5 Best Catfish Reel And Rod Combo Setup To Get The Best Bang For Your Buck

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Here is our review about the best catfish reel and rod in 2022.

Catfish are some of the best eating freshwater fish. If you want to catch them, you probably need a high quality rod and reel combo. However, There are many options on the market today, so it can be difficult to find the best one for your needs.

In this article, we have reviewed 5 different catfish rods and reels with their best features highlighted for easy comparison. We also included a detailed buying guide to help to make the decision easier for you. You’ll also find answers to frequently asked questions about catfish fishing equipment like how many lines should I use? What kind of bait should I use? And what’s best for me: spinning or baitcasting gear?

Now, let’s dive to the main bulk…

Our Top Picks

Here is our tip picks ad why we chose them:

  1. Penn Squall Lever Drag Combo. (Best Overall Combo)
  2. Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Fishing Rod and Spinning Reel Combo. (Best Durable Combo)
  3. KastKing Centron Spinning Reel – Fishing Rod Combo. (Best Budget Combo)

Best 5 Catfish Reel and Rod in 2022

an image containing 3 golden rod and reel combos

We know that picking the right gear for fishing and especially catfish. So we prepared a detailed buying guide for you, but first let’s start by our list:

  1. PENN Squall 30 Level Combo.
  2. KastKing Centron Spinning Reel – Fishing Rod Combo.
  3. Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Fishing Rod and Spinning Reel Combo.
  4. KastKing Crixus Fishing Rod and Reel Combo.
  5. Penn Squall Lever Drag Combo.

PENN Squall 30 Level Combo


PENN Squall 30 Level combo is considered the premium option on our list. What characterises it is its durable construction with the lightweight graphite frame which makes it a strong competitor.

The main gear is made of bronze while the pinion gear is made from stainless steel. Both materials are durable and corrosion resistant. This means that you can use Penn Squall 30 for big game saltwater fishing species including Catfish species of course. 

Regarding the dragging system, This combo comes with an HT-100 carbon fiber drag system. The number 100 refers to the fact that you can use 100 miles of fishing lines before the washers start to wear down (compared to only 20 miles in the older versions).  The drag also delivers powerful performance without sacrificing smoothness. 

The reel also features 2 stainless steel ball bearings. 2 ball bearings isn’t actually lower than expected from a combo in this price range. However, it’s not always about quantity, quality matters much more.  They are made from durable and corrosion resistant stainless steel.

I am not very surprised that such a premium option features an instant anti-reverse bearing to eliminate rotor back play. The ani reserve feature helps eliminate your worries about controlling the link while fighting your catch. 

Looking for drawbacks? The handle is kinda weirdly designed and the shipping isn’t the best. Some anglers also reported that it’s not that durable or sturdy. However, these drawbacks aren’t strong enough in my opinion to prevent someone from getting these bad boys. (except for the durability of course)


  • High Value for money
  • Light Weight
  • Suitable for beginners who learning how to fish (Check our article here to learn more)
  • Suitable for saltwater fishing.


  • Poor shipping
  • Weird handle design
  • Not very durable

KastKing Centron Spinning Combos (Best Budget Combo)


KastKing Centron Spinning Combos are one of the best catfish reel and rod combos available on the market. It offers a variety of features that make them worth your time and attention.

These combos offer 2 pc spinning rods, made from Toray IM6 graphite blank which improves sensitivity and makes them more lightweight. The rod is versatile and can perform with many species including Catfish and Trout.

All combos come with stainless steel guides w/O-Rings which are strong, lightweight, and durable. The guides are supported with premium O-ring inserts that perform well with a variety of lines including mono or braided.

Kastking Centron Combo features EVA handles. They aren’t as comfortable as Cork. Cork handles are also more sensitive than EVA handles. But, EVA handles are more durable and easier to clean. So, if you prefer durability, this is the one for you. I like that the reel comes with 9+1 Maxi-Dur ball bearings which is a high number compared to only 2 in Penn Squall 30. The high number helps increase the smoothness of the reel. 

Kastking Centron features a triple-disc felt drag system. The drag is smooth and reliable to do its job. It works well with channel cats, but don’t expect to get the same performance with bigger ones. I also like that this combo is available in a variety of sizes and lengths.

Is that combo flawless?

Actually, no. I don’t like its durability. Kastking Centron isn’t that durable and also it’s not the best when it comes to sensitivity. 


