Best Catfish Rods in 2020 – Buyer’s Guide

If you’re a fishing enthusiast, we’re sure that those vicious cats swimming at the bottom of the local lake or river channel have intrigued you at some point. Unfortunately, the chances of a cat jumping into your hands are minimal, so you better prepare your gear.

Catfish rods are long, flexible, and beasty. Since cats have different types and tend to grow to monstrous sizes, you need to be prepared with a pole that can take up the fights of large bottom-dwellers, and sense the bites of small kittens.

We took the weight off your shoulders and dived into the world of fishing tackle to make a list of the best catfish rods. So, hold your breath because you’ll most definitely find your rod here.

Comparison Table:

RodLengthMaterialPowerLine weight
Ugly Stik GX27’Graphite & fiberglassMedium-heavy10-25 lbs.
Eagle Claw Catclaw8’FiberglassMedium-heavy12-30 lbs.
Ugly Stik Catfish7’Graphite & fiberglassMedium-heavy15-30 lbs.
LurEra Catfish7’GraphiteHeavy50-80 lbs.
KastKing KatTechFrom 7’ to 9’Graphite & S-Glass From medium to heavy30-60 lbs.
Okuma Battle8’E-glassHeavy15-60 lbs.

The 6 Best Catfish Rods in 2020

1. Ugly Stik GX2 Casting Rod- Best Overall

Ugly Stik GX2 Casting Rod

The new generation of Ugly Stik is updated with improved performance and better looks. This medium-heavy action pole is capable of hooking catfish’s hard mouths using 10 to 25-pound lines and ¼ to ⅝-ounce lures. It serves well when using live baits like sunfish and bluegills.

It sure feels like a high-end rod, yet it costs no more than 40 bucks. Although it showcases a sleek matte black finish with alluring red and gold linings, this rod isn’t just eye-candy.

The blank is made of a mixture of graphite and fiberglass, representing the perfect balance between lightness and stiffness. It’s indeed strong enough to never fail you in a fight, but that doesn’t compromise its sensitivity.

This model is 7 feet long and is equipped with a long EVA foam handle, which helps pull these massive monsters and throw long casts. It also comes with eight stainless steel guides to control the line and protect it from abrasion. With this setting, you’ll enjoy the smoothest casts and tightest grip.

Finally, unlike other cheap rods, its reel seat holds the reel firmly with no wobbles. Pair it with a heavy-duty baitcasting reel, and you’re ready to set out on your catfish hunting trip.

Pros:

  • Reliable
  • Tough blank
  • Extra sensitivity
  • Long comfortable grips
  • Sleek design
  • Accommodates heavy lines

Cons:

  • Quality control issues
  • Complaints about the quality of the guides

Bottom Line

For serious and novice anglers who want to step up their game and hook those stubborn cats, Ugly Stik GX2 is the best catfish rod out there. It’s light enough to feel channel catfish bites, yet strong enough to win a one-on-one battle against a flathead.

2. Eagle Claw Catclaw Casting Rod – Best Casting Power

Eagle Claw Catclaw Casting Rod

This isn’t the type of rod that only lasts through the honeymoon phase. It’s infused with features that make it impossible to break under the hardest tugs of catfish.

For starters, it’s constructed with a durable and robust fiberglass blank, which accounts for its reasonable cost as well. Its premium EVA foam grip doesn’t get sticky or slippery even if your hands are covered with catfish slime. Furthermore, the graphite reel seat keeps the reel balanced and stable throughout casts.  

With 6+1 eyelets, Catclaw has got enough guides to secure the line and protect it from snapping due to continuous friction. They are made of aluminum oxide, which isn’t necessarily bad in the short term, but you may need to change them after a while. However, they haven’t received any negative reviews from customers.

Measuring 8 feet long, the rod is second-to-none in its casting power. It comes in a two-piece design, so you can easily carry it around and store it when the catfishing season ends. We like that although the whole rod is covered in yellow, the tip is colored white for better visibility in the water.

This medium-heavy bad boy won’t disappoint you when you’re trying to reel in any catfish type, thanks to its 12 to 30-pound line rating and 1.5 to 2.5-ounce lure rating. Whether you’re going to rig it with heavy sinkers and braided lines or monofilament lines and weightless lures, it won’t complain.

