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Top 10 Best Fishing Rods For Crappie in 2021

Looking for a rod for the upcoming fishing season perfected for catching crappie? After testing more than 30 rods, we narrowed it down to our top 10 favorite crappie rods for 2021. Find the exclusive details below.

Best Overall
St. Croix Premier
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Best value
Cadence CR7
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Best Premium
St Croix Panfish
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Dale Shetler
By Dale Shetler
Updated February 8, 2021
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It's an indisputable fact that you need the right tools for the job if you want to guarantee an excellent catch of crappie. 

Most die-hard crappie anglers agree that the best rod type for crappie fishing is an ultralight spinning rod. In fact, the finesse and adaptability of a lighter rod make it the perfect tool of choice for catching crappie. 

In the following article, we'll introduce you to the top ten light rods for crappie fishing and tell you what to look out for when making a purchase. 

We'll also answer some of the most common questions we get asked, so that you can have all the info you need to choose the best new rod for your next crappie outing.

Top 10 Best Fishing Rods For Crappie

1. St. Croix Premier Graphite Spinning Fishing

Best Overall
St. Croix PS70MHF Premier Graphite Spinning Fishing Rod with Cork Handle

As always, graphite is the lightweight, sturdy king of fishing rod construction. 

This St. Croix Premier rod is no different. It is built from premium SCII graphite for impressive strength, sensitivity and robustness. The cork handle is also highly comfortable and fits nicely with the Kigan 3D guides. 

The rod is finished with two coats of Flex-Coat to help ensure its 5-year minimum lifespan (but I’ll bet you it’ll last longer).

St. Croix rods have been constructed in Wisconsin since 1948. All design, engineering and manufacturing work occurs in this same location, and the company has always been dedicated to formulating fine craftsmanship products. This premier model is no exception to the company's reputation for superior, high-quality rods. 

Strong, pliant and sensitive, this rod has everything you need to handle crappie fishing day in and day out.

2. Cadence CR7 Spinning Rod

Best value
cr7 spinning rod

If you're on a tighter budget but still want to secure some excellent crappie catches, then you can't go wrong with the Cadence CR7 spinning rod.

The rod is constructed from 40-ton graphite and has stainless steel guides with SiC inserts. It also comes with a Fuji reel seat and a combination of premium-grade cork and EVA handles. It feels excellent in the hand and is both powerful and responsive when casting for both distance and precision.

This may be a lower-cost model, but it certainly doesn't scrimp out on any details.

The rod also boasts two-handle configurations: carbon split grip and full grip, and the blank is wrapped in a carbon veil to increase durability even further. 

With the use of premium materials in tandem with a wide variety of configurations, lengths and actions, the CR7 is perfect for tackling smaller game fish like crappie. 

Cadence is a brand that focuses on manufacturing high-quality materials and making ergonomic design affordable. So, if you're on a budget, do yourself a huge favor and check out the Cadence CR7 for your next crappie adventure.

3. St Croix Panfish Series Spinning Rods

Best premium
St Croix Panfish Series Spinning Rods

If you're in a position to spend a bit more and purchase a truly premium product, then the St Croix Panfish spinning rod is an exceptional choice designed specifically for the purpose.

The innovative blend of SCVI and SCII graphite allows for high performance while remaining highly durable and sensitive. 

The rod is also fortified with a superior strength resin, which is created in a computer-controlled oven and helps prevent tiny, micro-breaks in the rod blank. These features combine to form a blank, which is 33% stronger than others made with more conventional methods. 

The model also features Sea Guide guides with stainless steel rings and frames. 

The Sea Guide reel seat comes with a custom insert for greater comfort, the handle is made from premium-grade cork, and finally, the rod is finished with two coats of Flex-Coat for a bit of extra strength. 

In the end, this rod's sensitivity and shock-absorbance make it an ideal choice for crappie, as you can detect even very light strikes. Plus, with a 5-year warranty, this rod is well worth the investment. 

4. Berkley C-Series Crappie Pro Spinning

Berkley C-Series Crappie Pro Spinning

This Berkley model is made with 24 Ton Carbon graphite fibers for a remarkably lightweight and highly sensitive blank. The ergonomic grip design made with EVA is perfect for enhancing control and reducing fatigue when used for extended periods of time. 

The titanium oxide inserts are highly durable with an elevated strength-to-weight ratio ensuring maximum robustness while maintaining a light overall weight. 

This rod is also developed with a solid carbon fiber tip for extra sturdiness and sensitivity.

