What Are The Best Catfish Rods In 2019?
There’s nothing stopping you from loading up your bass fishing gear and heading out on the water for the day. Some people have zero issues… then some others? They quickly realize why some manufacturers are starting to build catfish-specific gear.
Once one manufacturer caught on, the rest followed suit and practically flooded the catfishing industry with more options than we could ever possibly pick from.
To help save you time (and money), and keep you from having to replace your expensive fishing gear the first time you hook up with a trophy, we’re going over some of (what we think) are the best catfishing rods in 2019.
Before we get started, here’s a few specs you’ll want to keep in mind:
Construction Materials – In general, there’s 3 types of materials you can choose from: e-glass, s-glass, and graphite. E-glass is considered the least expensive, with s-glass coming in next and graphite following up the pack. Take note, though, that expense doesn’t necessarily mean quality. When it comes to catching catfish, we highly recommend s-glass or graphite.
Length – Catfish are heavy hitters, they pull hard, and when they’re aggressive they can strike with enough force to snap your rod tip and dislodge your reel from the seat.
To help offset some of these issues a longer rod (in the 7’0” to 8’0” length) is going to give you the strength you need, more than enough casting distance to cover large areas, and enough backbone to withstand aggressive strikers and lifting fish from the water with your rod.
Action – The “action” of the rod is going to give you the backbone and cushion needed to support longer runs when a fish tries taking off, the power you need to properly set the hook, and enough “meat” to control the fish’s head when they’re on the line.
For catfishing rods, we recommend using a medium-fast or fast action rod with a medium-heavy or heavy power. The action determines how far down the rod’s length the bend will stop while the power determines… well… how much power you can put to the fish through the rod.
Rod Handle – This is where your bass fishing gear may cut it for an hour or two but once you hook up with a few fish you’re going to be wishing you had more rod handle, or “butt”, to hold onto. Big fish require leverage and if your rod butt isn’t long enough that leverage is going to come from your own hard work.
With the right rod (and the right length butt) you can apply far more pressure to a fish without wearing yourself down after the first few hookups. Think of saltwater rods and you’ll realize why having this leverage is so important — especially for big fish.
1-Piece vs 2-Piece – There’s a common misconception that using a 2-piece rod for catfishing is a great way to save space by dismantling your gear when you’re done for the day. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth — and 2-piece rods actually set you up for potential failures.
While there isn’t much wrong with 2-piece rods for most types of fishing, catfish put extreme pressure on your gear and the ferrule where the two pieces connect is a common point of breakage. The materials in these areas tend to be thinner than normal which means your 2-piece could break when you set the hook or try to turn a big fish’s head.
It’s this reason alone that we only recommend 1-piece rods, even for the most seasoned anglers. If you’ve never experienced a rod breaking with a fish on the end of it, you’re missing out — but it’s an experience we don’t want you paying for because of our recommendation!
Reel Seat – There’s a few different types of reel seats you’re going to find. Either plastic, some form of cheap metal, titanium, or carbon. We recommend avoiding plastic reel seats because they simply cannot hold your expensive reel the way it needs to be held. Plastic reel seats are a known point of failure.
Likewise, you don’t necessarily need titanium reel seats either. Titanium dramatically increases the price of the rod and doesn’t offer much more than bragging rights when you compare it to aluminum or stainless steel reel seats and guides.
Rod Tip – Most anglers would never stop and think about the tip of their rod being a source of contention but we’ve seen more than a few non-catfishing rods break under the pressure. If you’ve never had it happen before… not all rod tips are created equal.
Top rated catfishing rods have more emphasis placed on the tip than gear designed for other species. You can find them reinforced and translucent so the tip glows in the sunshine or when you use a light at night. It makes watching the tip significantly easier — so you know exactly when a fish has taken your hook.
Now that you know why we’re recommending what we’re recommending, let’s get into what we think are the best catfishing rods in 2019, shall we?
