Crappies are a highly sought-after species of panfish that can be found in just about all freshwater lakes and rivers throughout North America. These fish are highly prevalent and range in size from small fingerlings to some reaching upwards of over 3 pounds!
Crappies are very popular panfish and for good reason. Not only are these meaty sunfish a delight to catch but they produce some of the best eating among all of the freshwater panfish.
As we enter into the 2021 summer fishing season, many anglers are gearing up for their upcoming fishing trips and searching for new equipment that will give them the best chance of landing some excellent “keepers.”
Thankfully for anglers, crappies can be caught on just about anything. Some fishermen claim that they could even catch crappies on a handmade rod using a stick and some string. While we don’t have evidence if this is true or not, it is definitely great news for anglers that are in the market for a crappie fishing rod.
There are many to choose from, and all of them will get the job done. What makes the difference is how much sensitivity and versatility you want your rod to have.
We are going to look at several different options below to help you find a rod that will lead to you hosting the best fish fry of your life.
Carry on reading or jump straight to our number #1 pick here.
What Should I Look For When Buying a Fishing Rod for Crappie?
When you’re crappie fishing, you can almost always be guaranteed to have a good day of fishing due to the sheer quantity of these delicious panfish. However, the type and quality of the rod you use will be what takes your fishing experience to the next level.
A perfectly crafted pole designed particularly for crappie fishing and can quickly make “a good day out on the water” the best you have ever had.
Below, we have highlighted some of the most important features to look for when purchasing a fishing rod for catching crappie. Through careful research and insight from the pros, we have developed a list of criteria that will guide you to the crappie rod that works best for you.
A longer rod is generally best when it comes to crappie fishing. Professional anglers suggest looking for a rod that is between 7-10 feet long. This promotes casting success and the ability to reach crappies within their rather hidden and deep habitats.
A longer rod will also possess the capability to hold a heavier lure and will take away the strain of overcasting for the angler. Fishermen will be able to reach their desired casting location with much less power and physical strain than it would take with shorter rods.
For most crappie fishermen, a lightweight rod works best. For long days out on the water, a lightweight rod is easier on your body and will lead to less fatigue.
Lightweight rods are also highly sensitive which allows you to feel even the slightest movement or change in direction to your line. This will allow you to set the hook at just the right time which is important since crappies are known for their notorious ability to slip out of a hook set.
A fishing rod’s action refers to its flexibility. When we look at the flexibility or action of a rod we are gauging the degree of bend when pressure is applied to the rod itself and how quickly the rod can return to its original position when pressure ceases.
For catching crappie, it is best to look for a rod with maximum flexibility which will be advertised as having “slow action.” Flexibility within the rod will stabilize your bait when it is moving through the water, making it look much more realistic to fish.
Having a lighter, more flexible action will also lessen your chances of missing fish due to hook set difficulties. This is especially important for catching crappie who are known for their paper-thin mouths which can lead to hooks easily slipping out of place. Many anglers even call crappies “paper mouths” because of this unique characteristic they possess.
Power refers to a rod’s level of resistance against bending which is very similar to that of its action. As stated above, crappie fishermen will want to choose a rod with an ultra-light or light power rating to obtain the most flexibility and bendability in their rod.
This is key to crappie fishing because of the delicate bite these fish provide as well as the light hook set that they require. A rod with too much power will rip bait right out of a crappie’s paper-thin mouth. So ensuring that your rod has durability along with light strength is a must.
Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Fishing Rods for Crappie
To develop our list of the best crappie fishing rods for 2021 we took each of the criteria listed above and compared several top brands to find the best overall picks for this fishing season. With the opinions and review of expert anglers, we have developed a list that is sure to deliver both quality and fishing success.
#1: Mr. Crappie Slab Daddy (Best Value – All-Purpose)
The Slab Daddy fishing rod has been custom designed and developed by Mr. Crappie himself, Wally Marshall. Since 1996, Wally has made it his mission to design high-quality lures, rods, reels, and all types of tackle specifically for crappie anglers.
With a nearly infinite level of experience and endless knowledge of the species, Mr. Crappie has perfected crappie fishing rods and all for a surprisingly affordable price.
