Best Catfish Rod And Reel Combo (2022 Buyer’s Guide)

Lance Wilkins
Lance Wilkins
Editor @ CallOutdoors. Outdoor gear-head and adventure addict. I fish, camp and enjoy to writing about my adventures.

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When it comes to fishing for big fish like catfish, you can’t fool around with your equipment. 

You could easily find an 80 lbs plus cat on the end of your line, and if your gear isn’t up to the task, you’ll be running after it in the current instead of getting the upper hand in the fight. 

To land big cats, you need the big reliable gear that you’ll find in the best catfish rod and reel combo. With one of these combos, you’ll stop a big cat and at least have a chance of bringing it in for that trophy photo you’ve been dreaming of. 

The Best Catfish Fishing Rod And Reel Combos From The Review 

Top Pick

Penn Battle II Spinning Rod and Reel Combo

Penn Battle II Spinning Rod and Reel Combo is one of the best around when it comes to getting a good reel and rod in one.

Penn Battle II Spinning Rod and Reel Combo

The best rod and reel combination for catfish fishing is the Penn Battle II combo. Penn Battle II catfish rods are durable, good casters, and have enough power to handle catfish of 100lbs

The reel is reliable as hell against any fish too with a smooth drag, an excellent 25 lbs of drag pressure, a big line capacity, and a smooth retrieve. Together the casting rod and spinning reel make one of the best catfish combos out there. 

Best Value

Abu Garcia Catfish Commando

The Abu Garcia Catfish Commando is one of the few combos out there where the rods and reels are as good as each other.

Abu Garcia Catfish Commando

The best catfish combo if you’re on a budget is the Abu Garcia Commando. This setup is affordable, reliable, and still tough enough to last and handle big cats over the 50lb mark. 

The baitcaster reel is smooth, casts well, and has an awesome drag. While the catfish rods are powerful, great for lifting bigger fish and give you a solid casting distance. 

Best Catfish Combo For Beginners

Penn Fierce III LE Cat Spinning Rod and Reel Combo

This spinning gear combo is a bit more affordable than the Battle II and a bit lighter overall too.

Penn Fierce III LE Cat Spinning Rod and Reel Combo

The best catfish combo for a beginner is the Penn Fierce III combo. This is one of the lightest setups in the review making it easier for beginners to handle, and it’s one of the most reliable too. 

The reel and rod are well made from excellent materials, simple to use, and they still come to play when up against a big 30lb fish.

The carbon drag, quick and smooth retrieve along with the tough graphite fishing rod will make any fish stop thinking about getting away. 

Our Best Catfish Rod And Reel Combos 

Best Value

Abu Garcia Catfish Commando

The Abu Garcia Catfish Commando is one of the few combos out there where the rods and reels are as good as each other.

Abu Garcia Catfish Commando

Abu Garcia is one of the best rod and reel manufacturers the world over, paying special attention to the quality of their gear. The Abu Garcia Catfish Commando is no different and is one of the few combos out there where the rods and reels are as good as each other. 

Rod

The Abu Garcia rods featured in this combo are awesome catfish rods. Made from graphite, the Abu Garcia rod is tough and durable, and strong enough for fishing for catfish. 

…the rod is the right length and stiffness to haul up a big fish from the depths…

At 7ft with a medium-heavy power, the rod is the right length and stiffness to haul up a big fish from the depths, even when fighting against the current. And the medium-fast action ensures it provides an excellent casting distance so you can get your baits where you want them. 

Reel

The Abu Garcia reel featured in this combo is a 6500 Baitcaster series. The reel is made of graphite for durability and corrosion resistance and features a pin centrifugal brake with a star drag. 

You fit up to 350 yards of 30lb braid on this Abu Garcia reel and with a maximum of 11lbs of drag pressure, it’s perfect for catching catfish. You’ll have enough drag to slow a catfish over 50lbs down and more than enough line, even if it takes a run downstream. 

Verdict

The anti-reverse on the reel can fail after a few thoughts though, and some but not many anglers find the rod a little stiff. Overall I think this is an affordable, well-balanced combo and a great choice for catfish. 

Specs 

Rod

  • Model: Commando 
  • Power Rating: Medium-heavy 
  • Length: 7 ft 
  • Line: 15-30 lbs 
  • Lure Weight: ½ – 2 oz. 
  • Action: Medium-fast 

Reel

  • Model: 6500 Baitcaster 
  • Mono capacity LB/YD: 17/255
  • Braid capacity LB/YD: 30/350
  • Max Drag: 11 lbs 
  • Ratio: 5.1:1
  • Ball bearings: 2
  • Weight: NA 
  • Retrieve rate, per crank: 25 inches 
  • Retrieve Side: Right 

Pros

  • Durable and long-lasting rod reel catfish combo 
  • Short fishing rod for lifting big catfish 
  • Good power and action on the catfish rod for casting and bite sensitivity 
  • Casting rod works with a wide range of lure weights 
  • The casting reel has a good line capacity
  • Smooth reel to cast with 
  • The reel has an excellent smooth max drag for a big cat
  • Quick and smooth retrieve 
  • Affordable price 

Cons

  • Anti-reverse can fail after 6 months or so 
  • Casting rod is a little stiff for some catfish anglers 

 

Top Pick

PENN Battle II Spinning Rod & Reel Combo

Penn Battle II Spinning Rod and Reel Combo is one of the best around when it comes to getting a good reel and rod in one.

