Hey there, my fellow fishing enthusiasts welcome to my post discussing my three best catfish rod and reel combos to control those bottom dwelling monsters this year. As with any fishing exploit, your chances of success can be increased with the right gear. And considering catfish’s aggressive nature, this is even more important here.
Although these pieces of equipment can be purchased separately, for ease of purchase catfish rod and reel combos can be a great time-saver for you. So to help you out, let’s check out 3 options I have come up with below…
My three recommended catfish rod and reel combos
I will review these in more detail below, but if you just want to get moving without all the carry-on my recommended products are listed here for your convenience:
What are catfish rod and reel combos?
In recreational fishing, catfish rod and reel combos are fishing equipment configured explicitly for freshwater cats. The combos that work well against catfish are durable and flexible, with reels that have sufficient line capacity coupled with effective drag systems.
Many catfish anglers purchase combos for the simple reason of enjoying recreational fishing and require a simple, effective, and inexpensive rig. Combos are also prevalent for newbies in catching catfish who want to save time customizing their tackle. However, combos can also be advanced and pricey, with high-quality components specifically designed to subdue larger catches.
For the purposes of this post we will be looking at spinning rod and reel combos.
What should you be looking for?
- Type of rod
- Construction materials
Type of rod
In catfishing, one of the questions you need to answer is what type of fishing rod you should use. There are two options here: spinning or casting rod. You will need to ensure that your rod matches your current reel as follows:
- A spinning rod uses a spinning fishing reel (or egg beater) which sits underneath. The force of the line is exerted on the eyelet pushes the rod blank away from the fish. These are the best options for beginners or those looking for ease of use.
- A casting rod is matched with a baitcaster reel and sits on top of the rod so it bends over with the guides pointing up. The result is the line becomes pushed down on the eyelets, and the rod blank all because of the fish’s force. Baitcasters are a little harder to use that spinners but good for accuracy and longer casting.
Note: the rods featured within this post are spinning rods.
The catfish rods you can find today are available in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and colors. They can be made of basic materials such as fiberglass or advanced materials like graphite or carbon fiber.
- Fiberglass – Very strong and durable with very little maintenance required (rinse off after fishing is generally all that is needed). Also, very cost-effective with many good options available that don’t cost the earth – although these types of rods appear to be less available these days due to the introduction of carbon fiber technology. Newer technology is known as E-Glass.
- Graphite – Graphite rods are generally more rigid with higher power ratings (see below) however tend to have greater sensitivity than their fiberglass cousins. Their composition also means that a little more cleaning is required over time to avoid them becoming brittle and snapping. These are good for shorter rods too as they can handle bigger fish without the ‘give’ that longer rods have.
- Carbon Fibre – This is a newer compound in fishing rods being more rigid than the fiberglass/ composite rods but also lighter – which is great for bass fishing. These types are becoming more and more popular for all levels of experience due to their toughness and versatility.
- Glass Tip – Glass Tips or ‘Hybrid’ rods are made from a combination of graphite and fiberglass. These are designed to give the best of both worlds with extra strength of the graphite rod added to the sensitivity of the glass tip. Great if you are using the rod in a number of locations and water types.
The length of a fishing rod has a significant impact on its performance and use. Your success rate is influenced by rod length and in general it should be matched to your fishing location. On a bank or jetty, the longer the rod, the easier it will be to hold the catfish while fighting it whereas you would be looking for a shorter option for a boat or kayak.
The general recommendation here is to use a 7 to 9-foot-long pole to seize a catfish.
There are plenty of technical terms for the power settings of a fishing rod but in simple language, I have always known the power rating as a measure of how ‘bendy’ it is. Light power rods bend with little force and heavy ones need a lot of pressure to bend. So, in short:
- Light – very bendy – even whippy – will bend a lot with even the smallest fish.
- Medium – needs a bit more pressure to bend – this is a good measure for those who only use one rod and want the best of both worlds.
- Heavy – takes a lot to make it bend – these are a bit harder to cast but I like a heavier power setting in my really short rods – especially if I have not need to try and cast in mangroves, etc.
