How To Catch Big Catfish Part 3 - Catfishing Rods

Stacy and Andrew with Their Flathead Catfish

This is Stacy and Andrew with a really nice flathead they co-caught, he was a fighter!
This is Stacy and Andrew with a really nice flathead they co-caught, he was a fighter!

Catching Monster Catfish!

Let's quickly recap what was covered in

How To Catch Big Catfish Part 1

Where Is The Best Place To Catch A Trophy Catfish?

When Is The Best Time Of Day To Fish For Giant Catfish?

What Are The Best Months To Catch Trophy Catfish?

How To Catch Big Catfish Part 2

What Kind Of Tackle Do I Need To Land A Monster Catfish?

What Kind Of Line Will I Need?

What Hooks Should I Buy?

What Reels Are Recommended?

Ok, are you ready for more tips on how to catch big catfish?

Let's start out with Rods.

What Kind of Rod Will I Need to Catch Monster Catfish?

This is a list of Rods that work well for landing big catfish.

Let's just run through a little rod background before we get into the list of great possible catfish rods.

Action - this is how much the rod bends when pressure is put on the tip.

A fast action rod will only bend in the top third of the rod or less. The medium-moderate rod will bend in the top half of the rod. The slow action rod will begin bending in the lower third of the rod giving you lots of arc.

Power-Strength-Backbone - the lifting power of the rod. Medium, Medium-Heavy, and Heavy are rods strengths. Match your rod's power with your line weight. Too heavy a line on a lighter rod may snap your rod. This can be quite exciting, but then it is very hard to land the fish. The water you are fishing and the fish you are pursuing will determine the power of the rod you need.

There are many choices for good Catfishing Rods.

Pile of Cat Maxx Rods
Pile of Cat Maxx Rods

Rod Tips and Length

You can use anything from a Shakespeare Tiger Rod to a full on Deep Sea Tidewater rod. Some things you might want to consider when looking for your new catfish rod or just adding more to your catfishing arsenal:

How fast a tip will I need. If you are chasing monster cats you can get by with a little slower tip. You need the faster tips for shy bites, big blues and monster flatheads they tend to hit pretty hard, so the tip sensitivity is a little less critical. Fishing with large live baits on a fast tip gets a little crazy too. If you seem to always find the monster flatheads that are not hitting hard and just seem to be shy, you may want to get a little faster tip. When you have a live bream it will keep the tip jumping but it will usually have a rhythm to it. When it starts to really shake get ready, something has scared it and it is about to get bit!!!

The rod length will be important for two things, your casting distance and your ability to land big catfish .The longer the rod is, the farther you will be able to cast your baits. The length of your catfish fishing rod will also be very critical in determining how well you can land monster catfish.

The longer the rod, the easier it will be to get monster catfish in the boat. Catching a monster flathead or a big trophy blue catfish on a 7 foot rod will be much more difficult than catching them on an 8 foot or 9 foot fishing rod. The shortest catfish fishing rod most catfish guides use on their fishing trips are 7'-7'6". Many guides use rods that are 8', 8'6" or 9'.

Keeping Your Rods Clean

Even if you are a clean freak, it's nearly impossible to keep your catfishing rods clean. When you are baiting one rod and get a hit on another, do you take time to clean your hands or just grab the rod? Now there's bait slime on your rod and reel handle. Sometimes you will get catfish slime on your rods also. The rods are generally very durable, but it's still a good idea to clean them periodically. A slippery rod handle can be your enemy when you hook a monster cat.

Recommended Rods

Some rods that come highly recommended are the:

Eagle Claw Granger X Series Fishing Rods (Eagle Claw GRX) in the 8'6" rod with Medium Heavy or Heavy action

The Berkley Reflex catfishing rods in the 8'or 9' with the extra long handles are a good choice. They are very good for cats in the #20 to #50 range and bigger.

Quantum Big Cat rods in a medium-heavy and a heavy-heavy action have plenty of backbone for dragging monster cats out of deep cover.

Jim Moyer's famous "The Boss" rod comes in four different casting options. The two larger rods are a great choice for medium and large rivers and reservoirs.

These rods can put you on even footing with the Monster Blues and Giant Flatheads. They have the backbone you will need to pull these big cats out of their lairs of heavy stumps and timber. These rods tend to be a little pricey but are very high quality and well worth the money.

The Berkley Series One rod is a great choice if you can get your hands on one. It came in a 7' rod with the exclusive titanium SS 304 guide system. These titanium guides are said to be 20 times better than their ceramic counterparts. These rods are the real deal. With their solid brown blanks and capability of #80 test line and 16 ounces of weight, they are one of the monster catfishes worst enemy. Keep an eye on Ebay and you may snag one of these gems.