PENN Battle II Spinning Rod & Reel Combo

Penn makes awesome fishing rods and reels and their Battle II Spinning Rod and Reel Combo is one of the best around when it comes to getting a good reel and rod in one. 

Rod

The Battle II spinning rods are tough. Made from graphite with a cork handle these catfish rods are designed to last and at 7 ft in length with medium-heavy power, they will lift a big catfish from the depths with ease. 

They are also good casting rods as their fast action makes them stiff to put more power and momentum in the cast so you can hit spots way in the distance. The action also makes them sensitive to subtle bites so you never miss a fish. 

Reel

It’s made from graphite with an aluminum spool for durability…

The 5000 SZ reel that comes with the combo is also a tough cookie. It’s made from graphite with an aluminum spool for durability and you’ll have no problem stopping even a 100lb catfish with it. 

The reel has a max drag of 25lbs and with up to 420 yards of braid on the spool, any catfish is coming to the bank. The drag is smooth, as is the retrieve and with a cran rate of 36 inches per crank, you can get baits in quick and put a lot of pressure on a fish. 

TIP

You should know that some people find the rod a bit stiff, but you need a stiff rod when you want to target catfish. Also, the rod tip is quite delicate so make sure to be kind to it. 

Verdict

Overall this is an awesome combo with a great rod and reel that’ll have your back when you hook that trophy cat. 

Specs 

Rod 

  • Model: Battle II
  • Power Rating: Medium-heavy 
  • Length: 7 ft 
  • Line: 12-20 lbs 
  • Lure Weight: NA
  • Action: Fast 

Reel

  • Model: 5000 SZ Spinning
  • Mono capacity YD/LB: 200/8 165/10 120/12
  • Braid capacity LB/YD: 20/420 30/300 40/240
  • Max Drag: 25 lbs 
  • Gear Ratio: 5.2:1
  • Ball bearings: 5
  • Weight: NA 
  • Retrieve rate, per crank: 36 inches  
  • Retrieve Side: Left/Right 

Pros

  • Well balanced catfish combo 
  • Quality graphite catfish spinning rod 
  • Fast action catfish spinning rod for long casts 
  • A stiff one-piece rod that’ll lift a big cat
  • Rod is strong enough and sensitive enough for big catfish 
  • Durable catfish spinning reel that’ll last 
  • Good gear ratio for a quick retrieve 
  • Excellent max drag pressure 

Cons

  • The spinning rod is a bit stiff some fishermen 
  • The rod tip can be a little delicate 

Best Catfish Combo For Beginners

Penn Fierce III

This spinning gear combo is a bit more affordable than the Battle II and a bit lighter overall too.

Penn Fierce III

Another top combo from Penn is their Penn Fierce III Spinning Rod and Reel Combo. This spinning gear combo is a bit more affordable than the Battle II above and a bit lighter overall too. 

Rod

It features a good casting rod that’s 7ft long and has medium-light power. This does make it a little bendy when lifting a fish over 40 lbs but it has more feel in it than others for accurate casts. 

The two-piece pole has an extra fast action, so it is a little stiff as casting rods go, but it makes it more efficient in terms of momentum and will aid your casting distance. 

Reel

The Fierce III 2500 reel that comes with the combo is tough as nails with a graphite body, aluminum spool, and a carbon fiber drag. The drag is super smooth and puts out a max of 12 lbs of pressure, enough for cats around the 50lb mark. 

In terms of line capacity, the reel does a good job holding 220 yards of 15lb braid and it comes in quickly thanks to the ratio and gear system. 

The gears are aligned tightly for maximum efficiency…

The gears are aligned tightly for maximum efficiency per crank when lifting fish, and with a smooth retrieve of 33 inches per crank, you’ll be able to put a lot of pressure on a catfish. 

Verdict

Overall, this is a great combo with rods and reels of high quality that match. The only niggle in the back of my mind is that they are a bit light for big cats over 50 lbs but your best choice when you want to target smaller ones. 

