The Toughest Catfish Rods

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Ranking 5 of the most durable catfishing rods and reels.

At a glance…

Our choice for the toughest catfish rod is the Ugly Stik casting rod. It’s made of graphite and fiberglass which is an excellent material combination. It balances strength and sensitivity and has a 7-year warranty. It ranks 4th on our durability table; however, you can have all the qualities mentioned above for less than $50!

If you’re looking for a durable premium fishing rod, then check the Okuma Battle Cat.

Most Durable (Budget)
Ugly Stik Carbon Casting Fishing Rod
Most Durable (Overall)
219094 Okuma Battle Cat 2pc Heavy 8' Casting Rod...
Fishing Rod
Ugly Stik Catfish Casting Rod
Okuma Battle Cat Casting Rod
Rugged Ratings
75%
90%
Most Durable (Budget)
Ugly Stik Carbon Casting Fishing Rod
Fishing Rod
Ugly Stik Catfish Casting Rod
Rugged Ratings
75%
Most Durable (Overall)
219094 Okuma Battle Cat 2pc Heavy 8' Casting Rod...
Fishing Rod
Okuma Battle Cat Casting Rod
Rugged Ratings
90%

Last update on 2021-08-30 at 11:43 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Gone Fishin’

Catfish are among the most demanding fish out there when it comes to equipment.

Varying in size from food-size 5lb whisker fish to gigantic, trophy-sized flatheads that can reach upwards of 50lbs [1] — if you want to catch the right Catfish, you’ll need the right Catfish rod.

As if it wasn’t difficult enough, there’s a truly dizzying number of fishing rods out there that all differ in size, weight, materials, and features based on an array of preferences as well as the type of catch you’re angling for.

As you never know what size fish you’re going to hook until you start reeling it in however, durability should be your number one priority when setting out to find the best Catfish rod for you.  

So, we’ve scanned the market to find five of the best Catfish rods on the market with the strongest materials, optimized for the perfect length, action, and power for your next big Catfishing trip.

First, let’s discuss the essential features you should look out for when shopping for Catfish rods.

In a hurry? Check all our recommended brands and products.

What to look for in Catfish rods

As with rods for any type of fish, there are 3 key factors that separate the good from the bad:

  1. Materials
  2. Rod Length & Line Rating
  3. Fishing Rod Action & Power.

1. Materials

Firstly, as we mentioned, durability is the most important factor. As anyone who’s caught a trophy blue Catfish before will agree, they’re pretty strong and love to wrestle the line. Cheaper and weaker rods will snap under the pressure, so rod material is the main consideration. There are three durable materials that we’ll look out for:

E-glass

E-glass Material | Image Credit: Haufler Composites com

E-glass is a fiberglass and polymer blend that’s strong and very lightweight.

S-glass

S-glass Material | Image Credit: BFG International com

S-glass is similar to e-glass, using the same fiberglass material base but with double the structural modules of e-glass, making it stronger and yet lighter.

Composite

Composite Material | Image Credit: TWI Global com

Composite rods are formed using two materials which are invariably graphite and s-glass, marrying the durability of S-glass with the lightness and maneuverability of graphite. 

Casual Catfishers angling for small-catch channel fish, can stick to e-glass rods for their sensitivity and portability.

Trophy fishers may want to exclusively consider S-glass or composite rods to account for heavier catch and more wear-and-tear.


2. Rod Length and Line Rating

Secondly, you’ll need to consider length and line rating. Generally speaking, we’ll prioritize longer rods and higher line ratings, thanks to their greater casting range and accuracy, as well as stronger reel control and for larger Catfish.

Catching Catfish demands a longer pole, so we’ll also be looking at rods that are typically over 7’6” in length with a line rating between 5 and 50lbs.


3. Rod Action and Power

Finally, we’ll consider the rod action and rod power, which refers to the point along with the rod blank at which it begins to flex, and the strength of the rod itself, respectively. Check this short article if you want to get more familiar with rod action and power notions.

‘Slow’ rod action rods flex around the middle of the blank, whereas fast rod action rods bend nearer to the tip. Medium rod action and power are the targets for most Catfish anglers due to the weight and size of the fish.

How to Select the Right Fishing Rod | Infographic


Source: Fix.com Blog

Our Rugged Ratings (BIFL) system

And, as always, we’ll put all of our Catfish rod tops picks through our buy-it-for-life rating system, which scores products for their overall durability and longevity features both in terms of the product itself as well as the after-sales care and service. 

In the context of Catfish rods, the factors that will produce the BIFL score include the following:

#BIFL
  • Rugged — Durable blank, handle, and guide materials with resilient design and construction.
  • Repairable — Replacement parts or generous warranty and/or servicing programmes.
  • Upgradable — Additional attachments or accessories and compatibility with other fishing equipment.
  • Multipurpose — Suitable for different species and sizes of catch, using various fishing methods across multiple bodies of water.

With that said, let’s dive in.