The specs we found on Lew’s fishing Mr. Crappie Slab Daddy are impressive and match our crappie rod buying criteria very well. This rod blank is made of light action fiberglass giving it excellent flexibility and sensitivity for effortless crappie fishing.
The rod also comes equipped with a graphite reel seat which ensures that any reel you place on this rod will be securely mounted for maximum use. Its handle is constructed of comfortable EVA foam to support a solid grip and a comfortable hold.
Stainless steel hook grippers and aluminum oxide inserts keep the line flowing in and out of the rod with ease, preventing any line fray or damage from excessive use.
One drawback to this particular rod when it is compared to our other choices is the length of the rod itself. Most crappie fishing rods tend to come in shorter lengths and professional anglers recommend keeping your rod’s length anywhere between about 5-7 feet. The Slab Daddy, however, comes much taller at between 9-10 feet.
While this may be okay for a taller angler, this is an important factor to keep in mind when purchasing. However, the price of the Slab Daddy just cannot be beaten and its longer length makes it very versatile in being able to be used for fishing other species.
#2: St Croix Premier Panfish Rod (Best Rod for Pan Fishing)
When it comes to the design and construction of fishing rods, the experts at St. Croix have it down to a science. Many anglers, both professionals and amateurs alike thank their St. Croix rods for some of their best catches and that is because St. Croix puts the very best and most high-quality materials into each of their rods.
The St Croix Premier rod has our vote for the overall best rod for pan fishing, and below we have highlighted three reasons why. Even though this rod will come at a much more expensive price than our other options, it would be a very worthwhile purchase for any angler looking for a rod that will last them a lifetime.
Reason #1 – Custom Carbon Fiber Material
Every single rod constructed by St. Croix is designed with a unique blend of patented carbon fibers each holding a unique purpose for specific anglers. The carbon fiber found in St. Croix rods is like any other rods on the market, and they understandably equate it to their higher price tag.
The St Croix Premier Panfish rod comes custom-designed with a blend of SCVI Exotic carbon fiber SCII Premium carbon fiber uniquely crafted for panfish. These highly flexible and durable materials will pack a punch when it comes to strength, but also allow you to have the flexibility and lightweight appeal that is sought after by all panfish anglers.
Reason #2 – Versatility
The St. Croix Premier Panfish series comes with a wide variety of options for anglers making this rod a very versatile choice for anglers of all kinds. Buyers can choose amongst a wide array of rod lengths ranging from 5 to 9 feet. Anglers can also decide whether they would like their rod to be made ultralight or light. This makes this rod great not only for crappie fishing but also for other panfish species including bluegill, perch, and even gamefish-like bass.
Overall, if you require a rod that can easily accommodate many different crappie fishing techniques including the spider rigging fishing technique as well as virtually every type of crappie bait and panfish bait, the St. Croix is the way to go.
Compared to our other choices, this premier rod is by far the most high quality and highly rated, however, one important factor to remember is that this rod features medium action which, unlike the Mr. Crappie rod, will not hold the same degree of bendability. It will be a stiffer rod making it great for thicker mouthed panfish such as perch or bluegill. However, you may find that crappies, with their thin mouths, slip away more readily with this specific rod.
#3: Ugly Stik GX2 Ultralight Combo (Best Rod and Reel Combo)
The Ugly Stik GX2 Ultralight is an excellent option for the angler looking for a very cost-effective rod and reel combo.
Not all crappie rods come as a reel combo, and for the amateur or fishing enthusiast, this is a great option because this ideal crappie combo setup will stand the test of time and perform well with virtually all crappie baits.
This Ugly Stick crappie rod is made with a combination of fiberglass and graphite making it exceptionally strong and durable while still being ultralight.
Most crappie anglers know that when using an ultralight fishing rod, such as a standard crappie rod, that there is an increased risk of rod breakage from incorrect storage and placement. However, anglers that used the Ugly Stik GX2 boasted of this rod’s exceptional strength. Many claim that it is even indestructible.
This Ugly Stik spinning reel setup is also very portable, making it the perfect fishing rod for campers or hikers. Its compactable length is great for jig fishing, which is one of the standard crappie fishing techniques.
This combo also includes an aluminum spool which allows for incredibly smooth casting and retrieval.
