Many factors go into buying the right rod; you have to look at the rod material, shape, length, power, action, and what type of reel it suits. For this reason, we grouped these five best catfish rods in this complete buyer’s guide.

In this product roundup, we will help you find the best rod to suit your needs, whether you’re just starting your catfishing journey or you’re an avid catfish angler looking for a new rod to add to your fishing arsenal. Here’s a quick overlook of what we deemed as the top five catfishing rods.

Hook and Bullet Top 5 Catfish Rods for 2021

Ugly Stik Catfish Spinning Rod and Reel - The Best Catfish Rods for Beginners and ProsUgly Stik Catfish Spinning Rod and Reel
  • Type: Spinning
  • Length: 7'
  • Material: Fiberglass and graphite
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Ugly Stik GX2 - The Best Catfish Rods for Beginners and ProsUgly Stik GX2
  • Type: Spinning
  • Length: 4'8-9'
  • Material: Fiberglass and graphite
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B'n'M Silver Cat Elite - The Best Catfish Rods for Beginners and ProsB'n'M Silver Cat Elite
  • Type: Casting
  • Length: 7'6
  • Material: E-glass composite
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Okuma Battle Cat - The Best Catfish Rods for Beginners and ProsOkuma Battle Cat
  • Type: Casting
  • Length: 8'
  • Material: E-glass
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Warrior Cat Rods X-Flock - The Best Catfish Rods for Beginners and ProsWarrior Cat Rods X-Flock
  • Type: Casting
  • Length: 7'6
  • Material: E-glass
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Why Can You Trust Us?

The Hook and Bullet team includes seasoned anglers with years of experience. We have covered various topics, from our in-depth tutorials on catching catfish and rigging live bait to our heavily researched product reviews on quality catfish hooks and bait. Hence, our teams’ combined experience and refined researching skills make us more than knowledgeable on what qualities to look for when selecting a new rod, and most importantly, what to avoid.

To illustrate, we have all been there scratching our heads trying to figure out what new rod to buy. Then, spending countless hours surfing the internet, intensively researching multiple prospect rods, watching video after video of product reviews to pick a rod that you end up being unsatisfied with after your first catfishing trip with it.

Trust me; I hate to waste money on junk fishing rods just as much as you do. Thus, this is why we put together this product roundup outlining the best rod and reel for beginners, a budget-friendly option, a great rod for fighting flatheads, and some quality heavy and medium-heavy powered catfishing rods.

Best Beginner Rod and Reel Combo

    Ugly Stik Catfish Spinning Rod and Reel
    This Ugly Stik spinning rod and reel combo are the greatest value for beginner anglers. The rod in this combo is durable, constructed of fiberglass and graphite material. In addition, you also get a spinning reel featuring an anti-reverse function to give you a powerful hook set.

Why We Like It: There’s a reason why I will always recommend an Ugly Stik rod and reel to beginners: because they are simple, affordable, quality rods. When purchasing this rod, you can choose between a spincast or spinning reel. I recommend opting-in for a spinning reel because it’s easier to learn on, and it’s more resilient. Lastly, this Ugly Stik is a medium-heavy action rod, giving you the strength and capability needed to target multiple catfish species.

Who Should Buy It: Novice catfish anglers looking for an inexpensive starter setup.

Best Budget-Friendly Catfish Rod

    Ugly Stik GX2
    The Ugly Stik GX2 is a high-value bargain rod capable of getting the job done. Ugly Stik constructed this spinning rod of fiberglass and graphite material, giving you both durability and sensitivity.

Why We Like It: I have multiple sizes of the GX2 hanging in my garage as we speak. I like the GX2 because, just like other Ugly Stik rods I’ve owned, it’s reliable and sturdy. Additionally, I enjoy the versatility of the GX2 rods. As I stated before, it’s available in multiple sizes, ranging from 4’8” to 9’. However, I recommend getting either the 7’ or 9’ for better castability when bank fishing.

Who Should Buy It: Anglers looking for a dependable yet affordable fishing rod.

Best Rod for Flathead Catfish

    B'n'M Silver Cat Elite
    Fish for trophy-sized catfish confidently as the Silver Cat Elite’s design features an E-glass composite rod blank. Other durability features of this rod include an aluminum double-nut locking reel seat.

Why We Like It: B’n’M built the Silver Cat Elite to withstand strikes of sizable blue and flathead catfish. This single-piece rod screams power, as it’s a medium-heavy action rod with a rigid backbone for added strength. Yet, the rod’s tip has a high-visibility design with faster action. These rod tip features make it easier to see strikes, whether fishing during the day or at night. Additionally, this rod is excellent if you’re catfishing in rivers with heavy currents since it has a lure weight of 8 to 12 ounces.

Who Should Buy It: Experienced catfish anglers actively targeting flathead or blue catfish in rivers.

Best Heavy Power Rod

    Okuma Battle Cat
    Okuma built this rod with durability in mind with its E-glass rod blank and stiff backbone. In addition, the Battle Cat is a heavy-action rod, making it an excellent choice for targeting trophy-sized catfish.

Why We Like It: The Okuma Battle Cat Rod is a high-quality, lightweight, heavy-duty fishing rod built to catch large catfish. When paired with a good reel, you won’t have trouble casting heavy lead and large baits with this rod. For instance, this rod’s capabilities include a line weight of 15-60 pounds and a lure weight of 1 to 8 ounces. Even more, this rod is ideal for drift fishing.

