Crappies have delicate, paper-thin mouths that are easily damaged, especially if you’re too rough setting your hook.
This can quickly turn a catch into a miss, causing disappointment to the angler and leaving a fish swimming around with a nasty wound.
One of the easiest ways to improve your odds in catching a skittish crappie is to choose a rod that can help absorb some of the shock during the bite, giving you some cushion during the hookset.
Despite what their name might suggest, crappies are considered one of the best tasting freshwater fish.
A part of the sunfish family, these small fish are an attractive catch for many anglers across the US.
Below we’ll detail our favorite crappie rods on the market, considering things such as how they’re going to make your crappie fishing easier and more effective.
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Why it’s Our Top Pick
The Cadence CR5 spinning rod is our favorite rod for all your crappie fishing needs.
Here are just a few reasons why we’ve chosen this model to be on the top of our list:
This model has plenty of reviews saying how amazing it is for crappie fishing.
Soft hooksets are almost always guaranteed, an important feature when crappie fishing.
You can choose between 15 sizes depending on your techniques and personal preference.
Best Crappie Rods - Comparison Table
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Best Crappie Rods - Reviews
Cadence fishing rods offer high-performance features at a great price point, as Cadence believe dependable and durable gear shouldn’t break the bank.
This rod is constructed with 30 tonne carbon matrix graphite, offering the highest of quality while maintaining its lightweight structure and sensitivity. A comfortable Fuji reel seat and a blank wrapped in a carbon veil enhances the durability.
Stainless steel guides with SiC inserts make for a smooth rod, avoiding the line getting caught in the guides, minimizes friction while enhancing sensitivity by transferring vibrations from the line through the guide to the rod and then to your hand.
The unique two piece design makes it easy to fit in a car or a boat hatch without the hassle most other two pieces bring. The rod flexes along much of its length, absorbing the force that would otherwise be transferred to the line and harm the crappie.
The CR5 is ultralight but also strong, meaning it’s not just a one trick pony and will be able to catch bigger fish as well. 15 different sizes mean you can choose the best size for you without having to struggle with a one size fits all model.
After 70 years of evolving, St Croix offers a great choice of fishing rods for anglers who appreciate high-performance without a high price.
Made with graphite fiber with a higher strain rate, these rods are able to be lightweight, durable and sensitive thanks to this popular material. The rod action is determined by where the rod flexes along the blank, and St Croix allows you to choose your pole depending on whether you want a fast, moderate or slower action rod.
The power of the rod refers to how much pressure it takes to flex the rod. Different rod powers are engineered to efficiently handle a certain range of lure weights and line sizes. Again, St Croix gives you a number of choices to choose your preference.
With Pac Minima guides, you’ll save 20-30% of weight compared to ceramic guides, which makes this rod more sensitive and therefore gives the angler more finesse to make expert casts. This rod is fast actioned and more than forgiving enough for crappies and other light fish.
Thanks to the choice of sizes, you can tailor your cast distance to your needs.
If you’re an avid angler, chances are you’ll have heard of Fenwick and their long line of quality fishing rods. Their Eagle Rod is no exception and this is an ultralight graphite rod with fast action which takes line from two to 6 pound test.
Fenwick offers affordability with an attractive price point as well as a great performance when crappie fishing. It casts smoothly and has great stainless steel line guides with stainless steel inserts, and a long, comfortable cork handle.
The blank is made from graphite, again offering excellent strength while keeping it lightweight.
This rod is ultra sensitive but still allows for heavier weights, so you can use this rod for bigger fish as well which is great as you don’t need to shell out for two rods instead of one.
This rod is comparatively stiffer than other crappie rods so it’s not advised that an beginner angler uses it for their first crappie adventures, as they may be prone to ripping the mouth with their inexperience.
As mentioned earlier in our list, St Croix is an excellent brand with many reputable rods as well as other equipment under their belt, and this freshwater spinning rod is no different.
Purpose-driven performance makes this rod extremely helpful to all anglers. Different options for rod action and power make this rod customizable to each individual and the fish you’re planning on catching.
St Croix design their rods based on their fishing experience, which happens to be in freshwater such as lakes, ponds, rivers and streams.
This is perfect for crappie fishing, as these places are where crappies like to reside and therefore will be made to work perfectly in these environments. This rod offers a blend of two graphites for the perfect mix of lightweight and strength while remaining sensitive.
The rod blank is cured with a fortified super resin that helps prevent micro buckling, creating a blank that is 33% stronger than those built with traditional methods.
The Mr. Crappie Slab Daddy is a fiberglass rod made of two blanks with EVA foam handle grips, unique rod length indicator labels, a graphite reel seat, stainless steel hook keepers and guides with aluminium oxide inserts.
What’s more is the one and only Wally Marshall has approved this rod for its crappie specific actions, so you can rest happy with the knowledge that Mr. Crappie himself - who's been designing rods, reels, lures, hook, floats and line for crappie fishing since 1996, and knows everything there is to know about crappies - approves of this rod.
The Slab Daddy is available in three long lengths to get your hook super far out, in particular the 12 foot rod. Don’t be discouraged, this rod can be broken down into two pieces for easy travel.
The stainless steel guides with aluminium inserts will give you a smooth line glide, and the hook grippers are designed to keep your fishing line from getting tangled during the cast.
