10 Best Crappie Reels for 2021

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Crappie is small, fairly light, and doesn’t fight too much. That’s why most anglers use the ultralight tackle to get them. Spinning reels are kings on this approach. They are compatible with thin lines and small hooks, making them perfect for ultralight setups. 

That’s why we’ve taken the time to test and review 10 of the best crappie spinning reels you can find. Because we know that not everyone has the time to read all the reviews, let me tell you that the Okuma Ceymar is the best reel you can get. It is light, affordable, has an impressive line capacity, and has durable gears. 

The PENN Battle III is our premium option. It is ideal for long casts and is incredibly smooth. But if you don’t have that kind of coin, then the KastKing Summer and Centron are your best bets. 

If you have the time, we invite you to take a peek at the other options. Let’s begin. 

10 Best Crappie Spinning Reels Reviewed

Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel

Features:

  • Size: 10
  • Line capacity (Yards): Up to 210
  • Weight (Ounces): 6
  • Maximum drag (Pounds): 3
  • IPT: 22.6
  • Six stainless steel ball bearings 
  • Gear ratio: 5.0:1
  • Graphite body
  • Aluminum spool
  • Anti-reverse system

You will hardly find anything better than the Okuma Ceymar for crappie fishing at this price range. The size 10, which is the best for the job, retails for 45 bucks, offering a lot of value for your money. 

The body is graphite, as it couldn’t be any other way. Despite weighing only 6 ounces, it is remarkably sturdy. We’ve dropped it a few times, and it still runs like the first day. 

The aluminum handle has a comfortable EVA knob. We’ve noticed no play between it and the anodized aluminum spool, which is always a good sign.

Okuma chooses to use their classic elliptical gears. Since they are so large, the reel uses power much more efficiently. However, it is not too smooth. It might be because none of the seven ball bearings have a sealed interior. Dust and debris might get stuck into it, tempering with smoothness. 

Apart from that, we’ve no complaints. The brass pinion gear is corrosion-resistant. And the drag washers deliver up to 3 pounds of drag. 

Pros: 

  • Comfortable handle 
  • Durable gears 
  • Light yet sturdy 
  • Impressive line capacity 

Cons: 

  • The bearings are not too smooth
  • Low drag

PENN Battle III Spinning Reel

Features:

  • Sizes: 1000
  • Line capacity (Yards): Up to 160
  • Weight (Ounces): Up to 6.8
  • Maximum drag (Pounds): 9
  • IPT: 22
  • Gear ratio: 5.2:1
  • Carbon body
  • Aluminum spool
  • Five stainless steel ball bearings

For those looking for quality, the PENN Battle III is a powerful contender. This time, we will specifically talk about the 1000 model, which is the most suitable for crappie fishing. Sadly, the price tag might scare some people away. But let me tell you, it is worth every penny. 

The reel has a full metal body and side plates. It is able to withstand the pull of any medium-sized fish while also being resistant to corrosion. The aluminum spool comes with a rubber backing. Say goodbye to monofilaments when using braids. The spool also comes with line capacity rings which tell you how much line is left.

The CNC gears inside are corrosion-resistant and large enough to increase torque. Thus reducing the strength needed to pull the same weight. On the other hand, the HT-100 carbon drag washers deliver up to 9 pounds of buttery smooth stopping power. 

On the other hand, the five sealed ball bearings ensure a long-lasting and even operation regardless of the load. Like we said, Battle III is worth every penny. 

Pros:

  • Sturdy body 
  • Smooth drag
  • Great casting distance
  • Durable gears 
  • Power handle

Cons:

  • Heavier than other similar reels
  • Low line capacity

KastKing Summer and Centron Ultralight Spinning Reels

Features:

  • Size: 500 and 2000
  • Line capacity (Yards): Up to 310
  • Weight (Ounces): Up to 8.6
  • Maximum drag (Pounds): Up to 12
  • IPT: Up to 24.4
  • 10 stainless steel ball bearings 
  • Gear ratio: 5.2:1
  • Graphite body
  • Aluminum spool
  • Anti-reverse system
  • Stainless steel drag washers

The Summer and Centron are sister spinning reels. They have the same construction and features, with color being the only difference. The Summer comes with a white and blue finish, whereas the Centron is black with blue accents. 

