5 Best Catfish Rods and Reels Combo Reviewed

Catching catfish can be a fun and rewarding experience, but in order to be successful, you need the right equipment. The best catfish rods and reels combo can make all the difference, and in this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best options on the market. 

You may like to read: How To Hold A Catfish

Best Catfish Rods and Reels Quick List

Fighting and catching a catfish was the most memorable beginner’s experience I had when I was starting out fishing. It was a hard-won fight. And I went home that day with mud all over my clothes, smelling like a sewer, and a big, stupid smile on my face. I won’t forget the taste of that catfish either – firm, solid, and just the right amount of meaty.

That was a long time ago. And while I’m much more experienced at landing catfish than I was all those years ago, catfish fishing is still one of the better parts of fishing for me. However, you can’t just run in and expect to land catfish without proper preparation. These things put up a fight, and without the right tools in hand, you might end up not only with no catfish, but also a broken rod. 

Fortunately, I’ve learned quite a bit during my angler experiences, and so for those who want to get in on fishing for catfish, here’s my list of the best catfish rods and reels that you can get online.

Best Catfish Rods and Reels Combo Review

Zebco Bite Alert Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod 2-Piece Combo

Zebco Bite Alert Spinning Reel and 2-Piece Fishing Rod Combo, Instant Anti-Reverse Clutch Fishing Reel, Size 60

Special Features

  • 7-foot rod with a pre-spooled 20 pound Cajun line
  • Mono capacity of 210/20
  • Comes with a hook keeper

Pros: Good power makes this rod great for catching catfish, affordable, sturdy design, comes pre-spooled for beginner anglers, strong enough for big catfish yet sensitive enough for smaller ones

Cons: Customer support is hard to reach

The Zebco Bite Alert Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo is a great choice for beginner anglers and veteran fishers alike. 

Featuring a sturdy 2-piece design, the Zebco Bite Alert Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo utilizes light yet durable fiberglass in its construction, ensuring that not even big fish can get away once they’re nabbed. The 7-foot rod comes with a pre-spooled 20 pound Cajun line that you can either keep or customize as you like, as well as a hook keeper for your convenience.

Perhaps the most notable feature of the Zebco Bite Alert Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo is its sheer power. Appearances can be deceiving, and that’s definitely the case with this catfish combo. While the fiberglass rod may look thin, it’s actually backed by a double bearing (and one clutch) reel system. This reel system is not only powerful, but also comes with a dial-adjustable drag system.


Zebco’s been around since 1949, and the Zebco Bite Alert Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo really shows their expertise. This rod is a great budget pick for those who can’t yet invest in a heavier rod, and the rod’s performance is far better than one might expect!

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B’n’M Silver Cat Magnum Cast Rod

BnM Silver Cat Magnum Cast Rod MAG75Cn 7.5ft 1pc 9 Guides

Special Features

  • Extra-long cork handle for better handling
  • Aluminum reel seat
  • Solid steel inserts along the length of the rod for maximum security

Pros: Incredibly powerful, looks great, hybrid construction provides better handling while not affecting durability

Cons: Hybrid carbon and fiberglass construction may take some getting used to if you’ve been using pure substance rods

The B’n’M Silver Cat Magnum Cast Rod might look like a dainty rod at first glance. If you thought that, you’d be wrong, for beneath the shine and the cork inlays is a rod that packs a punch.

The B’n’M Silver Cat Magnum Cast Rod features a 7.5 long catfish combo that’s inlaid with solid steel eyes all along its body, ensuring that nothing pops out even when fighting the biggest of fish. An aluminum reel seat provides both excellent handling and fishing power, while an extra-long cork handle helps keep your hands on the rod during pitched battles, and minimizes slip-ups and accidents.


Make no mistake: B’n’M’s Silver Cat Magnum line of rods are tough, and this one is no exception. If you’re looking to score a big catfish, this catfish rod will definitely be a trustworthy partner.

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Shakespeare Ugly Stik G2 Spinning Reel and Rod Combo

Shakespeare USYTHSP30CBO Youth Ugly Stik GX2 2-Piece Fishing Rod and Spinning Reel Combo, 5 Feet 6 Inch, Medium Power

Special Features

  • Hybrid graphite and fiberglass construction for a lightweight yet durable fishing rod
  • HT-100 carbon fiber drag system gives powerful drag without affecting smoothness
  • Machined aluminum spool provides smooth operation

Pros: Affordable, super tough yet lightweight, comes in a variety of designs

Cons: Wheel can be iffy

Calling the Shakespeare Ugly Stik G2 Spinning Reel and Rod Combo “ugly” may be a stretch. Better terms for this rod would be “rugged”, “durable”, and dare I say, “manly”. It’s a tough rod made for tough fishing, and when it comes to catfish rods and reels, this one takes the gold for me.

The Shakespeare Ugly Stik G2 Spinning Reel and Rod Combo offers pure fishing power without sacrificing any of the comforts that add on to the catfish fishing experience. Its hybrid graphite and fiberglass construction lends this rod great durability without making it too hefty. An HT-100 carbon fiber drag system ensures powerful drag without making your rod hitch and snag. Finally, a machined aluminum spool gives you that smooth fishing experience that you’re probably looking for.

Do note however, that some people have found this catfish rod and reel combo’s wheel to be less than satisfactory. If possible, I’d suggest buying this catfish rod in person, and give it a few test runs before committing to it.


The Shakespeare Ugly Stik G2 Spinning Reel and Rod Combo is built to be tough and dependable, two things it passes with flying colors.

