5 Best Catfish Rods [Bank & Channel Fishing]

Catfishing is one of the most popular forms of fishing and can be enjoyed by beginners and experts alike. When it comes to fishing, your equipment is one of the most important choices you can make. A poor catfish rod can mean the difference between a fund time on the water and a frustrating slog. 

Based on our research, the best overall catfish rod is the Okuma Longitude Surf Graphite rod. The Okuma won our top spot thanks to its mixture of strength, flexibility, and performance. The extra length is great for casting while the graphite composite construction is tough enough for medium to large catfish. 

There are several things to keep in mind when shopping for catfish rods. So today, we are going to cover the 5 best catfishing rods to help you find the ideal selection. We ranked these catfish rods based on performance, price, flexibility, and overall handling. 

Best Catfish Rods Compared

Product Length Material Handle
Okuma Longitude Surf 9’-12’. Graphite Composite Cork
Berkeley Big Game Spinning Rod 7’-8’ X-veil Composite EVA foam
Ugly Stik Catfish Special Casting Rod 7’-8’ Stainless Steel EVA foam
Okuma Battle Cat Heavy Casting Rod 7’6” E-Glass Composite EVA foam/Cork
KastKing Blackhawk II Telescopic Fishing Rod 6’6”-8’ Carbon Graphite EVA foam

1.Okuma Longitude Surf Graphite Rod – Best Overall Catfish Rod

First on our list is the Okuma Longitude Surf Graphite Rod. This rod features a durable graphite composition and is available in heavy and medium versions. With a 15-40 lbs rating, this rod is right in the sweet spot for catfishing.

It is strong enough to handle larger fish and the graphite has sufficient flex to make setting your hooks easier with just a flick of your wrist. 

The Okuma is built to last with its durable frame and aluminum oxide inserts. The inserts are specially treated to prevent rusting from saltwater and they are compatible with both braid and monofilament lines.

The bottom handles feature a premium cork material that molds to the shape of your grip, adding an element of personalization the longer you own it. You will be able to grasp the rod for hours without discomfort and have a better grip for landing those large catches. 

The Okuma ranges between 9-12 feet long, so it is a bit longer than the industry standard of 7’4”. The longer length gives it great reach but makes it a bit more difficult to handle. However, the strong graphite ensures that there is not so much flex that it becomes unwieldy. 

Overall, the Okuma is an excellent rod for catfishing and our pick for the best. The stability and length make it ideal for long casting and the comfortable handle makes it very easy to wield. The Okuma has a nice mixture of flexibility and versatility that make it a great rod for both beginners and more experienced anglers. 

2.Berkeley Big Game Spinning Fishing Rod – Best Budget Pick

If your wallet is looking a little bit thin, then you may want to look into the Berkeley Big Game Spinning Fishing Rod. The Berkeley is an excellent intro-level rod that comes at a very affordable price.

It is made from a special kind of “x-veil high modulus blank,” a type of synthetic composite material that is known for its high tensile strength. The Berkely features titanium line guides with zirconium inserts, both of which are resistant to rusting from saltwater and freshwater. 

The Berkeley has an EVA and TAC split foam handle, with an extra-large top half for maximum comfort when holding. The rod comes in two variants, a 7’ medium power and an 8’ medium-heavy power version.

The Berkeley is a spinning rod so you will need a spinning reel. Spinning rods are better for shore and surfcasting, so this rod will be a good choice if you frequently fish from those spots. The special blanks provide a good amount of flexibility and power while also providing sensitive action. The rod also comes with a limited lifetime warranty, so you can get a refund in case anything breaks. 

The Berkeley is a good rod for first-timers due to its shorter length, ergonomic design, and low-impact handle. It also has a very friendly price that won’t break the bank. 

3.Ugly Stik Catfish Special Casting Rod – Most Versatile

Coming in at third on our roundup is the classic Ugly Stik. Ugly Stik is a very common name in the fishing world and is known for its extreme durability and versatility. The Ugly Stik casting rod is made from a lightweight stainless steel, an interesting material choice for a fishing rod.