1. Shakespeare Ugly Stik Catfish Casting Rod – Most Durable (Budget)

#BIFL Rating 75%
Shakespeare Ugly Stik Catfish Rod | Image Credit: Purefishing com
Shakespeare Ugly Stik Catfish Rod | Image Credit: Purefishing com

The keen Catfishers among you will instantly recognize the Shakespeare brand of fishing rods.

With a unique design process stemming back from the late 1940s, Shakespeare’s iconic Ugly Stik rods feature an internal spiral fiberglass core and parallel glass fibers impregnated with pigmented polyester resin, giving them the distinct ability to be bent in a full circle without snapping.

The Ugly Stik Catfish Casting Rod USCACAT701MH is a budget-friendly and reliable one-piece with moderate/fast rod action and medium/heavy power. At 7’ long with a line rating of 15-30lbs, it can handle the average channel cat with ease, perhaps even the occasional trophy catfish thanks to its medium/heavy rod power.

Durability

Part of the reason this rod is so beloved among anglers is its toughness, especially considering the price and its materials. Composed of a combination of graphite and fiberglass, this rod balances strength and sensitivity well. The eight guides are composed of durable stainless steel which eliminates the issue of insert pop-outs.

As with many other built-to-last rods on the market, the warranty is reassuring at a generous seven years.

PROSCONS
+ Durable rod capable of handling the average cat with ease Reviews point to an oversized gimbal butt
+ Affordable 
+ Generous warranty 

PRICE: Around $40

PERFECT FOR: Modest-haul channel catfishing on a budget

Ugly Stik Carbon Casting Fishing Rod
147 Reviews

Last update on 2021-08-30 at 11:43 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

2. Berkley Lightning Rod Casting – Most portable

#BIFL Rating 65%
Berkley Lightning Rod | Image Credit: Berkley Fishing com
Berkley Lightning Rod | Image Credit: Berkley Fishing com

Berkley has been a mainstay for freshwater anglers for years, owing to their incredible attention to rod sensitivity and reasonable prices.

The Berkley Lightning Rod Casting BCLR601M-PG is a shorter rod at a modest 6’, with moderate/fast rod action, medium power, and a line rating of 8-14lbs.

Many reviews point to comfortable grip, with handles made from rubberized cork. This, combined with its compact size, means the Lighting Rod is superlight, sensitive, and easily maneuverable.

Durability

The rod itself is a carbon/graphite composite, which is strong enough to reel in smaller fish without snapping, and the stainless-steel guides complete with aluminum oxide inserts hold up against the line well.

The one-year warranty is a little disappointing, though, so we don’t recommend trying to reel anything above its rating.

PROSCONS
+ Lightweight, sensitive, and durable Small-catch only
+ Comfortable rubberized cork handle suitable for weaker grips One year warranty only
+ Affordable 

PRICE: Around $40

PERFECT FOR: Kayak, canoe, or inflatable fishing in freshwater

3. Chad Ferguson Signature Series Rod – Most versatile

#BIFL Rating 85%
Chad Ferguson Catfish Rod GFX | Whisker Seeker | Image Credit: Whisker Seeker com
Chad Ferguson Catfish Rod GFX | Whisker Seeker | Image Credit: Whisker Seeker com

Stepping up in price range and thus build quality and design, enter the Chad Ferguson Signature Series Rod from Whisker Seeker.

The Signature Series is a medium/heavy action rod measuring in at 7’6” with a 10-50lb line rating. Despite being designed with an all-purpose catch in mind, this rod is also just as capable of going toe-to-toe with a “monster catfish”. SS black one-piece guides (10 on Casting and 8 on Spinning models) offer a smooth, long-distance cast.

The extra-long handle and foregrip help control everything from big fish to bottom bounce sinkers and finesse fish with admirable sensitivity.

Durability

Made from durable S-Glass, the blank construction offers a rod that shares the strength benefits of glass, but with the lightness/sensitivity of graphite and carbon. And either choice of monofilament or braided fishing line translates to favorable longevity. The handle is also a no-slip cork-composite which reduces the effects of weathering.

The standard one-year warranty covers you for manufacturer’s defects, but you can opt for the ‘Trophy Tuff’ two-year warranty where they’ll swap your rod out for 50% of the retail price regardless of what went wrong.

PROSCONS
+ Equipped for a broad range of catch sizes Limited one-year warranty
+ Strong and light S-glass material 
+ Tough backbone for larger catch 

PRICE: Around $90

PERFECT FOR: The avid Catfish angler who wants a reliable od for every type of fishing trip

4. KastKing KatTech Casting Catfish Rod — Most capable with larger catch

#BIFL Rating 80%
Kastking Kattech Casting Catfish Rod | Image Credit: Kastkings com
Kastking Kattech Casting Catfish Rod | Image Credit: Kastkings com

Decidedly not for the newer, more casual Catfish angler, the KastKing KatTech line of casting rods have one type of fish in mind — big ones.

