Best Catfish Rods

best catfish rods

Whether you’re angling blue, channel or flathead catfish, having the appropriate rod for the task is of the utmost importance. Our expert staff has hand selected the top 8 products we think are the best. Join us to discuss what you should be looking for in the rod you purchase. And, get ready to catch some trophy worthy catfish your friends will marvel at.

8 Best Catfish Rod Reviews

1. Rippin Lips Super Cat Casting Rod

Rippin Lips Super Cat Casting Rod with Glow Tip, 7-Feet 6-Inch/Medium-Heavy

With a unique combination of E-Glass, S-Glass and graphite blank, the Rippin Lips 7’ Casting Rod is a great tool of the trade. Featuring specs that keep things convenient and diverse, this casting rod scores high on our chart for usability and is a definite candidate in the catfish rods. With a medium-heavy action, robust stainless-steel guides and fast tip, this rod is a top choice among catfish anglers. An EVA split grip handle gives added balance and maneuverability. Transferring weight between the hands is fluid and even with the intuitive and comfortable grip spacing.

The padded handles are also quite comfortable under the arm when being held. Even though the handles are padded, we found that they still slide easily when placing the rod in a holder. At a 7’ length, the ability to cast with finesses is even easier. For night fishing, the Rippin Lips rod is painted with a high-visibility coating so you always see what you’re doing.

What we like

✔️ Ergonomic padded handles for comfort

✔️ 7’ length allows for easy casting

✔️ Split handle design for added maneuverability and balance

What we didn't like

🚫 Tends to be heavy on the action if you need something lighter

🚫 The reel seat could be built a little stronger than they currently manufacture

2. ​KastKing New KatTech

KastKing KatTech Catfish Rods 9'0

The Kastking KatTech Catfish Rod sports a composite graphite and S-glass body. Built to be strong when angling larger fish, this rod will hold its own. With enough lifting power for most situations, the robust composite rod should stand the test of time. An ECS and DPS reinforced seat helps to make sure reels don’t come loose. This proves to be a detailed but valuable feature when fighting bigger fish.

The slip-resistant rubber cork handles are comfortable and pretty durable. For those that don’t prefer cork handles because they degrade over time, these ones tend to last. The main benefit of these cork handles, though, is the ability to remove them quickly from a rod holder. Where foam handles tend to create more friction, these cork composites slide easily.

Although standard on most catfish rods, the chartreuse strike tip on this model, does make things very visible when night fishing. Overall a great tournament rod, the light-weight and ergonomic design here make for a strong candidate among catfish rods.

What we like

✔️ Strong composite body

✔️ Reinforced reel seat

✔️ Lightweight

What we didn't like

🚫 Some anglers don’t particularly like the cork style handles

🚫 Tends to be expensive

3. Ugly Stik 7’ Catfish Rod

Ugly Stik Catfish Casting Fishing Rod

Ugly Stik has been able to develop some impressive and surprisingly affordable rods. That’s no exception with the 7’ Casting Rod. Built tough but with a good flexibility, this medium-heavy, moderate- fast action rod offers a healthy balance of response. A clear tip for sensitivity and rubberized soft grips, give a comfortable feel to the handles.

Anglers find they can maneuver surprising well with this rod and trust its strength to be able to bring in some big fish.  We reviewed the 7’ version of this rod, but it’s also available in an 8’ version. Keep in mind, the 7’ version is one piece while the 8’ version is two.

The robust, stainless steel guides are a nice feature and hold up well. The only downfall of this rod is that it might not be suitable for angling bigger fish. We find that if you’re hunting for 30-40 lb. catfish in fresh water, this rod could let you down. That said, it is a great choice for catching channel catfish that tend to be a little lighter.

