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Up to date Jan 11, 2023 3:50 PM

The perfect catfish reels contribute to the lengthy listing of apparatus that you should have so as to land an enormous catfish. The right bait, hook, knots, line, rod, and reel must work collectively to get the job executed. Catfish are robust, ornery fish that put up a combat. They’ll vary from small bullheads in farm ponds to monstrous blues and flatheads on massive rivers. However until you will have the very best catfish reels, there’s a very good likelihood you gained’t carry them handy. 

How We Made Our Picks

I’ve fished for catfish for greater than 40 years in ponds, creeks, lakes, and on the mighty Mississippi and Tennessee rivers with high guides. Some had been sponsored by corporations; some had been simply good ol’ boy catmen. All of them had one factor in frequent: they didn’t skimp on hooks, bait or good reels. I’ve put all these years of expertise and good recommendation into my making my picks.

Finest Catfish Reels: Critiques & Suggestions

Finest Total: Abu Garcia C3 Catfish Particular

Finest Total Catfish Reel

Why It Made the Reduce: Massive catfish are brutes with energy and stamina. This confirmed reel stands as much as them with the identical qualities.

Key Options

  • Carbon Matrix drag system
  • Massive, clean deal with for power-cranking
  • Chrome steel bearings


  • A tricky reel that may deal with massive baits and large fish
  • Centrifugal braking system
  • Two sizes with 4:1:1 and 5:3:1 gear ratios


The primary Abu Garcia fishing reel was made in 1941 in Svangsta, Sweden. Since then, thousands and thousands of reels have been produced for all kinds of species, together with catfish. Abu Garcia reels have caught Mr. Whiskers world wide, from big Wels catfish in Europe to channels in Canada and blues in Texas.

Abu Garcia reels are recognized for energy and sturdiness, and the C3 Catfish Particular is the catfish centered model of the already robust C3 spherical reel. The Catfish Particular comes with confirmed parts together with a 3+1 or 2+1 system with chrome steel ball bearings and a 6-pin centrifugal brake for smoother casting even whereas lobbing heavy baits. The reel additionally has a troublesome drag, with Abu Garcia’s proprietary Carbon Matrix system. The reel has a inflexible physique and aluminum spool, in addition to an outsized deal with and knob, which make it simpler to realize line on massive fish.

Finest Rod/Reel Combo: Ugly Stick Catch Ugly Fish Catfish Spinning Combo

Finest Catfish Rod/Reel Combo


Why It Made the Reduce: Who doesn’t love a strong fishing rod and reel in a single bundle? Ugly Stik is thought for reliability in robust conditions together with battling offended catfish.

Key Options

  • 7-foot medium-heavy rod
  • EVA grips work properly moist or dry
  • Good all-around rod and reel for nearly all conditions


  • Robust stainless-steel guides
  • Graphite and fiberglass clean blends sensitivity and sturdiness
  • Outsized deal with for combating massive fish


The Ugly Stik Catch Ugly Fish combo is designed particularly for catfish. The rod is a  one piece 7-foot medium-heavy GX2, Ugly Stik’s graphite and fiberglass workhorse. The GX2 is a superb all-around rod, sporting Ugly Stik’s attribute unbreakable construct together with strong sensitivity. The rod additionally options the maker’s signature Ugly Tuff stainless-steel guides which maintain up properly and eradicate pop outs. Trying on the reel, the aluminum spool building is light-weight however, once more, sturdy. It holds as much as 200 yards of 17-pound check line and has a ranking as much as 20-pound check, although this combo comes pre-spooled with 14-pound check line. The reel, with its confirmed oil felt drag system, holds up simply in addition to the rod. You’ll be able to go after greater fish with confidence. Together with the rod, reel, and 14-pound check line, the combo comes with sinkers, cut up shot, beads, hooks, Berkley bait, and different gear. This combo will get you able to fish instantly however gained’t hand over when you put it by way of wringer. An amazing worth combo.

Finest Spinning Reel: Group Catfish Gold Ring 5000

Finest Catfish Spinning Reel


Why It Made the Reduce: Group Catfish merchandise are designed for one factor: to combat catfish of all sizes. They’ve been confirmed on the very best catfish waters within the nation towards massive blues, flatheads, and channels.

