Fishing Reviews

Best Catfish Reels

Are you an angler looking to land a few catfish on your next trip? Like most species, it is ideal to have the right fishing equipment to ensure the overall safety and efficiency of catching a fish. Having the right equipment can make you capture so much easier. Knowing what features are important to you and having the right catfish reel can help you save a lot of money instead of wasting it on reels that don’t get the job done. 

There are three types of fishing reels for catfish, which are the spin-cast reels, spinning reels, and bait cast reels. The spin cast reels are the most basic fishing reel and work okay for targeting smaller fish such as channel catfish. Since it has a limited line capacity, it won’t work the best for the heaving line for bigger fish. The spinning reels worked better for catfish and made to handle heavier weight for the fishing line and reeling in fish, as well as it has an excellent drag system. When purchasing a catfish reel, you want to look for a functional line capacity, robust braking systems, the spool tension, the gear ratio, bait clicks, bearings in the fishing reel, and the power handles. 

In this review, we’ll share the best catfish reels in the market so that you can enjoy your next fishing trip. 

ImageNameLatest Price
product image 1. KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel the Perfect Conventional Reel for Catfish Amazon
product image 2. Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Catfish Special Round Baitcast Fishing Reel Amazon
product image 3. Penn 1481260 Spinfisher VI Spinning Saltwater Reel Amazon
product image 4. KastKing Summer and Centron Spinning Reels Amazon
product image 5. Daiwa Bg Spinning Reel Amazon
product image 6. Abu Garcia Pro Max Low Profile Baitcasting Fishing Reel Amazon
product image 7. PENN Pursuit III Spinning Fishing Reel Amazon
product image 8. PENN Slammer III Spinning Amazon

Best Catfish Reels

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1. KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel the Perfect Conventional Reel for Catfish

Product Details

The KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel comes in 8 different variations: the right-rover 40, right-rover 50, right-rover 60, left-rover 40, left-rover 50, left-rover 60, left-rover 70, and left-rover 90. The KastKing Rover reel is reinforced with aluminum side plates, CNC machined spools and stainless steel shaft. It has an oversized handle equipped with a 3.6:1 gear ratio for weight-saving design and a non-slip grip for better control. The reel is made with shielded stainless steel with ball bearings of 6+1 BBs for smooth operation. Lastly, Rover features a clicker line out alarm and a reliable centrifugal braking system that delivers even and constant pressure on every single cast.

Pros

  • Reliable under pression and powerful
  • Smooth casting and easy to use
  • Sturdy and heavy
  • Spool release works well
  • Affordable pricing


Cons

  • Occasional birds nest and backlash
  • Overtime performance may diminnish
KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel the Perfect Conventional Reel for Catfish

Our Take

KastKing Rover Round baitcasting reel is a fantastic reel for those who want to catch high-quality catfish. Inside the box is a schematic and parts list to ensure proper education when it comes to care and replacement. With regards to the actual product itself, it is heavier than I expect, yet very sturdy. Size-wise, it is bigger than the Abu Garcia Ambassadeur 6500, but not as large or heavy as a 7000. The line spool is stable with a beautiful gold color finish.

Since the Kastking Rover Round is larger than the Abu 6500 in terms of diameter, I thought it would hold more line, but I was wrong. The spool release button overhangs more on the KastKing. Hence, attempting to fill the spool up to its max results in the line hitting the spool release button. Both reels hold about 240 to 250 yards of 15lb Berkley Big Game Monofilament Line. This is a smooth and powerful reel with an incredibly low price.

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2. Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Catfish Special Round Baitcast Fishing Reel

Product Details

The Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Catfish special round baitcasting fishing reel comes in two variations: the C3-6500 and the C3-7000. This round baitcasting reel is designed explicitly for catfish fishing and engineered for smoothness while being equipped with three stainless ball bearings and one roller bearing. The reel contains a carbon matrix drag system proving a very smooth and consistent drag. The brake system is a 6-pin centrifugal brake for consistency and precise casting. The handles are for bent cranking and power knob included for exception torque for hard-pulling fish.

Pros

  • The handle is firm and grips well
  • Drag is fantastic and strong
  • Unbeatable pricing
  • Clicker works well
  • Smooth casting


Cons

  • Frame is thin
  • Clutch feels a bit mushy
Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Catfish Special Round Baitcast Fishing Reel

Our Take

New in box, excellent feel with no clattering noises or shaking when you move it around. Very long and smooth casts. I paired it with a Rippin Lips rod, and it works great. I'd suggest a 7ft or more if you're bank fishing. Everything about it is smooth, though -- the drag, the cast, the reeling. It's a reliable and sturdy reel.

I have owned several competitive reels and Catfish Special that outperforms all the equivalent competitive brands. The excellent drag system is the workhorse of the catfishing reels. The only real issue I have is the clicker switch; it's sticky and, at times, stubborn to engage. However, I encountered no problems handling some stubborn catfish.

