Important Choosing Factors
Since there is a wide variety of catfish species and techniques to catch them, there are a few “good” or “bad” features that apply universally. You need to consider the type of fishing you want to do so you can select a rod with the features suited for your choice.
Generally speaking, you want a rod between about 7 and 9 feet long to catch the catfish.
You can certainly catch your limit of 1-pound channel cats in a small farm pond with a fishing pole only 6 feet long or so, and some advanced anglers are comfortable using rods up to 10 feet long. However, most anglers find the 7- to 9-foot-range to be ideal.
This is a little longer than many conventional freshwater anglers are used to, but you’ll surely appreciate the additional control and casting distance the longer rod provides.
If you are targeting smaller cats, you can stick to the shorter end of this range. Anglers who aim on hauling out monsters usually want as much length as they can comfortably wield.
Catfishing is usually easier with rods that have a good bit of backbone which is to say that you want a rod that doesn’t flex as easily as a fishing stick used to catch panfish or trout.
Even a 1 pound catfish can exert lots of force on a rod. If you catfish for any length of time at all, you’ll eventually find yourself trying to wrestle a double-digit leviathan from the depths.
In concrete terms, this usually means looking at rods rated medium, medium-heavy or heavy power. Most catfish anglers find that a medium-heavy rod works well enough for catching small cats and the occasional giant.
Just remember that there are no universal standards for these labels, and one manufacturer’s medium may be as reliable as another’s medium-heavy.
Action refers to the amount of a rod that flexes under pressure.
Rods labeled as having slow action, for example, flex along the majority of their length. At the other end of the spectrum, extra-fast action rods only flex at the very tip.
Those falling between these two extremes are often labeled with various versions of fast, medium-fast, medium and so forth.
Your choice of action should be based on personal preference. Most anglers targeting large fish and using heavy weights probably prefer slower actions, while those chasing smaller cats or using finesse-oriented techniques usually prefer faster actions.
You could fill volumes with discussion about fishing rod materials as there are countless variations embraced by different manufacturers. However, most rods are constructed from:
- composite blend of the two materials
Any can work for catfishing, although they exhibit distinct differences in cost and performance.
Fiberglass is undoubtedly the most common material used as it is strong and durable. Most importantly, for many anglers and manufacturers, it is an affordable material.
Graphite rods are a bit stiffer but they transmit vibrations very well, enabling you to detect light nibbles. However, it is more expensive than fiberglass and many catfish anglers do not find the additional expense justified.
Composite rods combine the optimal qualities of both materials but their price puts them out of range for all but the most serious anglers.
There are two basic types of fishing sticks that new anglers use to catch catfish (aside from cane poles, but that is another subject for another time):
- spinning rod
- baitcasting rod
Both styles can perform admirably but spinning gear is usually a better choice for new anglers, while baitcasting rods are more useful for anglers with the skills and experience to use them.
Baitcasting rigs are used with heavier line and lure to target larger fish while spinning gear is suited for lighter tackle and smaller fish. However, there is plenty of overlap between the two. Whichever rod you select, you need to pair it with the same type of reel.
Any of the recommended rods above give you a great chance of hauling in a few whiskered fish. Just remember to select a rod designed for the catfishing technique you intend to do.
Do you have a favorite catfishing rod that you’d like to mention? Let us know in the comments.
To learn more about fishing rods make sure to check our: Choosing The Best Fishing Rod In 2019 & 6 Top Picks Reviewed