Top 8 Best Catfish Rods For The Money 2020 Reviews

For those who love spending their time outdoors with a rod in hand, relaxing while waiting for a catfish to take the bait, there is one thing you’ll need to ensure a day to your liking.

Best Catfish Rods

Do you have the best catfish rods?

Before you head out for your next day, or night, on the water, you should check to see if your fishing gear needs an update. If so, to help you pick through the many options currently available on the market, we have a list of the reviews, plus a buying guide to help you narrow down key features worth noting.

So, let’s go through them and find the Best Catfish Rods for you…

Top 8 Best Catfish Rods In 2020 Revews

1 Shakespeare Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod

Catfish can be considered monsters from below, with some reaching over 900 lb. That is one mighty fish, and to reel anything in that big, you’ll need something special, but for the more common size catfish, Shakespeare makes a wide range of Ugly Stik options for catfish anglers. The first of which is the Elite Spinning Rod.

Designed using Ugly Tech Construction with a premium cork grip, this model is comprised of an alloy with 35% more graphite than earlier models. This improves the durability while also keeping the weight at a minimum. With a lighter weight fishing rod and the firm yet smooth handhold, you’ll have a greater sensitivity to the line in the water.

What’s the weight rating on the Elite?

Built for catches in the 8-17 lb. category, the rod will suffice for the average day out, and makes it an excellent choice as a year round fishing rod. The stainless steel guides are engineered with Ugly Tuff standards from a single piece of stainless steel. Exposed blank-style reel seats are padded along with stainless steel hoods, for attaching the reel of your choosing.

Does it have any other features?

Using a Clear Tip design provides the user with response from even the lightest nibbles, and you can use almost any type of line. This offers a versatility that we rather like, as sometimes braid line is the best option.

The rod is even backed by a 7 Year Warranty…

You won’t be concerned with inserts popping-out with the one-piece design, which is certainly less convenient for transportation. However, it’s worth the compromise in our books when catfishing.

Shakespeare Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod
Our rating:4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)


  • Available in a range of lengths.
  • One of the less expensive models on our list of reviews.
  • Lightweight, durable, and responsive.


  • Long length can a pain for transportation.

2 Shakespeare Ugly Stik Tiger Casting Rod

A second and slightly more expensive option from Shakespeare is supplied via their Ugly Stik Tiger casting rod. Similar to the above listing in many ways, this option does still offer a couple of upgrades.

Does a higher price mean we catch bigger fish?

Yes, that’s exactly how it works. Well, in a way, with a line rating of 15-40 lb. you won’t hesitate when bigger ones bite. The Tiger still supplies the same single piece stainless steel construction, which you’ll definitely need with those larger catfish.

What about the grip?

There’s an upgrade here for those not fond of the cork style handle on the above review, as here you are supplied with a lightweight EVA grip. This provides a comfortable hand hold hour after hour, which we imagine many users will appreciate.

A great mid-priced catfish rod…

While not the cheapest option, this casting rod is still nearly half the cost of some options reviewed below. Despite this, you won’t feel like you need to upgrade anytime soon, making a great option for most anglers.

Shakespeare Ugly Stik Tiger Casting Rod
Our rating:4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)


  • Lightweight stainless steel construction.
  • Available in a range of lengths.
  • Line rated at 15-40 lb.


  • Single piece design makes transportation more difficult.

3 Shakespeare Ugly Stik Catfish Spinning Rod – Best Cheap Catfish Rod

The third entry on our list of the best catfish rods is again from Shakespeare, though, as you can tell by the name, this option is specifically designed for pulling catfish from the water.

Is this the best fishing pole for catfish?

Built with a medium-heavy action, this fishing rod was designed with a line rating of 15-30 lb. to provide good all-around rod that won’t disappoint. Similarly constructed from a single piece, this fishing rod, however, is composed of a graphite and fiberglass blend. This not only provides a stronger fishing rod but also provides ultimate sensitivity for those nibbles down below.

Does it still have the features of the above options?

Even being one of the least expensive options on this list of the best catfish rods, the Catfish Spinning Rod still comes with the Ugly Tuff single piece stainless steel guides, and the clear tip that allows for ultimate awareness of bites that may otherwise go unnoticed.

