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Published May 17, 2023 1:00 PM
When it comes to crappie rods, there are a ton of options for anglers today. Mainly because we’ve developed so many methods of catching these tasty fish over the years, perhaps more than any other panfish out there. In fact, the awesome number of rods is matched only by the number of rigs for crappie fishing. For anyone who is new to targeting this species, the plethora of choices can quickly get overwhelming. Not to worry, we’re here to break it all down for you.
There is a little something for everyone on this list of rods, from the dedicated spider rig angler to the casual fisherman who simply wants a new ultra light spinning rod. These are the best crappie fishing rods you can buy right now.
How We Picked the Best Crappie Rods
When picking the best fishing rods for crappie, we specifically thought about the many different tactics that have been developed for targeting these fish. While it would be nice if things were simplified, there isn’t really a one-size-fits-all rod that is appropriate for papermouths. Therefore, here are the most important factors that went into our choices:
- Rod Length: Is this a shorter rod designed for shooting jigs under docks? Or is this a longer rod meant for use in a spider rig?
- Blank: What materials were used in the construction of this rod? And how does that affect sensitivity and casting distance?
- Action: How much flex does the rod have, and what tactics will it work best with?
- Value: How do the components and construction compare with the price?
Best Crappie Rods: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Overall: St. Croix Panfish Series
- Construction: Carbon Fiber
- Lengths: 5’ – 9’
- Power: Fast, Extra Fast, Moderate Fast
- Action: Ultra Light, Light, Medium light
- Great backbone
- Range of powers for different scenarios
- Quality components
Purpose-built with panfish in mind, the St. Croix panfish series offers more options than any other crappie rod. There are fast and extra fast options that are ideal for working jigs, but there are also a couple of moderate fast options that are perfect for smaller crankbaits. This rod has a high price point, but a lot of that cost is in the components, including the carbon fiber construction, the stainless steel guides, and the nylon reel seat. These rods also come with high quality cork handles that give them excellent ergonomics.
User reviews rave about the backbone of these rods, especially the ultralights. One user specifically reported catching a 15-pound catfish on one of them. Obviously, given the hard-fighting nature of a catfish, that’s an impressive testimonial. These rods will easily handle even the largest of slabs.
Best Jigging Rod: B’n’M Bucks Graphite Jigging Rod
- Construction: Graphite
- Lengths: 8’ – 16’
- Power: Light, Medium
- Action: Fast
- Good price point
- Large guides
- Great backbone
B’n’M poles have a great reputation with serious crappie anglers thanks to the solid graphite construction that gives these rods a lot of sensitivity. This specialty jigging rod is manufactured in two-piece models up to 12 feet and three-piece models up to 16 feet for skittish crappies in clear water. These rods have excellent alloy guides and are great for jigging but work well for spider rigging, too. User reviews on Cabela’s also praise these rods for having excellent backbone for swinging larger slabs onboard the boat. The more affordable price point doesn’t hurt either.
The downside often reported by users in online reviews is durability issues with the rod tips. However, the good news is that B’n’M sells replacement rod tips for those who are willing to do repairs.
Best Rod & Reel Combo: Pflueger President Spinning Combo
- Construction: Graphite
- Lengths: 4’ 8” – 7’
- Power: Ultra Light, Light, Medium
- Action: Fast
- Smooth reel
- Quality reel seat
- Variety of size offerings
Pflueger’s President reel is paired up with a Fenwick rod to create one of the best rod and reel combos for crappie. The reel itself includes a 10-bearing system and a sealed drag that user reviews praise for being incredibly smooth on the retrieve. The rod is a Fenwick with high-quality stainless steel guides and a solid top-securing reel seat. User reviews state the quality of the components allow this rod to stand up to the elements quite well. The ergonomics are also excellent because of the cork handles. There is a nice bit of variety here in terms of powers and lengths offered. The longer rods are ideal for dock shooting and the shorter ones are great for simple slip bobber and minnow setups.
The biggest downside is the price because some anglers might be a little hesitant to drop $120 to $130 for a lighter crappie rod. But for a high-quality piece of gear that’s ready to go with minimal rigging needed, this rod is set to fish the moment it leaves the box.