Key Options

  • Designed with sturdy, light-weight graphite
  • Outsized deal with nice for cranking massive fish
  • One-way clutch, immediate anti-reverse


  • Nice line capability, as much as 190 yards with 20-pound check
  • Casts massive baits on heavy rigs with ease
  • 26 pound drag capability


Catfishing with spinning deal with provides you extra leverage, particularly with massive cats, and the Group Catfish identify provides a not-so-subtle trace to the main focus of its gear. Group Catfish gear is particularly designed by guides and veteran anglers with a long time of expertise of catfishing in all situations. The Gold Ring 5000 reel has a litany of options and particular designs. They’ve loaded this reel with a 6+1 bearing system, 4.9:1 gear ratio, 26lb. max drag, immediate anti-reverse, and strong line capability (190 yards of 20-pount check). For particular design, you’ve obtained a excessive energy graphite building, double anodized aluminum spool, ambidextrous matte black deal with, and a private favourite, a titanium coated anti-twist line curler. You may suppose that’s overkill till your line spirals into a multitude. With its strong drag system, general building, and catfishing know-how, this reel gained’t go away you spinning your gears.

Finest Casting Reel: KastKing ReKon

Finest Catfish Casting Reel


Why It Made the Reduce: Massive catfish don’t stand an opportunity towards this reel, which has high quality parts and is designed for a problem. The road clicker system helps when it is advisable to drop baits at exact depths.

Key Options

  • Principal gears and worm shafts are crafted from precision-machined brass
  • Carbon disc drag system
  • Line clicker system for releasing bait, planer boards, drifting or for strike detection


  • Works for giant catfish whether or not trolling or dropping, in addition to salmon, steelhead, walleye, or different species
  • Massive spool permits for a excessive line capability, as much as 250 yards of 20-pound check mono
  • Two sizes and two deal with choices, so you may swap for various sized fish or species


  • Line counter numbers could be tough for some older eyes

Many anglers and guides who troll or drop baits on massive rivers use baitcasting reels for a few causes. One is that they’re handy to retailer and don’t tangle as simply as spinning rigs. One other is that some shoppers discover it simpler to reel a baitcaster than spinning reel. Baitcasting reels are robust and robust, and KingKast focuses on deal with for giant fish and open waters. Collectively, you get the ReKon, a baitcaster good for giant cats.

The primary obvious function is the road counter, a particular a plus when it is advisable to drop a shad fillet or gob of guts to a cat lair. The precision can assist, little question, whenever you’re getting bites in a precise zone, and it’s simple to make use of that to your benefit. Internally, you get 3 stainless-steel ball bearings, plus the moment anti-revers bearing, in addition to KastKing’s carbon disc drag that provides you sturdy stopping energy. You additionally get respectable line capability in every measurement. The Dimension 10 holds as much as 250 yards of 20-pound check mono, and the Dimension 20 holds as much as 420 yards.  With strong inside parts, a ton of line capability, and the precision of a line counter, this makes a strong catfishing baitcaster.

Finest Spincast Reel: Zebco Omega Professional

Finest Catfish Spincast Reel


Why It Made the Reduce: This reel is properly engineered for years of use for average-sized catfish and different species.

Key Options

  • 7-bearing drive
  • Adjustable disc drag system
  • Immediate anti-reverse clutch


  • Works for giant catfish
  • Solid aluminum cowl, steel gears, and inside ceramic line pickup pins
  • A long time of confirmed historical past is thought to anglers


  • Handles 10- and 6-pound check line; wish to see one thing for greater fish

The Omega Professional has a solid die-cast aluminum physique, plane aluminium covers, and a deal with massive sufficient for giant or small arms. It’s adjustable for left- and right-handed anglers. The drag system is upgraded to a triple-cam multi-disc system. And, the interior guts see some upgrades as properly: steel gears, worm gears, and pinions are very sturdy. Within the Omega Professional, you additionally get a quick-change spool system, a spare spool, and an influence deal with and a pace deal with. It’s a contented medium, each a easy spincaster like Zebco is thought for and a step up from these utilitarian fashions. It’s simple sufficient to study on, however good sufficient to maintain round. This reel is sort of indestructible, will final a lifetime, and catch catfish for years, together with bluegills, perch, and bass.