Specs 

Rod 

  • Model: Fierce 
  • Power Rating: Medium-Light 
  • Length: 7 ft 
  • Line: 6-12 lbs 
  • Lure Weight: 1/16-⅝ oz. 
  • Action: Extra Fast 

Reel

  • Model: 2500 
  • Mono capacity YD/LB: 255/6 175/8 140/10
  • Braid capacity YD/LB: 240/10 220/15 160/20
  • Max Drag: 12lbs 
  • Gear Ratio: 6.2:1 
  • Ball bearings: 5
  • Weight: NA 
  • Retrieve rate, per crank: 33 inches 
  • Retrieve Side: Left/Right 

Pros

  • Corrosion-resistant, strong and durable catfish combo 
  • The spinning reel has a good max drag for big fish
  • Excellent line capacity on the reel 
  • HT-100 carbon fiber drag system is super smooth and reliable 
  • Quick a fast retrieve on the spinning reel 
  • Reel gears are designed for hauling heavy, big fish 
  • Extra fast action rod for a good casting distance 

Cons

  • A medium-light power rod may not be strong enough for 60 lbs plus fish 
  • Line rating on the rod is a little low for 50-pound channel cats and above 

Shakespeare Ugly Stik Catfish Spinning Reel and Rod Combo

The Ugly Stik is actually quite pretty, despite the name, and it’s one of the best because it’s almost unbreakable.

Shakespeare Ugly Stik Catfish Spinning Reel and Rod Combo

When it comes to catfish rods one of the best is, without doubt, the Shakespeare Ugly Stik, featured in this combo.

The Ugly Stik is actually quite pretty, despite the name, and it’s one of the best because it’s almost unbreakable. 

Rod

This two-piece Ugly Stik is made from a combination of e-glass and graphite which allows it to bend almost in half, so no matter how big a catfish you’re fighting, these Ugly Stik rods aren’t going to snap. 

Ugly Tuff stainless steel guides are some of the best in the business…

With a tough rod, you need tough guides and this e-glass rod has them. Ugly Tuff stainless steel guides are some of the best in the business with no inners, just solid stainless steel there is nothing to go wrong, and they’re not going to bend and break either. 

The Ugly Stik is also a great casting rod with a moderate quick action, and its short length of 7ft with a medium-heavy power makes it great for fishing for and lifting large fish. 

Reel

The reel is what lets this fishing combo down. It has a solid max drag of 16 lbs and a good line capacity but it’s not reliable. Some of the reels fail after just 6 months of fishing, they make a strange noise, and the lack of bearings makes the retrieve a little rough. 

Verdict

When fishing for catfish, you’ll need a good reel and unfortunately, this reel is not the best. The rod is excellent though, so by all means go for it but please replace the reel with a better one, like the Penn Battle II. 

Specs 

Rod 

  • Model: Ugly Stik 
  • Power Rating: Medium-heavy 
  • Length: 7 ft 
  • Line: 15-30 lbs 
  • Lure Weight: ½ – 3 oz. 
  • Action: Med Fast 

Reel

  • Model: NA 
  • Mono capacity YD/LB: 280/12 215/14 195/17
  • Braid capacity YD/mm: 255/0.33 195/0.36 180/.038
  • Max Drag: 16lbs 
  • Gear Ratio: 5.1:1
  • Ball bearings: 2
  • Weight: NA
  • Retrieve rate, per crank: NA 
  • Retrieve Side: Left/Right 

Pros

  • High quality super durable rod 
  • Rod has a good action and power for a solid casting distance 
  • Strong and powerful one-piece rod for lifting large fish 
  • High-quality stainless steel guides 
  • Heavy-duty conventional reel seat that lasts 
  • Sensitive clear tip on the rod for seeing subtle bites 
  • Good drag system and max drag for large catfish 
  • Great line capacity for handling big fish over 30lbs 

Cons

  • The reel is not so durable and can fail after a few months 
  • The reel makes quite a lot of noise 
  • The reel is not very smooth with only 2 bearings

Shakespeare Ugly Stik Bigwater Spinning Reel and Rod Combo

This Ugly Stik is a good casting rod that is almost unbreakable. The reel has a good line capacity, smooth drag, and enough drag power.

Shakespeare Ugly Stik Bigwater Spinning Reel and Rod Combo

The Shakespeare Ugly Stik Bigwater Spinning Reel and Rod Combo is quite similar to the combo above except the rod is a tad lighter and the reel a bit better, but the reel is still not the best for catching catfish. 

Rod

This Ugly Stik is a good casting rod with the same e-glass construction and stainless steel guides that make it almost unbreakable. With its medium power, 7ft length, and quick action it’s one of the best for fishing for catfish. 

It’s sensitive to bites, stiff enough for lifting big fish, and is great for casting. 

Reel

The reel has a good line capacity, smooth drag, and enough drag power with 16lbs for fishing for larger species like catfish.

The lack of bearings makes the retrieve unsmooth though, and the line lay uneven which will cause tangles mid-fight, risking you losing a fish or two. 

