Spring is right around the corner and with it comes some of the best fishing season in North America.

The promise of long days on the lake or river begs the question, what will you fish for this year?

Well if you live in the lower 48, there is one type of fish almost guaranteed to be swimming just beneath the surface.

Best Crappie Rod and Reels

  1. Zebco Crappie Fighter
  2. Sougayilang Telescopic Rod and Reel
  3. Ugly Stik Crappie Combo

Crappie is one of the most popular game fish in America and can be found in most freshwater lakes, especially during spring spawning season in the spring time.

Chances are, if you’ve been fishing at least a couple times, you’ve caught one or at least had a nibble.

But this year, with the information I’ve gathered here, you can set out to hook crappie and you’ll be successful at it, too.

The avid fisherman is liable to spend hours scouring reviews, fishing publications, tackle videos on the internet, or even soliciting the advice of his fellow anglers, all in effort to build the best rod and reel combination for their chosen fish.

Lost in the specifications of line capacity, gear ratio, pole length and many others, just hoping to crack the formula for the perfect set-up that will guarantee them a fish on their next trip.

Benefits of Crappie Rod and Reel Combo

Reel Combo

It’s common for intermediate and expert fishermen to build their rod and reel set up piece by piece. But this isn’t a necessary practice to be a successful fisherman. There are many benefits to purchasing a pre-fab combo setup.

Some of these benefits include but aren’t limited to:

  • A lower startup cost
  • Immediate usability
  • No assembly required
  • You will immediately have a rod-reel combo that is matched up to the right gear ratio to function optimally.

What Do You Need To Know Before Buying?

  • Casting distanceYour first consideration is casting distance. The length you can extend your lure/bait/jig out from your rod, in one cast. This will be more of a personal consideration depending on how and where you intend to fish. Walking banks to cast into vegetation or submerged logs near a bank may require less casting distance. Whereas casting off a tall dock or in open water may require a further distance covered.
  • Material- When shopping for a rod, you’ll notice that they are typically made of fiberglass or carbon fiber. Sometimes a hybrid of the two. There are pro’s and con’s to both but typically fiberglass is less sensitive and more durable, where as a carbon fiber rod will be highly sensitive and much lighter. For an all-around rod, it’s best to seek out a hybrid composition.
  • Line Capacity- This refers to the amount of total line the reel can fit onto the spool. Different weights of line will have varying diameters. To put it simply, the thicker the line, the less you can spool. You will need to have a general idea of how much line you will want to use when considering the line capacity of a reel.
  • Gear Ratio- The gear ratio of a reel tells us how many revolutions the spool makes with each complete turn of the reel’s handle. For example: A reel’s gear ratio of 5.1:1 means that for everyone full turn of the handle, the spool completes 5.1 revolutions.
  • Bearings- Otherwise known as “brushings”, these are small metallic balls within the reel that allow a smooth and stable revolution of the reel. The more bearings that a reel contains, the smoother the action will be as you reel in your line or fish.
  • Pole Length- This one is pretty self-explanatory but this will be the overall measurement from one end of the rod to the other. Worth noting is that the longer the rod, the longer it will be able to cast. Conversely, a shorter rod may be more appropriate if you intend to fish just of a bank.

Best Crappie Rod and Reel Combo

Zebco Crappie Fighter

Here you will find a good general-use budget rod and reel combo. The rod is a medium-weight, fiberglass rod. Painted with action orange accents and tip, you will easily be able to see the tip’s action.

Varying in lengths from 5’6” up through 12’, they come in a 2 piece and 3-piece models, so there is a combo available for everyone’s taste. Depending on where you shop, this combo package may come pre-spooled with 4# test and is nearly ready to fish out of the package.

The Zebco Crappie Fighter series is a great starter or utility combo for the novice-intermediate angler.

Buy The Zebco Crappie Fighter Here


Sougayilang Telescopic Rod and Reel

Sougayilang Spinning Fishing Rod and Reel Combos Portable Telescopic Fishing Pole Spinning reels for Travel Saltwater Freshwater Fishing

Weighing in at a low 1.1 total pounds and made with both fiberglass and carbon fiber, this telescoping rod and reel combo is a fantastic rig for someone looking for a compact, light, and durable pole.

Available in pole lengths ranging from 6’-11’ the “closed” size of the pole is 16”-20” respectively making it great to keep in your trunk, backpack, or large tackle box. Boasting a stainless steel/aluminum reel with double-shielded bearings and a 5.5:1 gear ratio, the reeling action is both smooth and efficient in taking up significant line with each crank.