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3. Penn 1481260 Spinfisher VI Spinning Saltwater Reel

Product Details

Penn 1481260 Spinfisher Spinning Saltwater Reel offers 18 different variations to choose from. It is made from IPx5 sealed body and spool design with CNC gear technology and full-body metal. For the spinning reel 2500, the monoline capacity yard to pounds is 255/6, 175/8, 140/10. The braid line capacity is 240/10, 220/15,160/20. The gear ratio is 6.2:1. The bearing count is 6. The inches per turn is 33” or 84 cm. The max drag is 15 lbs and 6.8kg. The saltwater fish specials that this reel is ideal for flounder, sea bass, redfish, stripers, blues, and sea trout. For freshwater fish, this reel is perfect for panfish, trout, bass, catfish, walleye, salmon, catfish, stripers, pike, and musky.

Pros

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Strong drag
  • Consistent casting
  • Incredible pricing


Cons

  • Can be a little heavy
  • The handle can be a little squeaky
Penn 1481260 Spinfisher VI Spinning Saltwater Reel

Our Take

This is a reel with an excellent seal against water or/and sand with outstanding drag power. It feels like a solid reel, especially for a long cast reel. Other long casts like the Shimano Ultegras feel super delicate. What makes this really stand out from others is that this reel was the all-metal body and the IPX5 rating. All of my fishing is done wading in the bays along the gulf coast, and sometimes I'll get waist-deep or more. It's nice to know that the occasional dunk in the saltwater won't ruin my reel. I've caught slot Redfish, Spotted Sea Trout, and Flounder on this Spinfisher VI 2500 reel. Plenty of drag and line capacity for just about everything you'll catch inshore or nearshore. One of the major selling points for me was the IPX5 rating. It doesn't take much salt water to start corroding parts, so keeping saltwater out and grease/oil in was a big selling point for anglers.

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4. KastKing Summer and Centron Spinning Reels

Product Details

The KastKing Summer and Centron spinning reels come in 9 variations: the Centron 2000, Centron 3000, Centron 4000, Centron 5000, Summer 500- Ultralight/Ice Fishing, Summer 2000, Summer 3000, Summer 4000, and Summer 5000. It has a narrow graphite frame design and is very compact. The drag system offers incredible stopping power of up to 17.5 pounds and has a hardened metal main shaft, perfect mesh drive gear, and precision machined pinion gear. The design handle is interchangeable for right and left-handed individuals. The weight ranges from 8.6 to 12 ounces depending on the variation you purchase. The max drag ranges from 17.6 pounds to 39.5 pounds. The gear ratio is 6.2:1. The ball bearing is 10+1. The inch per turn is 3.14 to 38. The line capacity is 6/310, 8/210, 10/180.

Pros

  • Casting is smooth
  • Lightweight
  • Excellent pricing
  • Powerful stoppage strength


Cons

  • Durability may be questionable
  • May be difficult to spool after a cast
KastKing Summer and Centron Spinning Reels

Our Take

This KastKating Summer and Centron spinning reels is a fantastic reel system for all anglers. Super quiet when reeling with no bail closing snap-back. It doesn't seem to twist the line like other spin-cast reels. Almost as smooth as the high-dollar brands. Feels expensive!

The only downside is that the crank handle is a little small for individuals with larger hands. Immediately opening the box and holding the reel in my hand, this was a winner. The 5000 has some good weight and makes sure you acquire the proper rod to offset and balance. This 5000 is a great snapper reel! It has a nice push-button break on the knob, allowing for appropriate storage.

The reel has a very smooth spinning action right out of the box. It's also easy to forward and reverse the switch that is accessible on the front base of the reel. The drag is also very stable and smooth, and not wobbly like some other poorly made reels. Overall, it's a well-constructed reel, and likely why the few extra ounces in weight. $30 is a steal compared to the more expensive brands, and you are getting equal or better quality with this KastKing.

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5. Daiwa Bg Spinning Reel

Product Details

The Daiwa Bg spinning reel comes in multiple sizes, including the Bg Spin 6+1, 5.6:1, 14.-38.5, 14.3-39.9, 1500, 2500, 4500, 5000, and 6500. The Digigear system is an oversized black anodized machined aluminum housing cover. The handle is a screw-in handle with an air rotor and also has an aluminum ABS spool. The inch per handle is 37.4 inches; the bearing is 6BB+1RB, the gear ratio is 5.1:1, and the max drag stoppage is 15.4 pounds. The line capacity is 8/240, 10/200, 12/170. The Braid line is 15/280, 20/240, and 30/190.

