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Best Catfish Rods 2020

Best Overall Choice

Kastking Crixus Fishing Rod

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Best Premium Choice

Abu Garcia Catfish Commando Fishing Rod and Reel

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Best Budget Choice

Ugly Stik GX2

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Ian Fortey by Ian Fortey Updated on June 23, 2020. In Fishing

You could use any rod to go fishing for catfish. But there are benefits to rods specifically for catfishing. You may have noticed that the handles of catfish specific rods are longer than normal rods. This is to allow for greater leverage. Many big catfish require you to wrestle them up from the bottom. You may have to struggle with large blue catfish and flathead catfish as well. The best fishing rods for catfish change based on your needs

Choosing the best catfish rod for catfish fishing depends on several factors. You need a catfish rod that fits your budget. You also need a catfish rod that works with the kind of catfish fishing you plan to do. Materials, length, and action are all things you want to look at.

1. Shakespeare Wildcat Spinning Rod Two-Piece

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The Shakespeare Wildcat is affordable for the level of quality. A tubular glass rod with stainless steel and ceramic guides, it’s good for easy casting. Like all catfish spinning rods, the reel seat is on the underside. It has a comfortable grip and is fairly lightweight at under 6 ounces. You can land some serious catfish with this rod.

The total length of the Shakespeare Wildcat Spinning Rod is 7 feet. It comes in two pieces to save space. Though it is durable and strong, it’s not suited for very large fish. If you’re looking for a 100lb trophy catfish this is not the right catfish rod. If you want more reasonably-sized catfish, this is an excellent choice.

The rod isn’t sensitive enough for very small catfish. If you are looking for good-sized channel cats, blue catfish, and flathead catfish it’s a good choice.

Pros

Affordable
 
Strong enough to pull in good-sized catfish

Cons

Not ideal for smaller catfish

2. St. Croix Avid Graphite Spinning Rod

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St Croix Avid Graphite Spinning Rod is fast action catfish rod. It’s 7 feet long and offers medium power as well. It’s a solid choice for serious anglers who need a light, responsive catfish rod. It has a great balance and it’s comfortable even after hours of fishing.

The high-quality graphite is ultra-sensitive. Even light nibbles will register in your grip. Saint Croix also offers a 15-year transferable warranty. It can handle big catfish and smaller catfish alike.

Pros

Durable

Lightweight

Cons

Expensive

Best Overall Choice

3. Kastking Crixus Fishing Rod

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Kastking Crixus rods come in a variety of power and action. This allows you to customize the rod for the kind of catfish you’re looking for. You can get KastKings able to hold 20 lb line, which is suitable for decent-sized catfish. If you’re looking for trophies, it may not work. You can get KastKings for medium-heavy and heavy-duty fishing. They also handle light and medium light. For catfish rods, you want to stick to their medium-heavy offerings.

Made from graphite, these are strong fishing rods. They’re also lightweight and sensitive. It may be a bit much for a new angler to handle. If you’re a seasoned pro, this catfish rod is the best choice.

Pros

Well-priced

Strong, sturdy fishing rod

Sensitive

Cons

Takes some getting used to for casting

Best Premium Choice

4. Abu Garcia Catfish Commando Fishing Rod and Reel

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The Abu Garcia Catfish Commando is a 7-foot rod and reel combo. It’s engineered specifically for catfish fishing. It features medium-heavy power and what they call a carbon matrix resistance system. This mitigates drag and allows for consistent, smooth casting. Abu Garcia made this catfish rod to last. It’s one of the best catfishing rods on the market.

The rod and reel combo makes his choice easier for new anglers. You don’t need to worry about matching the perfect rod to the perfect reel. It features a 6-pin centrifugal bracket to maintain even casting.

The rod itself is composite. That ensures a light weight plus strength. Even when fishing for big blue catfish, this is a superior rod. The Abu Garcia Catfish Commando is a solid choice for any catfish anglers.

Pros

Strong

Easy to cast

Cons

Catfish specific so it may not adapt well to other kinds of fishing

5. Championship Cat Fishing Rod

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If you’re looking for a very long, medium weight rod, the Championship Catfishing Rod is for you. At 7 feet 6 inches it’s quite lengthy. Made of sturdy fiberglass it’s designed for wrestling big catfish and heavy action.

The rod is medium-heavy for landing big catfish. It can also handle smaller Channel Cats as well. The fluorescent yellow tip offers a visual guide for even the lightest nibbles. That’s ideal when fishing in low light. It can handle 10 lb to 50 lb line. The 13-inch handle is great for leverage.