#1 – KastKing KastKat Catfish Rods
KastKing is a relatively unknown name in the fishing industry but that shouldn’t put you off.
They’re devoted solely to growing the catfishing sector of the industry and have blown onto the scene with a few pieces of gear we couldn’t ignore. Namely, their KastKat line of fishing rods.
The KastKat line of rods are built with one thing in mind… hunting large trophy cats in whatever waters and whatever depths you can find them in. They’re built with 100% linear S-Glass (far superior to E-Glass) to deliver incredible performance, higher strength, and more lifting power.
Each rod is built with stainless steel rod guides and rings to deliver smooth casting and retrieval even under heavy loads. They’re built to handle braided lines without becoming marred and chewed up — setting up the situations where you’re losing fish after fish.
The casting models include a “power trigger” to help get your casts out further and give you the extra leverage you need when you’ve got a larger-than-normal fish on the other end. With nylon reinforced reel seats you don’t have to worry about losing sensitivity — or your reel.
An oversized fighting butt is built with EVA handles that give you superior control over the fish’s head while making it easy to slip in and remove from rod holders. Every KastKat rod is built with a fluorescent orange tip so you can see even the lightest takes.
#2 – KastKing KatTech Catfish Rods
We told you KastKing was doubling down on the catfishing industry, which is why we’ve featured two of their best rods for catfishing. The KatTech series rods are built just as well as the KastKat rods we featured above, with one major difference…
These rods are built with spinning gear in mind. While the KastKat rods are built, primarily, for baitcasting reels, the KatTech have a few changes that make them better suited to an open faced spinning reel.
The KastKat rods are practically tied for first place but we know more anglers are using casting gear these days than they are spinning gear, so we had to pick an actual winner. With all that being said, the KatTech rods don’t miss a beat.
Fuji reel seats and double foot guides with titanium SiC rings, composite graphite construction, and custom rubber cork handles are the major differences between these and the KastKat rods.
Each of the differences add up to a smoother experience when you’re using spinning gear, while the KastKat rods extra features can get in the way when you’re using a spinning reel. They’re both designed with the same chartreuse “strike tip” so you never miss a hit.
Backed by KastKing’s total “Peace of Mind” warranty, and you really can’t go wrong. Whether you’re a serious tournament angler or you’re a weekend warrior the money you spend on quality upfront will pay off in spades as the years roll by and you’re still using the same rod!
#3 – LurEra Catfish Casting Rods
There’s very few occasions where we’ll call a piece of gear “beautiful” but the LurEra catfish casting rods are just that… hands down, some of the most beautiful pieces of gear we’ve ever seen. And we’ve seen a lot.
Outside of the physical looks of the rods, LurEra isn’t messing around.
30-Ton carbon fiber blanks are strong and up to 10x more sensitive than graphite (especially fiberglass) to help you find the lightest bites and set the hook without worrying about busting the rod.
They’re built with stainless steel guides and ceramic inserts so braided lines won’t mar up the surface, causing snags and breakages, and the extended butts are a hybrid blend of EVA foam and cork wood.
The only downfall (which we expected some sacrifices at this price range) are the plastic reel seats. While we usually won’t recommend a rod with plastic seats, we haven’t found many complaints about these not holding onto the reel.
#4 – Okuma Battle Cat 2-Piece Spinning Rods
Okuma was once known for building cheap gear suited specifically for weekend warriors. That stigma stuck around with them for nearly a decade until they stopped and re-positioned their company to listen instead of force their options.
By listening, Okuma realized that the catfishing industry was taking off and that they could design rods specific for catfishing. They’re more durable than Okuma’s other rods, feature reinforced double-foot welded stainless steel guides and hook keepers to avoid abrasions and marring when you’re running braided lines.
Where Okuma rods are different from the KastKing rods are their grips (Okuma uses cork and EVA combined) and the materials used in construction. KastKing is a huge fan of S-Glass and Graphite, while Okuma is still using E-Glass.
