By Brenner Flaten
St. Croix Classic Cat (Discontinued)
(Retail Price: $120-$140) Was distributed in four casting and two spinning options. The rod is designed of high quality S-Glass and is available only in telescopic form, and high quality cork handle. The rod features a moderately fast action and medium-heavy or heavy power. Depending on the model, they handle line from 10-60 pound test and baits up to 8 ounces. They range from 6 ½ to 8 feet long.
Review: St. Croix was the first company to produce a “high-end” catfish rod and it did not disappoint. This rod is the best catfish option ever to hit the open market. Whether you are looking for mid-range channel cats or looking to tangle with some massive Flatheads this rod can step up to the test. St. Croix chose to discontinue the rod, much to the dismay of the serious catfish angler. Soon after their discontinuation, the rods were swept off the shelves across the United States and our virtually impossible to locate.
Aurora Pro Cat (Discontinued)
(Retail Price: $80) Was distributed in six spinning options and nine casting options. Designed by well-known catfish guru Denny Halgren, these rods are made up of E-Glass and Graphite composite blanks. The rods are durable enough for heavy use, yet light enough to hold for long periods, and sensitive enough to feel a live baitfish on the end of your rod. Depending on the model, they handle 10-50 pound test. Available in one or two piece with a high-quality cork handle.
Review: The most extensive line of cat specialist rods ever produced. However, they were not on the market for very long, and did not receive the publicity that the St. Croix series enjoyed. This is an outstanding looking rod with the feel of big-time catfishing. Your best option to come across one of these rods today is to sweep Ebay frequently.
Berkley E-Cat (Discontinued)
(Retail Price: $88-$100) Was distributed in four casting options. Designed by catfish pro Jim Moyer, each option is a 7 ½ foot long telescopic E-Glass blank with a high-quality cork handle. The E-Cat sports a stiffer tip than the St. Croix and is a very durable option. Depending on the model, they handle 10-40 pound test and baits up to 5 ounces.
Review: It can be argued that these rods have been the most popular “high-end” rod (over $50) ever produced for the catfish angler. They are a top of the line option for medium to large rivers, but are very difficult to find anymore. Six years ago, Berkley chose to go with a few cheaper options for the catfish angler and discontinued the rod series, however, Jim Moyer has struck again. (See: “The Boss”)
Berkley Reflex-1st Generation (Discontinued)
(Retail Price: $28-$45) Was distributed in four casting options and four spinning options. Each rod is constructed with super-strong E-Glass, scotch-lite material under guide wraps, silver color, optical brighteners on entire rod to increase night visibility, and EVA foam handles. The rod glows great under the aid of a black light. Depending on the model, they handle up to 40 pound test and 8 ounce baits.
Review: The first option made affordable in the E-Glass design. These rods work well under many different conditions. They are especially productive at night thanks to the optical brighteners and scothlite guide wraps.
Berkley Reflex-2nd Generation
(Retail Price: $18-$23) Is distributed in three casting and three spinning options. Each rod is made up of E-Glass, an optically brightened tip, hard chromium guide system, white with red splash blank, and a high quality cork handle. Brightened tip enhances bight awareness after sundown. The reflex handles up to 40 pound test and 8 ounce baits.
Review: Berkley took a step back from the original reflex design. They tried to make the rod more affordable and messed with the design as a whole. The cork handle was an improvement, but they took away two rod size options, failed to brighten the rod, did not scotchlite the guide wraps, and made the rod itself much stiffer. What used to be a great option for smaller rivers, now is almost confined to large Blues and Flatheads. If you are specifically targeting those species, it may be a decent option, and definitely affordable.
Jim Moyer “The Boss”
(Retail Price: $63-$69) Is distributed in four casting options. The Jim Moyer (designer of Berkley E-Cat) specialty series is constructed of high grade E-Glass, cork handle with trigger, and a heavy duty real seat. The two smaller options have titanium guides, while the two larger options have stainless steel guides. Depending on the model, the Boss can handle up to 40 pound test.
Review: One of only two “high-end” catfish specialty rods still on the market. This rod is a very nice option for medium to large rivers. The two smaller options are great for channel cats and smaller blues, the two larger options can pull even the biggest flatties out of the timber. This particular rod will cost you more than anything currently available, but the saying still holds true, “You get what you pay for.”
