The Best Crappie Rod and Reel for $50

crappie fishing rodsIt goes without saying that you have to use the right tool for the job if you want to maximize your crappie catch.  The best crappie rod and reel type for all-around crappie fishing will almost always be an ultralight or light spinning combo. Its versatility and finesse with light line make it the weapon of choice for many crappie anglers. In this article we’ll look at what makes a rod and reel great for crappie fishing as well as share a couple great combos around $50 on Amazon right now.

Rod Characteristics

So what separates one fishing rod from another? Rod length, action, power and material are the big four:

  • Rod length – Self-explanatory. A longer rod usually means you will be able to cast further, although at the expense of weight and portability.
  • Action – Action is the speed that the rod tip returns back to straight after it is flexed. A fast action rod is more sensitive, but is harder to control.

best crappie rod and reel - fishing rod actions


  • Material – If you’re at a fishing store, chances are most of the rods will either be made of fiberglass, graphite (also called carbon fiber) or a hybrid of both. Fiberglass is cheaper and more durable but usually heavier and less sensitive than graphite.

When it comes to searching for the best crappie rod, it really comes down to two different types you can choose from. The cane pole, which can be supremely effective if used properly, and the spinning rod.

Cane Polesbest crappie rod and reel - cane pole fishing

Cane poles are simple. No reel, just a rod and a line holder to wrap the fishing line around. The advantage cane poles allow is precise and delicate vertical jigging, especially in cover. You may not have the range a rod and reel would give you but wherever you attempt to place your jig/minnow/lure it is sure to go exactly there. You won’t have to mess with reeling your lure through the weeds and praying it won’t get snagged because you can simply lift it straight up and out of the water. You also don’t have to worry about a big “plop” a long cast would cause. All of these factors help keep the area you are fishing relatively undisturbed, which means more fish will be around for longer to present your lure to.

Cane poles initially were made out of bamboo. Several manufacturers still make blanks (aka rods) out of bamboo, although most are now telescoping and made of fiberglass or graphite. Cane poles can range anywhere from 7’-23’ with powers that range from ultralight to medium. A pole between 10’ and 16’ is usually a solid choice as it allows you a decent amount of range while also being easy to control. Did I mention cane poles are CHEAP? This Shakespeare Wonderpole is perfect for crappie. It telescopes from just under 4’ to 16’ when fully open, making it easy to carry. Additionally, the fiberglass construction gives the pole great strength.

(note I will receive a commission if you purchase through the above link)

Be sure to check out Cane Pole Fishing for Crappie for cane pole techniques and a list of great cane poles.

Spinning Rods

When you want to try other techniques besides close-quarters vertical jigging, a spinning combo is a better choice when searching for the best crappie rod and reel. For all-around crappie fishing, a 5 to 7 foot, medium or slow action, ultralight or light graphite rod is usually the best choice. Why?

  • 5 to 7 feet because it’s a good balance between casting distance, weight/sensitivity, and portability.
  • Medium or slow action because crappie have very delicate mouths. A fast action rod would make it very easy to rip the hook out of the crappie’s mouth unless used by a very experienced fisherman. The slow action allows more “shock absorbing” to occur, albeit at the expense of sensitivity.
  • Ultralight or light power because crappie are on the smaller end of the fish size spectrum, and lighter lures and baits are used to catch them. You would want a heavier power rod when fishing for saltwater fish, for example.
  • Graphite because they are generally lighter and more sensitive, which lends itself well to the crappie’s smaller size and more finicky strikes.


With baitcasting, spincasting, and spinning reels all potential reel choices, which one is best suited for crappie fishing? Baitcasting reels are great for heavy lures and line. They are very popular for ocean fishing. You know how your line looks all curly after casting with a spinning reel? A huge advantage of baitcasting reels is that they don’t twist the line. They are also easy to cast; it just takes the push of a button. The big disadvantage is that they are very prone to backlash (the birds nest) and have a steeper learning curve to avoid this. Spincasting reels are probably the easiest to use. All you have to do is push the button, flick the rod and release the button. No worries about backlash here either. The downside is that the release of line is not super smooth so casting distance is diminished. They also tend to gunk up and snag easier in my experience. Spinning reels are widely accepted in crappie fishing, as well as most pan fishing, as the best choice of reel. They release line super smooth, are great with small lures, and are very reliable. There’s a small learning curve to figure out how to cast properly but it can be easily learned in a day.

When it comes to choosing the perfect spinning reel, there are a lot more variables that one can consider. Things like gear ratio, drag system, ball bearing count, body material, and line weight/capacity are all characteristics of any given spinning reel. I’ll be honest though, it’s not necessary to look at every characteristic to find a great spinning reel. The most important thing to look at for crappie fishing specifically is overall size, which also means line weight/capacity. Because 4-6 lb. test is probably the most often used line weight when jigging and bobber fishing for crappie, a reel that is compatible is recommended for general crappie fishing use. When drag-lining or trolling with heavier weight line, it would be more practical to use a larger reel, but not absolutely necessary. If you’re in the market for just a reel, check out this page on top choices for crappie and bluegill reels.

So What is the Best Crappie Rod and Reel?

There are many great brands out there that make top of the line rods and reels ranging well past $500. For $50 though, you can still get a pretty solid rod and reel combo that can give even the priciest rods and reels a run for their money. Although on the longer end, this Shakespeare Crappie Hunter Spinning Rod and Reel Combo is a great budget combo. Its 9 foot length does mean it’s a little more cumbersome but it makes up for it in being able to cast further. It would also work well using it like a cane pole for vertical jigging. Its light rod power will help you avoid ripping the hook out of the crappie’s delicate mouth. The rod is graphite, too, allowing you to better feel those faint crappie strikes. It comes with an aluminum reel, fully spooled with 4lb line. Did I mention it was cheap?

If you’re looking for something a little smaller, the 5’6” Mitchell 310 Spinning Combo is another good buy. It also boasts a graphite rod and light rod power:(note I will receive a commission if you purchase through these links)

When you’re looking for a great rod and reel for crappie fishing, you don’t have to spend everything in your wallet. As long as you make sure the rod and reel have the right characteristics that are vital to crappie fishing, you’ll do pretty well. Medium to slow action, ultralight or light graphite spinning rods and reels should definitely be looked at when searching for the best crappie rod and reel. This combo has worked for me for years and it’s sure to work for you too.

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1 Response

  1. August 6, 2016

    […] The Best Crappie Rod and Reel for $50 […]

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