We would say this may be one of the best cheap catfish rods available, in fact, we couldn’t find much about it that we didn’t like. Again, it can be a bit difficult for some to transport due to the single rod construction, but the advantages of this style of fishing rod more than make up for any inconvenience.

Shakespeare Ugly Stik Catfish Spinning Rod
Our rating:4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)


  • Line rating of 15-30 lb.
  • Graphite and fiberglass blend for strength and sensitivity.
  • Designed for catfishing.


  • Some people will prefer a collapsible fishing rod for transportation reasons.

4 Shakespeare Ugly Stik Catfish Combo Rod – Best Catfish Rod and Reel Combo

If you do not already have a spinning reel that you’re looking to use with a new fishing rod, then this may be just the right option for you. Coming complete with both rod and reel, this is still somehow one of the cheaper options reviewed on this list of the best catfish rods.

Rod and reel all in one combo…

This option is basically the same as the last review, but with a size 50 spinning reel that features a single ball bearing that works in conjunction with a one-way clutch instant anti-reverse bearing. This will give you the ultimate control of the line, and help you pull in catfish after catfish.

What about the spool?

Composed of durable aluminum, the spool won’t rust or bind easily even over time. The signature Ugly Tuff guides and clear tip design are still employed on this option, so you’ll have every available feature for one low price. The medium-heavy action rod is still made of a single piece for strength, and the line is rated for 15-30 lb. just as with the last fishing rod reviewed.

Is this the best catfish rod and reel combo?

For entry-level anglers, most certainly. However, we expect that most of the more experienced catfish anglers out there will prefer to use another reel, as this one is known to jam more than some options. After all, when there are two pieces of kit to consider, most anglers will want the best reel and rod.

Shakespeare Ugly Stik Catfish Combo Rod
Our rating:4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)


  • Available with both a spinning and spincast reel.
  • Line rating of 15-30 lb.
  • Graphite and fiberglass blend for strength and sensitivity.


  • Not the highest quality reel.

5 Okuma Battle Cat Catfish Spinning Rod

Finally, our list diverges from the above manufacturer to review an option from Okuma known as the Battle Cat. This option comes available in multiple sizes, to cover all anglers no matter their preferences.

Designed using superior materials to provide the power you rely on…

The Battle Cat spinning rod is composed of E-Glass rod blanks that define what durable should mean in fishing rods, and offer a great deal more power than lesser options. Which you’ll need, as this fishing rod is line rated for 15-60 lb. Yes, you’ll be able to reel in some rather large catfish when employing this spinning rod.

What about the grip?

The grip is oversized and split into two sections, with the foregrip offering a comfortable EVA covering that will keep your hand comfortable cast after cast, while the rear grip is comprised of cork to limit binding issues when used with rod holders. We think this is an excellent feature that you’ll appreciate more than expected.

Does the rod break-down?

Yes, finally, we have an option on our list of reviews that is designed in two pieces for easy transportation. It may not be to everyone’s liking, but at the same time, we expect everyone would appreciate the ease at which you can travel around with it. The butted in handle helps to offer the strength of a one-piece design, so you’ll still be happily reeling in fish after fish without a second thought.

The graphite pipe reel seat comes oversized with anodized aluminum hoods, while the heavy-duty stainless steel hook keeper will help you keep things in place during transportation.

Okuma Battle Cat Catfish Spinning Rod
Our rating:4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)


  • E-Glass rod blanks for durability and power.
  • Split EVA/Cork grip for comfort.
  • 2-piece rod for easy transportation.


  • Not at the top of the list, but considerably more expensive than many options.

6 St. Croix Mojo Cat Casting Rod

For those looking for the best rods for catfishing, St Croix has designed the Mojo Cat, which hits our list of reviews at the top of the price index.

But is it worth spending so much more than need with other options?

If you’re looking for a top of the line fishing rod, then look no further, this option has it all. Well, except for a reel, though, if you’re spending this much on a fishing rod, then you’ll likely want a specific reel anyhow. This casting rod is actually designed specifically for the performance you’ll need to pull in channel, flathead, and blue catfish.

What makes it so expensive?