(Retail Price: $27-$35) Is Distributed in four spinning and four casting options. Each rod is constructed of super tough E-Glass, exclusive blank design can be light activated to glow continuously for great night bite detection. The rod uses 3 AAA batteries in the handle for about 40 hours of use, and is designed with a high-quality cork handle. Depending on the model, the glowstick can handle line up to 30 pound test.
Review: This rod was designed with the catfish angler in mind. Because of the possibility of a bright rod for 40 hours, this makes it a quality option for any angler who is predominately targeting Mr. Whiskers after hours. The rod action itself is very good and Berkley has provided enough size options for all different types of situations.
Berkley Big Game
-REVIEW COMING SOON-
Berkley Series One (Discontinued)
(Retail Price: $120) Was distributed in only one seven foot casting option. It is equipped with an exclusive titanium SS304 guide system. (20 times tougher than ceramic) This lightweight, heavy action graphite blank is sensitive enough to feel the lightest bights, but powerful enough to bring the big ones in. Entirely brown blank and wraps, cork handle, with a custom reel seat. The Series One handles up to 80 pound test and 16 ounce weights.
Review: This option is a beef stick in the truest sense of the word. It will perform a lot like the Bass Pro Cat Maxx and the Zebco Quantum Big Cat, and has the durability you have come to expect from Berkley. It was never directly intended for catfish use, but could definitely handle the rigors that come with it.
Cabelas King Kat
(Retail Price: $20) Is distributed in five spinning and three casting options. Each rod is made up of ultra-tough E-Glass, bright tip for night-time bite, rugged double foot ceramic guides. The bottom half of the rod is designed with EVA foam grip handles and stainless steel hoods on the reel seats. All options come in two piece and depending on model can handle up to 30 pound test.
Review: An overall solid option for small rivers. The rod itself is more than affordable and comes equipped with the Cabelas name. It is the type of rod that can be thrown in the back of the pickup before a typical trip down to the river, because it is not going to break you to replace it. A good starter rod for the young catfish angler.
Cabelas King Kat Pro (Discontinued)
(Retail Price: $40) Was distributed in three spinning and two casting options. The Pros are constructed of solid E-Glass which is near unbreakable. They are designed with Portuguese cork handles, stainless steel reel seats, and Hardloy guides. They have one more guide than the regular King Kat, which provides better control and strength absorption. Options come in one and two piece, and depending on the model can handle up to 30 pound test.
Review: Many considered the King Kat Pro a “high-end” option even though it didn’t fall into that price range, but that is one of the things that made it special. You didn’t need to spend a ton to get a great looking-performance rod. Obviously it wasn’t cheap enough, because Cabelas has chosen to remove them completely from all outlets. This is a big blow to catfish anglers, as the pro had quickly become possibly the most popular catfish rod available among tournament anglers. You can still find these rods, but you should act quick they will not last long!
Cabelas Phil King Signature Series (Discontinued)
(Retail Price: $45) Was distributed in two casting options. Catfish Tournament legend Phil King designed these signature rods specifically for drift fishing. These rods boast high-grade graphite construction for increased sensitivity and sharp hooksets. They too have the high quality cork handle, but provide a down-locking foregrip reel seat. They also include a signature on the base of the rod, from the legend himself, Phil King.
Review: The only catfish rod ever designed solely for drift fishing. The rod is very well put together and catches the eye. The sensitivity is extremely impressive. It’s not as big of a loss compared to the Pro, but it is still a shame to see this rod go. Once again, these still can be had, but you better hurry!
(Retail Price: $20) Is distributed in seven casting and four spinning options. These rods are constructed of E-Glass fiberglass to provide the angler with optimum flex and strength. Cabelas has recently updated these with light-weight graphite reel seats, rugged stainless steel guides, with stainless steel rings and hook keepers. All of the rod options are two piece with the exception of the six foot models, and come in both EVA foam handles and cork handles. Depending on the model, they can handle up to 30 pound test and 2 ounce baits.
Review: This rod is not necessarily designed for the sole purpose of catfishing, but it provides you with everything you need in a small river rod. It is somewhat comparable to both the King Kat Pro and the HT Enterprises Ol’ Whiskers Pro, which are no longer available. However, the handle on the E-Glass is a tad bit undersized.