Compared to our other top crappie rod picks, the Ugly Stik crappie rod and reel is definitely a top contender for overall quality and success rate. However, this rod tends to operate at a medium action which means it will be more rigid and less flexible than some of our other top choices such as the Slab Daddy.
#4: Crappie Maxx Mighty Lite (Best Low Cost)
The Crappie Maxx Mighty Lite crappie rod is designed by Bass Pro Shops and is an excellent low-cost option for the seasonal crappie angler looking for a dependable crappie rod that will stand strong against the fight of even the most powerful crappie.
This durable rod is highly flexible and a great choice for jig fishing. Anglers can feel even the slightest bits of tension to the line, making the elusively small bite of the crappie more discernible than when using a thicker rod.
Crappie Maxx rods are developed from graphite rod blanks and are fully equipped with an aluminum oxide ring and a strong, graphite reel seat. This ensures the strong and secure fit of the reel you choose to accompany this rod. Its EVA foam handle will provide comfort to the angler and great grip.
While this rod will not have the same level of rod bend that our more expensive choices hold, it is still an excellent and very versatile rod that will provide you with years of fishing success and enjoyment.
#5: Shakespeare Wonderpole Rod (Best Cane Pole)
The Shakespeare Wonderpole Rod is a cane pole that is a multi-piece telescopic rod ranging in length from 13 to 16 feet in length.
Cane poles such as this one offer great portability due to their telescopic nature. They bring anglers back to the simple art of fishing using just a singular rod with no reel attachments or fancy add-ons.
The Shakespeare Wonderpole is an excellent option for crappie fishing because of its adjustable length and light power.
Anglers can be fully connected with their line as well as the fish at the other end of it because of this rod’s ability to provide excellent sensitivity and flexibility. Anglers will be able to feel the fish bite in a way unlike any other rod.
Another great asset found in the Shakespeare Wonderpole is the price. Because this cane pole is used without a reel, anglers are paying for the simple rod blank fit with a line keeper. This makes this type of rod extremely affordable, and it is an excellent way to truly connect with the fish you are pursuing on a direct level.
It is important to remember, however, that fishing with a cane pole such as this one is a completely different approach to fishing. This rod will not have the same casting or retrieving power as our other options because of its intentional lack of reel. However, when anglers learn to successfully fish using a cane pole, it can be a very rewarding and satisfying experience.
Crappies are fun and reliable fish to catch regularly. Given their high population numbers throughout hundreds of thousands of lakes in North America, catching these tasty freshwater fish is great fun for any angler.
To simply catch crappie and have a great time doing it, anglers do not have to invest in an expensive rod. Several budget-friendly options on the market will lead to great crappie fishing success.
While these rods may lack the flexibility and sensitivity that a professional fisherman might require, they will work great for any angler looking for seasonal fishing fun and great success.
#1 Shakespeare Crappie Hunter
Rod and reel crappie fishing combos really give anglers the best bang for their buck when they are looking for a good value. Here we are featuring the Shakespeare Crappie Hunter as one of our best budget-friendly picks for crappie fishing.
This rod/reel combo has been designed and created specifically for the fishing of crappie, so it is made to be ultralight and extra sensitive so that anglers can catch crappie with even the slightest bite.
Coming pre-spooled with high quality test line for light fish, anglers can be confident with every cast and retrieval they make. Made of extremely durable graphite, the Shakespeare Crappie Hunter features both strength and flexibility.
The overall design of this rod makes it a great setup for commonly used crappie fishing rigging options such as spider rigging and vertical jigging.
This rod also includes a highly visible tip so that anglers can discern even the slightest bit of pressure applied to the end of their line.
Overall, the Shakespeare Crappie Hunter included everything an angler would need to make their crappie fishing trip a success. While this rod will lack casting smoothness and overall performance over time compared to our other, more expensive options, it will be a great fit for seasonal anglers looking to bring in lots of this excellent tasting freshwater fish.
#2 Daiwa Shock DSK FW
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The Daiwa Shock is an ultralight rod is constructed solely of fiberglass and comes fully equipped with a single ball bearing spinning reel.
The fiberglass body of this fishing pole is where anglers save greatly on price because, unlike graphite, fiberglass is much less expensive to manufacture. However, anglers must keep in mind that fiberglass will not be nearly as flexible as that of a graphite body.