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Castking Centron Spinning Reel / Fishing Rod Combo

KastKing Centron Spinning Combos,6ft Medium-Split Handle,2000 Reel

Special Features

  • IM6 Graphite Blanks for extra performance
  • Stainless steel construction, guides, and o-rings
  • Contoured EVA handles and fighting butt for maximum handling

Pros: Affordable, great performance for its cost, good reels

Cons: Not particularly durable – the tip in particular is prone to breaking

The Castking Centron Spinning Reel / Fishing Rod Combo is a good value catfish fishing rod that’s decently affordable. The reel is notably praiseworthy: the Centron Spinning Reel design is both powerful and smooth, and is usually what anglers mention first in this rod.

The rod itself is made of stainless steel, which provides a compromise between weight and durability. The stainless steel rod’s IM6 graphite blanks lend it extra pulling power, and a contoured EVA handle as well as a fighting butt allow you to tussle with particularly rowdy catfish with ease.

However, perhaps owing to its more rigid stainless steel design, this catfish rod is not durable. Many customers have reported that the tip in particular has a tendency to snap off, especially when it comes to heavier catches. In addition to this, graphite by itself can’t take a beating, so if you’re going to spar with bigger fish, you may just end up with snapped blanks and a weaker rod. 


The Castking Centron Spinning Reel / Fishing Rod Combo is a good rod, but beware the tip. If possible, I’d suggest restricting this rod to lighter fish, where it performs spectacularly and doesn’t run the risk of snapping.

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Penn Squall Lever Drag Rod and Reel Combo

Penn SQL50LD3050C66 Squall Lever Drag (6-Feet 6-Inches)

Special Features

  • Aluminum, stainless steel, and graphite construction
  • Dura-drag system
  • Instant anti-reverse

Pros: Comes in multiple features for different kinds of catfish, hybrid construction compensates for weaknesses in other materials, extremely powerful

Cons: Overkill for weaker and smaller catfish

If you’re looking to catch monster catfish such as blue catfish or flatheads, you want power – and Penn Squall delivers that in spades.

Penn Squall’s Conventional Reel and Fishing Rod Combo are one of, if not the end word when it comes to big catfish. These rods feature a hybrid design of aluminum, stainless steel, and graphite, with each material combined and utilized to its fullest potential to give you catfish rod and reel that’s built to last. A dura-drag system ensures even better performance than your conventional HT-100 drag system, and an instant anti-reverse gives you solid hooksets every time.

The Penn Squall Lever Drag Rod and Reel Combo aren’t just for nabbing big catfish. Anglers have reported that it’s also fantastic at other large game, such as bass, barracuda, mahi-mahi, ono, and other saltwater fish. On the other hand, this rod and reel for catfish is ridiculously an overkill for smaller catfish. If you’re looking to land channel catfish or similar fish, this rod is definitely too much.


Pricey? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely. Penn Squall doesn’t compromise when it comes to their rods, and with the Penn Squall Lever Drag Rod and Reel Combo, you’ll definitely get your money’s worth.

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Buyer’s Guide to Catfish Rods and Reels

There’s no truly dedicated catfish rod, nor a catfish reel. But when you’re shopping for catfish equipment, you have to pay attention to the components, as well as keep in mind what your target catfish is.

There are three general classifications of catfish in the United States: blue catfish, channel catfish, and flathead catfish, and when buying catfish equipment, it’s best to select rods according to their power.

Blues and channels are light fish, so medium-power rods will suffice. Flatheads, on the other hand, are heavier and can put up a fiercer fight, so you’ll not only want a stronger rod, but one with sturdier construction.

Remember: catfish will put up quite a struggle, and weaker rods can and will break under pressure.

With regards to rod construction, you’ll usually find stainless steel, aluminum, or fiberglass. Among these materials, I’d recommend fiberglass whenever you can get it as it’s not only durable, but flexible, meaning that rods will bend with the catfish rather than break by staying rigid.

Depending on whether you plan on fishing from a moving boat or just standing at the water’s edge, it may also be wise to buy a rod with an improved drag system. This system will not only enhance your performance but keep the fishing experience smooth and light.

FAQs about Catfish Rods and Reels

When is the best time to catch or fish for catfish?

The correct answer to this would be “anytime you feel like it”. There’s a prevalent myth about catfish biting more at night, and while this may be true for nocturnal catfish, not all catfish are active at night. The best advice is to learn what species of catfish live where you plan to fish and adapt your fishing plan accordingly.

What are the best catfish fishing methods?

The two most consistent fishing methods for nabbing catfish are drift fishing, where you gently drift your bait alongside a bobber while on a boat and still bait fishing which involves waiting for something to take your bait.

What’s the best kind of bait for catfish fishing?

Catfish will eat almost anything – chicken livers, minnows, really, anything that’s native to their natural habitat. However, different kinds of catfish prefer different kinds of bait: channel catfish love stinky bait, blue catfish prefer cut (and stinky) bait, while flatheads like their bait alive and wriggling. Reading up on your target catfish, as well as the bait they prefer, is key to making the most out of your fishing trips.

Is it true that catfish is like bait that’s been marinated in Kool Aid?

As crazy as it sounds, yes; there’s solid evidence that catfish are more attracted to a bait that’s been left to stew in sweet juice for a while. Science backs this up too: catfish have a highly developed sense of smell that draws them to your Kool-Aid-infused bait. It doesn’t have to be Kool-Aid though, as anything that’s smelly and enticing can lure catfish as well.

Where should I place my bait when fishing for catfish?

Catfish are bottom feeders that like to trawl the depths of their watery homes, using their whiskers to suss out potential meals. That said, you’ll be able to catch more catfish by leaving your bait near the bottom of the body of water.

Land Those Big Ones!

Whether it’s for showing off to your friends or for a delicious catfish dinner, I’m sure that these catfish rods and reels will help you nab that elusive big fish you’ve always been dreaming of. Always remember though – an angler’s tools are only half of what makes them good; you’ll need patience and practice to cover the rest.