Best Catfish Rods

Best Catfish Rods in 2023 (Updated) – Reliable and Capable To Catch Any Catfish

Catfish are not easy to catch; they’re fighters, they’re heavy, and they’re smart. You can’t pick the first rod you see and expect it to be able to withstand a catfish’s fight.

Because catfish are strong, they need a strong rod to be able to keep up with them. In order to find a fishing rod for catching catfish, there are a few factors that you need to take into consideration, like the rod’s power, length, materials, and so on.

Well, I’ve gone ahead and done just that. I gathered all the information that catfish anglers might need to know about each rod on this list and its pros and cons.

So, without further delay, here are my top picks for the best catfish rods in 2023.

List of the Best Catfish Rods in 2023

Our Top Picks:

RodBlank’s MaterialPower Ratings
KastKing Perigee II 2-ton carbon matrixUltra-light to Heavy
Ugly Stik Catfish SpecialGraphite and fiberglass compositeMedium-heavy
Shakespeare MicroGraphite compositeUltra Light and Light
Ugly Stik GX2Graphite and fiberglass compositeMedium-light to Heavy
Berkley Big GameFiberglassMedium and Medium-heavy
Abu Garcia Max STX GraphiteLight to Medium-heavy

The 6 Best Catfish Rods in 2023

1. KastKing Perigee II Casting and Spinning Rods – Best Overall

There are so many reasons why I love this rod so much that I don’t know where to start.

I guess I can start with its high-quality materials. The rod is made from a 24-ton carbon matrix that is manufactured with KastFlex technology, which provides the rod with extra strength and durability.

It comes with fuji O-Ring guides that provide the angler with more accuracy when casting. You will also enjoy its high-density EVA foam handles for comfort when holding the rod for extended periods of time.

What is truly special about this rod is its twin-tip models, which are models that come with two tips rather than one. For catfishing, I highly recommend the medium and medium-heavy models. Another bonus to this rod is that it comes in both casting and spinning models to satisfy whichever technique you’re choosing to catfish with.

It comes in a wide variety of models for you to choose from, starting at ultra-light all the way to heavy power ratings and a huge variety of rod lengths starting from 4’6” to 7’6”.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Twin-tip models
  • Spinning and casting models
  • Comfortable grip
  • Lightweight
  • Durable

Cons:

  • Prone to snapping under high resistance

Final Verdict

My top pick for the best catfish rod is the KastKing Perigee II. The rod is lightweight, durable, and affordable. Moreover, you’d have a wide selection of models to choose from, whether you’re looking for a spinning or casting rod. Lastly, it comes in twin-tips models, which means you’ll be getting two rods rather than one.

2. Ugly Stik Catfish Special Casting Fishing Rod – Runner-Up

Ugly Stik products are truly unmatched. It may be an expensive rod, but it’s definitely worth it for the high quality it offers. It will definitely improve your fishing experience and help you catch some of the biggest catfish out there.

The rod is made from a graphite and fiberglass composite using the Ugly Stik Technology which provides the rod with its lightweight and high sensitivity to detect light bites. Furthermore, the rod’s guides are made of stainless steel using Ugly Tuff technology.

Since this rod is designed specifically for catfish, it can handle catfish without any issues. All the models come in a medium-heavy power rating, which is the optimum rating for catfish.

It comes with a clear tip for higher accuracy when casting. It comes with a rubberized handle for a more comfortable grip

Pros:

  • Clear-tip design
  • Comfortable grip
  • High sensitivity and casting accuracy
  • Wide range of models
  • Lightweight
  • 7-year warranty

Cons:

  • Relatively expensive

Final Verdict

If you know anything about fishing rods, you’d know the Ugly Stik products are known for their high quality. The Catfish Special Casting rod is durable, lightweight, and comes with a clear tip for accuracy when casting. You can’t go wrong with an Ugly Stik.

3. Shakespeare Micro Spinning Rod – Best Affordable Catfish Rod

My budget pick for the best catfish rod is, undoubtedly, Shakespeare’s micro spinning rod. It’s an excellent choice for beginner anglers looking for a good rod to get them started with catfishing.

The rod is made from graphite composite materials, which provide the rod with enough durability to be able to withstand catfish without a problem.

It comes with a conventional reel seat with cushioned hoods as well as stainless steel guides and inserts for higher casting accuracy, and full premium-grade cork handles for a more stable grip when catfishing.

It’s available in two action ratings; light and ultra-light. It’s also available in a wide range of sizes, starting from 4.6 ft. to 7 ft.

