Best Catfish Reels Of 2021 (Top 10 Excellent Reels For Channel Catfish)


Finding the best trolling reel for big gamefish is in various saltwater conditions is essential for every fisherman. This value undoubtedly applies to the catfish reels as they tend to be more complicated than other casting reels counterparts. With regular practice, mastering these catfish reels' art can be incredibly fulfilling and can tremendously improve overall technique.

Catfish reels are typically sought after for two principal components: precision and strength. By nature, these reels are meant to increase control over each cast, allowing anglers to control speed, distance, and accuracy. These trolling reels are a better solution for anglers who troll both fresh and saltwater species. Not only do they provide great accurate casts, but they offer greater line capacities and even heavier baits.

For anglers who are after larger and bigger game fish, these catfish reels are often the reels of choice. Their enhanced construction, strength, and control are ideally suited to handle even the largest species of fish. With the advanced features, strength, and precision, these best catfish reels will provide an authentic fishing experience.

Looking at the positively reviewed catfish reels is an efficient way to determine which models and components work the best. This review has compiled a list of top-rated catfish reels currently available for you to help anglers search for the best catfish reels to invest in. We wanted to make things a little easier for you, so we tested these catfish reels in freshwater and saltwater conditions. These catfish reels offer an overall combination of sensible durability with precision and strength.

Let's take a closer look at these best catfish reels. Any fisherman will find themselves well equipped to choose the best reel for your fishing needs. We conclude that these are the top ten excellent fishing reels, and few stand out in the fishing reel market.

Penn Squall LevelWind Catfish Reels

penn catfish reels


shimano catfish reel

 Lew's Speed Cast SC600 Catfish Reels 

best budget catfish reels

KastKing Rover Baitcasting Reels for Catfish

kastking rover 60 setup

 Daiwa Millionaire Classic Utd Casting Reel

daiwa millionaire review

Abu Garcia C3 Species Baitcasting Reel

abu garcia reels

PENN Fishing, Spinfisher VI Saltwater Spinning Reels

catfish spinning reels with bait clicker

 Okuma Classic CLX RH levelwind Star Drag reels

okuma classic clx 300la

 Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Catfish Pro Baitcast Reel

abu garcia catfish pro review

 Heavyweight Champions Catfish Baitcaster Reel

best budget catfish reels

1. Penn SQL30LW Squall LevelWind Catfish Reels

Squall Level wind model is the This professional-grade catfish reel model provides maximum durability through the lightweight graphite frame and side plates for corrosion resistance. It also features high strength bronze main gear, and stainless-steel pinion gear provides exception strength to ensure smooth and comfortable cranking.

This trolling reel is solidly built throughout, has a generous line capacity, and can crank in decent sized fish. The fishing reels drag system is constructed from HT-100 carbon fiber, which provides powerful drag without sacrificing smoothness.

The drag system allows for multiple settings, thus giving you the finesse and power needed to conquer various fish species. Its forged-aluminum machine balanced spool is braided ready.

This model is lightweight compared to other high-end models. Besides, the drag washers remain cool and smooth in the heat of battle, with the lighter construction Penn Squall Level wind helps prolong time spent on the water without straining hands and twists. The enhanced level wind system design is a critical factor in making Penn Squall reels so valuable and sought-after.

The 2+1 shielded stainless steel bearings and instant anti-reverse bearing eliminate back to play in the handle for instant hook sets. Gears are more efficient, but they are also more durable, promising long-lasting use of Penn fishing reels. The 4.9:1 gear ratio, speed, strength, and level wind ready design are the essential components of the Squall Level Wind reels.

 Its level wind trolling capacity for big game fish in extreme saltwater conditions makes it a perfect example of catfish reels far ahead of similar reels under this price point. We'd recommend these catfish reels for any fisherman who takes these fishing games seriously.

penn catfish reels

Penn Squall level wind catfish reels highlights

  • Its stainless-steel ball bearings and anti-reverse bearings eliminate backplay.
  • It features a lightweight graphite frame and side plates.
  • With all-around lighter construction, this fishing reel is a beautiful piece of workmanship.
  • It has a significant drag and vert smooth and very sturdy. 
  • It is an ideal choice for both novice and avid fisherman.
  • Built to tackle a variety of saltwater fishing conditions.
  • The aluminum spools marked with line capacity rings.

Penn Squall level wind catfish reels Specifications:

Max Drag: 20 lbs.; Gear Ratio: 4.9:1 ; Weight: 20.9 oz. ;Line Retrieve: 35"; Bearings: 2BB + 1RB; PowerPro Line Cap: 30/1020, 50/710, 65/590; Mono Line Cap: 25/455, 30/370, 40/285; Retrieve: Left. 