There are many sizes available. Still, we only recommend sizes 500 and 2000 for crappie fishing. They pack enough power and performance for such a small fish. 

The body is graphite. It is somewhat heavier than other reels we’ve reviewed before. For example, the 500 model weighs around 6.9 pounds.

The CNC anodized aluminum spool has enough room to accommodate up to 310 yards of line. Even the size 500, with 240 yards, has more capacity than the previous options. It is also braid-ready. So, there is no need for adding monofilament backing. 

Both sizes come with ten ball bearings. One is for the instant stop anti-reverse system. The others are for keeping things running evenly. Still, we notice that the reel is significantly less smooth under load. 

In terms of drag, the Summer and Centron crappie reels deliver up to 12 pounds of drag. So, there is plenty of stopping power. 

Pros: 

  • Impressive and smooth drag
  • Sturdy body
  • Superb line capacity
  • Smooth casting 

Cons: 

  • The reel is not that smooth under load
  • The internals are prone to get rusted if you don’t clean the reel

Lews Fishing Mr. Crappie Slab Shaker Spinning Reel

Features:

  • Size:75 
  • Line capacity (Yards): Up to 120
  • Weight (Ounces): 4.8
  • IPT: 23
  • Gear ratio: 5.1:1
  • Ball Bearings: 2
  • Graphite body
  • Reversible handle 

Starting this guide, we have Mr. Crappie Slab Shaker by Lews. It has a lightweight graphite frame and side plates. It is an ideal crappie fishing reel since it is so small and compact. Besides, it retails for less than 20 bucks. So, it is one heck of a deal. 

The spool and rotor are also of graphite. The spool, for instance, holds up to 120 yards of line. It is more than plenty for crappie fishing. The reel comes spooled right off the box. However, we do recommend trimming the line as they add too much, making it more likely to get tangled. Plus, the fishing line is of poor quality. 

Two stainless steel ball bearings are responsible for keeping things running smoothly. Sadly, they don’t do a decent job. However, you can hardly complain at this price point. 

The reel delivers a 5.1:1 gear ratio and a 23 IPT, which is enough speed for crappie fishing, although it would’ve been nice to see a higher gear ratio. 

Pros:

  • Great value for your money
  • Lightweight
  • Decent line capacity for crappie

Cons:

  • It is not smooth 
  • There is no information about the drag

Pflueger President Crappie Spinning Reel 

Features:

  • Size: 20
  • Line capacity (Yards): Up to 200
  • Weight (Ounces): 6.2
  • Maximum drag (Pounds): 6
  • IPT: 20.2
  • Gear ratio: 5.2:1
  • Graphite body
  • Aluminum spool

There are many different sizes of the Pflueger President spinning reel. But we recommend going for the size 20. The others are simply too big for the job. 

The Plueger President has a graphite body and rotor. But it is quite strong and shows no flex while in use. 

The braid-ready aluminum spool holds up to 200 yards of monofilament line. So, there are no worries on this end. On the other hand, the spool spins 5.2 times per handle crank. It translates into 20 inches per turn, which is more than suitable for crappie fishing.

Inside the reel, we find the sealed felt drag washers. The system delivers up to 6 pounds of stopping power. Yes, it might look like it is low. But keep in mind that we are focusing on crappie. So, you should be fine. The important thing is the drag works fine. There are no noticeable jerks whatsoever.  

We’ve had a pleasant experience with the Plueger President. It casts far and is smooth. All this for around 60 bucks. 

Pros: 

  • Strong backbone
  • Smooth operation
  • Enormous line capacity
  • Compact

Cons: 

  • It requires constant maintenance
  • The handle has some play

Abu Garcia Black Max Spinning Reels

Features:

  • Size: 5, 10, and 20
  • Line capacity (Yards): Up to 185
  • Weight (Ounces): Up to 8.6
  • Maximum drag (Pounds): Up to 14
  • IPT: Up to 27
  • 10 stainless steel ball bearings 
  • Gear ratio: 5.2:1
  • Graphite body
  • Aluminum spool
  • Anti-reverse system
  • Felt drag washers

The Abu Garcia Black Max offers three sizes for crappie fishing, ranging from 5 to 20. All of them feature the same construction and bearing count. Line capacity, maximum drag, and IPT are the only differences between models. 

