Catfish can be found in nearly every water system in the world and are a great opportunity for a great fight and great table fare. They are highly abundant and don’t take a lot of searching to get into a mess of them and has made them one of the favorite species to fish for in the United States and the world.

In the last decade, equipment has begun to come to market that is better suited for going after catfish and having the best catfish rod can change the game. Whether you are simply fishing off the bottom for channel cats or chasing after blues and flatheads, having the correct gear, especially the right rod, can make your outings more enjoyable and successful.

In this article, we want to take a look at what makes a fishing rod an effective catfishing tool. We will also take a look at five rod models that we feel can stand up to repeated fights with big cats.

Qualities of Top Catfish Rods

  • Handle Length
  • Grip
  • Rod Length
  • Power
  • Material
  • Guides

 Handle Length

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.

Rod Length

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.

Best Catfish Rod for Your Needs

St. Croix Mojo Cat Casting Rod

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There are several models of the casting rod that are between 7′ and 8′ in length.

These range from medium to extra heavy power giving you the option to match the best rod with your catfishing application.


These rods are built with high modulus graphite as well as S-glass, giving you a rod that blends power with lightness and sensitivity.

The rods are tapered masterfully giving you a strong rod throughout its length.

The Kigan Master Hand 3D guides are use aluminum oxide rings and ceramic inserts and perform well when casting as well as working larger fish and we have not had an issue with guides popping out of place.

The handle length varies with the model, but all the casting rods feature a split grip cork handle of high quality.

All rods feature extended handles as well as a foam fighting butt that adds a bit more comfort when working those monster cats.


These are fast action rods that are great at chucking heavy live bait at good distances.

We are also pleased with this rods ability to flip and throw at shorter distances accurately.

The fast action also provides incredible quick and powerful hook sets.

This rod has incredible lifting power, and both models are long enough to give you a lot of leverage when working larger catfish. Even with the higher powered models, there is a lot of sensitivity in the tip.


The rod handles wonderfully on the water when casting and when working fish. You can work these rods all day without fatiguing due to their lightness.

The Fuji reel seat sits comfortably in your hand and locks down the reel securely and tightly enough to improve the sensitivity of your baits movement.


This is one of the best fishing rods designed for catfishing to come along.

The materials and design give you a rod that blends power and sensitivity in a way that is not seen with other catfish rods.

We also love the wide range of models that varies between finesse fishing, versatility, and heavy duty.


  • Range of models for all applications
  • Excellent sensitivity
  • Lightweight but powerful
  • Phenomenal casting ability for catfish rod
  • Very comfortable handle
  • More expensive than other catfishing rods


  • More expensive than other catfishing rods

Click here to view on Amazon.

Shakespeare Ugly Stik Catfish Casting Rod

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There are two models of this rod available. There is a single piece 7′ rod and 8′ two piece rod.

Both models are made with Ugly Tech Construction which is a blend of fiberglass and high modulus graphite.


The reel seat is made from graphite and features a steel hood cover that provides a tight and secure hold on your Baitcasting reel.

It also features a standard trigger style that makes these rods easy to handle and maneuver with if you are going with more aggressive catfishing techniques.

These rods also feature the Ugly Stik Clear Tip which provides added strength to the region of the rod that takes on a lot of the initial pressure generated by fish.

Further adding to this rods strength are the stainless steel guide rings and inserts.


This medium heavy rod can resist a lot of pressure put on it by rolling and running cats.

It is also a moderate fast action which we like and can throw heavy lures or live bait with relative ease, and it still maintains good hook setting potential.

The rods are not as sensitive as we would like to see, but you shouldn’t have much issue using this rod for smaller channel cats that might have a more subtle take.

These are not the best casting rods regarding smoothness, but they are not intended to be cast as often as for bass fishing.

You will have no issue gaining some distance with these rods, and the 7′ model is pleasantly accurate even at shorter distances.


This rod handles well on the water, and the EVA handles are extremely comfortable and easy to maintain.

After a day full of catching cats, you still won’t have any problems maintaining your grip.


While this series of rods are not the prettiest, they are extremely functional and will hold up through thousands of catfish put in the boat.

These rods handle well and when paired with a good reel are capable of handling trophy cats.


  • Very affordable
  • Excellent lifting power
  • Strong tip
  • Handles well
  • Good distance and accuracy on casts
  • Good hook setting potential


  • Not very sensitive

Click here to view on Amazon.

Okuma Thunder Catfish Spinning Rod

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The Thunder Catfish is our spinning rod option for this article.

There are two models of the spinning rod available, and they are a 7’6″ and 8′ model and constructed from 100% E-glass.


Both models are heavy power with a moderate fast action.

This power and action pairing give you a rod that that can cast decently with heavy lures and also provides the necessary rod performance to land large catfish.