Video source: PENN Fishing Store


The Shimano TEKTA levelwind reel is a perfect example of how performance and durability can naturally accompany trolling reels. The frame, the spool, and the side plates are all composed of marine-grade aluminum stock, making them incredibly durable and resistant to corrosion. This trolling reel is an excellent solution for anglers who troll for both fresh and saltwater species by offering excellent line capacity, construction, and advanced features. 

The three stainless steel bearings with a roller bearing give this Tekota trolling reel a silky-smooth performance while simultaneously increasing the casting distance. The specially treated anti-rust bearings promote corrosion resistance compared to conventional stainless steel bearings and offer smooth line flow. Their exclusive crossbar-forward design allows anglers to free spool even at full drag settings. 

The level wind system with one-way roller bearing offers better line management, making this one of the most dynamic catfish reels available. These are great catfish reels for fighting with big fish and are designed for trolling or bottom fishing. Bringing in big fish is comfortable with this reel is easy. These catfish reels offer smooth casting, have great strength, and offer a ton of line capacity.  

shimano catfish reel


  • This trolling reel is very well made and sturdy.
  • Its line pick is quick and offers greater line capacity.
  • The reels are buttery smooth, comes with very smooth drag systems, and has plenty of torque to handle cranking in fish.
  • It’s nice and smooth reeling action is comfortable to bring in fish. 
  • The reel power, line retrieval rate, and level wind features are significant aspects of this reel.

Shimano Tekota Levelwind Reel Specifications:

Max Drag: 18 lbs.; Gear Ratio: 4.2:1 ; Weight: 14.3 oz. ;Line Retrieve: 25"; Bearings: 3BB + 1RB; PowerPro Line Cap: 30/255; 40/210; 50/205; Mono Line Cap: 12/275; 14/220; 16/185; Retrieve: Right. 

3. Lew's Speed Cast SC600 Catfish Reels 

The Lew's speed cast reels are in high demand, combining with an array of positive reviews. It isn't difficult to see precisely why this model has won many positive ratings. With the premium, four ball bearing system with zero reverse one-way clutch bearing, this reel model comes with inherent speed and smooth release for each and every cast. 

This fishing reel is large enough to carry substantial strength without causing excess strain on the fishing rod. They are also great for long-distance casting, and the oversized EVA grips help you put pressure on the fish with our slippage ensuring you stay in control when fighting with big fish. The rigid aluminum frame and side plates ensure ultimate durability throughout the life of the casting reel.

Additionally, the anodized aluminum spool provides outstanding protection against corrosion and harsh saltwater water and tear. The carbon fiber drag system can be easily controlled by its aluminum star, leaving that this fishing reel can be challenging and smooth at the same time. For those looking to lure in large fish species, the Lew's Speed Cast round baitcasting reel with audible bait clicker is an excellent option. 

lew's sc600 speed cast reel

Lew's Speedcast Catfish Reels Highlights

  • Lew's catfish reels recommended for every trolling fisherman.
  • It offers smooth casting and retrieving reel.
  • These are the smoothest reels for catfishing.
  • With the right combination of catfish rods, they outcast a rover by a mile.
  • Big fishing reels are excellent for casting and retrieving, and they offer huge line capacity.

4. KastKing Rover Round Baitcasting Reels for Catfish

As one of the conventional reel manufacturers, the KastKing series brings a new and improved line up with the fantastic design, power, and performances that anglers crave at an affordable price. The KastKing Rover reels are excellent conventional reels for trolling, bottom fishing, and pitching and flipping. These reels have premium shielded seven stainless steel ball bearings work hard to make sure that each and every cast is as quick and accurate as possible.

The fishing reels body and the level wind assembly are full metal, so the reel's durability is assured and offers superior corrosion protection in saltwater conditions. With the 3.6:1 gear ratio and oversized nonslip EVA paddle knobs, KastKing Rover enable anglers to spend more time out on the water without sacrificing comfort. The superior carbon fiber drag system with its uniquely designed cymbal washer system work together to ensure that the tensions and braking are formed to individual specifications.

Your search for the affordable trolling reel, conventional fishing reel, or any inshore, offshore fishing reel, or saltwater fishing reel should end here. KastKing Rover star drag fishing reel is a bargain for a catfishing reel. 

kastking rover for sale

KastKing Rover Catfish Reel Highlights

  • It's a solid baitcasting reel with a full metal body that offers superior protection from saltwater conditions.
  • The superior carbon fiber drag delivers incredible power for trolling.
  • The T-sized oversize handle offers an antislip grip for ultimate control.
  • The Rover also features a clicker line out alarm and a braking system that delivers efficient casting performance for every single cast.
  • It also offers a ton of line capacity for braid and mono lines.