  • Very Sturdy
  • good value for the price
  • Lightweight
  • good Durability
  • Very smooth
  • It’s okay for saltwater, don’t forget to rinse after use.
  • Cheap price
  • Great look


  • The rod isn’t that durable nor very sensitive.

Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Rod and Reel Combos (Best Durable Combo)


Ugly Stik Catfish GX2 Combo is a serious fishing combo for Catfish anglers. It’s lightweight, durable, and offers great sensitivity. What you will like most about this combo is that it’s stronger than you think. Its strength and the sturdiness makes it a perfect choice for large Catfish species.  The Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 combo include:

Graphite construction for durability and lightweight. Graphite is known for delivering high sensitivity without sacrificing the strength needed to withhold catfish. They also added fiberglass to the composite to enhance its longevity. 

It offers a clear tip design to give responsiveness and strength. Shakespeare is known for the clear tip design. Rod tips are particularly vulnerable. So, the clear glass section on the tips works on enhancing the strength and the action as well. 

The Handles are made of EVA grips. As I previously demonstrated, they are not the best option when it comes to sensitivity. But, If you’re looking for durability, I highly recommend getting those handles. 

The combo offers 3 BB with an anti-reverse mechanism to help you to focus on fighting fish without having to focus on your line getting pulled out. The 5.2:1 gear ratio is a medium speed which is suitable for Catfish.

I don’t like that it only comes with 2 ball bearings. Also, the reel isn’t of the best quality and not durable compared to the rod. I would recommend matching the Ugly Stik Gx2 rod with a higher quality reel. 

This combo features a variety of sizes and models. My recommendation is to get the 50 Size Reel  with a 7′ Medium Heavy rod. 


  • Super lightweight.
  • Smooth reel and sturdy rod.
  • Good value for the money.


  • The reel isn’t durable and of low quality.
  • A low number of ball bearings.

KastKing Crixus Fishing Reel and Rod Combo


KastKing Crixus Fishing Reel and Rod have a lot of features to love. It is suitable for you if you’re a beginner. The rod is lightweight. The carbon-infused frames and drags with the CNC aluminium spools are powerful enough for Catfish.

The 7+1 double-shielded stainless ball bearings in the baitcasting combo ensure smoothness. The stainless steel is durable and corrosion resistant. The IM6 Graphite 2-pc fishing rod blanks offer increased sensitivity. It ranges in length from 5’6” to 7’0” which makes it versatile and suitable for different techniques and places. For catfish fishing, I recommend getting 7’0” medium-heavy variation. 

KastKing Crixus Fishing combo offers stainless-steel guide frames with Zirconium Oxide ring. They are durable and deliver long casts and minimal friction. It also features a power transition system which makes you feel like it’s a one-piece with the travel friendly 2 pcs features. 

The handles are made from Superpolymer which are comfortable enough for long fishing days. They are durable and slip resistant which give you more control over your rod even in wet conditions. 

The drag doesn’t have a noticeable dragging sound which is kinda bothering me. The rod is also a bit fragile and not suitable for large species. 

The combo is available in spinning and casting models. I recommend choosing spinning mode if you’re looking for ease of use. However, if you’re looking for stronger dragging and longer casting distances, Casting combo is the one to choose. 


  • Very lightweight
  • High value for money
  • Suitable for beginners
  • Comfortable
  • Cheap price


  • The drag has no noticeable clicking sound
  • Not very sturdy or durable, the rod is fragile.
  • The design looks cheap.

Penn Squall Lever Drag Combo (Best overall Combo)

We saved the best till last. Penn Squall Lever Drag Combo is one of the best catfish rods and reels combos that are reviewed in this article. It is considered a premium one due to its high price compared to other options. If you’re not an expert and know what you’re doing, I don’t recommend spending that kind of money on it. 

The features include a lightweight graphite frame and side plates which makes it suitable for long fishing days. The graphite is lightweight, durable and corrosion resistant. But, don’t expect to be as stiff as Aluminime. 

The Forged aluminium spools with line capacity rings are stronger and more durable than graphite ones. The capacity ring lets you know how much line you’ve left on the spool. Why should you know this? Because it’s easy to run out of line while fighting large species. 

It also features stainless steel main and pinion gears with 6 stainless-steel bearings for smoothness with Silent double-dog anti-reverse. The stainless steel material offers more corrosion resistance to the combo.

