Catfish rods for the average angler do not need to be specialized. Rods made of fiberglass with the proper length, power, and action do the job. A catfish rod needs to handle sinkers up to 5 ounces. The length must provide long casting. The action is to use more of the rod while fighting the fish. The best part is many are inexpensive so you do not need to spend a lot of money to go for catfish.
A big catfish will fight long and hard. A fiberglass rod flexes easier making the fight more manageable. When a catfish runs the rod bends more with less pressure on the angler. The flex of fiberglass gives more and puts steady pressure on the fish. It will wear the fish down. Graphite is stiffer meaning the angler has more pressure on their hands and arms. This is not a problem with fish that get tired fast but a big catfish can fight for a 1/2 hour.
Catfish stay in deeper water most of the time. Anglers need a rod that can reach the deep water. A rod 7 1/2 to 10 feet increases casting distance. The rods must handle 1-5 ounces of sinkers. Although the weight helps with the distance it is to keep the bait in place. Live bait 4-6 inches long will move lighter sinkers. Big catfish prefer larger live bait but cut bait works too. A medium action lets the rod bend farther down the blank. This applies steady pressure to keep circle hooks stuck in the catfish’s mouth.
Best Catfish Rods for the Average Angler
The species and size of catfish determine what rod you will need. The species have different average and maximum sizes. Channel cats average 3-4 pounds with some getting over 10-pounds. Flatheads go 10-20 pounds on average but can grow to 100-pounds under the right conditions. A 35-40 pound flathead is common but will take time to catch. Blue catfish are the biggest averaging more than a flathead. In waters with enough present blue catfish average 30-pounds or more.
Channel catfish anglers need a medium-heavy rod. It allows the catfish to fight. Since a heavy rod is too stiff. Look at rods with a line rating of 10-25 pounds and a weight rating of 1-4 ounces. The length of 7-9 feet is best since channels move into shallower waters to feed. You do not need to cast 80 yards or more. This rod is good for occasional flatheads also.
Fishing mainly for blue or flathead catfish needs heavier tackle. The fish are bigger so using a heavier rod is better. A rod rated for 25-50 pound line and weights of 2-8 ounces. Rods are called medium-heavy or heavy but it is misleading. Look at the line and weight ratings. A medium-heavy may be rated for 10-25 or 25-50 fifty-pound lines depending on the brand. The blues need longer rods also so look for an 8 1/2 or longer for further casting. They stay in deeper water usually far from shore. A word of caution, a rod too long will interfere with obstacles on the shore so a rod’s length needs to be considered on this fact also.
Catfish Rods for the Average Angler Top Picks
- B’ n’ M Silver Cat Rod; well made and affordable
- Shakespeare Ugly Stik Catfish Rod; several lengths and budget-priced
- Bass Pro Shops CatMaxx CAX; most options at an affordable price.
B’ n’ M Silver Cat Rod
A one-piece rod available in spinning or casting models. This rod is for larger catfish with a line rating of 25-50 pounds and a weight of 2-8 ounces. The length of 7 1/2 foot is a little short but allows a shore angler more places to fish. The aluminum reel seat will take the pressure and the double locking nut keeps a reel on tight. The hi-vis tip helps see bites at night when most catfish are active.
- 1-piece design for maximum durability
- E-glass composite blank stands up to heavy, hard-pulling catfish
- Heavy backbone for hauling in bruisers
- Fast-action tip lets you see subtle bites
- Aircraft-aluminum double-nut locking reel seat
- Hi-vis tip for nighttime fishing
- X-Grip handle provides sure control
Bass Pro CatMaxx
These rods have a good variety of lengths and power. The lengths range from 7 – over 10-foot. The 7 and 8-foot models are one piece and longer rods are 2 pieces. This makes it easy to find a length and weight rating to fit your needs. The 9 or 10-foot models are the best for multi-species catfishing. They both support enough weight and have good line ratings. The 2-piece construction lets any angler be able to carry them in a car.
- Hybrid E-glass/carbon rod blanks
- Pac Bay DPL guides
- EVA crosshatched handle
- Flared rubber rod butt
- White blanks are highly visible in low light
Shakespeare Ugly Stik Catfish Rod
A general-purpose catfish rod with a 15-30 pound line rating. The 7-foot model is one-piece and the 8-foot model is two pieces. It comes in spinning and casting versions allowing an angler to use their choice of a reel. The Ugly Stik is a composite rod. A combination of fiberglass and graphite. This gives the rod more sensitivity to see light bites.
- Ugly Tech Construction
- Tremendous strength and toughness
- One-piece Ugly Tuff stainless steel guides with ceramic inserts
- Legendary sensitive Clear Tip
- Durable EVA handles
St Croix Cat Mojo
Anglers choosing to step up to a high-quality rod have the Mojo as an option. It does cost more but is designed with better components. Using an S-glass composite makes it a tough rod. The Fuji reel seat and Kigan guides are better quality than on cheaper rods. The cork handle is nice looking and has a nicer feel than EVA. The rod also comes with a 5-year warranty.
The rod has 3 powers to choose from for the different species. The medium for channel cats, medium-heavy or heavy for the flatheads and blues. The heavy can handle a pound of weight when casting. The medium is available in one or two-piece with a 7 or 8-foot length. The medium-heavy is 7-foot and the heavy is 7 1/2 foot.
- Blend of SCII graphite and linear S-glass
- Designed for superior durability and power
- Kigan Master Hand 3D guides
- Fuji ECS reel seat
- Premium-grade cork handle
- Thread wraps coated with Flex Coat finish
- 5-year manufacturer’s warranty backed by St. Croix Superstar Service
At a length of 11 feet, it is long. Anglers needing long casts will like the length. It is a 2-piece with a line rating of 20-40 pounds. The weight rating is 2-6 ounces making it good for current or calm waters. The option for a shorter length is a downside. It takes a lot of space to cast an 11-foot rod. Otherwise, it is a good rod for catfish at a low price.
- Designed specifically for catfish
- Tough tubular fiberglass blank
- Double footed guides with aluminum oxide inserts
- Graphite reel seat and stainless steel hood
- Highly visible white finish
Catfish rods for an average angler will help catch catfish better than a bass or walleye rod. Catfish rods need to handle more casting weight for several reasons. The bait must stay in place and large chubs or panfish will move a lighter sinker. The heavier sinkers help cast farther also. The composite and fiberglass blanks flex better for the way a catfish fights leading to less fatigue. The price of many of the rods makes them affordable. Pair one of the rods with a catfish reel for best performance.