The Crappie Pro is precisely engineered for jigging and spider rigging techniques and therefore, perfectly suited to tackling crappie - as its name so aptly suggests!

5. BnM Duck Commander Double-Touch

B'n'M Duck Commander Double-Touch

This rod is constructed with a 40 Million Modulus IM6 Graphite Blank, making it very lightweight but still with the potential for high performance out there on the water. As one of the higher-end IM6 modulus rods available on the market, it is light, sensitive and extremely durable. 

This rod has a unique "Double-Touch" system, ensuring you can detect even the subtlest of bites. 

The genuine Portuguese cork handle, while looking great, is easy to clean and deteriorates at a much slower rate than common EVA foam. 

The Dyna-Flo Stainless Steel Guides provide a smooth line flow and are lightweight, so they don't add any unnecessary weight to the rod. And, it's also worth noting that Dyna-Flo guides usually tend to outperform their ceramic competitors. 

In the end, this BnM rod is an excellent choice for any angler keen on crappie fishing.

6. Lew's Mr. Crappie Custom Troller

Lew's Mr. Crappie Custom Troller 10'-2 Light Crappie Rod, One Size, CG10L-2

The Lew's Mr. Crappie spinning rod features premium high modulus graphite 2-piece blanks for durability and toughness. 

The handle is made from comfortable EVA foam and ensures a sturdy and firm grip. The lightweight stainless steel guides and graphite reel seats are also robust but don't add any extra weight to the rod. 

The rod provides excellent value for the money with a strong backbone and high-quality materials for a low price. 

The Lew's brand is dedicated to making high-quality fishing products and retaining a strong reputation in the fishing industry. This crappie-specific rod is no exception and would make a great addition to any angler's collection.

7. The BnM Lelands TCB 6.5 ft

BnM Lelands TCB by BnM 6.5 ft 2pc Spinning Ultra Lite

This is the second BnM product on the list, so you can be sure it's a trustworthy brand. 

With a name originating from the term 'Broom and Mop,' this company has worked with premium quality materials designed for efficiency for decades. 

The BnM Lelands Spinning Rod is an ultra-sensitive, ultra-light rod that will allow you to detect trout and crappie easily. 

It's made from premium graphite and built for durability, power and sensitivity. The split handle has a uniquely designed reel seat, which reduces weight and enhances comfort in the hand. 

As a highly responsive and sensitive rod, this is an excellent option for Crappie fishing.

8. Shimano Sensilite Spinning Rod

shimano sensilite rods

The Shimano Sensilite, while being one of the more aesthetically pleasing rods featured on this list, is also designed to prioritize lightweight sensitivity. 

Durable and long-lasting, the model comes in a range of ultralight and light power ratings allowing for small and precise jigging. In turn, this makes these rods perfect for panfish and crappie fishing.

The design also boasts a handle made from high-quality split-grip cork for firm traction and comfort in the hands. The 24-ton graphite blanks, meanwhile, give the rod a more sophisticated feel and appearance.

The main advantage of this Shimano model is that it offers the look and feel of a high end, premium product while being available at a modest price. 

This makes it the perfect choice for crappie anglers on a budget.

9. TFO Temple Fork Outfitters Trout

TFO Temple Fork Outfitters Trout-Panfish TPS Spinning Rod Fishing

This Pro Series Trout-Panfish rod is an ergonomically designed product for high enjoyment fishing. It is adaptable for use with artificial lures in addition to crickets or worms. It boasts fast action blanks that are built with modulus carbon fiber material. 

The blanks are a deep green with gold accents, topped with anodized stainless-steel guides to minimize weight.   

These rods have an up-locking skeletal graphite reel seat along with a green anodized trim ring. They also come with premium split cork grips and burl caps. These rods are designed and manufactured to ensure high performance and longevity. 

For crappie fishing, these rods have everything you could need and want for a fruitful fishing trip.

10. KastKing Brutus Spinning Rod

KastKing Brutus Spinning Rods & Casting Fishing Rods

With its carbon fiber and composite glass construction, the Brutus spinning rod is designed for impressive durability without compromising performance. 

The Brute Tuff composite blanks are tailored to extreme conditions and hard fighting fish. These rods also all feature a charter-level "Strike Tip" for increased sensitivity and detection of strikes. 

The line guides match the rod in sturdiness and are braid ready. 

The stainless steel running guide frames are corrosion resistant and come with stainless steel rings. The guides themselves have Zirconium Oxide rings and are perfect for either fluorocarbon, monofilament or braided fishing lines. 

Plus, the highly durable graphite reel seats will hold reels in place even when under substantial pressure.