Video Source:KastKing Store

5. Daiwa Millionaire Classic Utd Casting Reel

As one of the time-tested models of Daiwa series casting reels, the millionaire classic UTD casting reel is an addition to the newest baitcasting reel series. The Millionaire classic casting reel is a perfect example of enhanced features that can enhance even the highest technology. 

This professional-grade casting reel provides maximum durability through the all-around metal frame, increasing corrosion protection. The 3+1 ball bearings system is supported by their anti-reverse ball bearing, which ensures long casts and endless free spool that every snared fish stays that way. 

Its updated carbon fiber tournament-grade drag system can offer a maximum of 9lbs of pressure. The machine spool is made of rugged aluminum can be stopped instantly and accurately by the infinite anti-reverse, ensuring that the anglers have maximum control at all times. With the 5.1:1 gear ratio, this Daiwa millionaire UTD casting reel comes with enough power and force to reel in a range of weights from medium to larger species.

daiwa millionaire 300

Daiwa Millionaire UTD Casting Reel Highlights

  • The Daiwa Millionaire casting reel is ideal for any fishing adventure. 
  • Its machined aluminum spool and three bearing system (2BB + 1RB) allows for easy casting. 
  • The Carbon Ultimate Tournament drag has 9 pounds of fish stopping power. 
  • It also has plenty of line capacity for handling inshore and offshore fishing techniques.
  • It also boats swept handle and soft-touch oversized handle knob for comfort.

Daiwa Millionaire Classic Catfish Reel Specifications:

Max Drag: 9 lbs.; Gear Ratio: 5.1:1; Weight: 10.9 oz.; Line Retrieve: 24.50"; Bearings: 2BB + 1RB; Mono Line Cap: 12/280, 14/230; Reel Handle Position: Right Hand

6. Abu Garcia C3 Species Baitcasting Reel

If you're looking for a new baitcaster for catfishing Abu Garcia C3 series baitcasting reel has everything you desire for a catfish reel. This fishing reel has a classic look and shape, quality construction, and cutting-edge features. It also offers plenty of line capacity for handling a wide range of fresh and saltwater assignments.

These C3 species series feature many improvements such as bait clicker, power handle, and the level wind. Out of all the benefits listed for the Abu Garcia C3 series, perhaps the most significant is the adjustable 6-pin centrifugal brake that applies consistent pressure for an accurate cast.

Anglers can choose from various brake positions, all externally adjustable and all formatted to provide maximum control amounts when casting. Its innovative rounded baitcast reel is designed especially for catfish fishing. The carbon fiber matrix drag system provides an impressive fish fighting power, making for an all-around durable and wholly reliable baitcasting reel for both novice angler and experienced baitcast users. The classic Abu Garcia C3 series is a proven workhorse that strong enough to handle the most significant and most challenging fish out there.

abu garcia catfish reels

Abu Garcia C3 Series Baitcasting Reel highlights

  • This baitcasting reel can be used for both freshwater and saltwater.
  • The extended bent cranking handles and power knob offers anglers the to fish all day without wearing their arms out comfortably.
  • This catfish fishing reel is exceptionally built with all the bells and whistles.
  • It can handle big fish with ease and has a significant drag.

7. PENN Fishing, Spinfisher VI Saltwater Spinning Reels

Penn is continuously improving the way the spinning reels are made. Penn Spinfisher VI is another example of enhanced features that can enhance even the highest technology. This full metal body reel provides maximum durability through IPX5 sealed body and spool design seals from splashes and sprays, protecting essential internal parts such as gearbox and drag system, so you don't have to worry about saltwater corrosion. 

The full metal side handle plate keeps the CNC gear system in precise alignments under heavy loads. The Enhanced HT-100 drag washers are housed in a fully sealed spool to give you enough fighting power for catching big fish. The ambidextrous design is a crucial factor in making Penn Spinfisher baitcasting reels so valuable and sought after.

catfish spinning reels with bait clicker

PENN Spinfisher VI Highlights

  • It has unbelievable stopping power and a significant drag and retrieve system.
  • These reels are super smooth and lightweight.
  • The CNC gear system offers improved alignment, durability, smoothness, and precision.
  • It has four on positions, which progressively increases the rear drag when required.
  • This reel is excellent for a range of different applications.

PENN Spinfisher VI Specifications

Model 6500: Ball bearings: 5+1; Gear Ratio: 5.6:1; Weight: 26. 80 oz.; Retrieve Rate: 42"; Braid(Yards/lbs): 485/30, 410/40, 335/50 - Mono (Yards/lbs): 390/12, 345/15, 205/20; Handle positon: Right/Left.

