Top 10 Best Catfish Reels in 2023: Compared, Rated and Reviewed

Finally, you have decided to try catfishing. Good for you – you’re likely to have exciting fishing experience. However, before hitting the water, you require the right fish rod, fishing reel, and other necessary pieces of fishing gear. Professional anglers will tell you that having a quality fishing reel improves your success in catfishing.

A quality fishing reel makes your fishing more accurate and precise by providing the oomph you need to cast the rod in the water.

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced angler, finding the best catfish reels in the market can be a challenging task. First, you must ensure you check for the specifications that meet your taste and preferences. And picking the wrong reel means a weird fishing experience that you will always regret. This comprehensive review and buying guide will help you analyze different products and choose what best suits your needs.

Best Catfish Reels

Catfish reels for 2023: A Comparison chart

A quality fishing reel has unique features for spool, drag system, gear ratio, and IPT that directly influence its efficiency. However, it can be challenging to compare these qualities at a glance. Here is a comparison chart for the top 10 catfish reels.

RankingNameBearing MaterialWeight
1KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting ReelStainless steel1 pounds
2GOMEXUS Power Knob CompatibleStainless steel1.1 pounds
3Ming Yang Black CL60 Baitcast Fishing Reel
4Shimano Tekota 700 Saltwater Fishing ReelStainless steel1.9 pounds
5Sougayilang Fishing ReelStainless steel0.7 pounds
6SHIMANO Tekota Line Counter Baitcast Fishing ReelStainless3.6 pounds
7KastKing Sharky III Spinning Fishing ReelStainless steel0.85 pounds
8Okuma Avenger Bait Feeder ReelStainless steel1.6 pounds 
9Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Fishing Reel1.4 pounds
10Sougayilang Fishing reels Round Baitcasting Reel0.9 pounds

1. KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reel

Well, talk about a powerful, smooth catfishing reel whose price could sweep you off your feet! If you’re looking for an affordable baitcasting reel that’s professionally made, this product from KastKing will perform excellently. Probably this is the primary reason these reels have become a favorite for an increasing number of anglers.

The reel features roust anodized aluminum alloy side plates as well as a spool, making it bulletproof. And such fishing reels are rare to find. The unit allows a maximum of 9 kgs load weight. That means it doesn’t snap off even when subjected to heavy load.


  • Made of rust-resistant materials
  • Durable
  • Easy to use
  • Associated with great flexibility
  • Offers the user more control


  • It is heavy
  • Lacks a level-wing guide

2. Zebco BX3 Big Cat XT Fishing Reel

Zebco’s fishing reel is on the lower end of the fishing reel price scale, and a more significant number of anglers are pleased with it. While it is a fairly basic model, a larger number of users praise its seamless casting and retrieval. Indeed, it is recommended for fishers who need extra length in the casts.

One of the aspects that make this catfish reel from Zebco stand out is its reliability. Sure, it is not a luxury fishing reel, but it provides consistent performance and is equipped with outstanding features. For instance, it features an outstanding bait clicker, made of high-quality aluminum, and has a synchronized adjustable level wind.

This fishing reel from Zebco is the ultimate choice for anglers of varying skill levels. Any catfisher who chooses bank fishing over a boat, this reel is an excellent option. It is associated with smooth long casts and easy to use even for beginners. Despite these excellent characteristics, this fishing reel has a large clucky design that’s somewhat fun to have in your hands.


  • It’s easy to use even for beginners
  • Features high-quality gears
  • Has a huge line capacity
  • Associated with smooth casting


  • The reel is very large and has clunky design
  • It is slightly noisy on retrieval

3. PENN Spinfisher V Spinning Reel

As the name suggests, this award-winning catfish reel (Best New Saltwater Reel of 2012) is a 5th generation of the spin fisher reel by PENN. The Spinfisher V, which weighs about 14.40, is a very reliable watertight spinning reel for fishing in saltwater or sandy environment. You have a choice between two single reel styles; the SSV4500, which is the regular and SSV4500LL, the live liner.

PENN designed the Spinfisher V Spinning Reel to make it waterproof by using a sealed drag system. Also, it has a very smooth drag in sizes available from about 3500 to 10,500. No matter the reel you chose, the frame specifications are similar for every class.