Pros:

  • Affordable price
  • Stable grip
  • High casting accuracy
  • Wide range of models

Cons:

  • Not the best when it comes to durability

Final Verdict

Shakespeare’s Micro Spinning Rod is easily my budget pick for the best catfish rod. Even though it’s not the best when it comes to durability, it offers good value for money. If you’re a beginner looking for a good starter rod, then this is the best option for you.

4. Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Fishing Rod – Best Catfish Spinning Rod

Yet another Ugly Stik product; what can I say? They’re just that good.

You must have heard of the spinning GX2 combo, right? Well, I’m mostly focusing on the casting models here.

The GX2 casting models are made using Ugly Stik Technology, which is a composite of graphite and fiberglass to provide the rod with its lightweight and high durability.

Moreover, the rod comes with stainless steel guides. Much like the previous Ugly Stik product, the guides are made using the Ugly Tuff technology to ensure their durability. The rod also comes with an EVA handle that provides the angler with comfort.

What is special about the GX2 is that it comes in a wide variety of models with lengths starting at 5’6” to 7’6″ with power ratings ranging from medium-light to heavy.

However, for catfishing, I recommended going for a medium or a medium-heavy power rating. Lastly, the rod comes in both one-piece and two-piece configurations.

Pros:

  • 1 and 2-piece configurations
  • 7-year warranty
  • Clear-tip design
  • High durability

Cons:

  • Doesn’t feel very comfortable in the hand
  • The handle is a little too short

Final Verdict

If you’re looking for the best catfish casting rod, well, you’re looking at it. The GX2 is a popular rod in the fishing industry, and the casting version of it is of unmatched quality. In addition to being an affordable rod, it also comes with a clear tip and high-quality guides for the best casting accuracy.

5. Berkley Big Game Casting Fishing Rod – Best Catfish Casting Rod

Berkley is another big name in the fishing industry, and the Big Game rod is my top pick for the best catfish spinning rod.

It is made from fiberglass, which provides the rod with durability and flexibility. It also comes with stainless steel guides for casting accuracy and a full EVA grip that is comfortable to hold.

While the rod comes in both spinning and casting styles, I mostly recommend the spinning models because they are truly unmatched.

The spinning models come in lengths 7’ and 8’ with power ratings of medium and medium-heavy, respectively. However, both models only come in a two-piece configuration.

What is truly special about this rod, though, is that it comes with a lifetime warranty so you wouldn’t need to worry about any issues for a lifetime.

Pros:

  • Lifetime warranty
  • High durability
  • Flexible
  • Affordable price

Cons:

  • Eyelets are a bit weak
  • A little on the heavier side

Final Verdict

Berkley Big Game is a very unique spinning catfish rod. It is durable, flexible, and affordable. In spite of being made from fiberglass, it is still comfortable to hold without wrist fatigue. Also, the rod comes with a lifetime warranty that guarantees that this rod will last you years undamaged.

6. Abu Garcia Max STX Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo – Best Catfish Rod and Reel Combo

It’s only fair to include the best catfish rod and reel combo in this list. My top pick for the best combo is the Abu Garcia Max STX.

The body and rotor are made from light graphite material for ultimate sensitivity, and the grip is made with molded polymer to eliminate any wrist fatigue. The spool is made of machined aluminum to add extra strength without increasing the weight

It comes with 5 stainless steel ball bearings and 1 roller bearing to provide a smooth drag. It also comes with a custom-designed integrated reel seat and a durable Everlast bail system.

It’s available in 1pc and 2pc configurations with a range of rod lengths. The rod power ranges from light to medium-heavy.

This Catfish combo is a popular choice among tournament anglers as it enhances their performance and increases their chances of catching trophy cats.

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Durable material
  • Easy to handle
  • Comfortable grip
  • Smooth reel

Cons:

  • Relatively expensive
  • Not ideal for beginners

Final Verdict

Abu Garcia Max STX is easily the best rod and reel combo that you can find today. The rod itself is lightweight, comfortable to hold, and durable. Not to mention the smooth drag and powerful rod action.

How to Pick a Fishing Rod for Catfish?

Best Catfish Rods

1. Power

Catfish are not the kind to give in easily. They can put up a fight that only a powerful rod can withstand. When catfishing, you shouldn’t go for a power rating less than medium. Furthermore, I’d recommend going for a medium-heavy power rating, as it fits most catfish.

Keep in mind that it’s not a good idea to go for a power rating that’s too high, like extra-heavy or even heavy, as that will not allow you to feel the catfish’s bite.

2. Length

There’s no right or wrong when choosing the perfect length for your catfish rod. Generally, I recommend staying in the 6’ to 8’ territory because that’s not too long that the rod is hard to handle, and neither is it too short that it takes away from the casting distance.