Pros

  • Casting is smooth and well made
  • Has a lot of power
  • Handles bigger species
  • Works well in saltwater and freshwater
  • Excellent price


Cons

  • Autobail could be better
  • A little heavy
Daiwa Bg Spinning Reel

Our Take

This is an outstanding reel; it has a rubber gasket around the spool to make it easy to spool braid without any hassle or need for a monofilament backing. The handle just screws on, it seemed quite shady to me, but it hasn't loosened or threatened to come off yet, so I'm pleased so far. The BG 3000 is a small reel, the action is excellent and smooth, and with practice, you can make it reel without even using the handle. It's built like a tank, and it is easy to adjust the drag. If you combine a 7-foot ugly stick with 20lbs test green spider wire, you will have a very versatile fishing toolbox: enormous cranking power and stunning looks. Compared to a UK carping reel, this thing is leagues above.

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6. Abu Garcia Pro Max Low Profile Baitcasting Fishing Reel

Product Details

Abu Garcia Pro Max Low Profile Baitcasting Fishing Reel has three different variations, such as the Pmax3, Pmax3-c, and the Pmax3-l. It is made from one piece graphite frame and graphite side plates with seven stainless steel bearings + 1 roller bearing. The drag system is a sturdy disk with a MagTrax brag system and dura gear brass gear. The handles are high-density EVA handles along with aluminum machined double anodized. The product dimensions are 5.5x5.5x2.4 inches and weigh 7.4 ounces.

Pros

  • Sturdy and well made
  • Drag is smooth and clicks precisely
  • 7:1 gear ratio picks up slack on top waters and jerk baits quickly
  • Great price


Cons

  • Slightly noisy
  • Could be smoother cranking
  • Could be smother retrieve
Abu Garcia Pro Max Low Profile Baitcasting Fishing Reel

Our Take

I would recommend this reel to anyone. It is not a top-of-the-line reel that a pro would use. But I think it is all the reel most people need. I would save the money and buy more bait. Abu Garcia feels very sturdy and well-made. Physically a solid reel. No sign of loosening, grinding, or any other negative attributes after several months of frequent use. This reel performs suitably for a bass fishing enthusiast, serious enough to fish at least weekly. For new anglers, it is reasonably easy to learn. The 7:1 gear ratio picks up slack on top waters and jerk baits quickly. For a beginner looking for more bearings and a higher gear ratio, or a permanent spot in the toolbox of a serious fishing enthusiast.

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7. PENN Pursuit III Spinning Fishing Reel

Product Details

The Penn Pursuit III, spinning fishing reel, offers six variations, including 2500, 3000, 4000, 5000, 6000, 8000, It has an HT 100 carbon fiber drag washers with a lightweight and corrosion-resistant graphite body as well as a 4+1 stainless steel bearing system.

Pros

  • Excellent value
  • Easy to clean
  • Durable and high-end drag
  • Easy to assemble and dissemble


Cons

  • Makes some intermingling noises for the 2500 variation
PENN Pursuit III Spinning Fishing Reel

Our Take

The Pro Max reel weighs in at 7.3 ounces, making it easy to fish all day. This is not as light as some of my other reels; however, the low profile design makes it feel smaller than it is. The 7+1 stainless steel ball-bearing system provides a consistently smooth retrieve. The Pro Max reel does not have an abundance of features. Boasting a stout 18lb max drag – it’s never slipped on any of my hooksets. Though there is a tiny bit of side-to-side play in the handle, the Pro Max has always allowed me to winch fish through the grass and brush. This reel is available in the left or right hand 7.1:1 gear ratio. The Abu Garcia Pro Max Low Profile Reel doesn’t have an array of features. However, this reel provides durability, ease of use, and reliability. It’s a reel with which a novice angler can become proficient in a short amount of time.

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8. PENN Slammer III Spinning

Product Details

The Penn Slammer III spinning reel comes in 10 variations, including the 10500, 3500, 4500, 5500, 6500, 6500hs, 7500, 8500, 8500hs and 9500. The reel has a full metal body with a side plate and rotor, including CNC gear technology with an IP6 sealed body and spool design. The drag system is a dura-drag with a sealed slammer. The bearing system is a 6+1 stainless steel. Depending on the variation, the max drag is 30 to 60 pounds. The line capacity is 360/6. And the gear ratio is 6.2:1.

Pros

  • Well built including all machined brass gearing
  • Well sealed
  • Smooth drag and action
  • Excellent value


Cons

  • Braided line isn’t as smooth
  • A little heavy affecting stability
PENN Slammer III Spinning

Our Take

Overall, the Penn Slammer III reel is a well made and a great reel as advertised and well built, including all machined brass gearing. The reel is well sealed - IPX6 rated. I like that there is a 3rd party verification and rating system used here. The product has a smooth drag. It's also got a smooth action and fast retrieval but not as good when put next to Daiwa. Those are ridiculously smooth. The Slammer feels slightly "Geary" next to those. But, not enough to complain about it. The only issue is the minimum drag. You can remove the drag cap and still not go very low. The pull does feel quite light. For individuals looking to fish small fish, this won't be a problem, and the Penn Slammer III would work for you.

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Carla Arbuckle

Carla is a staff writer for Fishing.org and Shooting.org. She is an avid outdoors enthusiast and photographer. She can be found most weekends fishing and exploring the wilderness.