Best catfish rods – Review & Buyer’s Guide

The choice of the right equipment for catfishing is as important as getting the right bait, line, and reel figured out. We are going to look at some of the best catfish rods under 100 you might want to try out.

Top 5 Best Catfish Rods Review – Comparisons

1. Ugly Stik Elite — Best Value For Composite Rod

This is a composite rod with 35 percent graphite construction and offers the lighter weight that typically comes with composite construction rods. “Elite” has a long cork handle. It comes with a 7-year warranty from Ugly Stik.

Ugly Stik Elite has a medium power rating and is 7 feet long. It should work well for all but the largest freshwater catfishing techniques. It’s designed for use with spinning reels and should work well for anyone from new to experienced anglers.

That has a fast action without compromising strength. It would make for an excellent choice with rod holders and fishing with multiple lines, as hit detection is enhanced by the fast action of the rod.

“Elite” is versatile as well, as with lighter line and tackle it could also be used for other types of freshwater fishing.


Typical of Ugly Stik brand name, that provides high performance at a reasonable price. Many composite rods with lesser ratings cost much more than Ugly Stik Elite.


  • It’s extremely durable.
  • The composite material construction provides excellent feel and handling.
  • It’s lightweight and casts accurately at long range.

2. Ugly Stik GX2 — Best Rod For Durability

This is also a composite rod made of fiberglass and graphite. Ugly Stik GX2 is the 7 foot model with Medium-Heavy action. The long handle surface is made from composite material. It’s quite comfortable.

“GX2” is probably best suited for average catfishing. It’s certainly capable of handling a 50-pound cat but is more designed for smaller sized cats and everyday use.

“GX2” includes improved tip and line guides designed by Ugly Stik. Reviews indicate that the guides are much easier on line than other Ugly Stik models, and matches the overall rod design for UglyStik’s reputation for durability. It’s a great value for the quality and durability.

“GX2” features a black matte finish and a clear line tip for contrast and higher line visibility. Ugly Stik GX2 has a high function and feel for catfishing, with more of the weight at the handle end. It casts accurately and at long distance.


This is another quality Ugly Stik product made from composite material for durability and excellent feel. It should provide years of active catfishing use.


  • “GX2” can be used for other freshwater fishing with appropriate line and tackle.
  • The composite design is strong and will last a long time.


  • Reel attachments are plastic and may not be as durable.

3. Shakespeare Ugly Stik Catfish — Best Rod for Beginning Catfishers

For the angler who is new to catfishing but wants to get equipment designed especially for catfishing use, the Ugly Stik Catfish Spinner is a great choice. It has all the attributes that Ugly Stik is famous for, such as great value, durability under tough conditions, and easy use under different catfishing techniques and conditions.

This one is extra tough and strong. Shakespeare Ugly Stik Catfish will handle effective casting of heavier line weights and higher weighted tackle. It will allow for anglers to develop their casting skills with heavier weights at long distances.

It’s a solid choice for beginning catfishers, as it will serve well for many years, even as new and different reel, line, and tackle combinations come into the mix.


This is a fine all-around rod designed especially for catfishing. The combination of composite material design and reliable MH action will provide for excellent fishing involving either casting or trolling.


  • The Medium-Heavy action is what a new catfisher needs for confidence and skill development.
  • The slow action and power rating gives every catfisher the tools need to fight and control bigger catfish.


  • Spinning reels and tackle may not be as easy to use for new fishermen.
  • This is a one-piece rod, and at 7 feet it will not be the easiest to transport in a smaller vehicle.

4. Rippin Lips Super Cat — Designed Exclusively for Catfishing

This is great equipment for serious catfishermen. It is designed especially for heavy-duty catfishing with baitcast reels and tackle. It is made from a composite design offering superior feel and durability. The 7.5 foot model in Medium Heavy action is a fantastic combination for any freshwater catfishing outing.

“Rippin Lips Super Cat” features stainless steel line guides for toughness and long use. It comes with a very useful split-grip design that is very intuitive for two-handed use when battling a big cat. The grip also works very well with rod holders when trolling or hanging out on the shore with multiple lines.

It has design features especially useful for catfishers. As catfishing at night is so productive and enjoyable, the high visibility glow tip is very useful for visual line confirmation.