Overall, this budget-friendly option received excellent reviews from anglers of all kinds. Mainly used for panfish such as crappie, anglers had great success with this rod and were very satisfied with the quality and durability of this rod’s performance.
#3 Zebco Crappie Fighter
The Zebco Crappie Fighter rod and reel combo is our lowest priced option crappie fishing rod, and it is truly impressive for its low price.
This rod is a two-piece collapsable rod featuring a spinning reel. The collapsible nature of this rod makes it a great option for travel and easy storage.
The rod comes in two size choices of 6 feet or 9 feet, however, several verified customers suggest getting the shorter rods as it has been shown that the longer rods are too flexible and prone to breakage.
The Zebco Crappie Fighter is a lightweight fishing pole that makes it excellent for crappie fishing and other species of panfish. It is important to note though that this rod will be unlikely to be able to withstand the strength and power of larger fish such as bass.
This crappie fishing rod also comes pre-spooled with a very light line, which many anglers suggest stretching out. It was said to be too elastic and not durable enough.
Why Are Crappie Rods So Long? What Is the Best Crappie Rod Length?
Crappie rods range in length from about 5 feet to 16 feet. However, the majority of crappie rods will be about 10 feet in length. This is the ideal length for a crappie rod because it allows for a longer casting range which is essential to the success of crappie fishing.
Crappies are school-dwelling fish that like to make their homes among dense vegetation and deep rock formations. They are rarely surface-dwelling fish which means that anglers must be able to cast far and deep to reach the crappie’s ideal habitat.
Having a longer rod around 10 feet in length will make it much easier for anglers to successfully reach these hidden habitats and find where the crappies bed and make their homes.
Where to Fish for Crappie
Crappies are exclusively freshwater fish so fishing lakes, streams, or rivers are where you are likely to find them most prevalently. They are one of the most popular and highly sought-after game fish in North America.
Being found primarily throughout the northern regions of the United and States and Canada, these panfish are often considered to be the best tasting freshwater fish.
Crappies dwell in tightly packed schools and tend to generally make their homes in deeper water amongst heavy vegetation and fallen trees or logs. Anglers must lure these fish out of their hard-to-reach habitats to lead to a successful catch.
Crappies are more active during the hours surrounding dawn and dusk. This is when the crappie schools will emerge from their nesting grounds to feed, and this is when anglers are most likely to make a successful catch.
It is important for anglers to also fish this species according to the season. During the early spring leading to summer, crappies begin their spawning season in which the females lay their eggs in a place that awaits male fertilization. It is during this time that crappies will most likely be found in shallow water. Spawning season is the only season in which crappie will venture from their deep habitats and create shallow beds in which to nest. So anglers fishing during this season are more likely to have success fishing for crappie in shallows near the shoreline and amongst fallen trees or grassy vegetation.
In the heat of the summer, crappies are likely to return to the depths of the lake or stream and make their home amongst large rocks and other fallen sediment that is found at the bottom of lakes. During this season fishermen may find the most success by engaging in the fishing technique called jigging. This fishing technique refers to the simple action of repetitively moving your rod tip up and down. With a minnow, worm, or leach on the hook, this simple movement will replicate that of a wounded baitfish and will lure even the most reluctant crappie from the depths.
The simple act of one, singular crappie feeding will often spark other members of the school to investigate leading to more and more fishing success. Once you find a “hot spot” for fishing, it is best to stay for a reasonable amount of time without overfishing and causing distress to the school.
Verdict: Your Best Fishing Rods for Crappie
Crappie fishing is a rewarding and engaging sport for all ages and when you find the best crappie fishing rods for the job you are bound to have great success.
Here we have summarized our findings into a comprehensive list so that you can use easily decide which rod is the best choice for you.
If you want the best value for your money, pick the Mr. Crappie Slab Daddy.
If you are looking for a rod and reel combo, pick the Ugly Stik GX2 Ultralight.
If you want to keep the spend under $40, pick the Shakespeare Crappie Hunter or any of our other budget-friendly picks.
So, go out there and give crappie fishing a try. Whether you are a first-timer or have been crappie fishing for years, you never know what adventures await you. That first cast with your new rod may be the best cast of your life.