For the dragging, Penn features its famous Dura-Drag system. This system is even stronger than HT-100 drag featured in other options. It’s also more durable thanks to its special coating on the carbon washers. This coating reduces friction and delivers more smoothness.  

The main problem here is that it is poorly shipped when ordered online and gets broken easily.


  • Lightweight
  • Great price for the combo
  • Very versatile and Suitable for trolling reef fishing
  • suitable for saltwater
  • High quality
  • Great price


  • Poor shipping
  • Many customers reported that they received the combo broken, especially the tips.
  • Low durability rod, but a nice reel.

A Buying Guide On the Best Catfish Rod And Reel Combos

best catfish reel and rod buying guide image -  a rod and reel combo photographed in the air

Here are some questions and factors that you need to consider when buying your Catfish gear:

What Should You Pick? Catfish Rod, Catfish Reel, or Combo?

If you are new to fishing for catfish, I would recommend going with a combo. There is a couple of reasons why this might be the better choice. It’s highly related to what kind of experience that person has had so far – but let’s make things easy here! Here is a couple of reasons why should pick a catfish combo as a beginner:

This is a great opportunity to get started with some of the best products on the market. If you’re new in this field, it makes sense not to invest a Huge budget when there are other options out there that offer better value for money and help without breaking your bank account!

You can avoid imbalances like having a reel that’s too heavy for your rod or one that is incompatible with your reel. This is because catfishing combos are designed to work together in perfect harmony. There is no need to mix and match components due to the manufactured balance they offer you as a customer!

Every fisherman has certain needs when it comes to their fishing equipment. These decisions are all up in the air since there’s no true right answer!

If I had more experience with catfish gear then maybe I would have known that stiffer ones work better than softer ones. As long as everyone knows what kind of technique they use, anyone can find something just right for themselves and be happy with anything at hand.

How to Choose the Best Rod And Reel Combo For Catfishing?

When selecting a catfish gear, you must think about three things:

Your Technique

There are two approaches you may take, and the one you use will determine the type of setup you require:

  • Using a bait
  • Using artificial lures

Every technique of them requires different gear.

The Place Of The Catfish

The type and amount of tackle you’ll need will be determined by the location according to the following:

If you’re fishing in a location with strong currents, you’ll need a rod that can cast a heavyweight, so it can stay at the bottom.

If you’re fishing in a location that’s smaller or more approachable, casting distance isn’t as important. As a result, you won’t need an equipment with the same considerable strength.

If you’re having trouble getting ahead, consider wading.

The Size Of The Catfish

The size of fish you’re pursuing is also a consideration when selecting the best catfishing setup. If you’re just getting started, you’ll want an all-around setup that will enable you to discover your stride. If you’ve been at it for a long time and are only after big game fish, you could want something more durable.

Let’s talk about the most important features to look for in catfish rods and reels.

Catfish Rod

Generally for Catfish fishing, you need heavy duty gear. However, picking the right rod isn’t all about this. It’s better to watch some teaching you about the tricks of buying a rod instead of just reading about it. So, here is a video that shoes the process:


The power of a baitcasting or spinning rod is defined by how much force is needed to bend it. The power, along with its action, can provide you important information on how it will perform.

The amount of material present in the cross-section (taper) and the material from which a rod is formed have an influence on its strength.

The power is also determined by how long it is. Shorter lengths of the same substance and taper are more rigid than longer ones.

Medium Power

Medium-powered rods are the backbone of any angler’s arsenal. They’re strong enough to handle large fish. Also, in shorter lengths, they make for great fishing tools that can take on anything from tuna or wahoo all while providing excellent performance when fighting off those pesky catfish!

One size fits all – that’s the motto of these guys. When it comes to Catfish rods, medium works fine for a variety of applications. They work from running crankbaits and jerk bait hooks through yo-yoing swimbaits off the bottom. It works with live bait too! Which makes them one heckuva popular choice among anglers everywhere (and not just because fishing is fun).

The most popular line weights fall between 6 and 12 pounds, with lures weighing between a quarter and three-quarters ounces being common.

Medium-heavy Power

Medium-heavy rods provide a lot of power, allowing anglers to muscle enormous fish and firmly drive single hooks into them. Because they are quite rigid, largemouth anglers often utilize them for techniques that require a strong hookset. They also can land some trophy catfish winners.

Fiberglass material offers great strength in medium-heavy range.