Pros

Long

Powerful

Cons

Not for beginners

6. LurEra Catfish Casting Rod

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If you’re aiming for heavy catfish, the LurEra catfish casting rod is a great choice. The blank is a 30-ton carbon fiber which makes it exceptionally strong and sensitive. Ceramic lines the stainless steel guides. That makes them gentle on your line no matter how heavy the fish you’re reeling in. This is the best choice for heavy-duty catfish fishing.

The carbon fiber blank offers great power. Even if something were to break, you’re still covered. LurEra offers a one-year, no questions asked money-back guarantee. That’s a good sign that these catfish rods are reliable. Catfish anglers looking for the best catfish rod should give it a try.

Pros

Incredibly strong catfishing rod
 
Smooth casting

Cons

Male to female connectors in the two-piece construction can be a weak point

Best Budget Choice

7. Ugly Stik GX2

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Ugly Stik is famous for making some of the best beginner rods in the business. While they’re considered rods for beginners, there’s a reason they’re so popular. The GX2 is a sturdy, reliable rod. It’s an incredibly strong fiberglass and graphite composite. It’s also very affordable, which makes it a solid choice for new and old anglers alike. Ugly Stik catfish rods are easy to use and not intimidating. As catfishing rods go, they offer simple but reliable performance.

Pros

Strong construction

Durable catfish rod

Affordable

Cons

Basic design

There’s more to choosing the best catfish rods than just look or price. Knowing how a catfish rod works, and how it catches catfish, is important. These are the features that you need to keep in mind when looking for the best catfish rods.

Spinning vs. Casting

The first choice you need to make when determining the best catfish rod is spinning vs. casting. These are the two main types of catfish rods people will use for catfish fishing. The rods have different balances and you’ll use them differently. You should know the difference between them. Make sure you know the benefits and drawbacks of both.

A spinning rod needs a spinning reel. A casting rod needs a baitcasting reel. Some people will mix and match, but that’s not recommended. Just because a spinning reel will fit on a casting rod doesn’t make it a good idea.

The reel seat on a spinning rod is located under the rod. The islets guide the line up the base of the rod to the top. That means if you land a big fish the pressure on the line is put on the eyelids. If the fish is too big, it will break the islets. For that reason, spinning rods are not ideal for large catfish fishing. They may still be appropriate for some catfish, though.

Casting rods, or baitcasting rods, have the guides on the top of the rod. The reel seat is on the top as well. That means if you hook a larger fish than the pressure is not just on the islets but on the rod itself as it takes the weight.

Some anglers swear by baitcasting rods as the best choice for catfish fishing. They believe spinning rods are simply not suited to the task. There are fewer commercial spinning rods available for catfish fishing. The technique is not as easy as it is with baitcasting rods. But it can still be done.

Materials

Catfish fishing rods come in a variety of materials, each with their own benefits. These are the most common types of catfish rods you’ll find today.

  • E-Glass – The most common type of fishing rod on the market is an e-glass fishing rod. Most people will refer to E-glass as fiberglass. There’s more than one kind of fiberglass rod, so it’s worth making the distinction. E glass is strong and resilient, which is why it makes for a good catfishing rod.  On the downside, E-glass is not very sensitive. If you’re angling for some Channel Cats and they’re waiting to feel a light tug on the line, E-glass is not the best choice.

 

  • Graphite – Graphite catfish rods are more expensive than E-glass catfish rods. They are also more sensitive and lightweight. When you plan to sit for a long time and fish a graphite rod will be very comfortable. The downside is that they tend to be less durable as well. They can break when you hook a large enough catfish. They may also break just from impact damage. Graphite is great for bass fishing but not always catfishing. For large-sized catfish, a graphite rod would may a bad choice and could even break.

 

  • Carbon Fiber – You have to pay a premium for a carbon fiber catfish rod, but it may be worth it. If you’re a serious angler carbon fiber is superior to both graphite and E-glass. It has durability, strength, and flexibility. A carbon fiber catfish rob should last a long time.

 

  • S-Glass – A different form of fiberglass than E-glass. S-glass is stronger and more flexible, but also lighter. The trade-off is that an S-glass catfish rod will always cost more money than an E-glass catfish rod. S-glass catfish rods are not that common. Some manufacturers just say fiberglass and won’t specify E-glass or S-glass.