The graphite frame and rotor are corrosion-resistant and light. The black with red accents finish is pleasant to the eyes. Plus, it doesn’t get stretched like other reels. 

The machined aluminum spool is braid-ready. It barely fits 185 yards of monofilament line on the size 20 model. The line capacity is lower than similar reels. But it is still adequate for crappie fishing. On the other hand, it looks like the spool doesn’t have an anodized treatment. So, keep it away from salty water.

Drag-wise, we get up to 14 pounds on the largest model. However, you only enjoy 6.5 and 6 pounds with the 5 and 10 models, respectively. The good news is the lack of jerks while operating the drag. 

Pros: 

  • Buttery smooth performance
  • Consistent drag
  • Beautiful finish
  • Interchangeable handle 
  • Fast retrieving 

Cons: 

  • Low line capacity compare with other models 
  • No anodized treatment
  • No reverse switch

Piscifun Viper X Ultralight Spinning Reel

Features:

  • Size: 500, 1000, and 2000
  • Line capacity (Yards): Up to 150
  • Weight (Ounces): Up to 8.5
  • Maximum drag (Pounds): Up to 22
  • IPT: Up to 30.7
  • 10 stainless steel ball bearings 
  • Gear ratio: 5.2 and 6.2:1
  • Graphite body
  • Aluminum spool
  • Carbon drag washers

The Viper X is another suitable choice for those anglers who want to keep prices low. There are several sizes available. But then again, we recommend either getting the 500, 1000, or 2000 model. All of them retail around 35 bucks, a price tag that most people will find attractive. 

The frame is graphite and sits on a lighter size. For example, the size 500 only weighs 5.4 ounces! So, it is an ideal choice for crappie and ultralight fishing. The maximum drag is impressive as well. The carbon drag washer yields up to 22 pounds of stopping power. Plus, the sealed drag knob increases corrosion resistance and protects the system against debris. 

Line capacity is a major concern. The CNC aluminum spool only holds up to 150 yards of line. But this is the size 2000 models. So, make each yard count. 

The Viper X packs a zinc alloy drive gear and ten stainless steel shielded ball bearings under the hood. Performance is, as you would expect, smooth to some degree. Why? Well, the gears start running slower when the reel is under load. Still, it is not a deal-breaker for us. 

Pros: 

  • Braid-ready spool
  • Light
  • Smooth casting 
  • Impressive IPT

Cons: 

  • Setting the drag is somewhat difficult
  • Retrieving is not as smooth as casting

SHIMANO Sedona Spinning Reel

Features:

  • Sizes: 500 and 1000
  • Line capacity (Yards): Up to 270
  • Weight (Ounces): Up to 7.6
  • Maximum drag (Pounds): 7
  • IPT: Up to 27
  • Gear ratio: 5.0 and 5.6:1
  • 4 Stainless steel ball bearings 
  • Hagane body
  • Aluminum spool

From small to massive fish, you can always rely on SHIMANO. They’ve proven themselves over the years, and many anglers regard it as one of the best fishing gear brands. This time, we will talk about the Sedona line. 

It has a metallic body that is highly resistant to abrasion. SHIMANO shifted the center of gravity, placing it closer to the rod. Thus, increasing casting distance and reducing fatigue. 

The oversized HAGANE gears do a superb job transferring power from the handle to the spool. Plus, they are remarkably smooth and durable.

There are several sizes available. Still, we suggest getting the 500 or 1000 models. Both come with the same carbon drag matrix. It yields up to 7 pounds of drag, which is enough for crappie. The good thing is that it is buttery smooth. There are no noticeable jerks when the reel is under load. 

The anodized aluminum spool houses up to 270 yards of monofilament line. Note that it greatly decreases as the line gets thicker. So beware.

Pros: 

  • Strong body with no noticeable flex
  • Smooth drag
  • Great casting distance

Cons: 

  • Low line capacity
  • Mediocre maximum drag

Daiwa Legalis LT

Features:

  • Sizes: 1000 and 2000
  • Line capacity (Yards): Up to250
  • Weight (Ounces): Up to 6.8
  • Maximum drag (Pounds): 10
  • IPT: Up to30
  • Gear ratio: 6.2:1
  • Carbon body
  • Aluminum spool

With a black and gold finish, the Daiwa Legalis LT is another option for those looking for a versatile reel without breaking the bank. Let’s start with the frame.