Further, the metal body and the heavy-duty aluminum ball wire make the Spinfisher durable. You don’t have to worry in case of an accidental dunk in the water, thanks to the protection of five sealed stainless steel ball-bearing system incorporated by PENN. Combine that with the techno-Balanced rotor and the infinite anti-reverse, and you have a reel that stands out as smooth with no back play.


  • The braking system is excellent
  • Smooth HT-100 drag system
  • Quality design
  • Waterproof
  • Durable


  • The gear is prone to wear and tear in case of frequent heavy use.
  • Very heavy
  • The waterproof is not entirely 100%

4. Ming Yang CL60 Baitcast Fishing Reel

As the name suggests, you can tell the Ming Yang CL60 Baitcast Fishing Reel is from China. If you are on a big catfish fever, then you couldn’t have made a better choice. The Ming Yang CL60 has a sturdy construction incorporating a 100-pound power pro braid on the spool. Also, the reel is suitable for catfishing in both salty and freshwater environment.

The Ming Yang CL60 Baitcast Fishing Reel is well designed to ensure you have the best catfishing experience. For a smooth operation, it features two ball bearings plus one roller ball bearing. The anodized aluminum side plate, which is corrosion resistant plus the one-touch anti-reverse bearing ensures that there is are no playbacks.

The aluminum makes the reel lightweight with a drag capacity of 16 lbs and 14 lbs being the line capacity, which is for a mono braid of 180 yards. The reel doesn’t click while winding if the clicker is turned off properly. The Ming Yang CL60 Baitcast Fishing Reel has an excellent retrieval process thanks to the elective on/off bait clicker and 4.2:1 gear ratio.


  • Quality material for sturdy construction
  • Lightweight reel
  • Less expensive
  • Durable


  • Considered small by some anglers.

5. Sougayilang Fishing Reel- Round Baitcast Reel

Are you an experienced or a novice angler looking for a highly efficient catfish reel? Sougayilang Baitcasting catfish reel has got you covered. This reel can be used for trolling, bottom-feeding and other fishing techniques hence making it a top-rated reel for fishing

It has a 22-pound carbon fiber drag system that is smooth and easy to use. To help you outlast the biggest and toughest catfish with an effortless retrieve, Sougayilang fishing reels has a high-quality stainless steel deep race ball bearings. You will have the best control of your reel as it has an easy access thumb bar spool and a non-slip grip.


  • Powerful and super smooth with its superior carbon fiber drag system, the Sougayilang fishing reel is strong and powerful.
  • Great service- this fishing reel comes with free service and lifetime support all you need is to purchase and enjoy the product with confidence.
  • Versatile- It is a perfect reel for strolling as it is perfect for both freshwater and saltwater with 2-pin centrifugal brake. It is also good for casting bottom fishing.


  • Can be noisy at times

6. SHIMANO Tekota Line Counter Baitcast Fishing Reel

The SHIMANO Tekota Line Counter Baitcast Fishing Reel is made in Malaysia and is one of the few best fishing reels for catfish. Described as a trollers dream reel, many anglers of both fresh and saltwater will appreciate the durability of the Shimano brand.

With the line counter feature, you can track how many times the lines have been cast off. The reel has a metal body that features the use of the latest techniques for beautiful and durable finishes. Also, the reel is made of stainless steel, and the ball-bearings are less corrosive, treated to last at least ten times than standard stainless steel.

To eliminate back play, Tekota Line Counter Baitcast has a super stopper that uses a one-way stainless steel roller bearing. The reel has a smooth drag performance thanks to the dartanium drag being used as the drag material.

Aluminum is an important material that makes the SHIMANO Tekota Line Counter Baitcast Fishing Reel stand out. From Aluminum Spool, Aluminum Braced Graphite Non-Handle Side Plate, Diecast Aluminum Frame as well as the Stamped Aluminum right side plate. That means the reel can be used comfortably in saline waters without the worry of corrosiveness.


  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Relatively affordable


  • Some anglers find it not smooth

7. KastKing Sharky III Fishing Reel

Do you want a fishing reel that can handle bigger fish without compromising the user experience? Here is one valuable product from KastKing you don’t want to miss. With its new design, the KastKing Sharky III catfish reel is now lighter and stronger.