Pros:

  • Strong core
  • Rugged guides and handles
  • Great casting power
  • Flexible
  • Reasonably priced

Cons:

  • Bulky blank
  • Not as sensitive as other rods

Bottom Line

Catfish may want to bring you to your feet before they come out of the water, but with Catclaw, you have your back covered. Its 8-foot indestructible build is the best for shock absorption and the medium-heavy power maximizes the blank’s leverage over big cats.

3. Ugly Stik Catfish Casting Rod – Best Purpose-built Rod

Ugly Stik Catfish Casting Rod

Our second Ugly Stik member on the list is specifically tailored for catfish fishing. This medium-heavy 7-foot baitcasting rod is an excellent purpose-built catfish rod. 

The rod is tough as nails. Built with a blend of graphite and fiberglass, the blank has a lot of muscles and delivers the lightest vibrations from the line so that you can react as fast as possible. We can even say it’s better than GX2 in taming big flatheads and blues, yet the latter is still better for catching channel cats.

Unlike other cheap rods, which use fewer than five guides on the stick, this one is outfitted with eight bulletproof stainless eyelets. Put your mind at rest because these guides’ inserts don’t pop out. In addition, it’s equipped with a trigger reel seat that accommodates large baitcasters and works with 15 to 30-pound monofilament or braided lines. It can also throw 0.5 to 3-ounce lures.

The handle is made of EVA foam and covered with rubber gimbals for a comfortable and balanced grip. Not only that, but also the rod weighs no more than 10 ounces, so it spares your wrist the strain of carrying a heavy pole all day.

You may be getting the idea that this pole will cost you a fortune. However, it comes at a bargain price. 

It may be labeled for catfishing, but it serves well with other species too. So if you ever feel like switching to another type of fishing, you won’t need to change your rod.

Pros:

  • Responsive tip
  • Durable composite blank
  • Eight stainless steel guides
  • Flexible
  • Suitable for all catfish
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Quality control issues
  • Some users complain about the pole’s casting ability

Bottom Line

All in all, you can’t go wrong with this Ugly Stik. With a strong core, very responsive tip, and just the right bend, this stick is intended for the huge ugly catfish lurking at the bottom of your fishing area.

4. LurEra Catfish Casting Rod 2 Pieces – Best Lightweight Rod

LurEra Catfish Casting Rod 2 Pieces

 

This is a pro-level rod for anglers who fish for catfish strictly. It’s loaded with features that may not suit the inexperienced hands but definitely rises to the occasion for skillful fishermen. 

It stands out in being one of the lightest fishing sticks as it weighs only 9.28 ounces. This feather-light weight has been made possible by the high-density carbon fiber blank, and high strength reel seat. Both are extremely light and super durable.

This heavy-action rod can toss a 50 to 80-pound line, which is crazy heavy. It can hold up well, hauling a 200-pound giant cat from the river bottom without the line snapping or the tip exploding. It’s also flexible enough to cast a light 1-ounce lure, yet has the backbone to throw a 4-ounce sinker.

The 7-foot LurEra provides a comfortable EVA foam handle with a cool design. It’s built to handle super long casts while not being too long itself, so you can even cast in tight areas. Moreover, being a two-piece rod, it won’t burden you with its length, as it can easily fit in a car trunk or on a yak’s confined deck.

Last but not least, it’s equipped with 5+1 stainless steel guides with ceramic inserts to reduce the wear and tear on your line. And the good news is, this model is cheap as chips.

Pros:

  • Plenty of backbone
  • Long caster
  • Heavy action
  • Comfortable and attractive grip
  • Amazing customer service
  • Pocket-friendly 

Cons:

  • Rod tip might break under heavyweights
  • Complaints about the loose connection between the two pieces

Bottom Line

Anglers who are getting started with catfishing may face problems dealing with this beast. On the other hand, this is the best catfish rod for avid fishermen, owing to its heavy action, high line-rating, and second-to-none casting ability.

5. KastKing KatTech Catfish Rods – Best Tournament Catfish Rods

KastKing KatTech Catfish Rods

The KatTech series offers two spinning and eight casting models, including 7, 7.5, 8, and 9 footers. Each in medium, medium-heavy, or heavy actions. These ideal lengths and strengths improve leverage and offer more control over catfish.