The high-quality steel is paired with one-piece stainless steel guides and the trademark Ugly Stik clear-hear tip. There are two versions of the rod—a 7’ medium action rod and an 8’ heavy action rod. 

One of the best features of the Ugly Stik is its versatility. It serves as an excellent catfish rod but can also be used for most types of small to medium fish, such as bluegill, bass, sunfish, and more. If you are looking for a good all-purpose rod you can use in all conditions, then the Ugly Stik is definitely work considering. 

The Ugly Stik features a dense EVA foam handle with a split grip for extra comfort. The 7’-8’ length is typical for a baitcasting rod and the clear tip provides increased responsiveness when fish bite. The combination of the strong shaft and sensitive tip is great for catfish, who can be finicky when biting the line. 

As far as overall strength goes, the Ugly Stik is rated for 15-30 lbs. That is right in the sweet spot for medium catfish. Thanks to the sturdy steel design, you can pair the rod with a higher pound test if you want to catch heavier fish.

The Ugly Stik is also relatively affordable for the quality of rod you are getting. It falls a little bit short when fishing in turbulent surf, but is great for a wide range of fishing. It is a good fishing rod for both beginners and experts. 

4.Okuma Battle Cat 2 Pc. Rod – Premium Pick

Up in fourth place is our premium pick for anglers who want the best—the Okuma Battle Cat Heavy Casting Rod. This casting rod features rock-solid action and high power, which make it ideal for landing larger catches.

The Okuma features an ergonomic 2-piece design which makes it easy to break down and set up. The blanks are made from a durable E-glass composite rod with a soft EVA foam handle. The rod also features a premium cork butt so you can rest the butt against your waist comfortably. 

The Okuma uses double-foot welded stainless steel guides for extra stability and a graphite pipe reel seat that will not flex under the strain of the line. The rod also has a fluorescent indicator tip which makes it more visible to both you and fish. The indicator tip also gives better visibility for fishing at night and in low-light conditions. The Okuma comes with a limited lifetime warranty that covers any manufacturer defects, so you won’t have to worry about replacing a broken rod. 

5.KastKing Blackhawk II Telescopic Fishing Rod – Best Portable Rod

Last but not least on our list is the KastKing, our pick for the best portable catfish rod. The KastKing features a convenient telescopic design which makes it incredibly easy to transport.

Simple extend the rod when you want to fish, and retract the blanks when you are done. The retracted rod is about a third of the length of the extended rod, so you can easily store it in your fishing bag or in your car. 

The KastKing uses a 24-ton carbon matrix material paired with a solid glass tip that provides excellent responsiveness. With over 14 different versions to choose from, you will most definitely be able to find a model that works for you. When it comes to catfishing, you will most likely want to choose one of the longer heavier rods with slower action. 

One of the best features of the KastKing is its convenience. You spend less time setting up your rod so you can spend more time fishing. The telescopic design also makes it convenient for air travel. It has a durable EVA foam handle so you can spend all day fishing. 

Overall, the KastKing is a great choice if you need a convenient rod. It works great as a second travel rod but also has the performance and quality of a primary fishing rod. Generally, telescopic rods lack for performance and power but the KastKing feels like a single-piece rod, despite the 6-piece construction. 

What to Look for in a Catfish Rod

Make sure to consider the following features when looking for a catfish rod. 

Rod Action

A rod’s action refers to the amount of natural bend in the rod when there is a weighted line. The higher the action, the more flexible and the more the rod bends. Fast action rods have more bend near the tip and react quickly when a fish bites the line.

When it comes to rod action, moderate levels are the best for casting. A medium-action rod will provide enough stability while getting enough flex to propel the line far. 

If you are going for smaller fish, then a fast action rod is the best. Conversely, heavier fish are easier to catch with a slower action rod. If you try to land big catches with a fast-action rod, you might accidentally snap the tip.