There’s nothing wrong with E-Glass when it’s being used by a high-quality company like Okuma has become, but when you compare the level of detail to that of the KastKing competing rods, it’s easy to see why KastKing was our #1 and #2 choices.
However, if you’re an Okuma fan or you want to save a few bucks, the difference in quality isn’t generally a dealbreaker in our experience. Take care when putting together the two-piece design to ensure you’re not adding in a weak spot at the ferrule.
Pair it with a KastKing Rover Round baitcasting reel (blasphemy, we know!) and you’ve got a sweet setup for less than $100 shipped to your door.a
#5 – Ugly Stik Catfish Casting Rod
We’d be remiss if we didn’t feature the age-old Ugly Stik line of rods. Especially one built specifically with catfishing in mind. While we can’t consider it the best, we do see its merits and can definitely recommend it for anglers on a tight budget.
Shakespeare has built their name around debunking the theory “you get what you pay for” with every Ugly Stik they produce. These are, hands down, some of the most durable pieces of gear we’ve ever seen. People even go to great lengths trying to destroy them, getting sorely let down.
There’s two you can pick from — either the 7’0” 1-piece design or the 8’0” 2-piece design. With what you know about how we feel about 2-piece rods, you can guess we’re only recommending the 7’0” version.
It’s got more than enough backbone and action to give you plenty of power and cushion when the fish runs, coupled with stainless steel guides, plastic reel seats, and an EVA handle. With a clear tip that’s easy to see (not quite as easy as the chartreuse tips on the KastKing rods) and priced at less than $50, if you’re a fan of the Ugly Stik line, this one’s made with you in mind.
#6 – Fire Stik 7’6” Catfish & Striper Rod
Whether you’re tracking 40+ pound trophies or loading your cooler up with 12” filets, the Fire Stik has a unique design that gives anglers features they’d expect in higher-end (read: $100+) rods with major brand names.
Even though Fire Stik may be new on the market they’re quickly building a name for themselves among the budget-minded anglers with the 7’6” 2-piece Medium/Heavy design.
It’s capable of slinging 6 ounce weights and still setting the hook without breaking the tip off. Try that with some of the other rods you can buy and see how fast you’re using the company’s replacement warranty.
With this being one of the lowest-priced catfishing rods we’ve featured, it comes as no surprise that there are a few areas where Fire Stik has cut corners to cut costs. Namely, in the guides.
The guides on the Fire Stick are stainless steel, but they tend to be softer than most so if you regularly fish with heavy weights and braided line you could find your line digging down and cutting into the steel — causing you to lose fish and lures.
If you fish primarily with mono or fluorocarbon, though? The price might be perfect for you.
#7 – Abu Garcia Catfish Commando Combo
We know, we know, this is supposed to be an article helping you find the best catfishing rod but most people are more comfortable buying a balanced setup than they are trying to mix and match gear to fit what they need.
We’re breaking our own rule and going out of the way to show you one combo setup that’s perfectly balanced out of the box and ready to catch monsters.
The rod, itself, is built with composite construction, a mixture of graphite and carbon, giving it great sensitivity without sacrificing power and strength. The real selling point here, though, is the reel. No pun intended.
Abu Garcia’s casting reels are time-tested and proven to deliver and the Catfish Commando series is no different.
With a carbon matrix drag system that prevents heat buildup so you get a smooth and consistent drag, and a 4-pin centrifugal brake to reduce rat’s nests, this is an amazing setup for both beginners and old-salt anglers, alike.
What do you think the best catfish rod is?
Couldn’t find what you’re looking for? Have another rod or reel combo in mind that we didn’t feature? Jump in and let us know what you think! You could be onto something!
In our experience these are some of the best catfishing rods you can get today and the Abu Garcia Catfish Commando combo is one of the best catfishing combos currently available.