Top 7 Best Catfish Reels [2022 Updated]

As any serious fishing enthusiast will tell you, catfish fishing is a lot of fun. Not only are they challenging, but they are also abundantly available. More importantly, they taste great.
Despite being such a popular choice, though, there is quite a debate on what is the best catfish reel. Frequently, anglers will waste money because they are not informed enough.
However, that’s nothing we can’t help you with. Not only have we put together a list of our top catfish reel picks, but we’re also going to tell you everything you need to know about them.

So, let’s get started.

Why Get a Catfish Reel?

What makes it so enjoyable to fish for catfish is how much of a good fight they put up. Basically, they’re challenging – so if you’re serious about catching some catfish, you’ll need a catfish reel.

Part of the reason why they necessitate dedicated reels is because of the specific requirements. A good catfish reel should have a strong build. Line capacity, drag system, and gear ratio are also important considerations when choosing a reel for catfishing.

If you’re catching catfish regularly, you will soon notice how much difficult the task is with not only spin cast but also with spinning reels. This is especially true if you’re catching bigger fish.

It’s also important to take the particular species of catfish you’re looking for into consideration. They come in big and small sizes, but in general, require a specific approach. On that front, a catfish reel can make all the difference.

Our Best Picks Of Catfish Reel

To make your search easier for the right catfish reel, we’ve compiled a list, since you have so many options.Who knows? Maybe your perfect catfish reel is waiting to be discovered in this list!

1. Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Catfish Special Round Baitcast Fishing Reel

For avid catfish anglers, Abu Garcia is a well-known and oft-repeated brand name. Our first pick is from these guys, and many argue that this is the best catfish baitcaster. Here’s why we agree;

To begin with, the build of this reel is great. The 3 ball bearings and 1 roller bearing system on this thing are of stainless steel. The drag system is of carbon matrix, which makes dragging a walk in the park. And a smooth drag system is of utmost importance in catfishing.

As a catfish angler, you may already know how important the retrieve ratio is. This reel was built with that idea in mind. Once you experience the synchronized level wind system that has been integrated into this thing, you’ll get what I mean.

Add to that the 6-pin centrifugal brake and extended bent handle, and what you get is a much more controlled casting and pulling experience. Abu Garcia understands the importance of delivering that little kick of extra power and torque to help you reel in the big cats.


  • Body graphics and color options are customizable
  • The round baitcast reel is perfect for catfishing
  • Simple reel design makes maintenance easier


  • Does not come with a thumb bar
  • Not very affordable

1.Shimano Tekota 300 Conventional Trolling Reel (4.2:1), 14 Pounds/220 Yards

This is another brand that is well known amongst anglers. What I love about this particular reel is its high retrieval rate, which, as we all know, is essential for catfishing.

Another reason why this reel is worth your consideration is its amazing drag mechanism. It’s smooth and consistent, and is definitely very well-suited to pulling in big fish. Oh, and the sound is also hugely satisfying. It’s really all in the little details, ultimately.

Especially if you’re using a line counter for bottom fishing (which is likely if you’re catfishing), this reel is guaranteed to make your experience much more enjoyable and productive.

You can expect the following line capacity settings for this reel: 25/530, 30/450, and 40/370. When you add this together with its sturdy construction and palm-able line counter, you end up a highly efficient catfish reel.

Plus, not only does this reel work amazingly, it also looks great. Oh, and, it’s also importedwhich is always a good sign. That’s also why you can expect high-quality components (which is the reason for its relatively high price).


•Has a maximum drag of 24 pounds

•Great for saltwater and freshwater catfish

•Very durable


•Rod clamp nuts might be too large for some

•Low affordability

2.Sougayilang Fishing reels Round Baitcasting Reel

When it comes to catfishing, baitcasting reels are undoubtedly the most effective option. However, if you’re just starting out with catfishing, the smart thing to do would be to go for a relatively cheaper model that will allow you to make mistakes as you learn the ins and outs of catfishing.