They are created with indestructible linear S-glass and 24T graphite to ensure unmatched sensitivity and lifting power. Although they weigh like a feather, they can easily handle blues exceeding 60 pounds, using 30 to 60-pound lines and 3 to 6-ounce lures. 

The handles are made of rubber cork to provide a comfortable and non-slippery grip. Being extra long is a plus. For one thing, they can handle the battles against these violent creatures. For another, the large foregrips are easy to place and remove from rod holders. 

We especially like the added Strike Tip indicator, which adds to the stick’s sensitivity. It alerts you to the subtlest cat nibbles and enhances early strike detection. 

As for the guides, the series is outfitted with Fuji double-foot guides to guarantee that the lines run smoothly. The lines are unlikely to snap since the eyelets are made of a top-class material that never grooves nor wears.

To end this list of high-quality features, they’re equipped with Fuji reel seats that hold the reels tight in place while hauling monster flatheads.

Pros:

  • Light and robust blank
  • Ten different models
  • Models for baitcasting and spinning reels
  • Strike Tip indicator
  • For tournament anglers
  • Great flexibility
  • Long and slip-resistant grips

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Less sensitive to channel cats

Bottom Line

This is the type of a high-end rod that a catfish tournament angler would like to use. Every inch is built with top-notch materials, and the entire rod promises the perfect balance, flex, and power. If you can spare the expenses, we have no better recommendation than the KatTech rod.

6. Okuma Battle Cat Catfish Spinning Rod – Best Heavy-duty Rod

Okuma Battle Cat Catfish Spinning Rod

Okuma stays true to its standards with this heavy-duty model explicitly designed for eager catfish anglers. At 8 feet in length, this stout Battle Cat is capable of landing a 50-pound or more catfish with a breeze.

This rod is a no brainer! It’s constructed with a sturdy E-glass blank that’s a tough nut to crack. Thanks to its heavy power, it can reel in any big cat. The EVA fore grip along with the cork rear grip combine the best of both worlds and offer a powerful, comfortable, and non-slippery grip.

It’s travel-friendly since it comes with a two-piece design. The double-foot stainless steel guides can take a beating without being bent. They keep your line in control and feed it smoothly for more accurate casts.

On top of that, it’s outfitted with an adjustable reel seat and a heavy-duty stainless steel hook keeper. You can rig it with a spinning reel that can load a 15 to 60-pound line, and toss a 1 to 8-ounce lure.

Lastly, it’s comparable to KatTech in price, so it’s only an option if you’re willing to invest in a big-ticket rod.

Pros:

  • Sensitive tip
  • Heavy action
  • Sturdy construction
  • Accurately aligned guides
  • Two-piece travel design
  • For big-game catfish

Cons:

  • Pricey
  • Might not be suitable for beginners

Bottom Line

Battle Cat is simply a winch. It can handle anything it hooks, even catfish with the strongest fights. It has a killer set-up with a length of 8 feet, heavy-action performance, and a line rating of up to 60 pounds. So what’s not to like?

How to Choose a Catfish Rod

Since catfish put up a pretty ferocious fight, they require a reliable and sturdy rod for fishing. There are plenty of factors that affect the effectiveness of a rod in catching catfish, and I’ve listed them all right here in this section.

1. Length

A catfish isn’t an easy catch, so a local store’s 5-6 foot rod won’t do the job. You’ll need to cast distances to hook blue catfish, as they are bottom-feeders. Channels and flatheads may not swim at great depths like blue cats, but they like to hide in rocky areas and riprap banks. Hence, accurate casting is a major factor for success.

Experienced anglers will gladly take a 7-9 foot pole as a happy medium for long and precise casts. Moreover, you’ll be grateful you picked this length when you’re fighting with one of these rebels. However, a 10-foot rod would be the right choice if you’re going to fish from the surf or river banks.

2. Material

You’ll always find rods made of graphite or fiberglass. Sometimes they’re made of a blend of both materials as composite rods.

Fiberglass is superior to graphite in this particular genre. Compared to graphite, it’s sturdier, more flexible, and way cheaper. You’ll appreciate the extra strength and flexibility when you have a large irritated cat at the end of your line. Its downside is that it adds to the rod’s weight, which may be cumbersome in transportation.

