn Spinfisher V Live Liner.

As mentioned in the section above, the Okuma Battle Cat is an incredible rod that can take a beating, but also rope in trophy fish. Its high quality blank and ultra-comfortable handle make it ideal for days on the water, when the fish continue to bite.

The Penn Spinfisher V on the other hand, is manufactured to ensure that anglers land fish, by not putting too much pressure on the beasts while they are underwater. The drag system on the reel gradually lets out line as fish continue to fight, creating a delicate balance between pressure and tension. As a result, anglers can fight massive fish, without constantly worrying about snapping their line.

All in all, the two products make for an incredible catfishing combo that gives anglers a fighting chance to catch some monsters. There certainly are plenty of other good catfish rods and reels, but these two options are the best bet for anglers of all skill levels.

7. What is the best catfish rod for the money?

The best catfish rod for the money is the BnM Silver Cat. The Silver Cat is a rod which countless anglers swear by due to its extreme reliability when it comes to landing big fish.

Nearly everything that an angler could want from a catfish rod can be found in the Silver Cat. It’s crafted of strong and durable fiberglass, mounted with high-quality guides, and outfitted with a glow-in-the-dark tip. Those who angle in the daytime man not appreciate the glow in the dark tip, but those who fish at night surely do.

Although dozens of other catfish rod and reels are respectable these days – few can offer the same superior level of quality at such an affordable price as the BnM Silver Cat.

REACH OUT

As always, we create our content with you, fellow adventurers, in mind. So, how’d we do? Did you find this informative? Did it help you make a decision? Did we miss anything? We’d love to hear from you below. Thanks for reading and we hope your next adventure is a great one!

David Stefanoski

David Stefanoski is an avid outdoorsman who loves to explore the deepest, most exciting crevices of nature and then write about them. From the maximum depth that a scuba suit can go, to the maximum heights that his legs will take him, David enjoys the outdoors in its warmest, sunniest days on the prairie, to the iciest, dampest little spots in Eastern Europe. After 15 years of trudging, his favorite outdoorsman activity is still chopping wood due to his large body size. He says it's like splitting toothpicks!

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