Catfish are very popular, only second to bass. The top choices in catfishing gear are affordable. This facet of the sport does not require a rod with exceptional sensitivity, nor a reel with a lot of features. Going for catfish is basic gear similar to the old days.
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It is common to use fiberglass rods and round baitcast reels. These “old tech” rods and reels perform better for catfish. Catfish angling is a simple approach to catching fish. That said, some gear is better suited for the various catfish.
Anglers targeting flatheads or blue catfish need a strong rod and reel. Those anglers chasing channels and bullheads use lighter tackle. Then some anglers need an in-between option. Choosing the proper rig adds to the enjoyment. You do not want to overpower the smaller species or be underpowered on a 30-40 pound fish.
Here’s what really matters in catfishing gear. The 3 primary components are the reel, rod, and line. You do not need to spend a lot of money on a good set up. A set up between 100-200 dollars is all you need.
Anglers go with two different views when choosing a reel. Some buy a good reel that will last a long time. While others buy several low-cost reels. If you plan on using multiple setups the low-cost reels are affordable. But will need to be replaced every 2-3 years. A good reel takes a bigger chunk out of the budget. They will last much longer with proper care.
The round casting reel is the preferred type. It holds more line and will cast farther with experience and properly set. A larger spinning reel is fine also. Look at one with the bait runner feature. Catfish often pull rods into the water. It only takes a second for the rod and reel to go into the water.
A catfish reel must have the option to free spool or let line out. This is the only way to prevent rods and reels from being pulled into the water. The reels able to achieve this feature have a switch. Once the fish takes the bait, you simply crank the handle or flip the switch.
These are the top choices of reels in catfishing gear.
A round casting reel is a go-to option for catfish. Anglers have used these reels for decades with success. The sturdy frame and larger line capacities are ideal for catfish. The reel sturdiness handles the weight and fight. Plus the larger spool capacity aids in longer casting distance.
Abu Garcia Ambassador C3 Catfish Baitcast Reel
The Abu Garcia C3 Catfish Special is a top of the line catfish reel. It is available in 6500 or 7000 sizes. These reels have an extra-large line capacity in excess of 250 yards. You will not run out of line. The drags are more than adequate. The drags are slightly higher than the regular C3 models. Plus the reel comes with a larger handle for more cranking power. The 6-pin centrifugal braking gives more control than needed.
- ·Built on the original C3 Platform
- Aluminum spool
- Synchronized level-wind
- Rugged gear train
- 6-pin centrifugal brake
- Powerful 3- or 4-bearing system
- Stainless steel ball bearings
- Carbon Matrix drag
- Extended bent handle
- Not available in left hand model
Casting for distance is easily achieved with the reel. Based on experience the pins can set for longer casts. The tension knob offers added control for less experienced anglers. The low gear ratios along with the handle make reeling in comfortable. The level-wind keeps the line evenly laid on the spool. In addition, the reel has the well-known Abu Garcia durability in their better models.
Bass Pro Shops CatMaxx CMX3000B Baitcast Reel
The Catmaxx is a budget-priced reel. The one-piece frame supplies superior rigidity. Having brass gearing is a plus for the price. Line capacity is about 250 yards for long casts and ample line left over. The drag comes in as adequate at 11 pounds. An 11-pound drag is suitable for a 30-40 lb. line. Although, the monster catfish will pull some line.
- Rigid 1-pc. aluminum frame
- Light, tough aluminum side-plates
- TPFE and stainless 6-disc drag stack
- Double-anodized, forged aluminum spool
- High-strength brass gearing
- Rugged aluminum handle
- Externally adjustable magnetic braking system
- Powerful 5.2:1 gear ratio
- 4 bearing system with Power-lock instant anti-reverse
- Bait clicker
- Right hand only
- Only one size
- Magnetic braking not as good as centrifugal braking
The reel casts well with a smooth action. Trying to force a cast for more distance. You may have backlash problems. It does cast far enough with good form in your cast. The retrieval is easy with the low ratio of 5.2:1, standard on most round reels. Braking and tension knob adjusts easily.
Sougayilang Rover Round Baitcasting Reel
The Rover is a suitable reel for catfish. Anglers love or hate this reel. It does have an attractive price. It does sacrifice some quality to achieve a low price. This is a strictly budget reel. It will work for hauling in catfish of all sizes. The downside is durability. If you fish heavy and often for catfish. The reel will likely need replacements every 2-3 years. However, it is the lowest price on a catfish reel.
- Left and Right hand models
- 17-22 lbs. of drag
- 6+1 BB
- 3-sizes 400, 500, & 600
- Centrifugal braking
- Saltwater compatible
- Lower quality
- Aluminum gears
The reel performs well casting. Reeling is not as smooth as the previously mentioned reels. The braking is a plus being centrifugal. This style of brakes keeps control throughout most of the cast. Using the tension knob adds better control. The drag is likely overrated and a little sticky at times. It is likely not an issue with a line of 17 lbs. or higher.