Graphite is definitely stiffer and more sensitive to fish bites, but that isn’t necessary if you’re going after monsters. However, if you’re limiting your game to small cats, you’ll make use of this extra sensitivity.

A blend is always the best if you’re willing to invest in a light, sensitive and strong pole at the same time. Just be prepared to ante up with more money.

3. Power

The power represents your rod’s strength. Typically, it ranges from ultralight to heavy. As we said before, catfish like to put up a fight; therefore, no light-action rod would be able to keep up with them.

A medium or a medium-heavy pole is suitable for all sizes of channel catfish as well as most flatheads and blue cats. If you’re going to wrestle bigger blues and flatheads, choose a heavy-action rod, as they exert  huge force on the rod.

4. Action

This is a fancy measure of how flexible the rod is, and it ranges from slow to fast. It also correlates to the rod’s sensitivity and determines the technique you’re going to use.

Anglers with experience under their built can go for faster models. These have a bend in their tips only, so you need to know how to maneuver them without breaking their blanks into halves. Also, they’re the best for long casts and various finesse techniques to land large catfish.

The moderate flex is the best for catfish fishing since it withstands the rigors of the battle without snapping, and provides the most accurate casts. It’ll endure the tug of your live bait and present it in a natural way.

Slow-action rods are a lot more forgiving if you’re not a strong caster. Nevertheless, they’re not used because that much flexibility doesn’t easily fool catfish.

5. Handles

A catfish rod should have long and sturdy handles. When you’re in the arena, longer grips provide you with more leverage over game catfish and leave space for techniques like the two-hand method.

Manufacturers use either cork or foam for the handles. Either of them will be okay, yet cork is more associated with quality rods. It may not be as strong as foam, but it’s more comfortable. 

Some catfish anglers prefer foam handles for the sole reason that they don’t get slick when covered with slime, which usually happens when handling catfish.  

6. Style and Seats

Although spinning rods may be easier in the hands of rookies and do the job just fine, anglers who take catfishing seriously aim for rods with baitcasting seats. They have enough drag and line capacity for the mission.

All in all, pay attention to the material of which the seats are made. Try to avoid metal-alloy seats and go for the ones made of corrosion-resistant graphite. These can secure the reel tightly as well as endure the continuous exposure of water and debris.

7. Line Weight

Catfish grow to ridiculously heavyweights. Hence, choose a rod that takes 12 to 20-pound lines. In case you’re targeting bigger blues, consider increasing the rod’s line rating to be more than 20 pounds.

8. Line Guides

The guides are the eyelets through which the line flaws to be kept in place. The rule of thumb is the more guides, the better the performance. Nonetheless, you don’t want to end up with bent guides, or ones with many grooves that eventually cut your line.

Pay attention to the material used. Ceramic guides work just fine, but they won’t last for long. The best you can opt for is stainless steel guides. These protect the line from heating up and have a higher level of sensitivity because they transmit the line’s vibrations to the handle, where you can feel what’s waiting for you at the end of the line.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can You Surf Fish with a Catfish Rod?

The general answer would be yes! However, a catfish rod may be a bit shorter for a surfcasting one, yet it can send your line to considerably good distances. Also, you’ll have to take extra care to protect it from the abuse of saltwater and the additional humidity, as not all catfish rods are made of corrosion-resistant materials.

How Long Should a Catfish Rod Be?

The ideal length of a catfish rod is 7-9 feet. Anglers pick the length with which they’re most comfortable. Some would go for shorter ones if they’re not after something really big. Others would appreciate the additional control and casting distance that comes with 10-12 feet rods. 

Final Thoughts

These are our final recommendations for the rods that’ll give you a bunch of stories to tell at dinners about the vigorous fights you had against giant catfish.

Our nominee for the best catfish rod is Ugly Stik GX2. This 7-feet bad boy has got a robust blank, eight stainless steel guides, and a tight grip that won’t fail you. Also, its medium-heavy action is more than sufficient for catfishing and works well for pros and novices. 

Following GX2, we recommend the Catclaw casting rod. It’s a workhorse of a rod and can stand strong against heavy flatheads and blues. 

Finally, LurEra deserves an additional mention for its incredible line and lure rating. This pole is terribly light and reliable as a swiss watch. And the good news is, it’s crazy cheap.

At the end of the day, the choice is up to the angler himself. Good luck on your next trip!