Channel catfish, the most abundant of the species, is matched by a high demand that is the host of anglers of all experience levels. Tasty and impressive fighters, choosing a reel to tackle channel catfish must be gotten right the first time and every time after that.
The ideal fishing reel for channel catfish should come with impressive drag, quick-retrieve, should be durable, and come with an impressive line capacity.
Best Fishing Reels for Channel Catfish
To save you the shopping hassle, we have compiled a list of fishing reels for channel catfish that check all these boxes and stand above others with superior functionality.
The KastKing baitcasting reel is the ideal reel setup for all kinds of catfish, and the Rover60 model is a perfect blend of ball bearings and max drag capacity to bag that channel cat. The Rover reel has an elegant full-metal anodized aluminum body, side plate and spool, with stainless steel inner components to withstand corrosion.
- 6+1 stainless steel and brass ball bearings and worm shaft.
- 3:1 gear ratio with 20lbs max drag.
- Smooth carbon fiber drag system.
Daiwa’s next-generation BG saltwater spinning reel is light, ergonomic, and performance-driven. The body is fortified with CNC-machined aluminum that is scratch and corrosion resistant, 6 stainless steel ball bearings plus an infinite anti-reverse system, aluminum ABS spool, and a lighter air rotor than traditional rotor systems.
- Corrosion-resistant black anodized Al housing.
- 6:1 gear ratio with 17.6 lbs max drag.
- Waterproof drag system.
The Cadence CB6 is a high gear ratio baitcasting reel with sturdy and durable construction. At 6.9 ounces, it is lightweight, with a full aluminum spool, main gear, and crankshaft. The 8 ball bearings are stainless steel and link to a carbon fiber drag system. The total package is considerably lighter with aluminum components 20% stronger than brass.
- Durable double-shielded ball bearings.
- Full aluminum drive gear and crankshaft.
- 6:1 gear ratio with 20lbs max drag.
The Tournament MP baitcasting reel from Lew’s is an elegant device equipped with high-end specs for optimal performance. With Lew’s signature P2 Super Pinion, alignment accuracy and stability are significantly boosted. Even better, the reel has a stainless steel double-shielded 10-bearing system, anodized aluminum gears and a lightweight combat grip trademark reel handle.
- Durable CNC-machined aluminum speed gears.
- 8:1 gear ratio with 20lbs drag power.
- Durable and lightweight.
If you’re looking for an all-round catfish baitcasting reel capable of taking the brunt of a cat attack, the Ambassadeur C3 from Abu Garcia fits the tab. It has a six-pin centrifugal brake and harmonized level wind system for uniform pressure, control, and easy retrieval, 3+1 stainless steel and roller bearings, and a carbon matrix drag system.
- 3:1 gear ratio with 15lbs max drag.
- Durable stainless-steel construction.
- Powerful extended crank knob.
Best Catfish Fishing Reels Buying Guide
With average weights around 28 lbs., the channel catfish is a worthy candidate for tasty, yet sport-worthy fish. And like with any other fishing niche, the right reel will give you the leverage to tire out and eventually reel in your catch without putting too much strain on your gear.
Having given you a rundown of the best fishing rods for channel catfish, we now take a look at some of the factors we considered before making our picks. With these, we reinforce your trust in these products and place you on a pedestal to make an informed choice that ticks with you.
Spinning and baitcasting reels are the most ideal for targeting channel catfish. Whether you value convenience or are just a newbie angler, a spinning reel is the ideal choice. For a more hands-on feel or if you want to target channel catfish on the higher end of the size spectrum.
Integral to every fishing reel for channel catfish is its line capacity. Measured as a length of a rated line, it plays a direct role in how much allowance your target has to flee before you reel it in. The ideal fishing reel for channel fish should come with a decent to impressive line capacity, more so for anglers who bottom-fish the species.
Channel catfish can grow quite large and can put up a decent fight. Another important factor to consider is the drag. Instead of putting the strain on your arms and the reel’s crank, the drag allows the line to unspool under resistance as your catch tries to get away. This way it tires out quickly and is easily reeled in. The ideal reel for channel catfish should come with an adjustable drag that sits anywhere between 5-15 lbs.