5 Best Catfish Rods 2022 | Catfish Rod Buying Guide

In this article, we have shared our list of best catfishing rods based on our extensive research.

You will get all your questions answered about catfishing along with our comprehensive Fishing Rod Buyer’s guide. The great thing about most catfish rods is that they're quite affordable.

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Catfish anglers, this one is for you!  If you're looking for the best catfish rod, then you've come to the right place. In this article, we'll take a look at some of the top-rated catfish rods on the market and help you decide which one is perfect for your needs.

Chasing a big game fish like catfish means that you need a catfish fishing rod to be strong and reliable. Catfish fight hard and pull drag like no other fish and critical gear like catfish rods must be up to the task. With the right catfish rod, you can bring home that big catfish dinner with ease.

Check out our list of the best catfish rods for 2022 so you can be at the top of game to catch catfish along with our complete buyers guide.


                 Our Top Pick for Best Catfishing Spinning Rod

Ugly Stik Catfish Special Spinning Rod 

LENGTH: 8' | POWER: MEDIUM HEAVY | ACTION: MODERATE

Line Weight 10-30 lb. | Handle: Full

Check Price on Cabela's

The Ugly Stik Catfish Special Spinning Rod is our top pick for the best catfishing spinning rod. This rod is built for strength and durability and features a responsive action that makes it perfect for catching catfish.

  • The Catfish Special Spinning Rod is made of fiberglass and graphite, which makes it strong yet lightweight.
  • It also has a cushioned handle that provides a comfortable grip, making it easy to use all day long.
  • The Clear rod tip delivers extra strength right where you need it and is sensitive to the lightest strike.
  • The Ugly Tuff one-piece stainless steel guides provide maximum durability and eliminate insert pop-outs.

Pros (Why is the Ugly Stik Catfish Special Spinning Rod is our Top Pick for Best Catfishing Spinning Rod)

If you have been fishing for any reasonable time, you have likely heard of Shakespeare Ugly Stik. Ugly Stik rods are a household name, and many anglers at some point in their lives have fished with an Ugly Stik rod.

Ugly Stik Catfish Special Spinning Rod is our top pick for best catfishing spinning rod because of its strength, durability, and sensitivity.  This rod is built for power, with a heavy action that can handle large catfish and is one of the best fishing rods we have reviewed.

The fame that Ugly Stik has garnered over the decades is due to the rods’ hybrid material design. Unlike other fishing rods constructed of either graphite or fiberglass, Ugly Stik catfish rods use a blend of both, and as a result, you get the benefits of both material types.  The graphite gives the Ugly Stik catfish rods sensitivity, while the fiberglass gives the rods some serious bend strength and is nearly unbreakable.

These spinning rods also features shrink-wrapped and rubberized full-grip handles, so you can get the maximum amount of leverage while maintaining comfort while fighting big catfish.

Bottom Line (Should anglers buy the Ugly Stik Catfish Special Spinning Rod?)

The Ugly Stik Catfish Special Spinning Rod is an excellent choice for anglers of all levels. This durable and powerful rod can handle large catfish, making it perfect for long days on the water—additionally, the Ugly Stik. Catfish Special Spinning Rod is affordable, making it a great value for anglers of all levels.


Our Top Pick for Best Catfish Bait Casting Rod

Bass Pro Shops CatMaxx Casting Rod - CX80MHT

LENGTH: 8' | POWER: MEDIUM HEAVY | ACTION: MODERATE FAST

Line Weight 15-30 lb. | Handle: Full EVA

Check Price on Cabela's

Our pick for the best catfishing rod in the baitcasting department is the Bass Pro Shops CatMaxx fishing rod.

  • The CatMaxx catfishing rod uses a blend of graphite and fiberglass, giving it a composite construction that is incredibly durable and can handle the rigors of the large fish such as catfish.
  • The CatMaxx catfishing rod features structurally reinforced Sea Guide stainless steel guides; these guides are not only some of the strongest on the market but also help reduce line wrapping and tangles on the fishing rod.

Pros (Why is the Bass Pro Shops CatMaxx Casting Rod is our Top Pick for Best Catfishing Bait Casting Rod)

Bass Pro Shops spared no expense regarding the CatMaxx catfish rod and it shows.  The CatMaxx catfishing rod features structurally reinforced Sea Guide stainless steel guides; these guides are not only some of the strongest on the market but also help reduce line wrapping and tangles on the fishing rod.

The fishing rod features rugged EVA handles that enhance comfort due to sporting an X-wrap, a crosshatched shrink-wrap allowing for excellent grip, even in wet conditions and really makes a difference when fighting big catfish.

The CatMaxx catfishing rod also features a flared rubber butt section on the full-length handle, and you have a serious rod to wield against even the mightiest of big cats.

The features and stellar design of the CatMaxx fishing rod made it an easy choice as our pick for best catfish rod in the baitcasting category.


Our Top Pick for Best Catfish Rod for the Money

Berkley Big Game Spinning Fishing Rod

LENGTH: 8' | POWER: MEDIUM HEAVY | ACTION: MODERATE FAST

Line Weight 12-30 lb. | Handle: Full EVA

Check Price on Amazon

If you want a quality big catfish rod that won’t dent your wallet, look no further than the Berkley big game spinning rod, our pick for the best catfish rods on a budget.

  • The Berkley Big Game Spinning catfish fishing rod is durable fiberglass and features a comfortable EVA foam grip.
  • Berkley Big Game features titanium guides for excellent durability and slim profile zirconium inserts for smooth casting and line retrieval.

Pros (Why is the Berkley Big Game our Top Pick for Best Catfish Rods for the Money)

Light on price but not features, the Berkley big game spinning rod utilizes a Berkley X-veil high modulus blank giving the fishing rod exceptional reliability and performance.

