The A – Z Guide Of Catfish Reels – Everything You Need To Know

The A – Z Guide of Catfish Reels – Everything You Need to Know

Catfish reels are their own kind of special. They don’t go by the standards or rules of other fishing reels. But they still hold onto some of the greater qualities of the basic reels.

Most of the reels are open-faced bait-casting reels. But they can come as a spinning reel too. We prefer bait-casting catfish reels because they’re stronger and easier to use.

There’s so much to learn about catfish reels

 . To make it easier, we put together this A – Z guide on catfish reels.

A is for Area

Your environment is another factor to consider for all your fishing equipment. First, you have to decide if you’re fishing for freshwater catfish. Most species of catfish are freshwater fish.

Or do you fish for catfish in saltwater? If it’s saltwater, you need a reel that won’t corrode from salt over time.

B is for Bait Clickers

Bait clickers are also known as line alarms. They’re called bait clickers because as a fish swims away with bait in their mouth, the reel gives off click.

They also let the spool go free in the water.

C is for Counterbalance

The counterbalance on a reel is also referred to as the spool tensioner. The counterbalance makes it easy for you to adjust the rotation of the spool while you’re fishing.

You can adjust the rotation for more weight on the line than you intended or less weight than you intended.

D is for the Drag System

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A great and adjustable drag system is imperative for a catfish reel. It keeps the fishing line from snapping when you’re reeling in a heavy catfish.

A drag washer is placed so it presses against other washers. These washers press on the spool. Carbon fiber drag washers are always a high-quality choice.

E is for Ergonomic

An ergonomic handle on your reel isn’t a necessity. But it sure is a bonus feature. Cranking and reeling in a fish can be tough work and using your standard handle can be tough on your hands.

Ergonomic handles change that up. They keep your hand from getting fatigued.

F is for Frame

By saying the frame, we’re referring to where’s the reel is closed or open-faced. Closed reels protect the gears from damage. But most catfish reels are open-faced. This is so you can fix the line or gears if you need to.

G is for Gear Ratio

The gear ratio is how fast the line is released each time you turn the handle. It also decides how much line is reeled each time you turn the handle.

You can reel in the catfish faster, giving the fish less time to let go of the line or break it.

The higher the gear ratio, the more the fishing line is dispensed when the handle’s turned.

H is for Handle

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The type of handles on a catfish reel depends on each fisherman. But most prefer the power handle.

Power handles are bigger with one large knob and counterbalance to boot. It makes you have that boost in cranking power when you’re reeling a heavy catfish in.

Not only that, but you get more room to grip the handle when you’re turning it.

I is for Information

Do your due diligence. Research the reels you’re thinking of buying. Check out the reviews of the brand or even the reviews of specific reel models.

J is for Joy

Hear us out. You need to have fun when you’re catfishing. Otherwise, there isn’t much of a point unless all your meals consist of catfish.

Not only should you have fun with catfishing but you should have fun buying what you need too.

K is for Kids

If you’re looking for a catfish reel for a kid’s rod, you can’t use your average reel. You need to make sure it’s the right size and something your child can handle.

L is for Line Capacity

The line capacity of a reel is a big deal when it comes to a catfish reel.

The line capacity is how much fishing line the reel can hold while you’re reeling that heavy catfish in.

The top number of the line capacity determines the weight while the bottom number is in yards. The bigger the numbers, the stronger the line is going to be.

A bigger line capacity, the stronger the line is. It’s harder to break and even harder to tangle. And if either of these happens, you have plenty of line to work with.

M is for Material

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The material of the reel is a big deal. It decides how much your reel can take without breaking in the middle of reeling in a big one.

You need a reel made from durable material, like stainless steel or graphite. These types of materials can take a beating.

N is for New

We don’t recommend buying a third-hand reel online or from a thrift store. You might think you’re saving some money but you don’t know what you’re buying. It could be junk.

And if it’s been pre-used, that’s already taken life off of the reel.

O is for Objective

You have to decide whether you plan on catfishing once in a blue moon. Or are you an avid fisher? This can determine what reel you buy.

You don’t need the best reel on the market if you only go out once or twice during the season.

P is for Price

Price can factor in for many fishermen. You don’t always have a couple of hundred to drop on a reel. Especially if you have to buy a new rod too.

You can find a high-quality catfish reel for a decent price if you search in the right places.

Q is for Quality

Quality, quality, quality. You don’t want any reel. Don’t spend your money on a bad brand.

There areseveral high-quality brands that make high-quality fishing products. And at reasonable prices.

R is for Right-Handed

Believe it or not, you don’t want a right-handed reel if you’re right-handed. You cast with you dominate hand. So, you need the opposite hand to start reeling the line right away.

S is for Size

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The size of the reel depends on the line capacity of the reel. The bigger the line capacity, the bigger the reel is.

Compact reels seem nice in theory but they don’t have the line capacity you need to catch a catfish.

T is for Type

There are thousands of catfish species. And different species have different needs when you’re trying to catch them.

Channeler catfish are smaller, so they don’t need as much line capacity to catch. But trophy catfish are heavy. It takes a stronger reel.

V is for Versatile

A versatile reel allows you to use different types of tackle. A great catfish reel lets you use any piece of lure, bait, bobber you can imagine.

Plus, you can use a versatile reel to fish for more than catfish.

W is for Weight

You can find a durable reel that’s lightweight. It doesn’t have to weigh a ton.

You’re going to be carrying it around and reeling in fish. It helps to have something easy to handle so you don’t get fatigued.

Y is for Yield

The yield of a reel ties in with the drag system the catfish reel uses. You don’t want the reel to yield to stubborn and strong catfish. There should be no yield.

Z is for Zero

You have zero time to waste! Pick out your reel and get catfishing!


Catfish reels play a big part in reeling a trophy catfish in. Make sure you know what you’re looking for before you buy one.

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Roy Ericson

Roy Ericson started fishing when he was just a boy, like many of us did. He spent far too much time on the piers not being able to catch anything, until his uncle brought him deep sea fishing, out to the lakes of Michigan, where he lived, and to the various ponds in neighboring states. He’s been all over, caught over 400 different species of fish, and doesn’t believe you should embellish your stories. He’s just here to teach you about his absolute favorite thing in the world: fishing.