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Catfish Tackle


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#1 Jeremiah

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Posted 30 May 2011 - 07:48 PM

So, as I mentioned in Norm's topic, I've really been taking catfishing more seriously since last summer. My go-to rig has become a 7' Ugly Stik with a Quantum Iron reel. (Though 15 years old by now and no longer manufactured, the reel has all brass gears and is built like a tank.) I spool that up with 65 lb. Power Pro braid. Generally, it handles 20 lb. cats, for example, without a problem. But, I have had an issue or two with larger fish. My concern is that one of these days I might just latch into a 40+. I can see either the reel seat on the rod busting or the drag system on the reel exploding. So, I've been looking to get just one seriously heavy duty rig for targeting big cats.

I figure that when you get up into the 40 lb. or better class of flathead or blue that you're basically looking at fish that pull about like many saltwater fish. So, I'm looking for some rod and reel recommendations along those lines. What I have been looking at is the Abu Garcia 7000i C3 reel and something along the lines of a10' Big Game Ugly Stik rod. I'm not really married to that rod choice, but I've definitely had excellent experiences with Ugly Stik, in general, over the years. But, the only real concern with rod is that it be seriously stout, yet it does have to break down. (I know two piece rods are simply not as strong, but I occasionally need to travel in a Jeep Liberty and there simply is no room for even a 7' one piece rod.) As for the reel, I've also been pleased with Abu's in the past. The 7000i, in particular, has a live bait line alarm, a "salt-water-like" single knob power handle, and also a salt water style reel foot. (With the extra bolt on piece that captures the full rod to reinforce the reel foot.) When it's all said and done, the reel is also in the $150 range rather than several hundred.

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One other thought I have had is that if I went for the Abu 6500 C3, I could always buy the power handle from them as an add-on ($20), still have the live bait clicker, and also be able to switch back to the "standard" double-knob handle and use the rig for things like large bass or possibly even musky. Of course, the reel just isn't quite as beefy as the 7000i and also doesn't hold as much line. (I figure on probably spooling up with 80 lb. Power Pro.)

Anyway, I'm open to suggestions. I'd also definitely love to hear from anyone who may actually own either of the reels I've mentioned. Thanks, folks. :)

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#2 Leo

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Posted 30 May 2011 - 08:40 PM

I have both the ABU 7C and the 6500C they have served me well for year. I use them for cats and stripers in freshwater. I've used them to tackle small sharks, sheepshead and other saltwater species.
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#3 Jeremiah

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Posted 30 May 2011 - 11:48 PM

Thanks, Leo.
How do you like the left ("wrong") side spool tension knob on the 7000?
Also, do you notice much difference in casting distance or overall smoothness between the two?

I've spent most of the evening since posting this topic researching both reels online and I've just about got myself talked into the 6500. The 7000 is impressive, but I'm just not sure I need that much line capacity (or reel, for that matter). Along the same lines of your post, it seems nobody I've come across has ever run into a fresh water fish that the 6500 couldn't handle with ease. So, it makes me pause... especially when the 6500 is ~$50 cheaper than the 7000. (Again, not that either is breaking the bank.)

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#4 Leo

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 07:21 AM

Thanks, Leo.
How do you like the left ("wrong") side spool tension knob on the 7000?
Also, do you notice much difference in casting distance or overall smoothness between the two?

I've spent most of the evening since posting this topic researching both reels online and I've just about got myself talked into the 6500. The 7000 is impressive, but I'm just not sure I need that much line capacity (or reel, for that matter). Along the same lines of your post, it seems nobody I've come across has ever run into a fresh water fish that the 6500 couldn't handle with ease. So, it makes me pause... especially when the 6500 is ~$50 cheaper than the 7000. (Again, not that either is breaking the bank.)


The 7000 takes more practice to cast with proficiently. Once you get the hang of it you don't think about it anymore. I've used my 7 to land Mahi Mahi up to 25lbs from an anchored head boat. I'm sure it could have handled much bigger. The 6500 has plenty of guts for freshwater. Largest fish I've taken with a 6500 is a 32lb Bluecat. The reel was spooled up with 65lb braid.

Rods wise I suggest you look at 7ft Flipping sticks with telescoping handles. These are much stronger than any two piece you'll look at. They also cast much better than a two piece because the spine of the rod isn't interrupted by a ferrel joint.

I'll also add that although the Ugly Sticks are super tough rods they are notoriously poor for casting. Look at rods with IM-6 or IM-7 blanks for much better casting performance.

Edited by Leo, 31 May 2011 - 08:40 AM.

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#5 PA RIDGE RUNNER

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 03:38 PM

One further thing to very much keep in mind is when tackling a catfish be very careful of the dorsal fin spine It will pick your pects. Oh you meant equipment--- never mind. You might try noodling for the big ones.
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#6 Jeremiah

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 08:03 PM

Well, I ended up going with the 6500 C3 today. I got to compare it side by side with a 6600 C4 and the 7000i C3. Man, the 7000 dwarfs with other two! I really didn't think it could be so, but I felt it was a bit of overkill. (I usually stand firm that there is no such thing as overkill in anything. But, that reel is literally twice the weight of the other two and the huge amount of line capacity is something I just don't need.) With that itch well scratched, I spent several minutes going back and forth between the 6500 and the 6600. At one point, I contemplated flipping a coin. They're very similar reels. The 6600 has one extra bearing, but in the end it was the lower (theoretically more powerful) gear ratio of the 5500 that won out. I did also order a power handle for it.

Not one single store I went to had a rod that fit the bill. Oh, there were plenty of St. Croix, Okuma, and even Ugly Stik that were more than tough enough, but none of them were either two piece or had a telescopic handle. After some personal debate, I decided to stick with an glass blank. Honestly, I have IM6, IM7, and IM8 rods (all one piece) and they're all in the basement right now. They definitely cast and handle very well and they are half the weight (if not lighter) of the glass Ugly Stiks I have. But, I've never broken an Ugly Stik (not even the Lite versions which have a higher graphite content) while I've broken a few IM graphites. All said and done, I ordered an el cheapo 8' Ugly Stik catfish-specific rod off the internet. ($35 shipped.) We'll see what happens there. (Night catfish tournament at one of my local clubs next Saturday.) It's not exactly a rod I'd use for anything else, but that's okay for now.

Ummm... Paul, if noodling is the same thing as grabbling then that's all you, brother. I'll stick to using fishing tackle. Frankly, where I mostly fish, I'd be more concerned about the snapping turtles than the cats. (I caught a huge one the other day that I could not get out of the water. It broke a 50# leader. :blink: )

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#7 TerryfromAR

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Posted 01 June 2011 - 09:26 PM

Jere, I meant to post here sooner, but I got sidetracked. I have a rod and reel combo that I love. It's a 9' Ugly Stik paired with a cheap little Tidewater SS spinning reel spooled up with 65# Spiderwire Stealth. I've pulled everything from a 2oz crappie, to a 40lb buffalo to a 200lb tree trunk(don't ask LOL) Not sure on the gear ratio on the reel, but its good for the way I fish. I can get an average 200+ ft cast with a 2oz weight and a good overhand throw. I've almost knocked boaters out with it before. If I'm not careful when the line is new I'll cast alot further than what I want to.
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#8 REDGREEN

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Posted 02 June 2011 - 03:43 PM

Jer, be sure to check the guides on the catfish. I returned mine because they were extremely sharp and cut my line. I liked it fine, but I didn't like losing big Rapalas on casting. I bought it for sturgeon and big pike, but now am using the Rapala magnum.




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