The full-length EVA handles provide durability and comfort and provide extra cushioning. The EVA design will also provide you with some additional leverage when tackling larger fish.

Kastking Brutus spinning rods are equipped for anything you might throw at them and would prove an excellent tool for crappie fishing.

Things To Consider When Buying Fishing Rods For Crappie

Close-up of a crappie fish caught by a fisherman

The best crappie fishing rod for you will obviously depend on a lot of factors, including how lightweight you want it to be, the specific conditions you plan on using it in, as well as personal preference for style, budget, and comfort. 

Below, I’ve put together a quick guide to some essential things to consider before buying a rod for crappie fishing.

Material

Generally speaking, the lighter the crappie rod, the better. 

The material best suited for providing durability while keeping the rod ultralight is graphite. As well as being sturdy and lightweight, graphite is also highly sensitive, which means you’ll be able to detect virtually all subtle, light bites from a fish. 

The other material commonly used for spinning rods is fiberglass. 

Although fiberglass is very durable and robust, it tends to be much heavier and offers less sensitivity. For this reason, fiberglass is not your best option for crappie fishing, and graphite is usually recommended.

Power

Action and Power Fishing Rod Infographic

A spinning rod's power is typically described as either 'ultralight,' 'light,' 'medium,' 'medium-heavy,' or 'heavy.', each of which refer to the strength and lifting power of the rod.

Crappie is a reasonably small-sized fish. And while some may measure up to 8 inches in length, the average length is only about 4 inches. 

Due to this small size, you won't require a crappie pole with an immense amount of power and backbone. 

Also, increased power in a rod usually comes at the sacrifice of sensitivity, and this is the last thing you want when it comes to crappie fishing. 

Opting for an ultralight or light crappie pole is recommended, which means it will take only a very small amount of pressure from the bite of your next catch to make the rod bend.

Action

Fishing Rod and Action Illustration

To refer to the action of a rod, manufacturers will use words like 'fast,' 'medium,' 'moderate,' and 'slow.' Or, sometimes, they will be combined for greater specificity, for example, moderate-slow.

Fishing Rod Action and Power Correlation

Action describes how much and where the spinning rod will bend when there's weight pulling on it. 

Fast action spinning rods, for example, will bend close to the tip, medium action rods will bend around the middle, and slow action rods bend nearest to the reel seat. 

For crappie fishing rods, a slow action is highly recommended, even if it comes at the cost of losing some sensitivity. This is because slow action can absorb more shock when you pull on the rod, making it less likely to tear the hook from the fish's mouth or break your fishing line.

Rod Length

The length of the rod will be determined by personal preference and your fishing location. 

Crappie rods can be up to 16 feet long, which is often the maximum rod length you can find. However, the more standard size rods don't exceed 10 feet. 

In general, the farther you would like to cast, the longer the crappie pole needs to be. However, bear in mind that the longer the rod, the heavier and less portable it becomes. 

Nevertheless, a long pole can certainly come with advantages. 

Crappie is a species of fish that like to hide in plants and rocks. Therefore, a longer rod will allow you to drop your line into the water without casting, making it easier to sneak up on those hidden crappies.

Weight of Line and Lure

To complement an ultralight crappie rod, you will need a lightweight line and lure too. 

The best crappie lines and lures will be exceptionally light to avoid ripping the fish's mouth and weighing down the rod. On the other hand, a heavier line can also cause too many ripples in the water, which can scare crappie away. 

Guides

Guides are small rings placed on a fishing pole to ensure the fishing line stays securely in place both while casting and retrieving. 

The best crappie rods will have stainless steel guides as they are both lightweight, durable, and corrosion-resistant, which is essential for guaranteeing your rod's efficacy and longevity.

Handle

various fishing rod handle types

The handle of a crappie fishing rod should be easy to use, comfortable and sturdy enough to help you reel in your catch. 

Spinning rod handles usually come made of either cork or EVA foam.

Cork is the traditional handle material. It's comfortable in the palm and provides a good grip on the hands, even when it's raining. 

EVA foam is an innovative upgrade on traditional cork handles and grips. 

It is a highly durable material, easy to clean and feels light in hand. Plus, EVA foam handles reduce the overall weight of the rod, which is a bonus.

Test for yourself whether you prefer the feel of the cork of EVA before buying.

Price

Finally, price is a significant factor to consider when buying a rod for crappie fishing, especially if you plan on adding it to an existing collection. 

If you're on a smaller budget, then there are many low-cost rods you can consider, such as the Cadence CR7 Spinning Rod.

When it comes to getting the most for your money, look for robustness and durability. 