Who Should Buy It: Catfish anglers searching for a lightweight yet heavy powered rod capable of casting large baits with ease.

Best Medium-Heavy Power Rod

    Warrior Cat Rods X-Flock
    Warrior Cat Rods’ one-piece, E-glass X-Flock rod is one of the highest quality medium-heavy powered rods on the market today. Plus, the X-Flock features 10+tip guides made to withstand a fight against sizable blue and flathead catfish.

Why We Like It: If you are an avid catfisher, this 7’6” medium-heavy action rod is a must. This rod is strong with a stiff backbone, yet it has excellent sensitivity. Additionally, this Warrior Cat Rod performs phenomenally in lakes, streams, and even in rivers with heavy currents. Also, I love the durability of the aluminum reel seat on this rod, featuring a double hexagon locking nut design. Plus, cosmetically, these rods are aesthetically pleasing.

Who Should Buy It: Tournament catfishers or avid catfish anglers looking for a high-quality medium-heavy rod to add to their inventory.

What Features to Look for When Buying a New Rod

Various fishing rods hanging on a rod holder against a white background.

When selecting the perfect catfishing rod for you, there are many features you shouldn’t overlook. For example, you should look at: if it’s a one-piece or two-piece rod, its material, length, action, power, handle material, reel seat, and its line and reel rating. This section will break down the importance and function of each of these rod characteristics.

1-Piece Versus 2-Piece Rods

Some anglers will say one-piece rods are more robust than two-piece rods; this saying is far from the truth. Nowadays, manufacturers make two-piece rods just as durable as one-piece rods. Plus, two-piece rods are easier to store and transport in your vehicle.

Rod Material

Today, manufacturers can construct a fishing rod out of varying materials. Here’s a list of the most common materials used to make fishing rods ranked by durability, with S-glass being the strongest and graphite being the weakest:

  • S-glass
  • E-glass
  • Composite
  • Carbon fiber
  • Graphite

Although S-glass rods may be the most robust, they’re also the most expensive material. Consequently, most manufacturers construct their catfish rods of E-glass or a composite material containing E-glass.

Rod Length

a picture of a fishing rod's eyelets with a pond in the background.

Image credits: Photo by Team Korda

Generally, the rule of thumb is the longer the rod length, the further the castability. Typically, when choosing what rod length to select, you should think about what type of catfishing you’ll likely be doing. Specifically, if you plan to cast long distances from the shore, you should look at rods over eight feet.

Rod Action and Power

Next, understanding the terms “rod action” and “rod power” is essential for selecting the proper rod for your needs. For instance, a rod’s “action” is measured by where the rod flexes on the blank when pressure is applied. Here is a list of rod actions ordered from least to most flex:

  • Extra-fast action
  • Fast action
  • Moderate-fast action
  • Moderate action
  • Slow action

Usually, most catfish anglers choose a moderate to moderate-fast action rod for catfishing. In comparison, extra-fast and fast-action rods are more suitable for bait fishing.

In addition to rod action, anglers need to look at a rod’s power. For example, a rod’s “power” determines the strength of a rod. Here’s a list of rod powers listed from least to most durable:

  • Ultra-light
  • Light
  • Medium
  • Medium-heavy
  • Heavy

Most catfishers prefer to use a medium to a heavy rod, depending on which catfish species they’re targeting. For channel catfish, you can get away with using a medium rod. In contrast, medium-heavy to heavy rods are more reliable for targeting blues and flatheads.

Rod Handles and Reel Seats

Companies construct rod handles of many materials, from foam to paracord, so pick the most comfortable grip for your liking. You may also notice the handles on catfishing rods are longer than others. The reason manufacturers make catfishing rod handles longer to give anglers more leverage when fighting with large fish.

Next, you need to pay attention to the reel seats on a rod. A good reel seat will be made of high-quality materials and be durable enough to keep your reel secure.

Line and Lure Rating

Lastly, it is vital to look at the line and lure ratings of the rod. Visualize what pound test you would like to use and what line type. In addition, you need to think of what kind of baits and weights you plan on using. Or if you plan on fishing in areas with heavy currents. Hence, if you plan to do a lot of river fishing or use large baits, get a rod with a higher line and lure rating.

How We Picked

Here are the criteria these rods had to meet to be included in this product roundup:

  • Durability
  • Castability
  • Sensitivity
  • Constructed of high-quality materials
  • Proper action and power for catfishing

We have no doubt these rods will be great for pulling in all of the most common catfish species. However, some may be better than others, especially if you’re exclusively targeting either eater or trophy-sized fish. So which leads us to our concluding point of which of these catfishing rods is best?

What Is the Best Catfish Rod?

In the end, for choosing the best catfish rod, you must figure out which of these poles suits your needs. Are you a beginner catfish angler or beginner in general? Consider picking up an Ugly Stik spinning rod. Many anglers will argue and say bait casters are best. However, they can be frustrating to use for beginners. So, save yourself a headache and pick up a spinning rod.

Yet, if you’re an intermediate catfisher experienced in using casting rods, then go ahead and check out what we deem as the overall best catfishing rod: B’n’M Silver Cat Elite. The Silver Cat Elite is an all-around phenomenal casting rod. This rod brings both power and sensitivity to enhance your catfishing experience.

Which of these catfishing rods are you excited to add to your inventory? Let us know in the comments below. Does your fishing buddy need to update his old gear? Consider clicking that share button.

Tight lines, everyone!