St. Croix Classic Cat rod is another legendary catfish rod. Originally priced at over $100, it wasn't the rod for everybody. This rod was one of the best catfish option rods ever to hit market. With up to #60 line capacity and the ability to handle anything from channel cats to the monster flatheads, this rod is the real deal. These rods are no longer available so watch Ebay, Ioffer and Craigslist to see if you can catch one of these classics from someone who must have quit fishing.

The Aurora Pro Cat made up of E-Glass and Graphite composite blanks. Denny Halgren, well-known catfish guru, designed this series of rods. They will handle line up to #50 and were available in a one or two section rod. Like the St. Croix Classic Cat these are no longer on the market, so sweep the secondary markets for these also.

Bass Pro's Cat Maxx is a recommended favorite of many catfishing enthusiasts. If you walk in Bass Pro or call the catalog line and ask for a rod to go after big catfish, this is the first rod most of them will recommend. This rod was developed exclusively by Bass Pro for those of us who love to chase monster cats, hence the name Cat Maxx. There are 2 live bait options, and rods range from 7'-11'. Rated for line up to #40 and baits up to 8 ounces, these are beefy heavy duty rods that will hold up under rugged flathead and big blue fishing. You can buy these right off the shelf for $70 or less. If for some reason they don't meet your expectations they are backed by Bass Pro's customer service.

The Shakespeare Big Water rod is in a class of light saltwater rods. These rods come in several options with a heavy blank through the handle, EVA foam grips and a quick taper tip. They will handle lines all the way up to #130 and 18 ounce weights. This is the heaviest of the options with others capable of using #50-80 line. They even offer the Tidewater in a roller option. These are the real deal "Beef Sticks". Whether you are in the big rivers like the James River or the stump lands of Santee - Cooper, if you are serious about landing giant cats Shakespeare has a rod for you.

More Rod Choices

There are more rod choices out there, and if you have one you highly recommend or have any advice and further insight on any of these, please feel free to comment on them.

Some possible rod and reel combos you might look at are:

One vote for the ultimate flathead combo is a Shimano Calcutta 700 on a ST Croix Classic cat rod. You will have to locate one of this rods but that is a really nice combo.

ABU 7000, Team up a Berkley E-cat with an Abu Garcia Ambassadeur 7000 and you are ready to tackle giant river flatheads. This same reel goes good with a Quantum Big Cat heavy action rod for big blues and flatheads.

You will see it all when you get around people chasing big trophy cats.

The Shimano TLD25 or OML 25 reel paired with a Shakespeare Big Water Rod makes a serious combo for tangling with the big cats.

For more information on How To Catch Big Catfish,

see more articles by Gone Fishin Club.

Bass Pro's Cat Maxx Rod Update

Bass Pro listened to their Pro Staff and made the tips faster on this series of rods so you could detect light bites better. They still have all the backbone you need just with a more sensitive tip. Monster cats don't always hit like a train and that subtle twitch on the rod end could be your next trophy blue.

How to Join the Gone Fishin Club


By joining Gone Fishin Club you become eligible to win a trip to Santee to chase Monsters Cats with Gary and the crew.

We also have drawings for other trips, magazine subscriptions, club logo hats and shirts.

So what are you waiting for, JOIN NOW! Did I mention it was FREE!

here is the link...................... JOIN GONE FISHIN CLUB

Another Rod Choice- A Custom Rod

If you are looking for a very good rod and reel combo and don't mind laying out a little bit more cash for it then take a look at the new John Jamison Bottom Bumper made by Tom Knox of the Rod Shop. This custom rod is a top-end rod designed for catfish anglers who demand a little more. It is a 7 foot graphite with a split core handle. It will handle up to 24 ounces for river fishing and fast moving water. Its tough enough for big cats but light enough to fish all day! I spoke with Tom at The Rod Shop and he said this rod is the best catfishing rod they have ever designed and built. The graphite rod is warrantied against manufacturers defects and if one of the guides breaks and you return the rod to them they will fix the eyes for you.

Comments 21 comments

HCC 8 years ago

I use Penn's spinning SS 8500s on Cabelas' 9 foot King Kat rods. I regularly catch 40lb to 60lb cats from the James River in Virginia. The James has now produced a 100# Blue. I use a 3ft 50# leader on 30# stren mono and circle hooks. Works for me.

david 6 years ago

I have caught 5 big cats in my life.I moved to missouri fishing pomdetera lake and i cant even catch smaill cat fish.I need some seruis help with location on the lake.I use 60 pound mono braded spider wire with a circle hook i usaly use large gold fish 4 to 6 inches long

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Gone Fishin Club 6 years ago Author

Hello David, you are talking about Lake Pomme de Terre, near Pittsburgh, Mo. I will do a little research and post some information on the catfishing there shortly. Thanks Gary

"Tight Lines and Squealin' Reels Make Me Smile"

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Gone Fishin Club 6 years ago Author

Hello David, I contacted a local guide, Earle Hammond in your area and here are some of the areas he recommends you try, any of the shallow flats on the Pomme and Lindley arms of the lake. The Martin Flats, Wheatland Flats, the areas approaching the start of the Pomme and Lindley arms would be great.