So yes, this review is about a cheaper model, but that in no way says anything bad about this reel. You’ll be surprised at how powerful this reel is, but maybe not so much when you hear why it is so.

The drag system, for one, is made of carbon fiber of good enough quality that you can get 22 pounds of smooth drag. Its handle knobs have been made oversized on purpose to increase user-friendliness. And that continues with the non-slip gripping material and thumb bar.

There’s more! The deep race ball bearings are of premium quality shielded stainless steel. Again, the 2-pin centrifugal brake makes this a great cast for bottom fishing as well. For the price, the smoothness of this reel is unreal.


•Visually stunning

•Highly affordable, perfect for catfishing beginners

•Reliable customer support


•Parts are not of the best quality

•The drag might not be strong enough for some

3. Penn 1481260 Spinfisher VI Spinning Saltwater Reel, 2500 Reel Size

Spincast reels are a great place to start if you’ve only recently developed an interest in catfishing. Although they don’t provide exactly the sort of performance you’ll get from a baitcaster, a model like this one can make you forget the difference.

Here’s why;
First of all, this reel has a great body. I’m not kidding; the guys at Spinfisher take reel durability seriously, and it shows. The body is fully metal, as is the side plate, so you’ll never need to stress yourself about the gear system losing its alignment abilities.

Add to that the IPX5 sealing that this reel has, this means that the chances of saltwater seeping into the drag system are quite low (such a thing may seem small, but always proves to be essential for smooth catfishing!). Plus, the drag washers are made of HT-100™ carbon fiber.

These drag washers are placed inside a spool that is fully sealed. This ensures the conditions of high stopping power, which is something you’ll definitely be needing when angling for catfish.


•Durable and resilient Superline spool

•Integrated with Spinfisher’s CNC Gear™ technology

•Smooth pick-up and bail


•Line retrieval is not the smoothest

•The size might be too small for bigger users

4. Team Catfish Gold Ring Casting Reel

This reel is a great choice at a great price. As a catfish angler, you need a reel that can deliver heavy-duty performance, and this is a great choice in terms of that.

But you wouldn’t know that from how easy it is to handle this thing. Despite its lightweight body, it’s quite sturdy owing to the one-piece aluminum frame (the 5-bearing system also shares these construction specs).

The 6.1 to 1 HI SPEED retrieval ratio along with the instant anti-reverse makes this reel ideal for bigger catfish and makes pulling in your treasure – even particularly large catfish – feel like a breeze.

And that’s not all, of course. This reel also features a dual magnetic cast control with wind-age dial. You probably know that it will make casting any bait – no matter how bulky – a walk in the park.

This reel has excellent line capacity because of its extra heavy reel foot with over-sized structure rivets. It can handle an impressive maximum drag pressure of about 12 pounds.


•One piece aluminum frame

•Aluminum side plates

•Double anodized aluminum spool

•Heavy duty power handle


•May be too large for some users

•Not as durable as carbon fiber reels

5. KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel

If you’re just starting out with catching catfish and are looking for the best budget catfish reels, this is a perfect choice.

But don’t let the low price make you think less of this reel. With its reinforced metal body, this reel is supremely durable. Plus, it’s so smooth and versatile, you’ll be shocked to remember how affordable it was.

The great construction owes itself to the thicker hard anodized aluminum side plates. Its drag system is made of carbon fiber and innovatively designed with its “Cymbal Washer” system which gives it a tangibly powerful feel. It allows up to a maximum drag of 30lbs.

The reel is made even better with its MaxiDur double shielded stainless steel ball bearings. So smooth; you won’t even feel it.

The over sized nonslip EVA grips, accessible thumb bar spool release, and line out clicker alarm make this reel great for trolling, bottom fishing and many other saltwater and freshwater fishing techniques.

This is a reliable baitcasting reel that any serious angler will appreciate. After all, KastKing is known for its amazing quality (despite low prices).