Additionally, this combo kit comes with a 1-year warranty making it a perfect combo kit for a beginner or anyone else that want’s to be able to fish anywhere, at the drop of a hat.

Buy The Sougayilang Telescopic Rod and Reel Here


Ugly Stik Crappie Combo

The “Ugly Stick” is built specifically to hook those crappies. Another contender for “Best Budget Rod”. Available in 7’ and 9’ models, there is less options for this combo than the previous two. What it lacks in options, it makes up for in simplicity and functionality. All white with black accents, it looks clean and casts that way too.

Though the reel isn’t the best out-of-the-box, it does the trick and will still help you reel in a boatload of fish. An aluminum spool and single ball bearing make it comfortable to reel, but not the smoothest.

The value of this combo set mostly lies within the quality of the rod. Boasting a strong backbone and impressive durability, you’d be hard pressed to ever hook a crappie too big for this rod to hold. Users testify their “Ugly Stik” lasting years before compromising and usually after more than one impressive catch photo.

Buy The Ugly Stik Crappie Combo Here


Top Crappie Spinning Reels Reviewed

A combo rod and reel is a great jumping off point. But if you insist on building your own rig, the following reels will get you the biggest bang for your buck.

Shimano Stradic Ci4

Shimano is known for their gearing and this reel is no different. There is no crappie to large for this spinning reel. Built with top of the line material and housing 6 bearings, there isn’t a reel anywhere near this price that beats how smooth and stable the action is.

The Stradic clocks in at 6.0:1 ratio, a spool size to hold up to 200’ of 6# test and rotor made of Magnumlite. The Magnumlite rotor allows the crank action to feel as if it is hardly resisting and allows you to extend your casting distance.


KastKing Summer and Centron Spinning Reels

KastKing Summer and Centron Spinning Reels, 9 +1 BB Light Weight, Ultra Smooth Powerful, 500 Size is Perfect for Ice Fishing

Back to the budget conscious reels, we find ourselves very impressed with the KastKing. You won’t fit as much line as some other models, but what it lacks in line capacity, it makes up for in a host of other features.

Made of graphite and anodized aluminum, the KastKing comes in a vibrant and slick looking two-tone blue and white combination that is sure to make your friends jealous. In addition to the 9 bearings, the rotor houses one instant stop one-way bearing making sure your spool doesn’t unwind until a fish pulls 17.5#’s against you. There are models varying in size and features.


Piscifun Honor Spinning Reel

The next step up in price and performance, this reel is a monster. Built to facilitate saltwater and freshwater fishing, this lightweight carbon fiber/graphite/aluminum hybrid reel adds less than a pound to your rig.

Packing 10 steel ball bearings and a high maximum drag at 22.1#’s, you will find it has butter-smooth reeling action that seems effortless as you pull in bigger and bigger fish.

Accommodating the budget of a new angler and the performance expected by the pros, you would find it difficult to find a comparable reel at this price. I certainly did.

Sougayilang Fishing Reel Spinning

You won’t find a smoother reel at this price. While you will be cranking a bit more than the above reels with the 5.1:1 gear ratio, it will be an impressively smooth action while doing so. Compact and light, this would be the perfect reel for a newer fisherman or as a backup reel for the more experienced angler.

The Sougayilang spinning reel brings with it water resistance that parallels those best in it’s class. At such a low price point, this is a fantastic contender for best budget reel for the angler building their own rig.


Yoshikawa Baitfeeder Spinning Reel

Now, one of the more unique reels I’ll be highlighting. The “Baitfeeder” is equipped with just that. At any rate, they refer to the feature as the “Baitfeeder Lever”. A small lever on the bottom of the reel that when flipped in either direction, engages either the front or rear drag.

The front drag works like a rear drag on a normal reel, but this model’s “rear drag” utilizes less drag power, allowing fish to pick bait without sensing the tension. Ultimately, more vigilant fish can nibble at the bait until they take a full bite.

Weighing about a pound and housing the 10-bearing setup, this sturdy and smooth reel will feel effortless as you reel in. This reel’s gear ratio comes in average at 5.5:1. All in all it is kind of a cool novel reel that hits middle to slightly above average marks on the standard specs.


Now For The Fun Part!

So, whether you are going to go for your crappie by combing and casting off the banks, trolling around the open water with a spider rig, or fishing underneath a tall dock, you will need the proper equipment.

With the information above, I hope this primer has helped you know where to start.

The crappie are waiting in the weeds, your combo rod and reel is ready for you on the shelves, and your pan is waiting to sear that first delicious pan fish. Now all that is left is to grab your fishing pole and meet me on the lake! Let’s go fishing!