The Legalis LT features a carbon composite frame. According to Daiwa, it has a higher strength-to-weight ratio. We are yet to test it and see whether or not it is true. The good news is that it handles small to medium-sized fish just fine. 

The aluminum spool holds up to 250 yards of thick line. Therefore, it can accommodate even more yards if the line is slimmer like the one you use for crappie fishing.

The air rotor design reduces stress and uses your strength much more efficiently. Thus, reducing fatigue in the long run. 

Both the 1000 and 2000 models deliver up to 10 pounds of drag, which is more than enough for crappie and similar species. However, the larger model comes with a faster IPT, which might be a decisive factor for some. 

Pros: 

  • Fast reel 
  • Air rotor helps to keep the reel dry
  • Large handle
  • Decent line capacity
  • Light

Cons: 

  • Dirt and water sometimes enter inside the reel
  • There is some play between the rotor and the spool
  • The drag operation is not smooth

KastKing Zephyr 1000 Spinning Reel

Features:

  • Sizes: 1000
  • Line capacity (Yards): Up to 262
  • Weight (Ounces): 7.3
  • Maximum drag (Pounds): 18
  • IPT: 24.1
  • Gear ratio: 5.2:1
  • Carbon body
  • Aluminum spool

Closing this review, we have the Zephyr by KastKing. It packs quality at an affordable price, something that value hunters love. 

The reel has a graphite body. It is surprisingly heavy when compared with other reels of similar build, nothing to worry about, though. 

The anodized aluminum spool is braid-ready and holds up to 295 yards of line. However, the 1000 model, which is the most suitable for crappie fishing, only fit 262 yards. Still, we think it is more than enough to get the job done. 

Inside the reel, we find the carbon fiber drag washers. The system delivers up to 18 pounds of drag. Again, more than plenty to get the job done. On the other hand, the zinc alloy main gear and stainless steel main shaft ensure durability and smooth performance regardless of the load. 

The collapsible aluminum handle is another feature we loved. You can fold it down for storage. Plus, it is also reversible. 

Pros: 

  • Great value for your money
  • Decent line capacity
  • Superb maximum drag
  • Braid-ready spool
  • Long-lasting gears 

Cons: 

  • The handle has some play
  • The drag is not smooth 
  • Poor casting distance 

Guide to Buying Spinning Reel for Crappie Fishing

Searching for a spinning reel for crappie takes time. You need to pay close attention to the material, drag system, line capacity, handle, gear ratio, and IPT. Each one of these features has an impact on performance. Here you will learn how and what you should look for to get the best crappie reel possible. 

We’ve also tried to answer some common questions that most people might be asking themselves. Let’s get started.

Reel Frame

The reel’s frame plays an important role. It guarantees integrity and strength. For example, plastic reels won’t be able to handle the pull of big fish. Thankfully, most reels today are either graphite or metal. 

Graphite spinning reels are lighter while retaining enough strength to pull monsters from the water. They show some flex, which keeps them from transforming your force into cranking power. Still, most crappie spinning reels have a carbon fiber frame.

Metallic reels, on the other hand, are stronger and heavier than graphite ones. They show little to no flex. Thus, allowing them to use all your strength. Nevertheless, since crappier fishing involves using light gear, metallic reels are not a common approach. 

Line Capacity

Line capacity refers to how much line the spool has. Larger spinning reels accommodate more yards of line. Thus, they are more suitable for heavy or aggressive fish. Two things that are crappie are not. That’s why you don’t need a huge spool to tackle them. 

Still, it is advisable to go for a reel with around 200 yards of line. This way, you don’t need to re-spool the line if it happens to snap during your fishing session. 

Something that you must keep in mind is that line capacity decreases with diameter. The thicker the line, the fewer yards you can spool into the reel. 

It also pays to get a spinning reel with a braid-ready spool. This way, you won’t need to add monofilament as backing. 

Gear Ratio

The gear ratio shows how many times the spool spins per handle crank. So, for example, if a certain reel has a 6.0:1 gear ratio, it means that the spool spins 6 times per handle crank.