•Highly affordable

•Durable and consistent

•Unexpectedly powerful for the price point


•Not ideal for larger fish

•Plain looks

6. Zebco BCXT30C, BX3 Big Cat XT Baitcast Reel, 4.2: 1, 2 Bearing, Right Hand

We’re gonna end this review list with another affordable but powerful catfish reel. It’s great for medium to slightly larger fish, which means it’s perfect for catfishing.

There’s a reason why this reel has “Big Cat” as part of its name; it performs just like one. This is the perfect reel for passionate anglers who understand what a powerful reel looks like.

The reel’s powerful magnum drag system makes it very sturdy and easy to use. Its 5 bearings, continuous anti-reverse clutch, and aluminum spool make it feel super smooth and will probably be very popular with avid anglers.

The heavy-duty guides on this thing, together with its indestructible solid stainless steel tip, also basically make it smooth as a bullet. This reel is particularly good for anglers who like spinning.

In addition, it has some convenient features that make it more convenient including the changeable right or left retrieve, extended EVA handle, built-in hook handle, and high visibility glowing tip.


•Highly affordable

•All-metal gears

•Comparatively high durability

•Baitcast style, making it perfect for catfishing

•Glow tips for increased visibility while fishing


•Somewhat noisy

•Not very versatile

•Not the best customer service

How to Catch a Catfish?

The equipment you’ll need for catching catfish is;

•A medium to the heavy spinning rod of 6/7 feet,

•14-pound monofilament spooling,

•Boat-style rod holder,

•Terminal tackle,

•Net for landing fish and pliers for hook removal,

•Bait – catfish chunks are best.

You can use a slip-sinker or a float rig for catfishing; today we’re going to talk about the former (it’s the more popular option since catfish tend to be near the bottom).

First, thread a sinker and bead onto the mainline. Then, tie the mainline to one end of a swivel; on the other end, attach a 1 or 2-foot monofilament leader, then the hook. You can leave the rig on the bottom or hover it above the floor.

One can also think about tipping a jig head with bait and using that. Just raise and drop the jig along the bottom. You might get a catfish bite by holding it still.

Catfish will sometimes hit fast and hard, and sometimes before taking the bait, they’ll play with it. In these situations, you can set the hook. Additionally, you can feed some line when the catfish starts nibbling so it won’t suspect resistance.

How to Choose the Best One

It is widely acknowledged that bait-cast reels work best for catfish, but in general, here are the most important factors.

•Line Capacity

This is the most important factor due to the fact that you’ll be using much heavier fishing line than, say, freshwater fishing.

Larger line fills the reel faster and requires more space. Therefore, if you use a reel with a small spool, you’ll need to strip and replace the line again and again as you fish.

So, a catfish reel that can handle larger diameter fishing lines is important.

•Drag System

A big catfish will create significant force once you hook it. The reel’s drag system has an effect on your line when you begin reeling.A good drag system is essential for catfishing. Without it, your reel’s line will snap. The larger the catfish, the higher the chances are of this happening.

•Spool Tension

A spool tensioner allows for counterbalance and enables you to adjust the spool rotation as required by varying fish weights.

The higher the weight on the line, the more quickly the spool will turn which creates higher chances for backlashes. However, with a lower weight, casting will be difficult.

A spool tensioner is important since catfish on average weigh between 5 and 20 pounds.

•Gear Ratio

Gear ratio is what determines the reeling speed and capacity per each turn of the handle on your reel. More line comes with a higher retrieve ratio.

It goes without saying that higher retrieve ratio is essential when pulling in larger catfish. You can not only work with longer line lengths but also adequate power required to “winch” bigger variants of catfish.

You don’t want to go shopping for a new reel when a huge catfish makes your handle turn ineffectual, causing smaller amounts of line pulled.

Final Words

There are many things to consider when looking for the best catfish reel, and hopefully, you have a better idea about them now.

Catfish require an effort but are a lot of fun. With the right catfish reel, you’ll be having the time of your life. So, what are you waiting for?