This fishing rod is constructed using a dynamic blend of SCII graphite with linear S-glass that provides unmatchable strength while retaining the sensitivity needed for the optimal angling experience. There’s also the Kigan Master Hand 3D guides with aluminum-oxide rings and black frames, providing slim but strong guides.

What about the handle?

With the premium-grade cork handle, you get a grip that is comfortable and sensitive enough to let you know when even tiny fish are nibbling the bait below. Cork also reduces the weight of the grip, which adds to the comfort and the balance of the fishing rod.

St. Croix Mojo Cat Casting Rod
Our rating:5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)


  • SCII graphite with linear S-glass for the perfect casting action.
  • Built-in Kigan hook keeper.
  • Kigan Master Hand 3D guides


  • One of the most expensive options reviewed here.
  • Single piece design can be difficult to transport.

7 Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Casting Rod

As we approach the end of our list of reviews, we are throwing in one last option from Shakespeare known as the Ugly Stik GX2. Stepping aside from the above fishing rods from the same manufacturer, the GX2 is the next generation of Ugly Stik.

Modern design with the same durability that is the Ugly Stik tradition…

Designed with improved components, but following the heritage that the brand is well-known for. The rod is composed of graphite and fiberglass for a strong and sensitive rod, and the single piece design keeps the rod intact no matter how much abuse the fish throw at you.

Yes, you still get the clear tip design…

Because once you have a feature that helps with strength and sensitivity, why change it. The rod is wrapped with a durable and lightweight EVA grip for comfort, making this a very good catfish rod at a really low price point.

We will note that many anglers have stated that the older designs of Ugly Stik were of better quality than these more ‘modern’ designs. Not all agree with this, but for those who have used the older models from this manufacturer, there may be some adjusting needed to appreciate the changes.

Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Casting Rod
Our rating:4.2 out of 5 stars (4.2 / 5)


  • Composed of graphite and fiberglass for durability.
  • Lightweight EVA grip for comfort.
  • Low price compared with many options.


  • This modern design isn’t to everyone’s liking.
  • The quality of materials used seem of a lower grade than on the above options.

8 Okuma Battle Cat Heavy Casting Rod

The final option on our list of the best catfish rods is also our second entry from Okuma, and in fact, there is very little difference between the two. There is, however, a difference that experienced anglers will note, and which we will cover in greater detail below in our buying guide.

Does this employ the same high-end materials?

Yes, the rod is still composed of E-Glass rod blanks for the best of the best when it comes to durability and power. Equally, line rated for 15-60 lb. for a wide range of use, this catfish rod will provide just what you need when you need it.

The grip is still split into two sections with the EVA and cork grips for comfort, and ideal use with rod holders. And similarly, this rod is available in two pieces to allow for easy transportation to and from the fishing hole or river.

So, what is the main difference?

The only real difference here is the rod’s power, stepping up from a medium to heavy ranking. This will be explained in more detail below, but for now, we will just mention that this is preferable for those looking to reel in flathead catfish.

Keep reading to better understand a rod’s power rating…

There’s even a fluorescent wrap indicator tip that improves visibility for those that like to go night fishing, and it all comes with a lifetime warranty. You can certainly expect high quality from Okuma, and we expect this to quickly become one of your favorite catfishing rods.

Okuma Battle Cat Heavy Casting Rod
Our rating:4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5)


  • E-Glass rod blanks for durability and power.
  • Split EVA/Cork grip for comfort.
  • 2-piece rod for easy transportation.
  • Heavy action power differs from most of the medium power rods reviewed here.


  • Heavy power may not be to everyone’s liking.

Best Catfish Rods Buying Guide

Now that you have read through all of our reviews of the best catfish rod, it’s time to decide on which of these is the best catfish rod for the money that you want to spend. There’s a lot of options out there, and the prices can vary considerably. To help you fully understand various features available, we have broken down what to consider prior to making a purchase.

Casting vs. Spinning rods

Yes, there’s more than one type of fishing rod. The two main ones being casting rods, which are used with bait cast fishing reels, while the spinning rods require a spinning reel. These days, it can be difficult to even find spinning rods designed for catfish, as they are not as well suited for catching catfish. Rather, bait cast fishing reels, and the techniques used with them, are better suited for catfishing.