There is also a measurement that some rods have in regards to what they call Action or Speed. This is determined by where the rod bends. Fast action bends from the top third which increases their sensitivity whereas slow rods bend down towards the reel.
For a generalist catfishing rod, I would go moderate or medium, unless to have a need to cast a long way from your location, then maybe edge towards a fast rod as they allow for heavier rigs.
- Rod handle – Cork handles are available on some catfish rods, but EVA foam is more common. Finally, it comes down to personal preference, but cork, composite cork, or EVA foam are the most likely choices for catfishing.
- Rod guides – These are the round pieces wrapped around the fishing rod and run across its length. Most best-selling fishing rods have at least one line guide per foot of length.
- Rod tips – These are typically brightly colored to stand out against their background. Some manufacturers even add glow-in-the-dark tips to make the rods visible at night.
- Drag systems
- Gear ratio
- Line capacity
The drag acts as a “buffer” between your reel and the catfish, preventing the fishing line from snapping. This feature compensates for the difference in break strength between the fishing line and the amount of pull applied to it. The friction is overcome when the fish pulls hard enough on the line, and the reel rotates backward. Eventually, allowing the line to exit and preventing it from breaking.
When shopping for a new catfish spinning reel, make sure to research and compare the drag systems of the spinning reels you’re considering. On a spinning reel, drags are adjusted by turning a knob on the top of the spool.
This feature is also called the retrieve ratio. It determines how quickly and how much line is reeled in per turn of the handle. The more line that comes in with each turn of the handle, the higher the retrieve ratio. For example, a reel with a retrieve ratio of 6:1 will retrieve 6 rounds of the spool for every 1 turn of the handle.
While gear ratio is essential for many different rod and reel setups, it becomes even more important when deciding what type of lures to use. Some cat fishermen would opt to use reels with a lower gear ratio when using a deep water crankbait. On the other hand, jerkbaits or jigs work well with higher ratios.
One factor to consider when selecting the best catfish spinning reel is line capacity. With a line capacity of 12/196, your catfishing reel can hold up to 196 yards of a 12-pound monofilament fishing line. Catfish are known for their deep-diving ability, enabling them to pull many lines from your reel if you hook up a big one.
The problem we face here is that manufacturers don’t use a common specification when it comes to their reel capacities. There is however a simple way to work this all out which via the first number. You see a fishing reel may be rated as a ’20’ or a ‘2000’. If this is the case, the ‘2’ is the common denominator and what you match the line to (this is not an exact science but it works for me).
So, then all you need to do is match the line kilogram/pound strength to the spool. To make this easier, I have whipped up a little table below:
|Reel Size||Suggested Mono||Suggested Braid|
|10 or 1000||1- 2 kg/2 – 4 lb||4 – 8 lb|
|20 or 2000||2- 3 kg/4 – 6 lb||5 – 10 lb|
|25 or 2500||2.5- 4 kg/5 – 8 lb||5 – 12 lb|
|40 or 4000||4- 6 kg/8 – 12 lb||10 – 16 lb|
|60 or 6000||6- 8 kg/12 – 16 lb||12 – 30 lb|
Like our other fishing equipment, we want to purchase catfish spinning reels that last. As they can put a lot of strain on your rod and reel, a top-rated catfish reel should be durable, watertight and corrosion-resistant. Regardless of whether you are fishing in freshwater or saltwater, constant exposure to the elements can cause materials to deteriorate.
Such fact makes it imperative for catfishing reels to be made of solid material. Stainless steel and carbon fiber are the best materials for catfishing reels.
There are some other areas to consider as well when looking at a good spinning reel for catfish. These don’t effect the outcomes as much as the above however they are worth considering:
- Power handles – Although it is a personal preference, some anglers allow power handles on their spinning reels. A power handle’s larger surface area provides a more secure grip and increases surface area for better torque.
- Anti-reverse – This component aims to prevent anglers from reeling backward and letting out the line when they intend to bring it in. An anti-reverse switch allows anglers to disable this feature.
- Line holder – This is the little tab on the side of the reel housing that holds the end of the fishing line if it is not rigged up. These are not often thought of when a reel is purchased but something that is really missed if it is not there.