A spinning reel is good for catfish. Anglers uncomfortable with casting reels prefer the ease of use. The following models have a live liner or bait-runner feature. You can switch the reel for free spooling the line. Having the free spool option is highly recommended for catfishing. There are a lot of rods and reels in the water due to catfish. Free spooling prevents rod and reel loss.
Penn Fierce III Live Liner Spinning Reel
Penn is known for workhorse reels. The Fierce live liner is a solid reel for live bait fishing. When the reel is used for the intended purpose it performs very well. A live liner or also known as a bait feeder reel is for fish the size of bass, walleye, and larger fish. These will not work for small fish such as panfish or smaller trout. It will perform as intended for catfish.
- Live Liner system for smooth presentation of live baits
- Full Metal Body and side-plates
- Techno-Balanced graphite rotor
- Heavy-duty aluminum bail wire
- Braid-ready spool with line capacity rings
- 4+1 stainless steel bearing system
- Instant anti-reverse
- HT-100 carbon fiber drag washers
- Liver liner tension not suitable for small fish
- Reels need thorough maintenance on a regular basis for good liver liner function.
The reel has a metal body for sturdiness. A braid ready spool made out of graphite. A well-functioning drag for fighting larger fish. Generous line capacities for longer casts. Plus line to spare for the fight. The Penn Live Liner is one of the top choices in catfishing spinning gear.
Okuma Fishing Tackle ABF55b Avenger
The Okuma Avenger is another of the top choices in catfishing spinning gear. The Okuma does boast a smoother and lighter tension on the bait runner feature. It is suitable for smaller fish. Anglers targeting bullheads and channels will find this a great reel. It is good for all types of live bait fishing. This reel also has an affordable price for the average angler.
- Micro-adjustable secondary drag for bait feeder tension
- Corrosion-resistant frame, side plate, and rotor
- Computer-balanced RES II Rotor Equalizing System
- Machined, anodized aluminum spool
- Machine-cut brass pinion gear
- 6 +1 system with stainless steel ball bearings
- Quick-Set roller bearing;
- Multi-disc Japanese oiled-felt drag
- Sizes tend to undersize, order a size larger
- The minimum size for catfish is 4000, larger for catfish over 20 inches
- You need to search for the right size on Amazon
This reel performs well with smaller fish. Anglers targeting the larger species will do okay. You will need to go up a size or two more than normal for blues or flathead catfish. This reel runs small in size. The felt drag does work well but the felt washers will need replacements more often. A good reel for the money.
KastKing Sharky Baitfeeder III Spinning Reel
KastKing is a budget angler’s friend. This company makes low-cost gear. The reel does perform well for catfishing. The drag is more than you need in the reel size. The reel holds plenty of line for casting and fighting fish. This is a budget-conscious model for catfishing. The price is affordable for anyone.
Anglers on a budget or fishing less will have good results with the reel. The reel will land any size catfish. The extra spool is a nice feature. You can have one with mono and another with braid. The heavier weight is noticeable while casting. It is not a big issue but does feel a little awkward.
- Large line capacity
- High drag strength
- Good ratio 5.5:1
- Extra spool
- Braid ready spool
- heavy may feel awkward when casting
- lower quality bearings
The cost is good, but the quality is lower than the other reels. It is suitable for an average angler. I do not recommend the reel for someone fishing a lot for bigger catfish.
This link goes to another article on catfish reels. It has more information about reels and a few other choices.
Simple is best with catfish. Forget about having a sensitive blank and fancy handle. You want a solid rod with a strong blank and reel seat. A fiberglass rod is durable, graphite is fragile in comparison. A composite rod is a blend of both.
The majority of catfish anglers prefer fiberglass. It has more flex for the fight. Plus loads better with the heavier sinkers for casting. A rod for catfish will need to handle more weight. Look at rods rated for 1-4 or 2-8 ounces. A rod in these ranges can handle the heavy casting weights with distance.
Length is a big factor. Use a rod at least 7 feet. A 7 1/2 to 8 feet rod is common. A longer rod casts farther. It is a little harder to handle but can be mastered quickly. When going for catfish, casting length is more important than accuracy. Catfish tend to inhabit deeper pools. Although at times, they do come into the shallower water.
These rods are the top choices in rods for catfishing gear.
Okuma Battle Cat Rod
The Battle rods are available in spinning or casting models. It is a 2-piece rod technically. However, it is a rod with a detachable handle. In other words, it breaks down into a 2 feet and 5 1/2 feet section for the short model. This does provide for a stronger rod. It may be a problem transporting in a car. The lure weight rating is exceptional on the rod. You can cast 1-8 ounces without any problems.
|# MODEL||FOREGRIP LENGTH||HANDLE STYLE||LINE WEIGHT||LURE WEIGHT||NUMBER OF GUIDES||REARGRIP LENGTH||ROD LENGTH||ROD POWER||ROD TAPER||PRODUCT SECTIONS||WEIGHT OZ|
|BC-C-762H||6″||A||15-60 LBS||1-8OZ||9 + TIP||14″||7’6″||H||MF||2-PCS||17|
|BC-S-762H||6″||A||15-60LBS||1-8OZ||7 + TIP||13″||7′ 6″||H||MF||2-PCS||16.8|
|BC-S-802H||6″||A||15-60LBS||1-8OZ||8 + TIP||13″||8′ 0″||H||MF||2-PCS||16.8|
|BC-S-1002H||8-5/8″||A||15-60LBS||1-8OZ||9 + TIP||16″||10′ 0″||H||MF||2-PCS||19.7|
The 3rd character in the model number denotes spinning or casting (S or C).