“Rippin Lips Super Cat” has great casting weight and feel, and the flex provides superior control of the fish during the fight.


This is a great rod for serious catfish anglers. The Super Cat is designed to handle monster sized catfish and is well suited to all catfishing methods. It works as well with regular casting as it does with trolling with heavy tackle.


  • It’s designed especially for catfishing and has features that devoted cat anglers will appreciate.
  • It’s a great night-time rod, with great feel and line visibility in low light conditions.


  • It’s designed exclusively for catfishing (also a big “pro,” but reduces versatility).
  • Baitcasting tackle is not the best choice for novice fishers.

5. Okuma NTS-S-1004H — Best Catfish Rod for Compact Traveling

Okuma NTS-S-1004H is designed in four pieces to break down for easy travel. It will easily fit into an overhead storage area in flight without the typical long and bulky rod travel tube. Okuma has an extended handle for easy use when handling catfish.

Although this is a travel rod, it packs a punch on strength. With heavy power and medium fast action, it is as versatile and usable as many single-piece rods. It also extends out to a long-casting 10 feet.

NTS-S-1004H is heavy-duty, which allows for uses other than just catfishing. In fact, it is designed for surf fishing on the beach. Okuma attributes required for surf fishing are very similar to what heavy freshwater catfishing requires. It will do nicely for either. Okuma NTS-S-1004H can ride along for fun at the river or the beach.


NTS-S-1004H is well-designed for easy packing on travel and allows for impromptu fishing trips while on the road. Also when on vacation, this travel rod is far, far superior to most rods that will be available to you to use when on a charter or using another facility’s equipment.


  • It breaks down for easy travel.
  • It has Heavy power for confident catfishing.
  • It works well with a variety of line types and tackle designs.


  • It is not as durable and long-lasting as one or two piece rods.
  • Reel fit is not universal for this rod, and you should check for correct pairing with your reel of choice.

Best Catfish Rod Shopping Guide

Catfishing is significantly different than other kinds of freshwater fishing. Catfish of all sizes are fantastic fighters (and they get to be huge!) and are well-known for making great eating out of the frying pan. Catfish are found in freshwater rivers, lakes, and ponds all over North America. Depending on the particular species of catfish, they can be caught from boats or the banks and shores. Night fishing is often even better than catfishing in the daytime.

Catfishing is more about making an all-out assault on the fish’s senses than other kinds of fishing. Catfishing is not finesse fishing. It is all about getting the most potent bait out to the location where the big cats are hunting for food and then hanging on for a big fight. Catfish will eat almost anything and generally feed along the bottom of lakes and channels. The best baits are usually the ones that have the strongest smell. Because most catfish types grow to be quite large, special attention must be given to the types of tackle used to go after the fattest cats.

There are a variety of catfish types and fishing methods for them, and a few of the general rod attributes should be considered for the type of catfishing you have in mind.


Longer rods are generally needed for catfish, as the much larger fish than other freshwater species will require the extra length. You should look at rods no shorter than 7 feet long. Many rods come in lengths up to 9 feet or longer, and 9 feet is usually manageable. A good compromise between effectiveness and ease of use will land in the 7 to 9-foot range.

Longer rod length may be a new experience for many freshwater anglers. The additional control and casting length afforded by a rod at least 7 feet long will be a quick and welcomed change for specialized catfish tackle. Catfishing from a riverbank or lakeshore will usually necessitate long casts to successfully get to desired areas. Long casting also allows for trolling bait along the bottom surface, which is an especially effective catfishing technique.

Because of the fight put up by catfish of every size, the extra length of a catfish rod is necessary to control the fish through an extended fight up to the boat or shore. The additional leverage an angler gets from a longer rod makes all the difference in keeping the fish under control and not running away to cover or across other underwater structures.


Most anglers gauge “power” as rod weight. Power is found rated as either H (Heavy), MH (Medium Heavy), M (Medium), or ML (Medium Light).

Rod Power -

These power ratings generally describe how much force must be applied to the rod before it begins to flex and bend. Catfishing is not as much about rod sensitivity as it is about rod strength and control. If you get a hit from a catfish weighing from even a little less than a pound up to 40 or 50 pounds, you are not going to be wondering if the fish is getting after your bait or not. Rather, you will want a firm rod that allows for control during the fight.