The most popular line weights range from 10 to 20 pounds, and you also can’t use lures or live bait that is lighter than ⅜ ounces.

Heavy Power

You need heavy rods for big fish and mean bass. These stiff, strong materials will provide an instant hookset on largemouths or to make your presentations more powerful!

You can expect to have excellent strength with quite good control during fights.

In shorter lengths, heavy rods work great for sharks and other large saltwater species. They’re also popular with lake trout who need longer casts when fishing in lakes as well as trophy pike fishermen looking to catch big fish on fly-fishing lines.

When fishing for larger fish, longer rods are a popular option for all types of largemouth applications such as flipping and pitching, as well as worm fishing with single hooks. Fast hooksets are to be expected, especially with braided lines.

The most popular line weight ranges above 12 pounds with the ability to use a wide variety of lures.

Rod Action

A rod’s power and action, when in use, will provide you with important information about how it will perform in any given situation. Action refers to the way in which a rod flexes and recovers. Action is best defined by looking at the difference between flexing in an open-loop and flexing in a closed loop. A closed-loop flexes and recovers quickly, while an open-loop rod flexes continuously before recovering.

Some anglers work best with slow to medium reacting rods that provide great control over finesse techniques such as jigging or pitching. Others prefer fast-action ones that allow them to throw and run larger crankbaits and other lures at deep depths where fish feed aggressively on top

For catfishing, A through action is the one you will look for. This means that the whole length of the rod bends to take the strain of the cast, This feature is valuable when fighting big fish like Catfish.

It is important to have a rod with the ‘through’ action when catfishing, as it will allow you more control and versatility in fighting bigger species. through action means that the whole rod flexes when casting.

For lure fishing, you’ll want a rod with quick action. This is because lures are usually light and flexy so they can be easily casted without having too much pull on your end of things. This will tire someone out quickly if fighting an extended battle against the water (though some people preferring this).

On top of that when retrieving one’s line back towards them in order to start moving forward again after setting their original direction- faster actions allow for imparting more life into anything being fished; increasing chances at provoking takes from fish approaching or waiting patiently below!

Here is a video that demonstrates the difference between fishing rod power and action:


The higher the power, the higher quality you need your guides to be.

Guides can be your gear’s best friend, as they protect your line from harm and distribute force over the length. The more points of contact there are on both blank and guides, the less stress is at any one point during use. They also help to spool the line from spinning reels.

Typically, one guide per foot of the rod is adequate, with an additional one at the end.

Guide Material

Feet are used to link the guides to your reel. Some sort of wrapping and adhesives are used to keep them in place.

The most important aspect of quality guides is that they are securely fastened, that they are strong enough to endure some abuse, and that they are corrosion resistant. Stainless steel is a popular choice for high-quality guide materials. It’s robust and durable, as well as resisting rust.

Casting Distance

Big catfish live in long rivers. They also tend to prefer the bigger and bolder game, which means that you might find yourself casting a long way when big catfishing! Take a look at these features, so you can search for them:

  • No-friction: The beauty of ceramic-lined rings is that they always help to cast distance. They minimize line friction, allowing your bait or lure to go long-distance.
  • You also have to consider how much line the rod will be able to cast.
  • Another aspect to put in consideration is the lengt. The longer the rod, the further the distance you will cast.

Rod material

The best material for making catfish rods is carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is strong, flexible, and durable. It is also lighter than most other materials so it helps with long casts. Good equipment will be made of carbon fiber because it has all these traits.

Here is also some cheaper materials that are a good fit:


Graphite is a material that is best when it comes to making rods that are less expensive but have decent quality. Graphite is flexible and durable, but it cannot hold the weight of bigger fish like steel can.

The good thing about graphite is that it has a perfect combination of lightweight, stiffness, and sensitivity.


Fiberglass is best for those on a budget as it is not as expensive as carbon fiber. But fiberglass is best suited for use in catfish rods when the fisherman intends to target large catfish. It has the best of both worlds: very stiff, durable enough for heavy-duty use with having the required flexibility. However, it sacrifices sensitivity.

Carbon Fiber

Carbon fiber is great because it is durable, strong, lightweight, and flexible. It can hold a heavier weight than graphite and it also has the best casting distance of any material.

As you may be expecting, Carbon is one of the most expensive, but high-quality materials.