Cabelas Whupin’ Stick
(Retail Price: $20-$25) Is distributed in eleven spinning and seven casting options. The Whupin’ stick is fiberglass designed with a graphite twist locking reel seat, cork handle, and stainless steel guide frames. Made up of red, white, and blue it will definitely get you noticed.
Review: Once again this is a rod that is not catfish specific, but provides the tools that are needed to land big cats. It easily provides you with the most options out of every cat rod on the market, because there are currently eighteen different types of lengths and sizes. There seems to be a slight problem with the cork coming apart above the reel seat, this has typically been caused by over-tightening the reel seat. It is just another option for the beginner.
HT Enterprises Ol’ Whiskers
(Retail Price: $12-$19) Is distributed in three casting and five spinning options. These great looking rods have extra long foam handles, strong ceramic guides, sure-loc reel seats, and are all white with glow- in- the- dark tips. What used to be yellow for the glow in the dark color is now in orange, and is really brightening things up. All options come in two piece with the exception of the 6'6". Depending on the model, they can handle up to 30 pound test.
Review: HT Enterprises was the first company to put a name on the rod synonymous with catfishing. They have continued to produce the most affordable catfish rod on the market, but at the same time keep putting out a quality product. This rod is an excellent option for smaller rivers and channel cats for the table. You simply can’t go wrong for the price and the looks.
HT Enterprises Ol’ Whiskers Pro (Discontinued)
(Retail Price: $25-$27) Was distributed in three spinning and two casting options. The Pro is made up of premium tough E-Glass, super-strong chrome guides, premium cork handle, and a 6" glow tip. All rods are brown in color, have shur-loc reel seats, and triggers on the casting models. They were designed by pro Cat angler - Dave Schutt. Depending on the model, they can handle up to 25 pound test.
Review: One of Montana Cats favorite rods of all-time. The yellow tip on a brown rod, gives it a bit of a rustic look. The action from the tip to the base of the rod is outstanding. You flat out can’t beat the durability of this rod. It was discontinued prior to 2002, after only a few short years on the market. It was a shame to see it go, and they are virtually impossible to find.
Eagle Claw Cat Claw
(Retail Price: $13-$23) Is distributed in five spinning and two casting options. The Claw is designed with ultra strong E-Glass, heavy duty ceramic guides, and comfortable EVA foam grips. The rod comes equipped with a fluorescent tip for night time bite detection, and is white with black wraps. Depending on the model, the rod can handle up to 40 pound test, and is one of the few catfish options available in 12'.
Review: The claw is an affordable catfish rod made by a great company. Known mainly for their catfish hook selection, Eagle Claw is trying to aid to the catfish crowd. The rod is very similar to an HT Enterprises Ol’ Whiskers, and the 12' rod option allows for maximum casting distance.
Eagle Claw Catfish
(Retail Price: $23-$29) Is distributed in two spinning options and they must be purchased as a combo. The rod itself is a fiberglass blank, has ceramic guides, and EVA foam handles. When you purchase the combo, all reels will come spooled in right or left hand retrieve. The bigger option can handle up 25 pound test, and both rod options are two piece.
Review: This rod is not built as well as the Claw, they are substituting fiberglass for E-Glass. If it was sold separately it would be in the $10 range. However, because it comes as a combo, it can be useful as a beginner for a angler who doesn’t know how to match the right reel to the right rod.
Eagle Claw Water Eagle
(Retail Price: $13-$25) Is distributed in five spinning and two casting options. It is a graphite composite rod with a durable lightweight graphite reel seat, EVA foam grip, cork handle, and ceramic guides. All selections come in yellow with blue splashing. Depending on the model, the Water Eagle can handle up to 45 pound test.
Review: The Water Eagle is another rod on this list that isn’t necessarily catfish specific. However, it can handle big fish in some tough situations so it cracks our list. The rod is different in one way from all others, it provides a foam grip for comfort, but also has the cork grip for overall looks and stability. It might be the best Eagle Claw option for large rivers.
Shakespeare Ugly Cat
(Retail Price: $34-$36) Is distributed in two casting and two spinning options. Each option is built with a graphite inner-core and an outer layer of E-Glass, quick taper clear tip, EVA foam handle, a graphite twist reel seat, and aluminum oxide glow-in-the-dark guide inserts. Each rod is white with black/white wraps, and features a trigger on the casting models. Depending on the model, the Ugly Cat can handle up to 30 pound test.