Buying cheap rods that will break easily will only end up costing you more in the long run. 

Also, be sure to check for a warranty, too, for guaranteed longevity.

Frequently Asked Questions

There's a lot of information to sift through when choosing which rod to buy for crappie fishing.

Below, we answer some of the most common questions we hear related to crappie rods.

What is the difference between a regular rod and a crappie rod?

A crappie rod is specifically designed for fishing crappie fish or other small, similar fish species like panfish. They tend to be ultralight and highly durable. 

The most significant difference between a regular rod and a crappie rod is the length of the pole. 

Crappie fishing rods tend to be slightly longer so that they have greater casting abilities and can be used to sneak up on fish.

Not all crappie rods will have the same features, but graphite is the most suitable material because of its lightweight. However, it’s not uncommon to see more affordable models to be constructed of a combination of fiberglass and graphite. 

How long should a crappie rod be?

The length of the crappie rod depends on the conditions you plan to be fishing in, as well as what you prefer.

Most crappie rods will be around 10 feet long, although it's possible to find crappie rods between 6 and 16 feet. If you want to cast far, then a longer rod is recommended. However, longer rods are inevitably heavier and more difficult to transport.

Crappie likes to lurk and hide under rocks and vegetation. Therefore, if you have a longer rod, then you can drop your line directly into these tricky areas without having to cast, making it much easier to catch hidden crappie.

What is the best jig size for crappie?

Jigging refers to fishing with a fishing lure called a jig. Jigs are designed to form a jerky, vertical motion and are highly versatile, adapted for both saltwater and freshwater conditions. 

When catching crappie, a 1/32 - 1/24 ounce jig head with a 1 - 2 inch jig in bright colors will usually attract this target species.

What is the best color jig for crappie?

crappie jigs

When it comes to bass fishing, the rule is to fish dark lures in dark waters and light lures in clear water. However, with crappie, this rule does not apply.

In fact, it's generally recommended to use a bright, sparkly jig in dark waters and yellows, oranges or metallics in more neutral waters. You can consider using high contrasting colors, like black and white lures too.  

The best way to determine which color will work in your location is through trial and error, as there is a great deal of variation in terms of which colors best attract crappie.

Is braided line good for crappie?

A braided line is a good option for fishing almost any species of fish. This is because it's sturdy, durable, and sensitive.

However, the one drawback of the braided line used to fish for crappie is that it has higher visibility in the water. 

Crappie is an intelligent fish and may be deterred by a visible line. 

The solution is to use a fluoro-carbon or clear monofilament leader line when using a braided line. 

This will provide the optimal line setup for catching crappie.

Is crappie hard to catch?

Crappie can indeed be very hard to catch. This is primarily because of their mouth structure, which doesn't allow for an easy hook. This is also why this species is often nicknamed "papermouth." 

They're also difficult to catch because they tend to be scattered around, so you’ll need to move around quite frequently to find them.

Can I use a crappie rod to catch other species of fish?

Rods designed for crappie fishing will also be suitable for other small, light fish, like panfish and trout. 

However, as the rod is likely ultralight, it would not be suitable for catching large fish like pike or musky, and would likely become damaged or snap if attempted. 

Crappie fish are also primarily freshwater fish, although they can be found in saltwater conditions. 

Therefore, some rods will be designed for use in freshwater and not have the corrosion-resistant fortified surface materials required for use in saltwater conditions. This means they will erode quickly and become damaged if used in saltwater for long durations of time.

Conclusion

Angler caught a crappie while fishing

Crappie is among some of the most flavourful freshwater fish that you can catch, and fishing for them can be a fun, and delightful - albeit challenging - experience. 

With a lightweight and durable rod tailored to crappie fishing, you can optimize your fishing technique for targeting crappie and maximizing your chances of a great day's angling. 

Even if you're on a lower budget, many durable, high-quality options on the market will perform well for this smaller species.

However, if you're looking to make a significant investment, then there are some great premium products with ergonomic designs and high-quality constructions, like the St. Croix Panfish Series Spinning Rod.

Hopefully, this guide has provided you with some valuable insight into crappie fishing, answered your most pressing questions, and provided you with some useful information on what to look out for when buying a rod specifically for crappie fishing. If you want a more general overview, check out the best spinning rods guide as well. Don't forget to check out the best crappie reels either.

Lastly, remember - gear is only part of a successful fishing trip. Read our guide on how to catch crappie to master the skill of hooking in these tasty panfish. For similar inspiration, check out our 8 favorite crappie rigs bound to yield results.

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