The KastKing Sharky III is highly efficient as it is equipped with a three-disc carbon fiber drag, 10 plus 1 shielded stainless steel ball-bearings, manganese brass alloy gear, a durable aluminum spool, fiber-reinforced body, and other features intended to offer you outstanding user experience.


  • Anti-twist line roller- this will give you a less chance of snarls and tangles
  • Super smooth – you no longer need to use the backing line if you choose to use a braid fishing line with the unique shark fin braid aluminum spool, be guaranteed of a smooth-running product
  • K.I.S.S. – Sharky III has unique protection that is water resistance for its spool and rotor, and the spinning reels are sealed with KastKing intrusion shield system that helps keep water and dirt out.
  • NEXT-GEN- This spinning reels are built strong to land fish in both saltwater and freshwater. With a great look, Shark III is light in weight built with high-quality graphite.


  • The gears are likely to fail with continued use

8. Okuma Avenger Bait Feeder Reel

If you are a beginner in catfishing, then you should probably consider Okuma Avenger Bait Feeder Reel. Okuma ABF-90 is well designed and very durable when battling that catfish with mono or braided line. The functionality is simple and more comfortable to use compared to other complicated reels.

Okuma is from Japan and has been gaining popularity of late with many anglers. The main feature that buyers are in praise of is the bait feeding system, which facilitates disengagement of the spool as well as the free-running line and you don’t need to open the bail.

Also, the construction materials of the reels make it lightweight. From the graphite spool, side plates, and frame to reduce corrosion, to the stainless-steel root and the aluminum power handle. The corrosion-resistant materials make Okuma the ultimate saltwater fishing reel.

Okuma features a sturdy stainless gearing system that is self-lubricating. The reason many inexperienced anglers would find Okuma worth the purchase is the 6 stainless steel ball-bearings and a bait feeding system and this could spice up your fishing adventures. Not to mention the level wind guide system that helps anglers in making a precise cast in whichever direction you prefer.


  • Easy to use
  • Corrosive resistant
  • Lightweight
  • Very affordable
  • Durable


  • Designed for right-handed retrieval only

9. Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Fishing Reel (C3-7000)

The Abu Garcia Ambassadeur fishing reel weighs 17.8 oz with a gear ratio of 4:1:1. It is created with precision to facilitate seamless fishing all day long. The fishing reel features a 6-pin centrifugal brake, three ball bearings, a carbon matrix drag system, and an anti-reverse bearing for smooth retrieval. If you’re in search of a catfish reel with the power to fight resistant fish, Abu Garcia Ambassadeur fishing reel is the ultimate choice. It has a robust and low profile drag system to enable you to handle the big fish efficiently.


  • Powerful- Abu Garcia Ambassadeur reel offers an optimal balance hence makes it powerful
  • Affordable – with the amazing features this is an affordable product that is engineered for smoothness
  • Sturdy construction- with three stainless ball bearings and one roller bearing, Abu Garcia Ambassadeur reel will serve you for a long time. The 6-pin centrifugal brakes will ensure consistent pressure is applied for an exceptionally precise cast.


  • Noisy when in use

10. Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Catfish Fishing Reel

The Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Catfish Fishing Reel is made in Sweden, and the company has been there long enough and have a strong influence on the sportfishing community. The C3 7000 reel is an upgrade from the C3 reel series by Abu Garcia and is specially designed for catfishing.

For a smooth operation, the reel features three stainless steel bearings and one roller bearing made from DD400 material. Therefore, the reel is sturdy and rust-resistant and will be in operation for a long time. The fishing reel’s carbon drag system is robust to enable you to handle the big fish efficiently.

Additionally, the cranking handles and the power knob provide additional torque for hard pulling big catfish. The reel has a 6-pin centrifugal brake that offers proper stability and an anti-reverse bearing to eliminate playback and ensures there is smooth retrieval.

Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3 7000 Catfish Fishing Reel weighs about 1.6 pounds with a line capacity of; 17 lbs per 325 yards, 20 lbs per 270 yards, and 25 lbs per 230 yards which are impressive casting ranges. This is by far the most user-friendly baitcaster with plenty of capacity of heavy lines.