Best Spinning Rod: Berkley C-Series Crappie Pro Spinning
- Construction: Carbon Fiber Graphite
- Lengths: 5’ 6” – 10’
- Power: Light
- Action: Moderate Fast
- Reports of easily broken rod tips
The C-Series was designed primarily with spider rigging and jigging in mind. However, the 7-foot model would be a solid choice for bobber fishing too. This top-rated spinning rod is a versatile option for the angler who plans to fish a variety of styles but doesn’t want to break the bank buying lots of rods. These rods use a simple carbon fiber graphite construction that imparts solid sensitivity into the setup.
The big issue with this rod is durability of the tip—multiple reviews mention it breaking easily. But it’s still the best cheap rod you can get and, if cared for properly, can last you for many seasons to come.
Best for Spider Rigging: Lew’s Wally Marshall Troll Tech
- Construction: Graphite
- Lengths: 10’, 12’, 14’, 16’
- Power: Medium heavy
- Action: Moderate
- Excellent guides
- Great reel seat
- Some reported durability issues
Spider rigging requires a lengthy rod with a good backbone and that’s where this rod designed by crappie fishing pro Wally Marshall comes into play. Lew’s builds this rod in four different lengths including a massive 16-footer for scenarios involving skittish crappie. The 10 and 12-foot models are two-piece rods while the 14 and 16-footers are three pieces for easier transport. These rods are medium heavy power which gives them a bit more backbone for the rigors of trolling around the lake all day. Lew’s gave these rods a graphite reel seat and stainless steel guides to add to the corrosion resistance.
The major issue with these rods seems to be durability, although reviewers on the Lew’s website note customer service help replace broken rods quickly. Regardless, for performance, these rods are a great option for any spider rig setup, and the price makes it affordable to buy enough to fill all your rod holders.
Best for Dock Shooting: Lew’s Wally Marshall Speed Shooter
- Construction: Graphite
- Length: 5’ 6’ – 7’
- Power: Medium light
- Action: Fast
- Purpose-designed for dock shooting
- Excellent backbone
- Extremely sensitive
- Some reported shipping issues
- Vibrant colors may not be for all anglers
Dock shooting requires a durable rod with plenty of flexibility and backbone to withstand the stress of using the rod’s bend to shoot lures into tight pieces of cover. The Speed Shooter is a one-piece graphite rod that loads up nicely with tension. The fast action easily slings jigs under the lowest of docks. Lew’s builds this rod in four lengths fitting for a variety of scenarios. User reviews praise the rod’s sensitivity on lighter strikes.
While the vibrant colors may not be every angler’s cup of tea, the rod has a strong backbone and it can be used for more than just crappie (one reviewer noted using it for bass fishing Ned rigs, for instance). That versatility is hard to beat.
Best Budget: South Bend Crappie Stalker
- Construction: Graphite composite
- Lengths: 9’, 10’, 12’
- Power: N/A
- Action: Extra Fast
- Great price
- High visibility tip
- Good sensitivity
- Reel seat could be nicer
- Small guides
South Bend has a solid offering under $30 with the Crappie Stalker. This simple rod is available in three different lengths and has a high-visibility tip that helps with strike detection. Additionally, the extra fast action helps to impart plenty of action to a jig. It can also help with the lightest of strikes while fishing a live minnow. The budget-friendly rod is lightweight yet has enough strength in case of an unintended catch of another species.
The downsides are the reel seat, which could be better, and the guides, which are extremely small. There are also some reported durability issues by users. But the price point is right for someone who wants multiple rods on the boat rigged with different lures.
Best Bait Finesse System: Jenko BFS Double Down
- Construction: N/A
- Length: 6’ 6”
- Power: N/A
- Action: N/A
- Precision baitcaster casting
- Extremely lightweight
- Great for forward sonar
Bait finesse systems or BFS for short, were popularized for bass in Japan and gradually migrated over to the states where crappie anglers adopted them. It makes a lot of sense because these rods were designed with tiny baitcasters in mind, thus giving anglers a ton of precision in their casting with even the tiniest of jigs and crankbaits. Jenko is basically the only company currently manufacturing BFS rods with crappies in mind. This rod is an excellent option for forward facing sonar and live scope scenarios where precision casting is a must.
Surprisingly, not a lot of other companies have hopped on the BFS for crappie bandwagon yet, which is why these rods are so difficult to find. They often sell out quickly, but for crappie anglers who get their hands on one, it opens a world of possibilities in their crappie gear arsenal.