 

  • Composite – As the name suggests, a composite catfish rod is a mixture of materials. Fiberglass and graphite are used together to create a composite fishing rod. The result is a catfish rod that’s in the middle of glass and graphite in terms of properties. It will be more sensitive than fiberglass, but not as strong as graphite. This material makes an ideal fishing rod for catfish.

 

  • Cane Pole – If you want to get back to basics, a cane pole is an interesting alternative to commercial fishing rods. You have to make a cane pole yourself out of a length of bamboo and string it with your own line. These are the most ancient kind of fishing rod in the world. There’s evidence of Egyptians using them four thousand years ago to fish in the Nile. You can hook some decent catfish with a cane pole. They’re not ideal for the largest catfish, though. Definitely not a heavy-duty rod. You could cut your own length of bamboo anywhere from 8 feet to 12 feet in length. You tie the line to the end of the pool and then bait a hook on the end. It’s about as simple as fishing can get.

Fishing Rod Action

You’ll see catfish fishing rods described as having a certain kind of action. This refers to where and how the rod bends as you’re using it.

Slow – A slow action rod is one that bends down the length of the pole. This can even happen close to the handle. Slow action rods are very flexible. This is not the best for a catfishing rod.

Moderate – Moderate action catfish rods have a bend that shows up In the upper half of the blank. You could use this to fish for smaller catfish.

Fast – Fast action catfish rods will bend only in the top third of the rod. This means it is strong compared to the more flexible rods. This is a good choice for a catfish rod.

Extra Fast – Extra fast action catfish rods bend only near the tip. The rest of the rod should stay rigid and straight. For a confident angler, this is a great catfish rod.

Where and how the rod bends is important for the kind of catfish you’re catching. When you’re looking for catfish you want to stick with a moderate or fast action. Fast action allows you to set the hook more quickly when you get a bite. It does take more finesse to get the hang of. Moderate is not as quick for setting the hook but could be easier to handle.

Fishing Rod Power

Fishing rod power is self-explanatory. It refers to the strength of your catfish rod. The higher the power, the stronger the rod. The powers range from ultra-light to heavy, with medium and medium-heavy in the middle. A medium heavy rod to a heavy rod is ideal for fishing for large catfish. In particular, if you’re looking for large blues, then you may need a heavy rod. On average, medium-heavy will not let you down fr most catfish.

Handles

A rod designed for catfish will have a longer handle than your average fishing rod. Catfishing doesn’t need the repeated casting that other fishing relies on. That means that the handle of your catfish rod will be different. That long handle is meant to give you an edge when you do hook a catfish. When you’re able to set the hook, the long-handle gives you exceptional leverage. This allows you to pull with more force and snag even the biggest catfish.

You can get catfish rod handles made from several materials.

Cord Handles

Cord or paracord handles are not as common as some other materials. You may have seen this kind of corded wrapped around knife handles and other tools. It makes for a very durable handle for a catfishing rod. Even when wet the grip will not suffer. That said, it can get caked with catfish slime. The grooves and spaces between the wrapped cord will get dirty quickly. If you use stink bait, you definitely want to avoid a cord handle. Once it sinks in, you will not be able to get that smell back out.

Cork Handles

Cork handles are a more traditional handle for a catfishing rod. Older rods were often made with cork handles. Some modern rods still are, but there are issues. Cork does not handle wetness and catfish slime well. The grip will suffer if it’s covered in sludge from your bait.

Cork is also full of holes. Those holes will get filled with dirt and slime over the years. This degrades the cork and can also lead to unpleasant smells. In time the cork will start to fall apart.

Cork is still very comfortable as a handle material. If you know how to maintain it, it can last for quite a while and serve you well.

Composite Cork Handles

Bridging the gap between a cork handle and a foam handle is a composite cork handle. It’s like a rubberized cork that gives you the comfort and smoothness of normal cork. The rubberization makes it less absorbent, and more durable in the long run. It’s a solid choice, but not very common.

Foam Handles

Sometimes called EVA foam, these are very common in most modern catfishing rods. Foam is usually durable and also comfortable in your grip. If you’re fishing for long hours, the foam will not irritate your hands. They don’t get slippery when they’re wet either. Cleaning a foam handle is generally easy.

You should know what works best for a catfish fishing rod. Once you do, you can pick the best rod for you. Any rod can catch catfish, but some are better than others. Find what works best for you and have fun.

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