There is a vast variety of fishing tackle used for catfishing on Clear Lake, from light spin-cast rigs to high quality salmon mooching and steelhead outfits. Just about any rod and reel will work for pan-sized catfish up to 2 pounds or so as long as a good quality line of at least 8 pound test is used.
When fishing for the larger channel catfish and even white cats, sturdier tackle is in order especially when fishing in heavy cover. A ten pound plus catfish can give you a devil of a time around any kind of structure. Most catmen use medium heavy spinning outfits with at least 17 pound test quality monofilament line when fishing around trees, rocks or pilings. Rod lengths vary from 7 to 10 feet in length. The longer the rod, the better the casting distance and control while fighting the fish. A high quality spinning reel with a good drag system is a must to handle the long sizzling runs of an angry channel cat.
When drift fishing in open water almost any kind of tackle will do the job. The majority of anglers use light steelhead or medium salt water gear. Many anglers prefer conventional reels over spinning for this purpose. My personal choice is a 7 foot light action spinning outfit with 8 or 10 pound super braid line such as Berkely Fireline. For the biggest catfish I ever caught, a 20 pound 12 ouncer, I was using a very light spin rod with 6 pound test Fireline. I was very fortunate that I only had the one line out and no anchor to tangle up with. I don't recommend going quite that light since there are too many variables such as knot strength and crossing your partner's line etc. Since your normally fishing in totally open water when drift fishing, your best choice is simply whatever outfit you will have the most fun with.
During the spring and summer months quite a few anglers fish off the bank and off docks especially at night. A lot of them prefer surf-casting outfits as long as 12 feet or more. The reason behind this is more casting distance. A good system is to cast as far as possible and move the bait a few feet every five minutes or so. This system covers a lot more water and the occasional movement stirs up the bottom and hopefully wakes up a catfish. Another plus for this method is, unlike waiting for a bell to ring, it keeps you awake.