Review: A plain-looking rod with potential. It is a decent option for small to mid-size rivers. The Ugly Stick is a name synonymous with toughness, so you can’t go wrong with its durability. It features the same type of action and rod arc you have come to expect from this company.
Shakespeare Big Cat (Discontinued)
(Retail Price: $43) Was distributed in only one casting and one spinning option. A step-up from the Ugly Cat it features an extra heavy blank through the handle construction, quick taper clear tip, EVA foam grip, and graphite Fuji reel seat. Both options include Fuji stainless steel guides with aluminum oxide glow-in-the-dark inserts and are both white rods with black/yellow wraps. Depending on the model you choose, they can handle up to 30 pound test.
Review: This was another case of a name brand cutting out the higher priced catfish option. In this case however, there is not an incredible difference between the Big Cat and the Ugly Cat. If you are an ugly stick type guy you can still get what you want with the other rod options available.
Shakespeare Ugly Stick “Tiger”
(Retail Price: $58) Is distributed in two casting and two spinning options. The two smaller options are new to the market this spring. The “Tiger” is constructed with graphite Fuji reel seats, heavy duty stainless steel guides and tops. It features an unbelievable five year warranty upon purchase, which speaks for the companies confidence in its durability. Depending on the model, these rods can handle up to 50 pound test and baits up to 6 ounces.
Review: The “Tiger” has been around a long time and is still popular today. It may even be gaining momentum, as there were two more options added this spring. It is a great live bait rod for large catfish. If you can handle the price, it will be a solid rod.
Shakespeare Big Water
(Retail Price: $46-$74) Is distributed in three casting and three spinning options. This rod is constructed of a heavy blank thru the handle construction, quick taper clear tip, EVA foam grip handle, graphite Fuji reel seat, Fuji stainless steel guides with aluminum oxide inserts. Rods are all black with black/yellow wraps. The 7 casting option offers a trigger. Depending on the model, the Big Water can handle up to 40 pound test and up to 24 ounce baits.
Review: The Big Water rod is somewhat of a salt water option. It can handle the biggest cats that you will run into across the country. If you are targeting monster Blues or pulling some good-sized Flatheads from the brush piles, this rod can help you. It is one of the more-expensive rods out there, but it might be one of your best options for a “beef” stick.
(Retail Price: $28) Is available only in one casting and one spinning option. This rod is designed with durable E-Glass, ceramic double footed guides, and stainless steel rod tip. Both models are Black with brown and gold wraps and a premium cork handle. The models are both7'6" models and can handle up to 40 pound test.
Review: Montana Cats has never purchased or used a rod from Wildcat. However, judging from what we have read and the pictures available this looks like a solid option. The rod itself looks much like a King Kat Pro which can’t be a bad thing. Cork handle provides stability and the 7'6" model is a very popular and universal size.
(Retail Price: $14-$18) Is available in three spinning options. The Catmaster is the low-end rod on the Wildcat line. It is constructed of graphite composite design, stainless steel reel seat, EVA foam handle, hook keeper, ceramic guides and is a dark red rod with silver splash. Depending on the model, the Catmaster can handle up to 30 pound test.
Review: It is a step back from the other three options that Wildcat provides, but it is the most affordable. With only five guides it might lack the backbone that a serious catfish angler loves to have. The hook keeper is a nice option when your running and gunning. I like the looks of the rod with the red and silver, but I wouldn’t call it a top cattin’ rod.
Wildcat King Kat Supreme
(Retail Price: $28-$30) Is available in two spinning and two casting options. The supreme is made up of a graphite composite, ceramic guides, quality cork handle for extra grip and comfort. Each model has flat black finish with dark maroon wraps. The rods are only made in 9' and 10' options, and come equipped with an extra long cork handle for added power and leverage. Depending on the model, they can handle up to 40 pound test.
Review: Because they only come in nine and ten foot options, they are high on my list for the shore angler. Typically a shore angler has to cast great distances to locate cats and these rods will provide you with that opportunity. I like the extra long cork handle for battling big brutes. The Supreme looks a lot like the Troph-E-Cat model, only it is designed with graphite.
