How to Choose a Fishing Rod for Crappie

Best Crappie Rods: A Buying Guide

If you want to catch more crappie this year, using the right fishing rod is super important. Crappie, also known as “papermouths,” are super delicate and require the right amount of finesse to catch, and finding the best crappie rod will make sure that your hookset lands every time.

We’re going to walk through our favorite crappie rods and shed some light on why we like each one. We’ll make sure to highlight rods at different price points so that no matter how much you are looking to spend, you’ll be able to find a quality rod that is within your budget.

Best Overall Crappie Rod: St Croix Premier Spinning Rod

St. Croix make some of the best fishing rods across the board, and the Premier Spinning Rod is no exception.

The premium SCII carbon rod gives you the strength you are looking for from a top-of-the-line rod without sacrificing any sensitivity. It’s got a beautiful cork handle for all-day comfort and comes stacked with Kigan Master Hand 3D guides to keep your line right where it needs to be.

This is a 5’6″ one-piece rod with fast action and medium power. If you aren’t familiar with “action” and “power” ratings when it comes to fishing rods, don’t worry. We’ll cover those below (click here to skip ahead).

The St. Croix brand has a reputation as one of the most reliable brands of crappie rods, and they stand behind that with one of the best warranties available. Chances are this rod would stand up to decades of use, but you can’t beat the peace of mind that comes with a great warranty.

Best Value Crappie Rod: Cadence CR5 Spinning Rod

This is an absolutely killer crappie rod at a great price! If you are looking to pick up a quality fishing rod without breaking the bank, look no farther than the Cadence CR5-30 Spinning Rod.

Cadence does not skimp on quality in this rod: you get a carbon matrix graphite blank, stainless steel guides, and even 2 handle configuration options (carbon split grip and full grip). The FUJI real set is comfortable and strong enough to handle any slab you catch. The guides are silky smooth and the whole rod is super sensitive – perfect for crappie fishing.

One thing I love about Cadence is its commitment to giving back. They donate a portion of profit to charity partners whose mission is to take kids fishing, teach them how to fish, and get them out on the lake. I know that I grew up fishing from a young age, and I love that they help future generations enjoy fishing!

Best Premium Crappie Rod: St. Croix Avid Series Spinning Rod

This is a sexy, sexy crappie rod. The core of this rod is made from the highest quality SCIII carbon — It’s the perfect balance of strength and sensitivity. The rod is also super light meaning you’ll have no trouble catching fish after fish all day without tiring. Every detail on this rod has been well thought out, from the Alconite guide rings and black frames, to the Fuji SKM seta with guy smoke hoods. Even the cork chosen for the handle is the highest quality available!

As with all St. Croix rods, you are getting the made-in America quality you’d expect, and they are backed by their solid warranty in case anything breaks. If you are looking to invest in a premium crappie rod that will serve you well for years and years, the St. Croix Avid Series is a great choice.

Shakespeare Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Crappie Rod

The Ugly Stik Elite was a close runner-up for us on the best value crappie rod out there. It comes in at a fantastic price point, and the Shakespeare brand is known as a quality maker of rods.

This particular crappie rod has a graphite core and a self-proclaimed “virtually indestructible blank.” It also has 1-piece stainless steel guides for top-of-the-line reliability. The recent upgrade to this rod has made it even stronger than previous models while increasing sensitivity. All of this is backed by a 7-year warranty at a nearly unbeatable price.

St. Croix Panfish Spinning Rod

This is another solid St. Croix rod specifically targeted at panfish species.

It’s an ultralight rod that makes any fish an absolute blast to fight! If you haven’t fished on an ultralight rod before, I highly recommend it. This particular rod is made up of a blend of SCVI and SCII graphite which gives you a responsive touch and balance which is required for crappie. This rod is great for jigging for crappie but can handle just about any crappie rig you want to use it for. As I’ve mentioned above, you can’t really get any better than the quality and reliability of St. Croix rods.

Considerations When Buying a Crappie Rod

Different styles of fishing will require different gear, but I’ve outlined a few key points to consider when looking for the best crappie rod.

How to choose a fishing rod infographic.

Action

Action refers to where a rod flexes. Action is typically described as one of the following:

  • Extra Fast
  • Fast
  • Moderate Fast
  • Moderate
  • Slow

A fast action rod will flex and bend near the tip while the “backbone” of the rod remains stiff. A slow action rod will have flex along the entire rod extending way further down towards the handle.

For crappie fishing, you will probably look for a rod that has moderate fast or moderate action. That slower action will ensure your hooksets aren’t too aggressive and help you land more fish.

Power

Power is a measure of how much force it takes to flex the rod. Its described as one of the following:

  • Ultra Light
  • Light
  • Medium Light
  • Medium
  • Medium Heavy
  • Heavy
  • Extra Heavy

The most important factor when choosing an appropriate rod power is probably the size and weight of your line and lure. Higher power rods can handle heavier lures/lines, while lighter rods are designed for lighter lures/lines.