What we like

✔️ Good action with a medium-heavy rod construction

✔️ Affordable at around 40.00 dollars

✔️ Reinforced steel guides

What we didn't like

🚫 Might not be strong enough for bigger fish and probably limited to channel catfish fishing

🚫 Lacks sensitivity

4. Shakespear Ugly Stik Spinning Rod

Ugly Stik Catfish Spinning Rods

Another contender among catfish rods, is the Ugly Stik brand is the Shakespeare Spinning Rod. For those that prefer a spinning rod for angling catfish over a casting rod this a great entry point. With a composite rod design, this is a pretty tough piece and can lift some decent size fish from the water.

Although some comment that Ugly Stik rods lack sensitivity, we find that this is a great all purpose and inexpensive place to get started. Their standard EVA rubberized handle makes things ergonomic. It will stand the test of time and tends not to break down like cork composite handles. A little more difficult to remove from a rod holder, it’s still easy enough to not miss any big fights because of it.

The reel is not included with this model, so you’ll want to make sure you match your reel purchase accordingly. Not the most robust of your options, this one piece casting rod will bring in some good medium size fish.

What we like

✔️ Affordable and surprisingly strong for the price point

✔️ Clear tip design adds to the sensitivity of this rod

What we didn't like

🚫 Not strong enough for angling larger fish

🚫 Rubberized handles are not the easiest to remove from rod holders

5. Abu Garcia Commando Fishing Rod

Abu Garcia Catfish Commando Fishing Rod and Reel Combo, 7 Feet, Medium Heavy Power

The Abu Garcia Commando offers everything you need to get started angling catfish. Because the reel is included here, this a great way to make sure your reel is already matched to the rod seat. Although many professionals prefer to choose their own rod and reel combination, we find they did a pretty good job here with the specs. With their Carbon Matrix system, this rod provides smooth and consistent drag. A 4-pin centrifugal break allows for especially accurate casting.  With a composite blank construction, this rod can angle some pretty big fish.

Though rust might be an issue in salt water situations over time, the strength of the rod can stand up with the big guns. Not the cheapest option on the market ringing up at around 140.00 dollars, it is a surprisingly strong option for the pre-built kit units.

What we like

✔️ One piece reel & rod combo kit so you don’t have to worry about matching a reel to this particular seat

✔️ Strong enough to angle some surprisingly big fish

What we didn't like

🚫 Not the cheapest option for a combo kit at around 140.00 dollars

🚫 Tends to rust in salt water conditions

6. Kastking Kastkat Catfish 2 Piece Linear S-Glass Casting Rod

KastKing KastKat Catfish Rods/9'0

Kastking’s Kastcat 2-Piece Casting Rod is a pretty awesome piece of equipment for the price. Costing you around 40.00 bucks on average, this rod has some great specifications. With an S-glass linear construction, the rod is strong enough to angle bigger fish.

In fact, they have a lifting power that you’d be hard-pressed to match in this price range. Because they manufacture this piece with bigger fish in mind, stainless steel, double-foot guides keep the line in check. Kastking has also attempted to reinforce the reel seat by making a strong nylon seat. This seems to have worked well for them and provides some added security when pressure is on the line.

Cross-wrapped EVA rubber handles offer a unique texture and added grip when fighting fish. This is a smart choice on their part and is not featured on that many models. It also makes the rubberized handles a little smoother to release from rod holders. A bright orange strike tip makes bites easy to detect in low-light conditions. Overall a great rod for the price, this might be our top choice for entry level catfish rods and the most bang for your buck.

​What we liked

✔️ Great value and rod strength for the price point

✔️ Reinforced, stainless-steel guides

✔️ Bright orange strike tip provides more visibility than most when something bites

​What we didn't liked

🚫 Not the strongest rod on the market for angling extra large fish

7. Ugly Stik Elite 7 Foot Spinning Rod

Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod 7' - Medium - 2pc

For their Elite 7’ Spinning Rod, Ugly Stick advertises that they include 35% more graphite for durability. Though this might sound like a small number, it makes a big difference when attempting to catch heavy fish. This graphite and fiberglass alloy makes for a strong rod and pushes this otherwise inexpensive choice into a higher echelon. They include their customary clear tip for added sensitivity when finessing fish from the water.

