Blue Catfish rods can be broken down into two categories.
- Rods for big trophy blue catfish
- Rods for every day one to ten pound catfish or “box fish”.
The term “box fish” comes from practicing catch and release or CPR with the catfish over ten pounds so everything less than ten pounds (when people want to keep fish) usually goes “in the box”.
The trend in recent years has been for anglers to buy bigger, beefier fishing rods for fishing for trophy class fish. These are the fishing rods commonly marketed towards catfish anglers and there are too many options available to list.
These fishing rods are commonly made of e-glass (fiberglass) because of the strength and durability.
These heavier fishing rods are great for landing and catching big catfish and will work for catching the “box fish” as well but they certainly lack in sensitivity and they are very heavy to hold.
If you are going to target big catfish exclusively then these are a great fishing rod but if you plan on catching “numbers” of fish also then you might be disappointed.
These style rods have always been too heavy for my preferences.
Most people I know don’t only fish for big fish so they want something that is capable of “doing it all”.
By “doing it all” I mean they want something is capable of catching the smaller fish and “finesse” fishing but they also want something that is capable of landing the trophy class fish as well.
It’s not that these heavier “beefier” fishing rods are not capable landing small fish because they certainly are but take all of the fun out of it (in my opinion) and when using certain techniques, make it more difficult .
I also find that when fishing for smaller “box fish” I catch significantly less fish when using these rods.
Rods For Trophy Blue Catfish
If you want a fishing rod for catching big catfish exclusively then the Team Catfish Thunder Cat Catfish Rod is an excellent choice.
I have been using these fishing rods for a couple of years and have been very pleased with them. They are well built and have all the features I look for in a catfish rod for big fish and have held up well.
Jeff Williams, the owner of Team Catfish is a hardcore catfish angler and was a catfish guide for years and he “gets it”. By that I mean he knows what a catfish angler needs in a fishing rod, he’s not some suit and tie executive at an office in a big brand tackle company guessing what catfish anglers need.
The Thunder Cat rod is an e-glass fishing rod so it’s heavy and durable. It has a good long handle, durable build, good quality eyes and everything else you could possibly need.
These rods retail for $75-$80 which is definitely on the higher end of what I pay for a fishing rod.
You can read my full review and get all the detailed information on the Team Catfish Thunder Cat catfish rod on the Learn To Catch Catfish website.
As of this writing the Team Catfish Thunder Cat is a little hard to find due to some manufacturing issues with Team Catfish but they tell me these issues will be resolved and the rod will be available again.
The current alternative available for these rods from Team Catfish is called a “Catfish Warrior” rod. I’ve handled one of these rods and it appears to be very similar to the Thunder Cat rods with the major difference being the rod handle.
The handle on these rods rather than being EVA foam is wrapped in paracord.
I’ve got one of these on the way that I plan on fishing with soon and will post updated information on the website.
The Catfish Warrior Rod retails for around $65.
Another alternative, and certainly the most economical is available locally through most sporting goods stores, the 7 foot Ugly Stik CAL1101 70 MH.
This is the same rod as the preferred channel catfish rod previously mentioned (same model) but in a MH power (instead of a ML for channel catfish) and in a 7 foot length instead of 7’6” in length.
Again, this is a “no frills” fishing rod but certainly a durable rod that is worthy of catching fish. I used these 7 foot Ugly Stik CAL1101 70 MH rods for years for catching trophy blue catfish and know a number of fishing guides that still depend on this rod today.
These rods are available for $25-$30, are available at most retailers, have an excellent warranty and are just an all around good durable fishing rod for catching blue catfish.
Again, there are many other options available but when it comes to rods for big blue catfish these rods are my “top picks” for anglers getting started and are all tried and true fishing rods.
Do “All” Blue Catfish Rods
Years ago a good friend of mine and fellow catfish guide turned me on to a new style fishing rod I had never seen before. He was using them for catfishing and convinced me they were a good choice so I bought a few of them and gave them a try.
These rods were a fishing rod specifically made for salmon and steelhead fishing but have been adapted by many catfish anglers across the country. They are longer fishing rods yet they are very light weight.
They are extremely sensitive so they are great for finesse fishing and don’t take all the “fight” out of the smaller fish, yet they have a strong enough backbone to land the big trophy class fish as well.
You can’t “horse” a trophy class fish off the bottom with one of these rods like you can a heavy duty e-glass fishing rod but with constant steady pressure you can land any fish, assuming your drag is set properly.
These salmon/steelhead fishing rods are typically made of graphite or e-glass and have all of the features I look for in a catfish rod like longer handles, the sensitivity to finesse fish and a backbone strong enough to land the larger fish.
Not only are the salmon steelhead rods a good all around option for blue catfish but they are also perfectly suited for fishing for channel catfish as well.
The salmon steelhead rods I prefer are:
Berkley Air IM8 Salmon Steelhead Casting Rod – 8’6” MH Action – Model: 1139429
Ugly Stik Light Salmon Steelhead Casting Rod – 8’6” MH Action – Model:CAS11862MH
The Berkley IM8 is a graphite rod and is certainly lighter and more sensitive than the Ugly Stik but graphite is not nearly as sensitive and is also much less forgiving.
I’ve broken very few of them over the years and most of them that have been broker were largely due to “operator error” but with the lighter weight and added sensitivity of graphite you sacrifice some durability.
This rod is also more expensive and typically costs between $60 and $80 at most retailers, but you can find some “deals” from time to time.
The Ugly Stik Light salmon steelhead rod is a great balance of sensitivity and durability.
You get the advantages of the salmon steelhead rods but don’t have to sacrifice the durability because they are made of e-glass.
The Ugly Stik Light salmon steelhead rods typically cost around $50 to $60.
Both rods are 8’6” in length so you get the added “long rod advantage”.
These salmon and steelhead style rods are without a doubt my favorite catfish rods and have been for years.
S0 What Rod Should You Buy For Blue Catfish?
If you’re only targeting trophy class catfish then get a heavier fishing rod like one of these models:
If you plan on targeting smaller blue catfish and catching some trophy class fish as well then go with one of the salmon/steelhead style rods like:
- Berkley Air IM8 Salmon Steelhead Casting Rod – 8’6” MH Action – Model: 1139429
- Ugly Stik Light Salmon Steelhead Casting Rod – 8’6” MH Action – Model:CAS11862MH
After over ten years of operating North Texas Catfish Guide Service the salmon steelhead style fishing rods are still my “go to” fishing rods for catfish.
These rods are what I consider to be the best fishing rods available for catfish, capable of finesse fishing for channels and blues yet strong enough to manage trophy blues and flatheads when they are called on.
These are my “go to” catfish rods I rely on each and every day on the water.
Regardless of which catfish rods you think are best for you, I suggest buying just one or two and giving them a try. Make sure they are a good fit for you and your fishing techniques and then you can decide on whether getting more is a good choice.
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