Another thing to remember on lakes like this are to try to find the old creeks beds and main river channels and work them, often catfish will travel these in route to other feeding areas. Cut shad and live or cut bluegills should work for good baits there.

Check local regulations about live bait.

Also there have been some catfish caught trolling a white Wiggle Wart in the shallows.

If you have other questions please look through my other Hubpages or send any other questions here or my email.

If you catch some nice ones please send me a picture to gary at and I will enter you in our Fishing Photo Contest.

Good Luck, Gary

If you are going to fish Lake Pomme de Terre for Muskie and are looking for a guide please contact:

Lake Pomme de Terre Guides:

Earle Hammond

Pomme de Terre Muskie Guide Service


His website is and you can contact him there by email.

Nancy H. 6 years ago

What's a good bait to use for big cats???

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Gone Fishin Club 6 years ago Author

Hello Nancy, thanks for your question. Big catfish are usually blue catfish and flathead catfish. Channel catfish do get large in some areas but not like the blues and flatheads. For big blue catfish I would go with cut bait, preferably something native to the local waters but not completely necessary. For big flatheads I would go with live bait also local to the body of water I am fishing. Whatever is a good local food source will work good. Bream, bluegill, perch, herring, bullheads, check your local regulations to make sure what is legal to use, goldfish are a favorite in places too. Hope this helps- if you want more info check these other good hubpages or submit me any more questions you have. Look at for more information.

Let me know if you catch a big one, take a good picture and send it to me and you can win a Gone Fishin Club.

Good Luck,

"Tight Lines and Squealin' Reels put a Smile on my face eveytime" Gary "Gone Fishin" Turner

Jason M 5 years ago

What would be the best kind of bait to use for blue cats and where would the best place to be to catch a cat? I dont own a boat so i fish off the land

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Gone Fishin Club 5 years ago Author

Hello Jason M,

Great questions, are you fishing a river or a lake?

I prefer cut bait for blues, cut shad, herring, bream,chub,carp. If you can get baits that come from the water you are fishing they work well. If not just get something that is fresh if you can. Chicken chunks have also caught me a good many blues, but I always start with cut bait. Check your local regulations to see what you can catch and use for bait,lots of days I catch my bait with rod and reel or bream busters and then put my rods out as I get the bait. I then keep a bucket of bait handy while I wait for the catfish to bite. It also keeps me doing something while I am waiting. If you catch more bait than you need just start throwing them back. Fresh cut heads usually work really well. Once you cast your bait give it at least 20 - 40 minutes to work. Don't keep reeling it in and throwing it out. If you do miss a good bite go ahead and check bait, if that bait has been out there for awhile go ahead and put a fresh one on.

If you are fishing a river from the banks, look for any kind of structure, a logjam, a deep hole, a tree that has fallen in and is breaking the current, if the root ball is in the river even better. It will make a hole under it usually where the water passes under. Try to work you bait to right in front of the structures and hang on. Take plenty of extra gear, bobbers, weights and hooks, they don't call them snags for nothing!

In a lake or reservoir bank fishing gets a little trickier. Try going online and see if you can find some topo maps for the lake online and see if there are any good holes, ledges or drop offs within casting range of the shore. If there are make a note of these as they may be holding some good fish. Are there any feeder creeks, sometimes that will be a good place to bank fish, more likely there will be channel cats there.

Cody Mullenix caught "Splash" the 121.5 pound blue while fishing from the bank in Texas, at that time, 2004, it was the World Record Blue.

Well Jason I hope some of this information helps and you catch some big blues. If there is something else I didn't answer or you want to ask feel free to post another question.

Thanks, Gary "Gone Fishin" Turner

Charles T 4 years ago

Hey Gary u have a lot ogreat info but I'm curious to know what would be a good setup for river fishing. A few years ago I lost a monster cat that I fought for an hour or so (broke 50# line) and just this past sat I had a cat pop 65# braid. I have yet to land a monster cat. They just keep gettin away. I generally fish the pee dee river (blewitt falls) in rockingham, nc.

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Gone Fishin Club 4 years ago Author

Charles T,

I can relate to your pain, after losing several in Santee on #100 powerpro I know that feeling. Some will call me crazy, it won't be the first time or the last, but I would go big on the tackle and equipment. Go with a big reel, maybe a Shimano TLD 25 or an OML 25. Look at the big beefy rods, get something in a 6' or 6'6" rated for heavy line or braid. You can go with a #100 PowerPro and see how it does, they go heavier than that but if you go to #200 or #250 don't tell anyone or they will send you to the loony bin. It all just looks like braid anyway. If you need a hand with them big cats holler at me and I might just ride up and net for you. Good luck, be safe and let us know how you do.

