The answer to the question, which fishing rod should I buy is not so simple! Are you going to be fishing in a lake or reservoir, a river, a tidal area, farm pond or pay lake? From a boat or are you going to be fishing from the bank/shoreline? Is money no problem or are you restricted to what you can spend? Also, is this the way you are going to fish for an extended period of time?
If money is no problem I would suggest that you select one of the BOC sponsors which offers custom built rods. Tell them what kind of fishing you will be doing, such as from the bank/shoreline or in a boat. Plus whether you will be fishing in one of the areas mentioned above. Some of them offer video's demonstrating the durability of their rods. Also, available on the BOC you can find comments from fisher person that have acquired custom built rods from the rod makers.
If you are going to be fishing in a lake or reservoir with little or no current, you do not necessary need any high quality rods, but you should not rule them out if you have the means. Most any medium to medium heavy action rod in a length of seven to eight feet will suffice. You can find these rods at most local bait shops, sporting good stores and retail stores which offer sporting goods. It does not matter whether you prefer a bait casting rod or a spinner, quality is about the same. The foregoing applies to fishing from a boat. If you are going to bank fish and you need to cast a great distance, then you should be looking at a slightly longer rod and a medium heavy to heavy rated rod.
If you are fishing a body of water with good current, such as a river or tidal basin, then you need to have stronger and better gear than those that fish lakes and ponds. Lot of reasons for this statement, but the most important thing is that you will be casing heavier weighs to hold your bait in place and sometimes, larger baits. If I had the financial means, I would definitely have a custom made rod for this kind of fishing.
If you are lucky enough to own your own farm pond or have access to one, you do not need an expensive rods. Most combo outfits that are sold in the market place will suffice. Just recently we had a fellow to set a channel cat record with a Zepco Barbie Combo. I believe the cat weighed in at a tad over 22 pounds.
If you have a lot of time on your hands and have the patience, you can get you a blank and other accessories for making a rod and build your own. Ample information is available on the Internet to assist you.
I have read and heard people at seminars say that if you are not going to fish a lot, then you do not need a good rod. That is a bunch of bull. What if the second time you go out, you hook into a trophy cat and your equipment could not handle it, then what! You should always be prepared for a big cat when you are cat fishing, because it is always around somewhere.
There is additional information about rods in the BOC Library and a section in the general forum about rods. Also, you should feel free to ask questions in your State section about what the other guys and gals are using.
As usual if you have any questions, feel free to respond and I or one of the members of the Carolina Catfish Club will get back to you as soon as we can.