8. Okuma Classic CLX RH levelwind Star Drag reels

The Okuma CLX classic series is an excellent choice if you're looking for good levelwind catfish fishing reels under $50. The CLX-450L model weighs 16 oz, and it has a max drag of 18lb and a gear ratio of 3.8:1. This gear ratio allows it to bring in 25 inches of line per handle turn. These are respectable stats for this price point. The lower gear ratio and dependable multi-disc Rulidium drag system ensure that this reel will work much harder than other models and bring in every fish regardless of running power.

The Okuma CLX classic series reels lightweight graphite frame and side plates, making the overall weight of the body lightweight, and graphite frame construction adds corrosion resistance. The bushing bearing system and stainless steel level wind system work together seamlessly to ensure that each fish is properly hooked and snared, making for much smoother retrieval. The Okuma CLX reels true classic design makes it one of the best round design catfish reels for anglers trolling saltwater.

okuma classic clx 300la

Okuma CLX Classic XT Levelwind Reels Highlights

  • It is lightweight and sturdy.
  • It features stainless steel reel foot for strength.
  • The power handle comes with T-style knobs for gripping.
  • Its leverwind line guide system ensures proper knot clearance when fishing with double lines.
  • It features corrosion-resistant graphite spools.

9. Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Catfish Pro Baitcast Round Reel

The Ambassadeur Catfish Pro round baitcast reel comes with a carbon matrix drag system and a synchronized level wind system tailored to perfection and precision machining. As a continued tradition of Swedish craftsmanship and design, Abu Garcia has put a lot of effort into making this product, incredibly durable convenient, and yet comfortable enough. The materials do not add up a lot of weight, which is something essential. 

The carbon matrix drag offers a splendid darg, you can put up to 15lbs of pressure, and you will see that the reel responds splendidly. Its 6-pin centrifugal braking system and aluminum body balances finesse with durability. This catfish pro series reel is excellent for a range of different techniques conveniently used in both saltwater and freshwater. With this conventional baitcasting reel, you can feel more confident.

Another thing to consider is that these high-quality baitcasting reels are built to last. They can tackle big fish, come with a flawless design, performance, and power that every baitcast fisherman would crave for. It comes with an oversized EVA grip and easy to access thrumb bar for the spool release to complement the comfort and reduce hand fatigue.

abu garcia catfish pro review

Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Catfish Pro Baitcast Reel Highlights:

  • The Catfish Pro round baitcast reel features a six-pin centrifugal braking system and a robust aluminum construction
  • This catfish reel delivers superior casting performance and ultimate durability.
  • It comes with four stainless steel ball bearings and one roller bearing.
  • The carbon drag system offers ultimate drag and retrieve. 
  • This baitcast reel provides extended castability regardless of the load.

10. Sumo Heavyweight Champions Catfish Baitcaster Reel

Sumo Heavyweight champions catfish reels are the most affordable baitcasting reels that manage to provide a high level of value without draining your budget. These fishing reels are made for catfish, and all the components are made of high-quality materials, thus making the Sumo heavyweight catfish reel suitable for freshwater and saltwater use. Trolling and bottom fishing can be easily accomplished with this round baitcasting reel.

The carbon disk drag delivers 20lbs of smooth drag that outmatches all similar baitcasting reels under this price point. The nonslip power handle ensures that the control and power remain intact even when soaked in water. If you're into the baitcasting reel, you'll surely love that the Sumo heavyweight catfish reel comes with a bait clicker to help alert you to baits and runs.

Another impressive feature of this reel is that it comes with a centrifugal brake system and spindle brakes help prevent a giant bird's nest. With the robust stainless-steel construction, side metal plates, and metal gear construction, these trophy catfish reels are great options to consider.

best budget catfish reels

Sumo Heavyweight Champions Catfish Baitcaster Reel Highlights

  • It's an affordable baitcasting reel that doesn't sacrifice value.
  • You'll be able to cast the distance quickly. 
  • It features 6+1 stainless steel ball bearings for a smooth retrieve.
  • Its brass gears won't give up easily when fighting monster fish.
  • It features a loud bait clicker and power handle.
  • The fishing reel is light enough to use on a lighter rod.

So which one is the best reel for catfish?

These classic catfish reels are the best choice for anglers looking for increased power, control, and durability through heavier weight. All the above-mentioned fishing reels are versatile and offer significant drag and retrieve. They also offer a ton of line capacity and comes with enough power to land trophy catfish.

Finding the best catfish reels often means taking a closer look at the top-rated catfish reels that are available in the market. There are far more types of reels than we mentioned above. However, given the quality and ease of use of these classic saltwater fishing reels, they're the best to get started if you're into channel catfishing. 

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