Most catfish anglers use MH rods most of the time, which is fine for most normal sized cats and can handle the occasional monster as well. Power ratings can vary somewhat from one manufacturer to another, so checking individual ratings might be important.


An action rating describes the overall flex of a rod under weight. It’s typically rated as slow, medium, medium-fast, and fast.

Faster action rods flex mostly along the end tip area of the rod. Slower action rods flex more along the entire length of the rod.

This is another rating choice that depends mostly on the type of fishing that is preferred. Fishers going after smaller cats might want a faster action. Anglers going after bigger and deeper cats will usually prefer a slower action more suited to fighting heavier fish and casting heavier weights and tackle longer and more accurately.


Modern fishing rods of all kinds are made from an amazing variety of different materials. Exotic material designs are found to create the greatest differentiation between higher and lower price points in today’s market.

Any modern rod design is suitable for freshwater catfishing, although there are performance and cost variances to consider. Most catfish rods are made from fiberglass, graphite, or a composite blend.

The most common catfish rod material is fiberglass. It is a durable material and has the strength needed to handle even the biggest cats. Fiberglass is also the most affordable rod material on the market today.

Graphite rods are designed to offer a combination of stiffness and sensitivity superior to fiberglass. Most catfishers do not weight rod sensitivity as of great importance and the extra expense might not be easy to justify.

Composite material rods offer the best attributes of fiberglass and graphite, but they can be quite cost-prohibitive.


Catfishing rods come in two general styles: spinning rods and baitcasting rods. Each type of rod is used with different types of reels and lines.

Both styles work well for all types of catfishing. Most casual or beginning catfishers choose spinning equipment. Baitcasting is usually used by more experienced and skilled anglers.

While both types are useful for most any catfishing application, baitcasting gear usually works with heavier tackle and line. This allows for fishing for bigger and deeper cats. Spinning tackle is usually more suited for lighter tackle and is found to be simpler and easier to use.

Whichever style of rod you select, you must ensure that your reel and tackle are of the same style and match your rod.

Handle Length and Material

Catfish rods typically have a longer handle than ordinary freshwater rods. Catfish rods are designed for larger and heavier fish than typical freshwater species. Longer handles give anglers greater leverage to control longer and heavier rods and to easily use two hands on the rod while fighting a big cat as needed.

Longer handles on catfish rods also make the use of rod holders much easier. Rod handles are often used in catfishing, as multiple rods are often cast out of a boat for trolling or from a bank or shore.

Most catfish rod handles are made from cork, foam, or composite material. All should work fine, although cork is the most common because of hand comfort and durability.


What kind of rod do you use for catfish?

In most situations a medium (M) or medium heavy (MH) action will be best for channel catfish and for blue and flathead catfish a medium heavy (MH) action is most often preferred.

How long should a catfish rod be?

Typically, you need a rod between 7 and 9 feet long to catch the catfish. You can catch your limit of 1-pound channel cats in a small farm pond with a fishing pole only 6 feet long or so, and some advanced anglers are comfortable using rods up to 10 feet long.

How do you rig a catfish line?

In large lakes (those that are actually impoundments) catfish, especially big ones will hang out along an old creek and river channels in deep water. They move to shallower depths to feed, especially at night, and the flats adjacent to channels offer especially good fishing.

What size hooks for catfish?

Treble hooks in the appropriate size range for channel catfish are size #2, #4, #6 and #8. The smaller the number, the larger the hook is so a #2 hook is much larger than a #8 hook. The #6 size is the best all around size hook when fishing for numbers channel catfish with prepared bait.

Can you catch catfish during the day?

Yes. Catfish feed at all hours of the day and all hours of the night. They are a species of fish that feed when they are hungry. This is true for all three species of catfish.

Should I use a bobber for catfish?

The answer depends on the depth of the water you are fishing in. If you are using a traditional bobber in deep water, you won’t be able to retrieve the line beyond the float. If you are in water that’s just a few feet deep and you want to keep your catfish bait in the upper portion of the water, then you might use a bobber. Otherwise, using a bobber is not recommended.

How do you find catfish holes in a river?


Selecting the right rod for your catfishing plans based on these attributes and the type of fishing you have in mind will help make sure that you have the right equipment for fishing fun, night and day, the year around. We hope this guide has been of use. Let us know of any questions or comments below. Happy Fishing!

Comment here