Berkley also teamed up with Fenwick fishing rods on this design, as the rod features a Fenwick custom ergonomic reel seat.

Some super comfortable full-length EVA grips and a flared/rubberized rod butt to round off our best catfish rod on a budget.

Despite its' low price tag, the Berkley Big Game fishing rod, as the name suggests can handle big fish. The ability of the rod to wrangle big catfish is the reason why it is on our list of best catfish rods.


Our Top Pick for Best Catfish Telescopic Travel Rod

Hurricane MK-706MHSPT Mako Telescopic Rod

LENGTH: 7' | POWER: MEDIUM HEAVY | ACTION: MODERATE 

Line Weight 12-30 lb. | Handle: Full EVA

Check Price on Amazon

Not only is the Hurricane Mako an excellent travel fishing rod, but its’ also a major contender for a great budget rod as well.

  • The HURRICANE MK-706MHSPT Mako 7' 6 Pc Telescopic Rod is a six-section fiberglass rod that is perfect for traveling. It collapses to just 26 inches, making it easy to take with you on your next fishing trip.
  • This rod is made of fiberglass and ceramic guides, and it has a graphite reel seat with stainless steel cushioned hoods. It also has an EVA handle for a comfortable grip.

Pros (Why is the Hurricane MK-706MHSPT Mako Telescopic Rod our Top Pick for Best Catfish Telescopic Travel Rod )

The Mako fishing rod is constructed with portability in mind and is easy to travel with. This is achieved by making the rod from telescopic sections with six separate segments.

To round off this excellent catfish rod travel option, you get a graphite reel seat with stainless steel hoods, rock solid line guides with ceramic inserts, and a comfortable EVA full-size grip.

For the reasons of affordability and its' ability to be configured in a very compact way, the Mako is our pick for best catfishing rods for traveling.


Our Top Pick for Best Catfish Rod and Reel Combo

KastKing Centron Spinning Rod & 5000 Reel Combo

LENGTH: 8' | POWER: HEAVY | ACTION: FAST

Line Weight 15-30 lb. | Handle: Full EVA

Check Price on Amazon

The KastKing Centron Rod and Reel Combo is our top pick for the best catfish rod & reel combo because it is a great option for anglers who are looking for a quality rod and spinning reel combo without spending a lot of money.

  • The rods are made with Toray IM6 graphite blanks, which makes them sensitive and lightweight.
  • The guides are made with strong and durable stainless steel and have premium O-ring inserts that work great with both monofilament and braided lines.

Pros (Why is the KastKing Centron 5000 Spinning Rod & Reel Combo our Top Pick for Best Catfish Rod & Reel Combo)

Powerful and durable, this rod and spinning reel combo have it all.  8 foot rod paired with the 5000 heavy duty reel is a deadly combination for large catfish.


Catfish Rod Buyer's Guide - Rod Types and Construction

A graphite fishing rod works great for smaller fish like catching channel cats, but for larger big fish like flathead catfish and blue catfish, a composite fiberglass / graphite or 100% fiberglass fishing rod will be your best bet.


Graphite Rods

A graphite fishing rod is typically stiffer than fiberglass and composite fishing rod types due to graphite being a rigid material.

Graphite rods also have more backbone and typically feature a fast action. This is great for smaller catfish, but a graphite fishing rod can lack the full rod bend capabilities of other materials, and for large catfish, these rods might not be the best option for you.

You will commonly see catfish anglers run graphite fishing rods for channel cats, and even the biggest catfish like flatheads or blue catfish in certain situations, but generally graphite fishing rods are excellent for the smaller catfish to mid-sized catfish.


Fiberglass Rods

Fiberglass was the most common building material for fishing rod builders before materials like graphite took over for most fishing rod and species applications.

While fiberglass fishing rods are not nearly as popular for other species like bass, pike, or muskies, they have a very big role for catfish anglers.

Fiberglass fishing rods are very flexible and strong, making them a great option when handling the loads typical of a big cat pulling and fighting.

Fiberglass fishing rods is also less sensitive than graphite rods, which isn’t a concern for catfish, as we typically do not detect the bite as it happens by feel.


Composite Rods

Composite fishing rods are made of graphite and fiberglass; by combining these two materials, rod builders achieve a middle ground. The rods feature a happy middle ground between the two materials.

Composite fishing rods are popular among catfish anglers, and its’ simple to see why they are popular.

You get slightly more rigidity in terms of the fishing rod’s backbone, with a little less flex than with a 100% fiberglass fishing rod, and the glass aspect makes the fishing rod very strong and able to handle the shock and strain better than a graphite-only fishing rod.

Composite fishing rods truly are the best of both worlds when it comes to fishing rod construction, and while they may not be the best fishing rod type for other species, they are arguably the best rod type for large hard-pulling fish like catfish where the fishing rod is under significant loads for long periods.


Rod Power

Diagram of Fishing Rod's Power and Action Graph

Like with other factors, rod power depends on the size of the fish you intend to catch.

For channel catfish, a medium to medium-heavy power rod will suffice, and If you're targeting big catfish, then you'll need a rod with good backbone and power and you will want to consider a medium-heavy or possibly heavy power fishing rod.

For general catfish fishing, a medium-action rod is ideal. It will provide enough power to handle smaller fish, but it won't be too stiff or hard to use.


Final Thoughts

There you have it, our top picks for the best catfish rods. With the right catfish rod in your hands, you will have the confidence you need to fight big catfish on the water, and your fishing will be more efficient and productive. The right gear means everything in fishing, so choose it wisely.

Thank you for reading! We hope that this article was helpful in guiding you to the best catfish rod for your needs. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. Tight lines!

Happy Catfishing!

Cat Fishing in an Umbrella as a Boat

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