3. Materials

Fishing rods are made from a variety of materials; however, the most common materials that go into manufacturing fishing rods are graphite and fiberglass.

Graphite is lightweight and sensitive, while fiberglass is a little heavier, but it adds durability to the rod that graphite alone cannot match.

4. Style

Choosing between spinning and casting styles depends on what you personally prefer. However, if you’re new to the catfishing world, spinning rods are your best bet because they’re a little easier to use.

On the other hand, casting rods cover a much larger casting distance, and experienced anglers believe that they’re more fun to use than spinning rods.

You can check out my other guide on How to Buy a Fishing Rod to learn more.

Tips for Catching Catfish

Now that you know how to pick the best rod for catfishing, here are some extra tips that will help you catch more catfish and improve your overall fishing experience.

  • The best baits to use for catfish are natural baits. You can use live bait such as minnows, shads, worms, crayfish, frogs, and bluegills. You can also use homemade baits, such as dough baits, or cut baits, such as perch eyes and chicken parts.
    • It’s not recommended to use stink baits for catfish as they prefer baits that look and smell healthy.
  • You can add scent attractants to your baits and lures to increase your chances of getting more catfish to bite.
  • It’s recommended to set up as many fishing rods as possible when targeting catfish. This way, you’ll cover more areas of water and increase your chances of getting a bite.
    • Before setting up multiple fishing rods, make sure your state doesn’t have any regulations regarding the number of fishing rods you’re allowed to use.
    • If you cast your bait without getting any bites within the first 15 minutes, it’s recommended move to cast your bait in a different spot where there’s likely to be more catfish.
  • Learn the best times to target catfish to guarantee they’ll be active and ready to bite.
    • The best time of the year to target catfish is the months of March, April, and May.
    • The best time of the day to catch catfish would be the middle of the day.
  • Learn the best locations and spots to target catfish before going on your trip, and prepare your gear accordingly.
    • During the day, catfish can be found in deeper areas of the water. By the late afternoon, they usually move to shallow areas of water
    • You can get a fish finder to help you locate catfish when they move from deep to shallow water. Check out my other article about the best portable fish finders. You can learn more about how to pick a fish finder here.

Final Thoughts

Catfish are fighters, and they require a fishing rod that can fight right back without taking any damage. For this reason, I’ve created a list of my top picks for the best catfish rod that you can find today.

My top pick is easily the KastKing Perigee II, which is a very popular rod. The rod comes in twin-tips models that are like two rods in one. This feature really comes in handy when catfishing because you can easily swap between your medium and medium-heavy tips within seconds.

In second place is the Ugly Stik Catfish Special, which you already know will be a durable rod because it’s an Ugly Stik model. The rod is made from a graphite and fiberglass composite that contributes to the rod’s lightweight and strength in order to withstand catfish while still being comfortable to hold.

As for my budget pick, it is the Shakespeare Micro Spinning Rod that offers lightweight as well as durability and sensitivity. Being on a budget is no longer a setback. If you’re looking for the best cheap catfish rod, this is the one for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Best Rod and Reel Setup for Catfish?

The best rod and reel setup for catfish is a 7 feet medium-action rod paired with a baitcasting reel. When it comes to the fishing line, it’s recommended to spool the reel with monofilament or braided lines of 20-40 pound test to be able to withstand the weight of larger fish.

What Is the Best Gear Ratio for Catfish?

The best gear ratio for catfishing is around 4.9:1 and 6.5:1. The gear ratio determines the speed at which you can reel back the line after casting. The gear ratio has nothing to do with your personal preference; you need to choose a reel with a gear ratio that’s suitable for the kind of fish you’re targeting.

Outdoorskilled’s Recommended Gear for Superb Catfishing

I’ve tested dozens of reels, rods, and lines for Catfishing, and after years of testing, here are my quick picks that will definitely improve your current setup and results!

My recommended reel is the Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Reel C3-7000 which is ideally suited for catfish.

The rod I always recommend is the KastKing Perigee II Fishing Rod. It’s lightweight, durable, and affordable. Furthermore, you’d have a wide selection of models to choose from, whether you’re looking for a spinning or casting rod. Lastly, it comes in twin-tips models, which means you’ll be getting two rods rather than one.

What I use is the Berkley Trilene Big Game Monofilament Fishing Line as it’s the strongest, toughest mono I’ve ever tested and because it has exceptional shock strength, great knot integrity, tremendous abrasion resistance, and a high-visibility color option, you really can’t find better options

Reliable Rods You Will Love (and Can Afford)

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