For crappie, you will want either an ultra light or light power rod. These rods will make it easier to cast and give you the sensitivity you want. Most rods will also include the range of lure and line weights it supports to help guide your decision. When it doubt, stick with ultra light for crappie.

Material

Most crappie rods will be made of either graphite or carbon fiber. Some rods are made of fiberglass, but these tend to be much heavier, and I’d stay away from them where possible. That extra weight wears on you after a long day on the lake.

Graphite is a good balance of strength and sensitivity and is the most common material you’ll see used in blanks. Its relatively lightweight, and best of all its more affordable than carbon fiber rods.

Carbon fiber is even stronger than graphite, but it’s typically more expensive than a graphite equivalent. Carbon fiber is also much less common than graphite, and for most fishermen, it’s unnecessary.

Length

For a typical crappie rod, I’d suggest staying at a length of 7′ or less. Any longer than 7′ and it becomes very difficult to cast.

Crappie rods aren’t really made to be able to cast long distances like you would with something like a bass rod. For one, your lure weight is going to be much lighter. Also, crappie fishing is more about finesse and targeting than launch your bait a mile down the shoreline 🙂

I’ll also mention that there are specific techniques for crappie fishing that warrant rods in the 10-16 foot range. Those rods are much heavier and more challenging to handle and are outside of the scope of this article, but know that there are times when they are helpful.

Guides

There are 2 important aspects to guides on a rod: castability and strength.

A good rod guide helps keep your line in check when casting and can add yards to each cast. A poorly made guide will often catch the line when casting making it frustrating to use.

Guide strength is also very important. Guides are one of the most common things to break on a rod, so having one that isn’t falling apart is essential. You also want to make sure that your guide is exceptionally smooth. Poorly made guides will rub and knick the line as it passes through, which will lead to break-offs.

Handle

There are a number of different handle materials and grips available to you, and it mostly comes down to comfort.

Cork is a popular material choice for handles because it’s lightweight, comfortable, and allows you to keep hold of your rod even when wet. The downside to cork is that it has the potential to knick and tear more accessible than other materials, but in my opinion, it’s typically not enough an issue to worry about.

Handles are usually either split grip or full grip. A split grip is two separate pieces of cork (or whatever material) separated by a blank section without a handle. A full grip is just a continuous piece of handle material with no break. This is a preference thing, and you should use whatever you are most comfortable with.

Line Weight

Line weight is very important when crappie fishing. The most common line weight is probably 2-6 lb test for crappie. Of course, you should also consider what type of line you will be using: monofilament, fluorocarbon, or braid. Braid lines are going to have a much smaller diameter than something like monofilament with an equivalent pound test rating.

Your rod should indicate which line weights it works best with.

Lure Weight

As mentioned above, its essential to consider lure weight when thinking about the power rating of your rod.

Using a lure too heavy for your rod makes it extremely difficult to cast. You also lose a lot of sensitivity – it can feel like you are constantly dragging a bag of mud on the end of your line!

Similarly, using a really light lure on a rod not designed for that weight will make it impossible to cast. Instead, your light lure will flap in the wind behind you without going anywhere making for a really frustrating day of fishing.

Like line weights, your rod should give guidance on what lure weights its designed for and you can move up or down in power accordingly.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many rods do you need for crappie fishing?

One! There are some crappie fishing techniques like trolling where it can be helpful to have multiple rods, but for most people, one rod is plenty!

If you have more than one crappie rod, it can be nice to have different lures tied on each one to be able to switch techniques at a moment’s notice. It also helps you get back to fishing quicker in case of a break-off. That being said, sometimes having too many rods on the boat can be a distraction and hard to handle. It can quickly turn into a pile of snagged lines at your feet!

What size reel is best for crappie?

I think the most common reel for crappie fishing will be a small format spinning reel. You can certainly use a bait caster style reel, but it will be tough to use lighter lures. Keep in mind the type and pound test of line you intend to use as it will be necessary for determining what size reel you use – the two should match up nicely.

You are also going to want to choose a reel that can handle the weight of the lure you will be throwing – larger reels for heavier lures, smaller for lighter lures.

What line should I use for crappie?

The best line setup for crappie fishing is going to be braid with a fluorocarbon leader. Braid is the strongest line there is and it holds up to rocks, stumps, trees, and snags better than any other line. The downside to braid is that its highly visible in the water, so throwing on a fluoro leader for the last 2-4 feet will help cut back on that visibility. Things like visibility are super important when fishing for crappie as they are hyper aware of their surroundings and have great vision!

Conclusion

Crappie are a great sportfish and a ton of fun to catch (and they taste good too!). If you get the chance to go crappie fishing on an ultralight rig, I guarantee you will have a blast!

While I’ve laid out what I consider to be the best crappie rods, you must think through how you plan to fish for crappie and then purchase a rod, reel, and setup that matches that method. A setup that’s right for you is way more important than any particular rod.

I hope this and our guide on crappie fishing help you get out there and put more crappie in the boat! Tight lines.

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