The KKR-KT-2C8MH model, in particular, favors big trophies, measuring at a massive 8’ in length with medium/fast action and medium/heavy power. Its size demands a two-piece construction that suits tournament-level angling trips. The Fuji double-footed guides with SiC rings (numbering 10 on the KKR-KT-2C8MH) will capably handle the toughest conditions you will encounter.

Durability

Graphite combined with linear S-Glass gives the blank incredible strength and lifting power despite its lighter weight of only 11.3oz. The custom rubber cork handles are slip-resistant, durable, and comfortable for longer sessions and tournament days.

All KatTech rods are covered by a five-day ‘dead on arrival’ warranty, as well as a 90-day free defective replacement warranty, and finally a 150-day repair warranty.

PROSCONS
+ Length, action, and power perfect for trophy catch Two-piece design hampers portability
+ Composite base material is strong yet very light 
+ ‘Strike tip’ great for sensitive bite detection 

PRICE: Around $72

PERFECT FOR: Tournament-level trophy fish anglers

5. OKUMA Battle Cat Catfish Rod — Most durable (Overall)

#BIFL Rating 90%
Okuma Battle Cat Catfish Rod | Image Credit: Okuma com
Okuma Battle Cat Catfish Rod | Image Credit: Okuma com

OKUMA enter the list with a durability-centric rod with several distinct, angler-friendly features that set it apart from the rest and justify its steep price tag.

Battle Cat premium catfish rods include two models, one 7.5’ and one 8-feet in length. Both feature heavy rod power and moderate/fast action. Uniquely with this rod, the blank construction is two-piece but is also butted in the handle to simulate the feel of a one-piece. There are two opposing grips on either side, the foregrip composed of comfortable and grippy EVA and the rear grip from cork.

Durability

Every element of this rod is carefully considered with ruggedness in mind. The rod blank is formed of a super-strong E-Glass, weighing in at a fairly heavy 16.8oz for the 8’ model. The guide system is comprised of double-foot welded stainless steel and the reel seat from aluminum that’s been anodized for extra strength. Both models feature non-skid gimbals made from tough rubber.

Impressively, OKUMA offers a limited lifetime warranty. For any manufacturer defects, you can send it back to OKUMA at $19.95 for return shipping and they’ll repair or replace it as necessary.

PROSCONS
+ Durability in every constituent part Hard to store and travel with
+ Butted handle design offers one-piece feel and strength 
+ Limited lifetime warranty 

PRICE: Around $120

PERFECT FOR: Robust rod well-suited to large flathead hunters  

219094 Okuma Battle Cat 2pc Heavy 8' Casting Rod...
25 Reviews
219094 Okuma Battle Cat 2pc Heavy 8' Casting Rod...
  • Package quantity: 1
  • Product Type: FISHING EQUIPMENT
  • Country of Origin: China
  • Package weight: 1.36 lb

Last update on 2021-08-30 at 11:43 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Toughest Rods for Catfishing- Comparison table

wdt_ID Brand/Model Rugged Ratings Length Rod Power Rod Action Guides Handle Construction
1 Ugly Stik Catfish
USCACAT701MH
Casting Rod
75 7' Medium/heavy Moderate/fast 8 EVA One-piece
3 Berkley Lightning
BCLR601M-PG
Casting Rod
65 6' Medium Moderate/fast 9 Rubber / Cork One-piece
4 KastKing KatTech
KKR-KT-2C8MH
Casting Catfish Rod
80 8' Medium/heavy Moderate/fast 11 Rubber / Cork Two-piece
5 Chad Ferguson
Signature Series Rod
85 7'6'' Medium/heavy Moderate 10 Cork composite One-piece
6 OKUMA
Battle Cat
Catfish Rod
90 7.5' / 8.0' Heavy Moderate/fast 8 / 9 EVA / Cork Two-piece
Brand/Model Rugged Ratings Length Rod Power Rod Action Guides Construction

Catfish rods recommendation

All the fishing rods on our list made it there because they share one common trait — robust design with longevity in mind. In this regard, the best casting rod for you depends heavily on what type of catch you’re targeting.

Having said that, there are a few clear standouts that represent the best value in terms of durability and price.

The first is Shakespeare’s Ugly Stik USCACAT701MH casting rod. We don’t usually consider price to be a very important factor as we believe that spending enough on certain products is cheaper in the long run. This isn’t the case with the Ugly Stik though. For under $50, you get a simple and lightweight rod that will have no trouble with the average channel cat. This may be the last Catfish rod you’ll ever need.

On the other end of the scale, we have the OKUMA Battle Cat. So named because of its impressive abilities in reeling in big catch, there aren’t many Bluecats out there that could wrestle it into submission if there are any at all. Everything from the blank to the guides and gimbal is made from the strongest, highest quality materials. And if the strong reviews aren’t enough to persuade you, the lifetime warranty will. For serious big Catfish anglers, this rod is worth every penny.


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What to check next: The Most Durable Pocket Knives [2021 edition]. EDC knives can be a life-saver for slicing through a stuck seatbelt – or – cut through shirt fabric to attend to the underlying wound in life-threatening situations.

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