The cork handles provide an adequate amount of comfort, but as many know, cork can erode over time. That said, these handles have been known to stand up for quite a while and slide easy into rod holders. One piece, stainless-guides are a nice addition to an already generous specification list for the price. This rod will cost you around 49.99. For what you get, Ugly Stik manages to keep the cost down while providing valuable fishing tools.

What we like

✔️ Cost effective at around 49.99

✔️ Added durability for wrangling medium to large size fish

✔️ Stainless steel guides

What we didn't like

🚫 Cork handles tend to wear down over time and get slimy with continued use

8. Ugly Stik GX2

UglyStik USCA662MH Casting Rod

Ugly Stik GX2 offers a great balance of specifications for an affordable price. A graphite and fiberglass composite construction provides a level of strength that surpasses the price tag. With rubberized, foam handles and medium to heavy action this rod can stand up to some pretty big catches. Known to hold up in heavier tides and against bigger fish, this relatively affordable choice offers you a strong option for the entry level fisherman.

Our biggest complaint about this model is that the reel fasteners are made of plastic instead of metal. This is an area that Ugly Stik should not have skimped on and is costing some points in our book. Other than that, this a well-built casting rod that delivers on a trusted name brand. This rod features a modern look and while it is not the strongest option available, the price tag of around 40.00 bucks makes it a good option.

What we like

✔️ Durable graphite and fiberglass design

✔️ Very affordable at around 40.00

✔️ Modern look

What we didn't like

🚫 The plastic reel fasteners don’t provide the level of strength you might expect

Things to Consider Before Buying The Best Catfish Rod For The Money

We’ve reviewed some of the catfish rod available on the market. We tried to drop in a few higher end models but wanted to keep things on a budget to suit even the beginner’s needs. One of the things you’ll want to determine when purchasing your new catfish rod is whether you want a casting or spinning rod. There are many articles available on this subject, and advantages to both, so do your homework. Both choices provide an apt tool for some of the best catches and can be an invaluable tool when angling for catfish.

The biggest concern besides the price tag that you’ll want to consider is the action, strength and durability of the rod. The action refers to how much give there is in the bending of the rod when tension is placed on it. This makes a tremendous difference when angling fish and having the best action for your fishing applications is highly personal and important. The strength and durability of the rod itself simply refers to how strong the materials in the build are. This plays a big role when going after larger fish and determines how long your rod will last under continued use.

Frequently asked questions - (FAQ)

Is there an advantage to a casting style rod over a spinning rod?

This is really more of a personal preference than anything. The style you prefer when angling fish will determine which one you might want to go with. We’ve reviewed both styles in this article to provide you with multiple options.

It is important that you match spinning reels to spinning rods and casting reels matched to casting rods. The two are not as compatible when mismatched and will hinder the quality of your fishing gear. A good casting rod is a great place to start and will provide a valuable lesson in angling catfish

What is the best type of material for a catfish rod to be made of?

This is also a personal preference in the end, but the materials that are the most robust will provide the best performance in the long run. The lowest end of rods are usually made from E-glass and tend to be brittle and weak. Next is S-glass, that provides a stronger and lighter weight than E-glass. Given a choice between the two you probably want to go with S-glass.

Graphite rods are a good option because they offer more sensitivity and are lighter in weight. The downside of graphite is that they tend to be weaker and not as durable. Carbon fiber and composite rods are the highest level, but the price tag is considerably more expensive for this class.


We hope this buying guide has helped you to gather some data for the best catfish rod for the money. We personally like the Ugly Stik products and recommend Ugly Stik 7’ Catfish Rod and Kastking Kastkat Catfish Rod as two of the best entry points into the market. These are affordable rods that offer competitive specifications and will stand up against some of the best catfish fishing rods available.

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