This material are great when you want fishing rods that have good durability and strength. One of the best composite rods is most often a graphite composite with a graphite backbone and a fiberglass or graphite wrap. This is best because it offers lightweight, high-modulus performance for the dowel and the spine construction offers increased stiffness in most applications.


Length is an essential factor in choosing the best catfish rod. Be sure to check your type of fishing for the best lengths. Catfish rods are best suited for long-distance casting, with lengths between 6-8 feet in most cases (as they can provide both accuracy and long-distance).

Remember to pick a longer rod for casting distance and shorter rods for more accurate casting.


The handles mostly depends on personal preference. A good catfish rods should have a strong, durable grip to withstand the toughness of larger fish. They also have to be comfortable. Here are 2 good handle types to choose from:


Cork is a natural material that feels warm to the touch and just firm enough to provide a secure, restful grip. Premium-grade cork is also beautiful, and though it isn’t as long-lasting as synthetics, it can endure quite a beating.

EVA foam

EVA foam offers a soft feeling as it’s made of synthetic material. It’s cheaper than cork handles, however, it’s durable enough. I like how soft and durable they are.

Catfish Reels

4 reels with an orange line

Drag System

The best catfish spinning reel has a drag system that is best for casting. A drag system is best for quickly bringing the fish to the surface once it’s caught. This is because as soon as you start reeling, the fish will know it’s been hooked, and will try to swim away from the line. The best spinning reel should have a drag system that prevents this from happening by making it difficult for the fish to escape from the line. You’ve to consider the quality, not only the drag power, however, you need no less than a 20-pound drag system.


The best catfish spinning reel also has brakes that assist with casting distance. Brakes are more of an optional feature sometimes found on more expensive rods. They allow you to stop your lure or bait instantly so that you can cast farther than usual. Overall, it’s not a deal-breaker, but it’s good to be there.

Anti-reverse Feature

Another feature to look for is an anti-reverse feature that prevents the hook from tearing your catch up if it’s accidentally released.

Gear ratio

The gear ratio describes how fast your reel turns and can best be defined as the number of line wraps you get on the spool per turn. Catfish spinning reels usually are above 5.2:1.

Line Capacity

A good catfish reel should have a line capacity that best fits the type of fishing you will be doing. If you’re going to do a lot of deep-sea fishing, then your reel should have a larger line capacity that can sustain more weight. Keep in mind that you need a high capacity line for catfish fishing as you’re is going to snag into trees and you will need to cut it.


Durability is an important factor to evaluate when investing in an expensive fishing reel. A durable catfish reel will last much longer than one that’s made with cheaper, less durable materials. That’s why it’s best to invest in a reel that is made of Carbon steel, steel, Graphite, or other high-quality material. This way ensures durability and resistance to corrosion.

Ball Bearings

Generally speaking, the higher the BB number, the better and the smoother. However, you have to consider quality as a more important factor. An example of good ball bearings materials is ceramic and stainless steel.


What kind of rod is best for catfish?

A medium-heavy one is usually good for catfish.

They range in lengths from 7 to 8 feet and have a medium-fast action, so the fish won’t feel threatened when you start reeling them in. Catfish can be very strong and need some strong rods to land them safely.

For materials: Fiberglass/graphite composites are great for Catfish and offer strength without sacrificing much sensitivity of flexibility.

What size reel is good for catfishing?

A size of 10 or 20 may be enough, however, you need to put in mind that your line may get snagged a lot and you will have to cut it multiple times. I think a 30 size reel is good to land a big Catfish.

What is a good size fishing rod?

As a general rule, the longer the rod, the further you can cast. The shorter the more accurate. If you’re looking for accuracy, go for shorter than 6 feet. If you’re fishing in a place where distance is required, an over 7 feet one is the way to go.

Can you catch catfish with a baitcaster?

Of course, you can. Baitcasters are strong and can hold a large amount of fishing lines. This makes them suitable for different techniques and definitely makes them a great choice for Catfish fishing.

The Bottom Line

For those looking for a new Catfish rod and reel, it can be hard to choose the best one. With so many products on the market today, there are several factors you need to consider when buying your next fishing gear. They include durability, ball bearings quality, line capacity, etc…

One way to make this decision easier is by reading reviews from other customers who have already done their research before purchase. This article contains 5 Best Catfish Rods and Reels Combos that will help you get the most out of your fishing journey with recommendations for different budgets as well as pros and cons. We hope that our review makes it easy for you to make better decisions and feel free to check our fishing gear reviews here.