"Tight Lines and Squealin' Reels put a Smile on my face eveytime" Gary "Gone Fishin" Turner

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Gone Fishin Club 4 years ago Author

Charles T, see post below.

Charles T 4 years ago

I use a penn 850 spin reel had it on a 9ft surf rod been a great combo for me. The last cat I lost was 65lb power pro and a 100lb mono leader. I didn't ever realize how strong these fish really are. I assume your familiar with blewitt falls and you live close by?

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Gone Fishin Club 4 years ago Author

Hey Charles T., thanks for your reply, did the line break or the leader? I live near Athens Ga. but travel all over to fish whenever I can. That rod reel combo should handle the fish, maybe step up the line and hang on! :) Good Luck out there, hope you get into a big one real soon!

Gary "Gone Fishin" Turner

Charles T 4 years ago

No prob man. I'm seriously addicted to fishin so I try and soak up all the tip and tricks I can! If I could find a way to make a living off of fishing I wouldn't know what to do with myself! Anyway there was a clean break on the braid. The river is pretty stumpy amd rocky but the fish was pulling boat. There's really no telling what happened. I'm gonna take ur advice and step up to maybe 100# line, let's just hope that it won't be too long before I set a hook into a hog!

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Gone Fishin Club 4 years ago Author

Charles T., I am with you there, I do odd jobs and substitute teach at the high school to keep all the time I can open for FISHING! Never fails the one day in a week I book to sub will also be the day someone calls and wants me to go fish!!! Shop the PowerPro on eBay and you might find a good deal. I hope you get to tangle with another monster real soon!!! Keep in touch!

Gary Turner

Charles T 4 years ago

Thanks again Gary. Actually have a couple of questions..what knots do u recommend braid/ mono? And with the weather heating up fast should the catfish be on the move or already spawning? Where should I be looking?

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Gone Fishin Club 4 years ago Author

Hey Charles, sorry so long in reply, been out FISHING a little myself the last couple of days. Ok, knots for braid, there are several good ones.

The Improved Clinch Knot, The Palomar, The Double Palomar, The Uni, and the Improved Double Clinch. Try them out and see which ones work best for you. I will try to come back later and go over which of these works best for what.

As for the catfish, it is March the 26th 2012 as I write this, here in Georgia the catfish have moved out of the deep water already due to a weak winter and early fast warming spring. Right now they are in in 12 foot or less with some near the banks. Fish around shallow water strucure such as logs, stumps, boulders, bank cuts partially submerged, and rip rap or rocky shore areas. They are feeding well here right now and in the coming weeks this pattern should progress northward as the weather warms up. If you have more questions please feel free to give me a shout. Thanks again and good luck!

"Tight Lines and Squealin' Reels put a Smile on my face eveytime" Gary "Gone Fishin" Turner

Mike H 4 years ago

How do you recommend hooking live bait?

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Gone Fishin Club 4 years ago Author

Hello Mike H, thanks for your question, there are several ways to hook live bait. For bream and large bait fish I like to hook them in the back between the dorsal and the tail fins. Don't get to far down, stay above the middle, just enough to get a good piece of flesh to keep it on the hook. If you are going to cast these, I recommend a soft bait cast. This for closed face reels and spinning reels. Release the line and pull out about 2 feet in your hand not holding the rod, as you swing to your casting point you release this line giving a cushion to the bait as it hurls into the lake. There is nothing like catching a great bait only to see it go one way and your line another when you cast. Another option is in through the mouth and out the top of the head, just don't get back too far. I prefer the other so they are pulling trying to get free when something scares them. Hope this helps, if you have more questions please write again.

Let me know if you catch a big one, take a good picture and send it to me and you can win a Gone Fishin Club.

Good Luck,

"Tight Lines and Squealin' Reels put a Smile on my face eveytime" Gary "Gone Fishin" Turner

charles t 4 years ago

Went fishing early this morning and noticed that a lot of large catfish were constantly busting on top water. Used several baits (shad,bream,eel) on bobbers only caught a few about 15lbs or so, but my question is what are those big cats feeding on? Or are they even feeding? Thanks.

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Gone Fishin Club 4 years ago Author

Hello Charles, there is a good chance they were feeding on a school of shad, when they are feeding like this throwing your bait right out there in them like you did gives you a good shot. There is no way to target any particular fish though. They could have been up to something else but that is my best guess. If you did throw a large bait in there that might boost your chances of getting a bigger fish.

When you say there were some bigger cats jumping, how big did they look?

Hope this helps, tight lines and good luck!!!

"Tight Lines and Squealin' Reels put a Smile on my face eveytime" Gary "Gone Fishin" Turner

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    This is one of my personal catfishing rods.
    This is one of my personal catfishing rods.

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