What to Consider When Choosing a Crappie Rod
Because there are so many different techniques for targeting crappie, most enthusiasts own several rods for targeting this species. Depending on the scenario and style of fishing, you might want a longer rod for trolling, and a shorter one for skipping crappie lures under docks. Most crappie rods are graphite, which allows greater sensitivity for lighter bites. This becomes especially important when jigging since most crappies strike on the fall of the lure.
Crappie rods run a gamut of sizes. There are options from just under 6 feet all the way up to 18 feet. While that may sound oversized to a newer crappie angler, the long lengths have very specific case use scenarios. Trolling or “spider rigging” calls for longer rods of 12 feet or longer to get the lure out further ahead of the boat.
Spider rigging does require a significant investment in rod holders, multiple crappie rods, and specialized electronics and other boat accessories. However, when done correctly, there may be no better way to catch your limit. See our complete how-to guide to spider-rigging for crappies for more information on this unique tactic.
When it comes to these longer trolling rods, most manufacturers offer them in two or three pieces to make it easier to transport. There are also telescoping rods built specifically for crappie. Although most of these rods, which are in the 10 to 14-foot range, are meant to perform like a modern-day cane pole or Tenkara setup with a fixed length of line. These are best off docks or from the bank.
Another extremely popular rod-specific tactic is “dock shooting,” which involves fast action rods no more than seven feet long at max. This method requires the angler to hold the jig with one hand. The angler then flexes the rod so it effectively acts as a bow, shooting the jig forward. It sounds strange, and requires a lot of practice. But when performed by a practiced angler, there is no better way to tuck a jig back into tight cover. Done properly, it can help anglers reach crappie other anglers cannot reach, especially under docks where the fish are hanging close.
Action and Power
Anglers don’t need an especially beefy rig to pursue crappie. A two-pounder is a good fish. Most modern crappie rods are of moderate or fast action. The flexible tips help impart a ton of action to the lure, especially jigs, which are one of the most popular crappie lures on the market today.
In most scenarios, a light power rod will get the job done. Most crappie rods are light power. However, more rods are offered today in medium or medium heavy powers. It’s not a bad idea to get something with a bit more backbone to it, especially when trolling. As crappie anglers often inadvertently hook into unintended targets like bass or catfish. There are plenty of stories out there of giant muskie unexpectedly taking an angler’s tiny crappie jig. If you want to land some of those unintended catches, a stronger rod isn’t a bad idea.
Q: Why are crappie rods so big?
Crappie have a reputation for being skittish and line shy sometimes, especially in clear water. Thus, many anglers use extremely long rods for jigging and trolling between 10 to 16 feet. This gets the lure and bait further away from the boat and can increase the odds of a strike. Extremely long rods aren’t always a necessity for catching crappie, but if you’re having a hard time getting bites, it is a possible solution to the problem.
Q: What color line is best for crappie?
Almost every crappie angler has their own line preference and most come about it through trial and error. Some anglers prefer a simple 6, 8, or 10-pound clear monofilament fishing line for crappie while others prefer a colored braid with fluorocarbon leader for skittish fish. A whole subset of the crappie fishing community swears by high-visibility lines in yellow or green for detecting light bites. Although it’s probably a good idea to have a mono option on the boat at the same time in case the crappie are being extra picky.
Q: What size hooks should I use for crappie fishing?
Most anglers use a #2 or #4 size for crappie fishing. Although some anglers like to step things up to a #1 hook with larger minnows. If you are missing a lot of strikes, try dropping down to a #6 hook.
Final Thoughts on the Best Crappie Rods
The St. Croix panfish series was an easy choice for our best overall crappie rod because of the versatility offered by the entire line. The Pflueger combo and the two Lew’s crappie-specific rods are our follow-ups for best crappie rods on this list. Although crappie caught be caught so many different methods, it’s hard to go wrong with any of these options.
Why Trust Us
For more than 125 years, Field & Stream has been providing readers with honest and authentic coverage of outdoor gear. Our writers and editors eat, sleep, and breathe the outdoors, and that passion comes through in our product reviews. You can count on F&S to keep you up to date on the best new gear. And when we write about a product—whether it’s a bass lure or a backpack—we cover the good and the bad, so you know exactly what to expect before you decide to make a purchase.