Catfish Rods Are Available In A Range Of Materials…

Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod

While catfishing rods do come in a range of materials, E-Glass has been the long-time standard for catfish rods. This is due to the strength and durability that this material provides, though they do tend to weigh a bit more and offer less sensitivity than some other options.

S-Glass is becoming increasingly popular for catfish rods, due to lighter weight offered by the stronger material. This increases sensitivity and reduces the overall weight for a better day out on the water. It’s also considerably more expensive.

What’s The Best Catfish Rod For The Money?

Graphite rods tend to be very lightweight and sensitive, but simply do not have the durability of the materials listed above. These rods also tend to be less powerful than E-Glass rods, while Carbon Fiber rods fit somewhere in between the two in performance, and yet tend to be the most expensive options available.

The final option in materials is a composite rod, which is known to be the more advanced option available. Here you will get the lightweight and sensitive advantages of graphite, and the strength of S-Glass for a more well-rounded fishing rod.

What Is Your Fishing Style?

UglyStik GX2 Casting Rod

If you are a ‘stick the rod in a holder’ kind of angler, then the overall weight of the rod will be less of an issue. However, in recent years more and more anglers are tending toward modern fishing techniques; you’ll likely have the rod in your hand for much more of the day.

What Type Of Catfish Are You After?

For those that like to pull in channel catfish in large numbers, a graphite rod may be the best choice for most anglers. However, if you’re after glue or flathead catfish, then you should consider an E-Glass or S-Glass rod that offers more durability when regularly pulling in the larger fish from below.

What About The Length Of The Rod?

Yes, a great deal of the options above come in multiple sizes, and this is good for those looking to pull in catfish. This is because there is a real difference in need between fishing for these monsters and fishing for something smaller like perch. Longer fishing rods will allow for further casting. As well as offer a great amount of control over the fish once it’s hooked.

This won’t be an issue for the smaller fish out there. However, when you’re reeling in a monster catfish, you’ll want that extra control offered by a longer fishing rod.

Two-piece vs. Single-piece Fishing Rods

It is true that back in the day, some two-piece fishing rods did have issues with separating during the fight with the fish. These days, however, this is much less of an issue. Manufacturers have now just about perfected the design, making two-piece rods an advantage for transportation without really losing on the control.

Fishing Rod Power And Action Ratings

Rod power refers to the strength of the fishing rod. And for the most part, a medium or medium-heavy action is best for channel and blue catfish. While flatheads generally require a medium-heavy rod.

The action of a rod relates to the position at which the rod begins to bend once a heavy catch is hooked. Slow action rods bend throughout the majority of the blank, which means from tip to handle. Fast action rods mostly bend in the area around the tip.

There will be less flex in a fast action rod, which in turn provides more power to you once a fish is on the line. It also helps with casting as it limits blow back, keeping the bait from flying off during casting. Because of this, a moderate fast action rod offers a well balanced option for finessing smaller fish. Although if you’re after those monsters out there, you’ll need to think about things more.

What Style Handle Do You Prefer?

Traditionally catfishing rods hand handles made from cork, which is still often used today. While many anglers may prefer these types of handles, they do have some drawbacks. First of which is that they become slick when covered in shad or catfish slime, or anything else you may come in contact with.

Another down-side to cork is the porous nature of the material. This is because the pores can get caked with slime, or even worse, with the stench from stink baits. This is certainly not the best. Foam, or EVA, handles, on the other hand, are easier to clean, but many anglers still prefer the old school cork.

Further Reading

The following articles may well be of interest, so if you have some time, please check them out – What is the Best Time to Catch Catfish and How to Hold a Catfish. You may also be interested in our Best Fish Finders reviews, our Best Fishing Kayaks under 500 reviews, our Best Kayak Trailer reviews, and our Best Kayak Seat Reviews.

So, What Are The Best Catfish Rods?

Now that you have read through our complete list of reviews of the best catfish rods and the buying guide, you should have a clear understanding of the various options when looking for a new rod. Now that you know exactly what to look for, you simply need to select the right catfish rod for you.

For those that still can’t make up their minds, we would recommend the…

St. Croix Mojo Cat Casting Rod

Being one of the best options reviewed, it’s well worth the extra expense, in our opinion.

Now you just need to get out there and have some fun reeling in a prize catch!

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