The reel isn’t so durable though and can fail within a few months, something that no one needs on the river while fishing. 

Verdict

Overall this combo has a great catfish rod but a poor reel, so I’d advise swapping the reel out of keeping it as a spare. 

Specs 

Rod

  • Model: Ugly Stik 
  • Power Rating: Medium 
  • Length: 7 ft 
  • Line: 10-25 lbs 
  • Lure Weight:½ – 2 oz. 
  • Action: Fast 

Reel

  • Model: 50 Class
  • Mono capacity YD/LB: 280/12 215/14 195/17
  • Braid capacity YD/mm: 255/0.33 195/0.36 180/.038
  • Max Drag: 16 lbs 
  • Gear Ratio: 5.5:1 
  • Ball bearings: 2
  • Weight: NA 
  • Retrieve rate, per crank: NA 
  • Retrieve Side: Left/Right 

Pros

  • Durable long-lasting casting rod 
  • Casting rod has the right power for big fish over 30 lbs 
  • High quality Ugly tough stainless steel guides last 
  • Good action for casting long distance 
  • Super sensitive rod tip for subtle bites 
  • The casting rod is a two-piece for portability 
  • Heavy-duty reel seat ensures your reel stays put 
  • Good max drag and line capacity on the reel 
  • Instant anti-reverse makes it easy to catch catfish

Cons

  • The reel is not so durable and may fail after a few months 
  • Reel lays line unevenly 

What are catfishing combos? 

Catfish and Fishing Rod Placed on Grass
Catfish and Fishing Rod Placed on Grass

Catfishing combos consist of a reel and rod that are designed for fishing big species like catfish.

They come with heavy strong rods and reels that can slow down and fight fish over 50lbs.

Are they different from regular fishing combos?

They are different from other fishing combos but only because they are designed for a specific species, catfish.

This makes the reels and rods in the combos more powerful to handle big fish like cats, as mentioned above.

Things To Consider when buying the best catfish combo

Price 

Fishing equipment isn’t cheap, as I’m sure you already know, and the price is an indication of quality. As soon as quality materials like aluminum or stainless steel come into play, the price goes up. 

The more you pay the better the combo…

The more you pay the better the combo you’ll get, but you can still find good gear on a budget, just make sure the reels and rods hit the requirement I discuss below. 

Rod 

When it comes to picking the right rod for fishing for big cats there are 5 main things to consider; material, weight class, length, power & action. 

Material, Weight Class, & Length

Always match the weight class of your rod and line with the fish you’re fishing for, in this case, catfish.

You’ll be using a 15-30lb line so make sure your rod matches this. 

In terms of material, look for carbon fiber, graphite, or a graphite and fiberglass mix.

These materials are tough, durable, and handle big fish well. 

Rod Length

Short length = strength when it comes to rods and you’ll need as much strength as possible to lift a big cat in a heavy current. The ideal length for good casting and lifting power is about 7ft, so stick as near to that as you can. 

Watch this video to know more about Rods:

Guide about Rods

Reel 

The reel is just as important if not more than the rod when going after catfish.

It needs to be a reliable reel overall with good gears and bearings for a solid retrieve plus a big enough line capacity and a smooth but high enough max drag. 

Fishing Reel with Line
Fishing Reel with Blue Line

When a big cat goes on a long run, you can’t stop it so you’re going to want as much drag as possible to slow it down with, and enough line so you don’t run out.

Big runs like this put a lot of pressure on your reel, and if the inner workings aren’t top quality, they will fail, losing you a nice catfish and your reel. 

Catting Out 

Thanks for reading my articles about the best combos for catfish, I hope you enjoyed it.

Catfish don’t fool around, and when it comes to catching them, you shouldn’t either.

Make sure your gear is up to the task. 

If you haven’t picked the combo for you yet, then here are my best two.

For Catching Big Catfish

The Penn Battle II Combo is best for big cats with its extra power, line capacity, and high drag pressure. It’s also durable and reliable too. 

For Catching Smaller Catfish

For smaller cats, go with the Penn Fierce III combo. It’s just as reliable as the Battle II but lighter with more feel that makes catching catfish up to 30lbs more enjoyable.

Personally, I’d buy them both so you have the option to switch between them on any fishing day. 

Feel Free To Share!

Thanks again for reading my review of the best catfish rod and reel combo, I hope you found it useful and picked the right combo for you.

Please share the article with your fishing buddies if you liked it, and take a look at some of our others. 

We cover everything you might need for fishing from depth sounders to ice fishing suits, so if you’re looking for some new equipment, follow us here. 

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Lance Wilkins
Lance Wilkins
Editor @ CallOutdoors. Outdoor gear-head and adventure addict. I fish, camp and enjoy to writing about my adventures.
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