Issues to Think about when Shopping for a Catfish Reel

I’ve fished for catfish for greater than 40 years, and have come to study that they’re very unpredictable. One pond I frequent has channel and bullhead cats. I’ve caught a couple of whereas fishing for bluegills with spinning gear. After I returned with my catfish gear, they ignored me. I packed up and went dwelling with nothing to point out apart from soiled arms and disappointment.

That’s the factor I really like about catfish, although. They’re cautious, finicky and put up an enormous combat. Greater fish could attempt to dive into or round cowl, which is why the correct line and reel is necessary; you need sufficient energy to get the fish coming to you. My outdated rods are telescoping, Berkley E-Cat’s, made years in the past, with “E-Glass.” They’ve sufficient size and energy to battle average- to medium-sized cats. They’re paired with Abu Garcia baitcasters, and I’ve by no means had a difficulty with them. Utilizing the correct gear whereas battling cats is essential. Listed below are a number of the reason why.

Goal Dimension

It’s best to know the overall measurement of the catfish you propose to focus on to find out which reel is finest. You’ll be able to catch a multitude of eating-size squealers with an enormous spinning reel, however why use a hammer to smack a mosquito? Except you’re extremely expert, fortunate, or each, likelihood is slim that you just’ll land a large blue or flathead with an undersized and underpowered reel. Know the scale of the fish you’re concentrating on and pair it with the appropriate measurement reel.

Who’s Utilizing It?

Be sure the particular person utilizing the reel is aware of the way to correctly function it. A toddler most certainly can’t adequately use a big baitcasting reel or forged an enormous spinning reel. A spincast reel could be finest for younger and inexperienced anglers. Keep in mind to ask your self a couple of easy questions; Is the angler a baby or novice? A veteran? Will you be fishing in a pond or on an enormous river or lake? These questions will allow you to decide the appropriate reel so the angler can get essentially the most out of it.

Bait and Setup

Launching a wad of nightcrawlers threaded on a hook is pretty easy. Doing it with a gob of livers or shad guts is one other story. Think about what you may be fishing with and ensure your reel can deal with how heavy, or mild the bait is. Your deal with can also be going to impression the reels efficiency. Will you be utilizing heavy sinkers or split-shot? A 3-way rig with swivels? These components may also have an effect on how far and clean you may forged. You need a reel that may deal with the heft typically required with catfish bait and deal with.


Q: What reel is finest for catfish?

There isn’t any finest reel to make use of for catfish. Spinning, baitcast, and even spincast reels all work properly, given they’re utilized in the appropriate state of affairs. A spincast reel on a reasonable rod gained’t maintain up towards big blue cats on an enormous river or lake. However utilizing a heavy-action rod and enormous reel is overkill for ponds. The perfect reel for catfishing is the one that’s finest for the state of affairs.

Q: How a lot do catfish reels price?

High quality reels that can maintain up towards average- to large-size catfish can price between $60 and $175. Catfish are sturdy, and large ones can strip gears in an affordable reel with out a drawback. I might encourage to purchase one thing that may deal with a very good measurement fish. However when you want one thing in a pinch for a fast outing, some big-box shops promote reels for about $35 to $40.

Q: What sort of reel do you employ for catfish?

The perfect reel for catfishing typically is a private desire and based mostly on what you used as a child. I grew up with Zebco 33 spincasting reels, after which spinning reels. Within the final 20 years I’ve used baitcasting and spinning deal with for trolling and casting. Once more, selecting the very best reel is dependent upon the state of affairs

Last Ideas

In accordance with the 2016 U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service nationwide survey, greater than 8.1 million individuals stated they fished for catfish. That quantity was up from the 2011 survey. Catfish are America’s fish, discovered all through the nation in waterways massive and small. They’re enjoyable to catch, a particular sort of ugly-beautiful, and so they create reminiscences for a lifetime. Utilizing the very best catfish reels is essential for getting them to the financial institution or boat, and listening to that croaking denial that makes you snigger.

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