Wildcat River Cat
(Retail Price: $24) Is only available in an eleven foot casting option. The rod is a two piece and is designed with graphite composite, EVA foam handle, and is completely yellow with black wraps. It does not have a trigger, but has 9 guides and can handle up to 30 pound test and baits up to 5 ounces.
Review: Because there is only one option available this is clearly a specialist rod. This is another rod in the Wildcat line that can be used to cast great distances and fight large fish. The handle is impressive, made up of three different parts and a part of the rod actually shows through on the base of the handle. If you are looking for Euro-style rod this is a viable option.
Quantum Bill Dance Catfish
(Retail Price: $40) The rod is only available in one spinning option and has to be purchased as a combo. It is a 7 foot medium-heavy, 2-piece graphite composite, with non-slip EVA foam grip. The rod would be in the $15-$20 range if it could be purchased rod only. However, it comes with a 3.4:1 gear ratio reel for cranking power. The Bill Dance can handle up to 40 pound test and 4 ounce baits.
Review: I would like to see the Bill Dance series of rods become available in just the rods. This rod is similar to the next one I will discuss and is aimed towards the beginning angler. It is mainly for small river and pond catfish. I cannot speak for its durability, because I have never fished with this particular model.
Quantum Bill Dance Pond Catfish
(Retail Price: $50) This rod is only available in one casting option and must be purchased as combo. The pond version is a 7 foot medium heavy one-piece, it is made up of a durable graphite core with fiberglass outer layer for strength. They have an EVA foam handle and come with a 5.5:1 gear ratio reel. The rod would be in the $25-$30 range if sold separately. The pond version can handle up to 20 pound test and 1 ounce baits.
Review: The Pond Version of the Bill Dance series is the lightest of the three. It has great potential as a small river rod. Basspro.com users give this rod a rating of six out of six. It has the Bill Dance signature on the base of the rod, which can be a plus to some. One-piece seven foot rods can sometimes be difficult to haul around but has its benefits.
Quantum Bill Dance River Catfish.
(Retail Price: $60) This rod is only available in one casting option and must be purchased as a combo. The premium rod of the Bill Dance collection is a 7 foot medium heavy with ultra tough E-Glass, heavy duty guides, and comfortable EVA foam grip handle. It comes equipped with a 4.2:1 baitcast reel for cranking in the big ones. It can handle up to 50 pound test and five ounce weights.
Review: This is the best rod out of the three Bill Dance cat rods. It can handle some good sized fish in medium to large rivers. Because it only comes in a combo it might cost more than you would like, and you might not like the way the reel works with the rod, which could end up costing you even more in the long run. It will be interesting to see if Bass Pro will expand their line of these rods, and give us more sizes to choose from .
Zebco Quantum Big Cat
(Retail Price: $38) This rod is distributed in two casting and two spinning options. They are made up of thick-walled E-Glass, large stainless steel reel seat for larger reels, and aluminum oxide guides. They also have a hardened chrome-plated tip to prevent damage and a natural cork grip for comfort and easy cleaning. The big Cat can handle up to 60 pound test.
Review: The Quantum Big Cat has been around for quite some time now. It might just be one of the finest options for larger cats still available. It has always had the look of a “high end” rod and the performance might not be far behind either. I recommend this rod to night-time flathead anglers that need a stick with some backbone.
Zebco Catfish Stik
-REVIEW COMING SOON-
-REVIEW COMING SOON-
Bass Pro Cat Maxx
(Retail Price: $50-$60) This rod is distributed in seven casting and four spinning options. This exclusive Bass Pr Shops series was developed for those who chase the true giants. These rods are big, beefy, and heavy-duty and have the muscle to haul the biggest Blues and Flatties out of the snaggy lairs. Each rod is designed with ultra tough E-Glass, double footed guides, Fuji tip tops, and durable cork handles for a tight non-slipping grip. Depending on the model, the rod can handle up to 40 pound test and baits up to 8 ounces.
Review: The Cat Maxx is one of only two “high-end” rods available on the market today. With this rod, you get a stick that is truly powerful and is a top option for larger fish and larger bodies of water. You get durability that is top-shelf when you deal with Bass Pro Shops and this option will not be any different.