Rod Power

Similar to action, a rod’s power refers to how heavy of a line it uses. Rods with high power are “stronger” and can take heavier lines and lures. Ultralight rods are suited for fish between 2 and 6 lbs while a high-power rod will be rated for 30-60 lbs. Catfish typically weigh 30-50 pounds, so you want a medium-high to high power rod. 

Rod Length

In general, a longer rod is better for catfishing. Longer rods will give you more leverage, so it will be easier to land those larger catches. In general, a 7’ rod is as low as you should get when catching catfish. Optimal length for boat casting is 7’4”, but you can choose a longer rod if you want to fish in more varied conditions. 

Spinning vs Baitcasting

There are two main types of fishing rods that catfish anglers use: spinning and baitcasting. The main differences between the two are the type of reel they use and the shape of the handle. 

Spinning rods use an upright open-faced spinning wheel for the line. Spinning reels have a rotating bail that spins the reel and lets it out when you release the drag. Spinning rods are best for lighter lures and surface fishing. A smooth spinning reel lets you make very long casts easily. If you are inshore or surf fishing for catfish, you may want to get a spinning reel. 

A baitcasting reel, in contrast, features a horizontal bail that rotates and winds the line, like a small winch on the side of your rod. Baitcasting reels are stronger and feature a low profile and butter-smooth action for very precise casting. When it comes to catfishing, baitcasting reels are generally considered the best. They can handle heavier lines and fish, and they provide enough torque and drag to keep the line still when the fish is pulling. 

Many rods come with a reel included. If you are just starting out, a rod-reel combo should do just fine. But as you get more experience, consider buying your rod and reel separately. Make sure your rod is the right type for the reel you want to use. 

Materials

Modern fishing rods are typically made from graphite, fiberglass, and synthetic composites. All other things being equal, graphite rods have the highest performance, but they are brittle and may snap under the weight of a heavy catfish. Old-school fiberglass rods will be able to take the weight and flex without snapping. The main drawback of fiberglass is that it is relatively heavy. 

Alternatively, modern composite rods do a great job of combining the strength and low weight of graphite with the springy flexibility of glass rods. So we recommend an S-glass composite rod for catfishing. 

Tips for Choosing the Right Catfish Rod

  • Baitcasting rods are usually better, but not always. Generally speaking, baitcasting rods are better for catfish. However, this is not always true. Spinning rods may be a good choice if you are shore casting or surfcasting.
  • Have a dedicated rod. You may be able to get away with having a single all-purpose rod when just starting out. But as you get more experienced, you may want to consider buying a dedicated catfishing rod. That way you won’t have to worry about changing your lines and reels. 
  • Longer rods are better. When it comes to catfish, a longer rod is usually a better choice. The longer the rod, the longer casting distances you can make and give you more reach over the pier, shore, or side of your boat. 
  • Don’t make action too fast. Fast action rods are better for smaller fish because they are thin and can register fish movements easier. Catfish are usually heavier fish, so you will want to choose a medium or slow action rod. 
  • Don’t neglect the handle. If you are going to be spending hours out on the water catching fish, then you will want something that is comfortable to hold for long periods. EVA foam and cork are two of the most popular materials for fishing rod handles.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best rod length for catfish?

The ideal length for catfish is between 7’ and 8’. If you are planning to catch larger fish, then 8’ and longer would be ideal. 

What is the best material for a catfish rod?

There are several materials that are well-suited for catfish rods. Composite and glass rods are usually the best, though graphite rods also work well. 

What kind of reel should I use for catfish?

Generally speaking, you should use a baitcasting reel for catfish as they are stronger and require more torque. However, a spinning reel can work well for smaller types of catfish. 

Is fast or slow action better for catfish?

For average-sized catfish, a medium-action rod is the best. Medium action rods provide enough strength while remaining flexible enough for finicky catfish. 

Conclusions

Catfishing is one of the most popular forms of fishing in the country. So if you plan to take up the hobby, make sure that you get the right kind of rod. When shopping for rods, make sure that you inquire about manufacturer warranties and recommended reels. Just make sure to do your research and you will make the right choice. 

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