Pros and Cons
- Fluorescent wrapped indicator tip
- Heavy-duty stainless steel hook keeper, Guides – 9+tip casting model
- 7-9 guides on spinning models
- 2 piece blank construction, butted in handle for 1 piece strength and feel
- Double foot welded stainless steel guides
- 2 piece design is not conventional, full blank with a handle section.
- ships as one-piece rod
This rod is for anglers wanting high performance from the rod. It will handle a trophy size flathead or blue. The line rating allows for use of a 15-60 lb. test line. All models use a moderate fast tip. This is an ideal action for circle hooks.
The 7 1/2 to 8 feet models are easy to cast. The ten feet model is too long to be practical for most anglers. This rod is for large catfish 20 inches or larger. Anglers targeting blues or flatheads will prefer the rod.
B’n’M Silver Cat Elite or Magnum Rod
The B&M line of catfishing rods is moderately priced with performance. The Silver cat elite is a one-piece model. The magnum is available in one or two-piece construction. The Elite is a heavy catfish rod handling 2-8 ounces of weight while casting. The Magnum model is a medium-heavy power rated for 1-4 ounces. The Magnum is good for all sizes of catfish or all-around use. The Elite is for big catfish, it is for blues and flatheads.
Pros and Cons
Silver Cat Elite Pros
- 1-piece design for maximum durability
- E-glass composite blank stands up to heavy, hard-pulling catfish
- A 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
- not suitable for catfish 20 inches or less
The Elite is for blues and flatheads or large channels. It will hold up and give you the leverage to pull in trophy size catfish. The action provides a very good cast. The aluminum reel seat is strong and less likely to fail. The rod is built for the bruisers.
Silver Cat Magnum Pros
- No-slip Nylon cord grip
- Glow in the dark tip
- 100% fiberglass
- Aluminum Oxide with ceramic insert guides
- Medium action rod with a sensitive tip
- Good all-around catfish rod
- Handle lacks comfort, you feel the wrap
The Magnum will provide good performance. It is a lighter power for channel and bullheads. Yet it is tough enough for bigger cats. The rod is a good performing rod for casting and fighting fish. The plastic reel seat limits the rod. You need to stay with a lighter line. That said, 20-25 lb. test line is okay on the rod. Going heavier may lead to problems.
Price at Bass Pro Silver Cat Elite
Price on Amazon Magnum Cat
These two models come in 7-8 feet lengths varying by model. All lengths work well for catfish. The spinning model is limited to the magnum model.
Ugly Stik Bigwater Rod
Ugly Stiks are popular rods at an affordable price. The main feature of the rods is durability. A fish will not break the rod. It is hard to break unless being crushed in car doors or a similar accident. The guides are tough and can take some abuse. The reel seat has a metal backing up the plastic. This is a plus, it helps keep the reel tight and solid. The rod is not fancy but is a good performing rod for catfish.
- Tough as nails conventional rods for big fish in big water
- Strong and dependable Ugly Tech construction – graphite and fiberglass
- Clear Tip design – trustworthy sensitivity
- Corrosion-resistant Ugly Tuff 1-piece stainless steel guides – double footed
- Durable EVA grips
- 7-year limited warranty
- Flexes into handle with big fish
The medium-heavy is an all-around model. You can go after all catfish with the rod. The weight rating is 2- ounces. The 6-ounces of lead will hold in strong currents. In most situations, 3-4 ounces is enough. Anglers needing more power can opt for heavy action. It is rated for up to 12 ounces of lead.
Berkley Big Game Fishing Rod
The Big Game rod is a budget-conscious option. The blank is fiberglass. It has stainless guides with aluminum oxide inserts. The number of guides is fewer than optimal. This may lead to line control issues while casting at times. That said, it is a solid rod for catfishing. The rod is suitable for all sizes of catfish. The lure rating is 1-4 ounces.
- Fiberglass blank construction
- Stainless steel guide frames with aluminum oxide inserts
- Full rubberized shrink wrapped handles
- Low price
- Limited sizes online
- limited casting weight
The lower lure rating does cause some concern. Anglers fishing deeper water with a strong current will need more weight. It does not perform well with 6 ounces of weight. The rod overloads and is mushing with a weight of over 4 ounces.
Anglers looking for catfishing gear choices do not need to spend a lot of money. A rod and reel combined can be bought for under 200 dollars easily. A few of the options will be under 100 dollars. How much you fish and the species needs to be considered. The serious catfish angler needs to spend more.
Fishing for flatheads and blues mainly you need the stronger gear. This will likely increase the cost of at least the rod. Big fish can be tough on fishing gear. Buy the right rod and reel to start and prevent issues from arising.