American Premier Catfish Nite Stick Pro Series
(Retail Price: $33-$42) This rod is available in five casting and one spinning option. The two smaller casting options provide you with a trigger. The Pro series is a white graphite composite blank, blank-through handle construction, stainless steel guides with ceramic inserts and black wraps. They also have a graphite reel seat with stainless steel hoods, cork handle, and a fluorescent glow tip. Depending on model, they can handle up to 40 pound test.
Review: This is American Premiers top option for the catfish angler. I like the fact that this rod provides an adequate amount of guides, which in turn should make it a stable powerful rod. Montana Cats has never purchased or fished with an American Premier but it looks like a rod that can be put to the test.
American Premier Nite Stick
(Retail Price: $15-$29) This rod is available in four casting and four spinning options. The Nite Stik is made up of strong E-Glass and graphite composite, stainless steel guides with ceramic inserts, the rod provides you with a fluorescent tip for night time bight detection, a nylon reel seat, and is entirely white with black/gold wraps. Depending on the model, it can handle up to 40 pound test.
Review: This rod is intended to be scaled back from their Pro version. However it might be just as solid. You lose the cork handle by stepping down in price, but you gain a rod that is constructed of E-Glass and not entirely graphite. This can be a positive for a lot of anglers like myself. At the same time, you still have the added guides to spread the power load out.
Walker Big Cat (Discontinued)
-REVIEW COMING SOON-
(Retail Price: $35) This rod is available in only one 7 foot spinning option and must be purchased as a combo. It comes with a heavy duty 2 ball bearing reel, it is a medium-heavy rod with a durable EVA foam handle, 7 guides help distribute the weight of a medium-sized cat. The rod is entirely white and can handle up to 14 pound test and baits up to 1 ounce.
Review: This is a beginner rod like many other that have recently hit the shelves. It is an option that can be used for farm pond cats or small rivers. You are not going to be horsing any monsters with this combo, so hold on to your reel handle.
Danny King Signature Series
(Retail Price: $40) This rod is available in only one casting option. The Danny King rod just recently hit the market in 2006, it is a 7 foot one-piece constructed of E-Glass. It is highly visible during the day or night, and is entirely yellow and the last foot of rod glows in the dark. The rod features an amazing 8 guides for better control, and features the Danny King emblem on the base of the rod.
Review: Because this is a brand new rod to the market it is tough to construct a review on it with so little feed back available. Judging by the looks and the design it might be sticking around for awhile and hopefully Danny King will be able to offer a larger line of rods in the future. The Seven foot medium-heavy is a universal size that is useful in many instances.
Johnson Catfish Pro (Discontinued)
(Retail Price: $34) Was distributed in only one six foot casting option, and could only be purchased as a combo. The reel has an oscillating spool design with star drag. The rod features a double power handle with right/left hand retrieve. Each combo comes spooled with 20 pound monofilament, and can handle up to 150 yards of it.
Review: The Johnson Catfish Pro was only available for a few short years and is very similar to the Mitchell Catfish Combo that was just recently reviewed on this page. Another option for the young beginning angler that is battling smaller cats in very little structure.
South Bend Catfish Special
(Retail Price: $20-$35) Is distributed in seven medium-heavy versions, four casting and three spinning. All of these rods range from 6 ½ feet to 10 feet and handle baits up to 4 ounces. all are two piece rods and feature a chartreuse glow tip for night time bight detection. The rod blanks are entirely white, and feature a EVA foam handle.
Review: The South Bend series of rods have stood the test of time when it comes to catfish tackle. This rod along with the Original Ol’ Whiskers, brought catfishing rod specialization to light. Both rods were also the first to include the glow tip. This option continues to be a solid choice for small to medium size rivers. You simply don’t hear a whole lot of negative about this line of rods. Very affordable on top of all that.
Silstar Catfish Master
(Retail Price: $35) Is available in only one medium-heavy seven foot casting option. It is designed with a graphite core for sensitivity, and a fiberglass outer shell for superior strength. With the solid glass tip, these rods are fairly tough, and come equipped with a fluorescent yellow glow tip. They are predominately white with a sleek paint job.
Review: Found mainly on EBAY, this is an affordable option for anglers of all ages. It is available in that 7'6" that makes it useful for a lot of catfish outings. Not a whole lot is known about Silstar rods, but judging by there reputation for quality fishing reels it is probably well built and dependable.
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