A high gear ratio means that you will reel the line faster at the expense of cranking power. Conversely, a low gear ratio, let’s say 4.0:1 generates more torque at the expense of speed. So, it all comes down to what you need. 

What is The Best Gear Ratio for Crappie Fishing? 

We recommend getting something around 5.2:1. It splits the difference between speed and strength, making the reel suitable for a wide range of purposes, including crappie fishing. 

Inches Per Turn (IPT)

Shortly known as IPT, it is the number of inches you can retrieve each time you crank the handle. A high IPT means that you will retrieve the line faster. Typically, most crappie spinning reels have a 20 to 25 IPT rating. So, try your best to stay within this range. 

Reel Drag

The drag refers to the degree of pressure the washers apply to the spool. Therefore, the fish must equal that pressure to take the line out of the spool. This achieves two things: It makes the fishing line less likely to snap and tires the fish. 

Most spinning reels use carbon, felt, and even stainless steel drag discs. Each one has its advantages. For instance, felt drag washers are cheaper but have a poor performance. On the other hand, stainless steel typically offers much more drag than needed for crappie fishing. 

Thus, the only choice we’ve got left is carbon drag washers. They often provide a smooth experience. They are somewhat durable as well. 

How Much Drag for Crappie Fishing?

Crappies aren’t known for their massive size. Therefore, there is no need to purchase a spinning reel with more than 15 pounds. Besides, you will likely use lines way beyond that test strength. So, it will be a little overkill. Now, it will be wise to talk about how much drag you should use while fishing. Sadly, there is no precise answer, as it depends on the line’s test strength. However, a good rule of thumb is to set the drag around 30% of the line’s weight. In other words, if you are using a 10-pound test line, you should set the drag at 0.3 at most. 

Bearing Count

Ball bearings are responsible for keeping things running smoothly. That’s why so many people think that the more, the merrier. Sadly, this is not always true. 

The quality of the bearing also plays a crucial role. Most reels feature stainless steel bearings. But they are not enough. Sometimes dirt finds its way inside, tempering with the bearing movement. 

That’s why we recommend getting reels with shielded ball bearings. The extra protection keeps water, sand, and dirt away, extending the bearing life. 

Naturally, the bearing count does matter. As long as the bearings are of the same quality, a reel with more of them will be inherently smoother. 

Gears

Always look for corrosion-resistant gears. Zinc alloy, stainless steel, and brass are the most common materials. All of them are suitable for the task. However, they might wear quicker depending on how thick they are. 

Another advantage of thick, large gears is torque. They increase it, thus lowering the strength requirements to pull the same weight. 

FAQ

Spinning or Baitcast Reels for Crappie? 

Right out the bat, spinning reels are more suitable. They are lighter and easier to use. They are also compatible with thinner lines, just like the one you use for crappie fishing.

Here a baitcaster is of little use. You can still try it, of course. 

What’s the Best Line for Crappie Fishing?

Monofilament is the most common option among crappie anglers. It is cheap, fairly invisible, and strong enough to handle the weight. Plus, they are not as rough as a braid with the fish, something that you must consider if you practice catch and release fishing. 

Which Rod Should I Use?

Given the fact that you’ll be using size 500, 1000, or 2000 reels, we would recommend going for an ultralight or light pole. They have enough backbone to pull crappie out of the water while remaining light enough to be compatible with your spinning reel.

Our Top Pick: Okuma Ceymar

If you can’t decide which is the best option for you, let us show you our preferred spinning reel: The Okuma Ceymar. You can choose between two sizes, 1000 and 2000. We like the first better since it strikes a good balance between strength and lightweight.

The graphite body is among the lightest you can find on the market. Still, it is strong enough to handle small to medium-sized fish without flexing. 

The gear ratio and IPT are good enough for a variety of techniques. Plus, the sturdy gear promises many years of operation.

Yes, it might not have the biggest drag of all. But it is ok for crappie fishing. However, we know that it might be a deal-breaker for some people. If you think that the pros outweigh the cons, as we do, you can find the Okuma Ceymar here.

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ABOUT ME

Hi! I’m Steven!

I am an avid life long fisherman, having caught over 25,000 fish over the years. My life-long passion for fishing began when my father taught me how to fish at the age of ten. I started luremefish.com to share my extensive knowledge of all things fishing.

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