According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation (the most recent available), approximately 7 million U.S. anglers age 16 and older fish for catfish, 26 percent of our 27 million adult freshwater anglers.
Only a few years ago, if you had been among that huge group of whiskerfish fans, you might have bemoaned the fact that few products were made specifically with catfishing in mind. Specialty baits were available, but finding other catfish-specific gear like rods, reels, terminal tackle and boats was darn near impossible.
Fortunately, all that seems to have changed. The fact that catfish anglers comprise a significant portion of the tackle-buying public seems to have finally made an impression on tackle manufacturers, and during the past few years, dozens of new products engineered specifically for catfish anglers have become available.
Catfish rods are among the broadest categories of new products released this year. No longer do you have to use a walleye, salmon or bass rod for your fishing. Today’s new poles are made catfish-tough with top-quality materials and insightful designs. With these products in your angling arsenal, you can fish worry-free, knowing you have the best tools for subduing even the orneriest catfish. Check ‘em out and see.
Are you on a quest for a catfish weighing 50 to 100 pounds or more? Get you an E-Cat. This new series of super-tough E-glass rods will help ensure when you hook one of those hard-fighting, tackle-wrecking brutes, you’ll have the right gear to subdue it. Available in 6’6”, 7’ or 7’6” spinning and casting models, with medium to heavy power, stainless guides with aluminum-oxide inserts and solid full-cork handles. MSRP: $70. (berkley-fishing.com)
Lots of catfish anglers pursue their quarry during the witching hours of night, and Berkley’s re-engineered GloStik was made especially with them in mind. Older models absorbed light and emitted a glow for more than four hours, or could be “charged” with a flashlight or lantern for extra fishing time. The new second-generation models feature a one-touch, battery-operated, red LED core that creates a constantly glowing rod tip for better strike sightings. Super-tough fiberglass blanks combine with nearly indestructible guides, an extended fully rubberized handle and versatility (four casting and two spinning models) to make a cat rod that’s hard to beat. MSRP: $50. (berkley-fishing.com)
Catfish anglers tend to be value-minded shoppers who want lots of bang for their buck. That’s why Berkley’s new Mudcat rods are sure to please. They’re economically priced while being designed to withstand the worst beating a mad cat can dole out, with fiberglass blank construction, rubberized shrink-wrapped handles and durable double-footed guides. Choose from 6’, 6’6”, 7’ and 8’ lengths, moderate to moderate-fast actions. MSRP: $40. (berkley-fishing.com)
Berkley Tec Cat and Tec Cat Hunter
Some catfish anglers spend most of their time fishing from boats. Some prefer bank fishing. These models fit both pastimes. Tec Cats are designed for boat anglers, while Tec Cat Hunters are specially engineered for those fishing from shore.
Both series feature Complex Matrix blank construction and durable heavy-duty components. Tec Cats come in 6’6”-7’6” lengths and moderate to moderate-fast actions with oversized guides and handles, and blank construction designed for quicker response. Hunters run 7’, 8’ or 9’, with moderate-fast to fast action blanks that assist in long, accurate casts. Casting and spinning models. MSRP: $100. (berkley-fishing.com)
B’n’M ProStaff Bumping Rod
Lots of today’s catfish anglers are learning the sport of “bumping” for catfish. This tactic, developed by top catfish anglers on the Mississippi River, employs a special way of drift fishing for the monstrous cats that inhabit big flowing waters.
B’n’M was one of the first companies to make a rod specifically for bumping, and now it has upgraded its 7’ 1” bumping rod with a stiffer blank and stainless-steel tip eyelet so it will handle swifter current and 80-pound-plus catfish even better. MSRP: $90. (bnmpoles.com)
Rippin Lips SuperCat Long Range Rods
When fishing dam tailwaters and other honeyholes from shore, catfish fans often need long rods to make pinpoint casts to offshore targets. The folks at Rippin Lips designed these rods specifically with those anglers in mind.
This new Rippin Lips series includes 10’ and 12’, 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. 7’ 6” and 8’ models also available. MSRP: $36-$85. (rippinlips.net)
Warrior Cat Tackle Medium-Heavy Casting Rod
Warrior Cat has added 7’ 6" medium-heavy casting model to its line of top-quality catfishing rods. The rod’s light tip is sensitive enough to detect small cats, but the exception backbone on this supertough E-glass rod permits trophy taming, too. Features include a 16-inch cork handle, 10 double-footed stainless guides and double locking nuts on the reel seat. MSRP: $80. (warrior-cat-tackle.com)
Whisker Seeker Whisker Stick Ice Rods
Lots of folks quit catfishing in winter, but hardcore addicts often fish for channel cats and blues even during ice-up. Now Whisker Seeker has made a value-priced ice-fishing rod especially for these dedicated extremists. It has a 38-inch, solid-glass blank perfect for hole hopping and lets you power in big fish even in sub-zero temperatures. Extra-large guides prevent ice build-up, and a blaze-orange tip helps bite detection. Spinning and casting models available. MSRP: $35. (whiskerseeker.com)
Whisker Seeker Chad Ferguson Signature Series Rods
Professional catfish guide Chad Ferguson spent years perfecting this line of cutting-edge rods that put you in charge of big, powerful monsters instead of vice versa. Features include S-glass/graphite/carbon-fiber blanks for combined strength and sensitivity; high-visibility tip; 7’ 6” length for versatility, leverage and long-distance casting; plus an extra-long cork-composite handle and foregrip, titanium-oxide guides and more. Spinning and casting models. MSRP: $75-$95. (whiskerseeker.com)