Most fishing rods designed for larger fish, including catfish, will have handle grips in two parts, before and after on the reel seat.
A good catfish rod will have an extended handle that gives you a lot more lifting power and leverage on the rod and is critical for working larger cats comfortably.
The two top materials in our eyes are EVA foam and cork.
Cork handles the best and provides an extremely comfortable grip, but unless you have some high-quality cork the slime of handling catfish might get down in the cork and cause it to degrade over time.
Foam handles have excellent gripping power and are extremely easy to keep clean.
There is no rod length that can't catch fish, but there are better rods for certain distances and accuracy.
The biggest difference rod length will make is in casting distance. Longer rods generate more power during the cast giving you more distance.
The flip side is that longer rods tend to be less accurate than shorter rods, especially when trying to cast at shorter distances.
Catfish are powerful and will throw their entire body into the fight with rolls that can put an extreme amount of pressure on your fishing rod and you a rod that can absorb this while being able to dish out your own leverage.
The power of a rod refers to the amount of pressure that is needed to cause the rod to bend, or you can think of it as the strength of the rod.
Whether you are going with a fiberglass or graphite rod, you are going to need a medium to medium heavy power to give you the lifting potential needed to keep the pressure on rolling and running cats.
For chasing the biggest cats in the water, say 50+lbs, you are going to want a heavy power rod and sacrifice sensitivity.
For a catfishing rod, the only two materials that should be considered are fiberglass and graphite.
Fiberglass is more durable and less brittle than graphite, while graphite is lighter and much more sensitive and it is easier to detect takes and strikes than with fiberglass.
Fiberglass tends to distribute load pressure throughout the rod which helps give it more lifting power than graphite and is great for large catfish. Of course, rod technology is closing the gap on these differences.
Fiberglass is most often found in two forms, E and S-glass. S-glass is less dense but has much higher tinsel strength giving you a lighter, but stronger material than E-glass.
Guides (eyelets) provide more accurate casting, and they help distribute weight evenly throughout the rod's length.
Most guides on catfish rods are going to be stainless steel for extra durability. A lot of higher end rods are also going to use aluminum oxide guides that help cut down on friction and weight while maintaining strength.