- Interchangeable winder – there are not many that don’t do this these days however this is the ability to swap the winder handle around to allow for left or right-handed use.
What is the best rod and reel for catfish?
Depending on the type and species you are chasing, Catfish can get quite large. For general catfishing however I recommend a 4000 – 5000 sized reel on a 6 – 7ft rod medium to medium heavy rod.
How do you rig a rod and reel for catfish?
In my experience, Catfish are best caught on a bait that is floating. We chase eel catfish and use earthworms on a single hook with a float (no weight as we are in a lake with no current but you can attach a weight off a swivel if you like). If you are in deeper water however, a running sinker or single hook paternoster type rig will work well too. To be honest, use any rig you like as long as it allows the bait to ‘float’ off the bottom.
My three recommendations broken down
So based on the information above and my own experience, I recommend the following options:
1. Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod and Reel Combo
This rod and reel combo is a good option if you are looking for reliable gear for a decent price. The rod is durable and lightweight with impressive reel smoothness and a strong drag system. See its specifications below:
- Brand: Ugly Stik
- Rod material: Composite
- Rod length: Available in 6 feet, 6.6 feet, 7 feet, and 9 feet
- Rod action: Fast
- Rod power: Available in light, medium, medium heavy, heavy (go medium if you can)
- Reel bearings: 3+1
- Reel line capacity: Available in 4/120, 4/110, 6/140, 8/200, 10/210/ 14/215
- Reel gear ratio: 5.1:1 and 5.2:2
- Lightweight EVA grips
- HT-100 carbon fiber drag
- Clear fiberglass tip
- 7-year warranty
Why have I chosen it?
Ugly Stick is a well-known and trusted brand with a clear tip rod for high sensitivity and strength. The reel of this combo is recognized as one of the toughest with a double anodized aluminum casing and super effective carbon drag. This is a great option for beginners or those who want a good combo on a budget.
2. KastKing Centron Spinning Rod And Reel Combo
My next best rod and reel combo for catfish hunting is equipped with an ambidextrous reel and a super smooth 10-ball bearing system. With a length range of 6 – 8 feet, the rod is the perfect length as well. See its specifications below:
- Brand: KastKing
- Rod material: High modulus carbon fiber graphite
- Rod length: Available in 6 feet, 7 feet, and 8 feet
- Rod action: Fast, Moderate fast
- Rod power: Available in medium and medium heavy
- Reel bearings: 9+1
- Reel line capacity: Not indicated
- Reel gear ratio: 5.2:1 and 4.5:1
Other inclusions :
- Hook holder
- Rod and reel perfectly wight matched
- Full or split rear handle options
Why have I chosen it?
The rod is equipped with several guides, ranging from 7 to 9, depending on the model you buy. This feature will help you control the rod even if a sizable catfish bites your lure. For comfort, the product has finished EVA handles and a fighting butt. A 9 + 1 internal bearing system also leads to smooth use of the reel in every fish fight. A great option for beginners and experienced fishers alike.
3. PENN Pursuit Spinning Reel and Rod Combo
This final product is another brand well-known for its strength with a well-paired match for chasing large catches. The reel is known for its impressive drag system matched with hard wearing guides and ergonomic grips on the rod that will significantly increase your chances of success. See its specifications below:
- Brand: Penn
- Rod material: Graphite composite
- Rod length: Available in 7 feet, 8 feet, and 9 feet
- Rod action: Fast
- Rod power: Heavy
- Reel bearings: 4+1
- Reel line capacity: 200/15
- Reel gear ratio: 5.6:1
- EVA grips
- Anti-reverse feature
- Stainless steel guides
- Ht 100 carbon fiber drag washers
Why have I chosen it?
The combo offers great features such as the HT 100 carbon drag system, a rugged Full Metal Body and sideplates and Techno-Balanced™ rotor. The rod’s grips are incredibly designed to help you maintain a firm hold once the catfish struggles. I used Penn reels myself and have always found them to be strong and durable and have never let me down.
There you have it, my three best catfishing rod and reel combo options for your upcoming catfish angling. I would be pleased to know how this article helped you, and as usual, let me know of your experiences with them.
Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you.
Until next time