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Catfish Gear 2017: Top Rods & Reels

Catfish Gear 2017: Top Rods & Reels

North America's big-three species of catfish thechannelblue and flatheadfry drags, bust rods, straighten hooks and break swivels each summer across this great country. Big specimens can snap 50-pound line like sewing thread. Should you be privileged enough to hook one weighing 100 pounds, you better be combat-ready. Some serious tackle-testing action will surely ensue.

Fortunately for those of us who love pursuing these freshwater fighters, today's tackle manufacturers are adding new gear built to endure the stress and strain of battling these brutes. This is particularly evident in these new rods and reels made catfish-tough with materials and insightful designs. We were impressed by what's out there now. With these products in your angling arsenal, you can fish worry-free, knowing you have the best tools for subduing even the orneriest catfish.

Keith "Catfish" Sutton

Game & Fish Catfish Gear 2017: Rods & Reels

Top Rods

These sticks will help you get that big whisker fish back to the boat.

Game & Fish's top catfish rods for 2017 (Game & Fish Magazines graphic)


Looking to catch  100-pound monsters? This new series of super-tough E-glass rods provides confidence in your ability to subdue even the hardest-fighting, tackle-wrecking brutes. Spinning and casting models, with medium to heavy power, stainless guides with aluminum-oxide inserts and solid full-cork handles. $70


For tough, value-priced rods, it's hard to beat Berkley's new Mudcats. They're priced to move but designed to withstand a beating a mad cat can dole out. Fiberglass blank construction, rubberized shrink-wrapped handles and double-footed guides give you leverage. Moderate to moderate-fast actions. $40


Berkley has eliminated night-fishing frustration with the re-introduction of the GlowStik. Updated second-generation models feature a one-touch, battery-operated, red LED core that creates a constantly glowing rod for better strike sightings. Fiberglass blanks and strong guides, with extended fully rubberized handle. $50


This new Rippin Lips' series includes 10-foot and 12-foot medium-heavy spinning rods engineered expressly for launching missile casts and driving hooks into fish jaws from afar. Each has a light, strong, sensitive S-glass/E-glass/graphite blank, plus eight chrome-plated stainless guides and a high-vis glow tip. $36-$85


Tec Cats are designed for boat anglers, while Tec Cat Hunters are for bank fishermen. Both series feature strong blank construction and heavy-duty components. Tec Cats come in moderate to moderate-fast actions with oversized guides and handles. Hunters run longer 7, 8 or 9 feet with moderate-fast to fast actions for long casts. $100


Catfish anglers everywhere are joining the bumping craze. B'n'M was one of the first companies to make a rod specifically for this big-river, big-fish, drifting tactic, and now it has upgraded its 7-foot, 1-inch bumping rod with a stiffer blank and stainless-steel tip eyelet so it will handle swifter current and 80-pound-plus catfish even better. $90


Pro guide Chad Ferguson spent years perfecting this line of cutting-edge rods. They have S-glass-graphite-carbon fiber blanks for combined strength and sensitivity and high-visibility tips. They offer an extra-long cork-composite handle and foregrip, and come in spinning and casting models. $75-$95


Catfish Gear 2017 Rod Specifications

Rod Name                            Lengths           Type           Spin/Cast   Price

1. BerkleyE-Cat                   6-6, 7, 7-6, 8     Big Cats        Both               $70

2. Berkley Mudcat             6, 6-6, 7, 8         Fiberglass     Both               $40

3. Berkley Glowstik          6, 6-6,7, 8          Fiberglass     Both               $50

4. Rippin Lips Supercat  7-6, 8, 10           Long Casts   Casting           $36-85

5. Berkley Tec Cat              6-6, 7-6              Boat Rods     Both                $100

6. B&M Prostaff                  7-1                       Bumping       Casting           $90

7. Whisker Seeker*            7-6, 9-6             Durability     Both               $75-95

(*Chad Ferguson model)


Top Reels

Overpower even the biggest cats with these reels.

catfish gear 2017


Proven components make this colorful, catfish-emblazoned reel truly special. Three stainless-steel bearings, a separate roller-bearing system, smooth Carbon Matrix drag, synchronized level-wind system and extended handle with power knob. 7000 models holds 420 yards of 40-pound braid. $150-$170

catfish gear 2017


Zebco has two new conventional-style catfishing reels: the Big Cat XT 30 trolling reel, which holds a whopping 455 yards of 30-pound mono, and the Big Cat XT 350 baitcaster, which holds 200 yards of 20-pound. Graphite frames, aluminum spools and a 4.2:1 gear ratio. $73

catfish gear 2017


Also new from Zebco is a sturdy medium-heavy spincast reel built with a titanium-nitride-plated, stainless-steel spinnerhead, more commonly used on cutting tools to add strength and reduce friction. Left- or right-retrieve, steel front cover and powerful 2.6:1 ratio. $36

catfish gear 2017


This is a big baitcasting reel for big catfish. Seven stainless-steel bearings, spool-click tension knob, oversized power handle, massive line capacity, lightweight aluminum frame, adjustable centrifugal cast control and carbon-fiber stainless and ceramic drag system. Aluminum frame and gear. $200

catfish gear 2017


This baitcasting reel is built to overpower heavyweight catfish, even in swift current. Need proof? Features include a 1-piece aluminum frame, aluminum sideplates, teflon and stainless 6-disc drag stack, brass gearing, four bearings, magnetic braking and a 5.2:1 ratio. $69

Catfish Gear 2017 Reel Specifications

Reel                                                          Yards/Line    Ratio  Spin/Cast  Price

1. AbuGarcia Ambassadeur 6500  310/30 braid    5.3:1    Baitcasting  $150-170

2. Zebco Big Cat XT 30                     455/30 mono     4.1:1     Baitcasting   $73

3. Zebco Big Cat XT Spincast           110/25 mono     2.6:1    Spinning       $36

4. Quantum Iron PT                            240/14 mono    6.4:1    Baitcasting   $200

5. BassPro CatMaxx Baitcaster       400/30 mono   5.2:1    Baitcasting    $60     

More Catfish Choices from G&F

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