  • Sturdy construction
  • Very smooth
  • Catfish Special


  • Some anglers find the clicker flimsy
  • Power handle too big

A comprehensive buying guide 

Catfishing is not like any other type of long-distance fishing. You need a quality Catfish reel to make your fishing successful no matter the water conditions. Regardless of the fish type, you are looking forward to catching, whether small or large, you must ensure your fishing reel has the right rod and tackle.

If you are targeting a specific catfish species, like most bass anglers do, then you must customize your reel to make it appropriate for harvesting such fish species. If you want to have a successful catfishing experience, then you must ensure you tailor your reel, or you get one that is suitable for this type of fishing. Using the wrong fishing reels for catfishing will cost you a lot. Catfishing requires some unique technology and tools. Such tools include quality and custom made fishing reel.

If you are looking forward to catching the bigger cats in the water, then your reel set up must be appropriate. Avoid having heavy reels because they reduce your drag force or torque, which makes it challenging to pull out your catch when fishing.

Let us look at some more factors that you should look out for when landing a quality catfishing reel:

Line Alarm

Most anglers specializing in catfish prefer fishing reels with the best bait clicker or line alarm system. Most manufacturers engage some of the best rigs such as Santee rig and slip sinker rigs on catfish rigs to enhance their quality. This unique feature that manufactures add on the reels makes them more effective in catching even the most disturbing fish breeds.

The catfish will run alongside the baits without feeling any abnormal resistance from the reel. Also, the fishing reel does not scare away the fish, thereby increasing your harvest at the end of the day. When it comes to finding the right catfish reels, the Abu Garcia line of reels is the most preferred by most anglers. However, there are other unique varieties of catfish reels in the market with similar quality and specs as Abu Garcia. We will mention them later.

Retrieval ratio

Retrieval ratio and gear ratio are core features to look out for when selecting a fishing reel in the market. A fishing reel should have a higher gear ratio that will enhance its retrieval ratio and make it lighter and efficient for catfishing. A higher gear ratio, of say 6:5:1 is the most preferred by long-distance or saltwater anglers.

A higher gear ratio increases the speed and efficiency by which the fishing line can spin into the spool per single turn you make manually using the handle. If the gear ratio is high, it is much faster and convenient for an angler to counter the catch and pull it out of the water effortlessly. Lure presentation is not that important when fishing in deep waters as long as your fishing reel has the perfect gear ratio that makes it easy and convenient to retrieve.

Line capacity 

Since catfishing is mostly in deep waters, a fishing reel with the largest line capacity is the most preferable. Therefore, when selecting your fishing reel for catfishing, you must ensure it has the right line capacity that will make it more convenient for your fishing style. Add some weight on your fishing line to about 20-30 pounds to boost the reel’s line capacity and make it useful for countering large catfish in the deep waters.

The bearing system 

A fishing reel with the best bearing system is lighter and efficient to use. A simple bearing system makes it easy to cast longer. This is helpful if you are targeting the catfish and other large species that reside in deep waters. An expert angler will always advise you to go for a fishing reel with three or more bearings if you are looking for some speed and accuracy when casting.

Baitcasting or spinning

Do you enjoy baitcasting or spinning type of fishing? Well, the choice between these two depends on the kind of fishing reel you are using to fish. Most spinning reels are of low quality and lack the essential features suitable for long-distance fishing.

Baitcasting reels are more durable and economical compared to spin-casting fishing reels. Therefore, most anglers specializing in catfish will opt for baitcasting reels and not spin-cast reels. Notably, if you want to have the best experience for deep water or catfishing, then baitcasting reels are the best fishing reel you should go for in the market.

Now that you know of some factors that you should look out for when shopping for a quality fishing reel, it is essential to analyze some of the most sought catfish reels in the market and you should not hesitate to spend money on a product that could boost your overall fishing experience.


Your choice of a quality fishing reel may sometime depend on the amount you are willing to invest. The more you are willing to dig deeper into your pockets, the more you get closer to getting a high-quality catfish reel. The best catfish reels have different specifications that meet different tastes and preferences. When shopping for a quality fishing reel, you must search until you get one that suits your fishing style.

The tips given here are enough to get you going. Also, you can reach out to an experienced catfishing angler for some tips on getting a quality reel. Always remember it’s the tool you use that determines your success in fishing. 

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