Best Crappie Rods - Buyers Guide
Power and Action
The rod’s power describes how much force is required to flex a rod. For smaller fish like crappie, it’s vital that you choose an ultralight rod so as to not rip the mouth and lose the catch. Ultralight rods with medium to fast action have cushioned hooksets that help to finesse the fish and land it.
Because ultralight rods bend so easily, they’re incredibly sensitive to even tiny nibbles. This is extremely helpful for skittish fish as long as you have good reaction times. Delicate mouths need a delicate rod, in which an ultralight model is best.
The action of a fishing pole is the speed at which the tip of the rod returns back to the straight position after it has been flexed. This is dependent on where the rod flexes along its length. Together with its power, a rod’s action tells you a lot about how it will perform.
Action can either be slow, medium or fast. For crappies, slow action is the best even though you will lose some sensitivity. This is because the slow action will help absorb a lot of the shock from you pulling the rod, which is less likely to rip the fish free.
Ultralight rods will often have a medium action, which is the best compromise for crappie fishing.
Modern fishing rods can be made from a variety of lightweight materials, including carbon fiber, graphite and fiberglass. Some use a hybrid of more than one material which increases the strength and provides more of a backbone. The best crappie rods are ultralight and therefore likely to be made from graphite.
Graphite is strong and stiff, making it super sensitive. Carbon fiber is the stiffest, strongest, lightest and most expensive material used for rod blanks. Fiberglass is heavier than graphite and usually less expensive. It’s not as sensitive or stiff but it’s incredibly strong.
All of these materials have advantages for being used for crappie rods, but their price points differ greatly. Choose a material that suits your budget best.
Line and Lure Weight
To avoid making your ultralight crappie rod heavier, you’ll want to use a lightweight line and lure too. The best crappie baits and lures will be light so they don’t tear the mouth, either.
A heavy fishing line will cause too much movement and scare them away as crappies are known to be more skittish than the rest.
The length of your fishing rod will depend on your personal preference and how big the body of water you’re going to be fishing in is. The longer the length of your rod, the longer you can cast out, but this reduces the preciseness of your shot. The shorter the rod, the more accurate you’ll be, but the casting distance may suffer.
Longer rods often mean more weight and less portability, as well as a higher price point.
Crabbie tend to reside in shallow waters with lots of plants and rocks to hide in. On one hand, a shorter length will suffice for casting out as you wont need to go too far. On the other, however, with a longer rod you can sneak up on the fish and simply drop your line into the water without having to cast.
This can be a huge advantage if you’ve found where the crappies are hiding, which is why longer rods are a popular choice. This method will also reduce the likeliness of getting your line tangled in the plants and stones, which is another advantage.
Guides are the rings that are attached to the fishing pole to keep the line in place. Good guides will prevent friction and damage to the line during the struggle of a catch. Crappies may not be the biggest fish, but they’ll sure put up a good fight if provoked so good quality guides are a must.
Stainless steel is an excellent material for guides as it’s lightweight but durable, which is important when preventing line breakage.
The handle is an important factor to consider as crappie fishing rods should be easy to control and use, and the handle is the guide for the pole. Some crappie poles have padded or cushioned handles which are more comfortable for the angler and prevent blisters or stiffness.
Handles are usually made from either cork or EVA foam. Cork is warmer and more attractive, but less durable in more intense conditions. EVA foam is softer and cooler to touch, and it’s pretty resistant to damage. Ultimately the material of the handle will come down to your personal preference and what’s more comfortable for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s a crappie rod?
A crappie rod is designed specifically for catching crappie or other small fish. They’re ultralight but also durable, and work much better than regular rods for skittish fish like crappie.
Crappies have incredibly delicate mouths that often rip when the angler is using the wrong type of rod, causing unnecessary pain for the fish. This can also be very annoying for the person fishing as it’s easy for the catch to get away.
What’s the difference between a regular rod and a crappie rod?
The biggest difference between these two rods is the length of the pole. Crappie fishing rods are the longest designs with some reaching up to 16 feet in length, whereas regular fishing poles reside around the 7 foot mark.
Regular fishing rods also tend to be heavier and sturdier than crappie models, as the latter comes with pretty specific vital features that are needed to be able to catch anything.
How long should a crappie rod be?
Crappie rods can be both short and long, however most crappie fishers prefer a rod measuring between 10 and 16 feet. There are a few reasons for this, the first being that it offers a quiet approach. Crappies tend to be very skittish and like to hang out in shallow waters.
They have good hearing and will most definitely run and hide if they feel you near. A longer rod offers a quiet approach to decrease the chance of the fish running away from you.
Another benefit that you get from using a long rod will give you a longer reach. Shorter rods can make quite a bit of noise when the line hits the water. Longer rods mean you don’t have to cast as hard, therefore reducing the movement and noise, and leading to the crappie staying put.
You can more or less hold the super long rod over where you’ve found the crappie and drop your line into the water which also reduces the noise.
Finally, crappie rods are long to reduce line snagging. Crappies love shallow water with plenty of rocks, stumps and weeds to hide around, which can be a real problem for reeling your bait back in.
Like we mentioned before, with a long rod you can slowly drop the line in from above and remove the annoying task of having to untangle your line from a load of underwater debris.