The main drawback of this setup is that the rod is not going to be as sensitive as others on this list and the hook set is going to be a bit slower.

Where this rod shines is putting some lift on big cats. The strength of this rod is tremendous, and you can lay down some lifting power and utilizes the strong E-glass design.


This rod features double footed stainless steel guides for added strength and durability to an already rugged rod and gives you some extra security when you’re putting extra force into the fight.

The rod handles well when fighting fish with the EVA foam fore and rear grip and they function well in rod holders or harnesses.

The reel seat and stainless steel hoods will keep your spinning reel in place with dual locking hoods. While the rod is quite heavy, it handles well in its intended application.


These are heavy rods and are not meant to be held all day with a lot of casting.

If used in this manner they are going to feel extremely bulky and cumbersome. When used with the right applications they are fantastic catfish rods.


  • Heavy duty design
  • Affordable
  • Can handle large lures and baits
  • Phenomenal lifting power
  • Excellent for trolling


  • Not the lightest
  • Could be more sensitive

Click here to view on Amazon.

B’n’M SilverCat Casting Rod


There are two models of the SilverCat available with both coming in two piece sets.

There is a 7′ and 8′ model available with both featuring a medium action and moderate power.
This rod is 100% fiberglass giving you a strong rod throughout its length.

This rod uses a nylon cord grip, which is unique for the rods discussed here. This grip provides a lot of gripping power in less than ideal conditions, but sacrifices comfort when being handled for extended periods of time.

The graphite reel seat does its job and keeps your baitcaster locked in tightly.


The SilverCat has excellent tip sensitivity paired with a strong backbone.

It features excellent tapering with a quality fiberglass material that gives you the strength of a fiberglass rod, but it doesn’t sacrifice as much sensitivity.

These rods can get some distance on casts but lacks the accuracy of other rods with similar builds and performance specs. Again, accuracy might be important or not as much depending on the fishing scenario.


The SilverCat is light enough and well balanced so that it can be used with more aggressive tactics and more casts than other rods on this list.

We are not a huge fan of the nylon cord grip, but it comes down to your own personal preference. We will say that you do get a good grip with this handle and it is nice when trying to work larger cats.


The action and power settings of this rod make in a very versatile catfish rod.

It is castable and works for smaller channel cats where more sensitivity is needed, but it can also perform well trolling and chasing after larger blues or flatheads.

It’s not the top of the list for any one application, but it performs well in all of them.


  • Affordable
  • Well balanced
  • Good sensitivity
  • Versatile in its applications
  • Smooth casting and good distance
  • Decent hook setting


  • We just can’t adjust to the nylon cord grip
  • Might not have the greatest casting accuracy

Click here to view on Amazon.

Berkley ECAT Casting Rod

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There are three models of the ECAT casting rods available, and they allow you to pick the specific rod that will match up with what kind of catfish you are going after and the techniques you use to land them.
There is a 6’6″ rod that is medium power with moderate action, a 7’ medium heavy power and medium fast action, and a 7’6” rod that is heavy power and moderate fast action.


The Berkley ECAT is designed specially to deal with and land channel cats to big flatheads and blues. The blanks are made from tough E-glass in single piece blank designs.

All models feature stainless steel guide frames with aluminum oxide inserts and tight wrappings to keep the guides in place and able to hold up to lots of stress.

The split grip handles are made from high-quality cork, and the reel seat is the standard graphite, trigger style design.


Depending on the model, these rods cover a range of fishing applications and have certain strengths and weaknesses.

  • The 6’6″ model is great for working in tight.
  • The 7’ medium heavy and moderate fast action rod is a very versatile catfish rod that can handle a lot of different fishing application.
  • Heavy duty 7’6” rod can send bait further and put a lot of lift on trophy flatheads and blues.

All of the models cast pretty well with the two longer models able to give you a lot better distance.

We like the 6’6″ model for casting in dense and tight areas where channel cats are often found in lakes.

All models handle exceptionally well on the water, and we love the feel of the cork handles, but you do need to provide routine upkeep, especially when handling lots of catfish.

They all feature enough power to handle most cats with relative ease, and the largest model is great for the trophies.


The Berkely ECAT casting rods provide several model options that should suit any catfishing scenario.

The power and action setting let you get your bait out easily and provide the leverage and lifting power to work fish.


  • Range of models
  • Great power
  • Decent casting distance
  • Great handles and grips for comfort
  • Single piece blanks give optimal strength


  • Hook setting could be improved
  • Large models might not be very accurate

Click here to view on Amazon.


How to Choose the Best Catfish Rod for the Money
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How to Choose the Best Catfish Rod for the Money
In this article, we'll take a look at what makes a fishing rod an effective catfishing tool and where to find the best catfish rod.
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