10 Best Crappie Reels in 2023: A Comprehensive Review

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Crappies are generally small fish. They are not known for their fighting prowess. That’s why most anglers use very light tackle to get them. Spinning reels are the best approach here. They are compatible with thin lines and small hooks, making them perfect for ultralight setups. 

Fishing for crappie, with light gear, is fun and addicting.  It’s one of my favorite fish to eat.  The meat is sweet and flavorful.  They are abundant, so I have no issues taking some home for a delicious dinner. They are also good for beginners or children to learn how to fish.   Once you find crappie be ready for some explosive fun!  They go into a feeding frenzy which can last up to two hours. 

In this article, we’ve taken the time to test and review 10 of the best crappie spinning reels on the market.

At A Glance: Our Top 3 Crappie Reels

There are, of course, other options. Read on to get our opinion and what our findings show.

10 Best Crappie Spinning Reels Reviewed

Why you can trust LureMeFish! Our team of expert reviewers spends countless hours testing and comparing products to ensure that you can make informed decisions about your gear purchases. Find out more about how we test.

Okuma Ceymar Spinning Reel

okuma Ceymar Lightweight Spinning Reel- C-30, Black/Red
  • Used by professionals worldwide
  • Tested for reliability and quality
  • Made using the highest quality materials


  • 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 won’t 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 value for your money. 

The body is graphite, which is lighter and more resistant to corrosion than aluminum reels. Despite weighing only 6 ounces, it is remarkably sturdy. We’ve dropped it a couple of times, and it still works perfectly.

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’s not the smoothest.  None of the seven ball bearings have a sealed interior. Dust and debris might get stuck into it, tempering it 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.  

The reason why we like this reel?  Pair it with an ultralight fishing rod it is a fantastic combination.  Larger gear can easily overpower crappie.  The goal is to land fish after a good fight.


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


  • The bearings are not too smooth
  • Low drag

PENN Battle III Spinning Reel

PENN Battle III Spinning Inshore Fishing Reel, HT-100 Front...
  • DURABLE CONSTRUCTION: The body and sideplates of...
  • CNC GEAR TECHNOLOGY: Recovers at the rate of 22”...


  • 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

If you want quality, the PENN Battle III is a powerful contender. This time, we will specifically talk about the 1000 model. It is the most suitable model for crappie fishing. Sadly, the price tag might scare some people away.  Don’t worry because this reel is worth every penny spent. 

The reel has a full-metal body and side plates. It can withstand the pull of any medium-sized fish while also being resistant to corrosion. The aluminum spool comes with a rubber backing. Thanks to this you do not need a monofilament backing when using braided lines. 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. In turn, this reduces 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. 

The five sealed ball bearings ensure a long-lasting and even operation regardless of the load. As we said, Battle III is worth every penny.  Quality is evident in this reel. 

Our team was impressed because this reel is built to last.  It is one of the smoothest reels that we tested.  If you want to invest in a reel for crappie fishing this would be our pick. 


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


  • Heavier than other similar reels
  • Low line capacity

KastKing Summer and Centron Ultralight Spinning Reels

KastKing Centron Spinning Reel, Size 500 Fishing Reel
  • Ultra Smooth Powerful - KastKing Centron spinning...
  • Premium Quality Inner Parts - Centron's 9 quality...
  • Two Color Options - KastKing Centron Spinning Reel...


  • 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 has a white and blue finish, whereas the Centron is black with blue accents. 

There are many sizes available. We only recommend sizes 500 and 2000 for crappie fishing. They pack enough power and performance for such a small fish. When we trialed this product, that was our team’s conclusion.

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

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. 

The reels are both fitted 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. 

Why did we like this reel?  I  like the Centron 500.  I can easily swap it over for my ice rod in winter.  The dual role of this reel means I can target crappie for a significant part of the year.  


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


  • 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

Lews Fishing Mr. Crappie Slab Shaker Spinning Reel MCS50
  • Graphite body, rotor and spool
  • 2 Bearing construction
  • Thin compact gear box


  • 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 

In 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 small and compact. It retails for less than 20 dollars, making it an excellent deal.

The spool and rotor are also 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 recommend trimming the line as they add too much, making it more likely to get tangled. The quality of the pre-spooled line isn’t fantastic.  Consider changing to a quality line.

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.  

I consider this reel to be a decent introductory reel for beginners.  This was the reel I chose when I first took my kids fishing. The price point on this reel was perfect.  The best thing?  They caught crappie as well as other fish and became immediately hooked!


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


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

Pflueger President Spinning Reel 

Pflueger President Spinning Reel, Size 20 Fishing Reel,...
  • PERFORMANCE MEETS VALUE: Pflueger President...
  • SIZE 20 SPINNING REEL: Features a graphite body...
  • RECOVER 20.2" | 51cm for every turn of the crank....


  • 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. We determined through tests that the other reels may be too big for the job. 

The Plueger President has a graphite body and rotor. It is 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,  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 have no problems. The important thing is the drag works nicely. 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. 

As this reel is in the mid-price range, it is suitable for experienced anglers.  If you don’t mind spending the money, go for it.  You will not have any regrets, we certainly didn’t.


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


  • It requires constant maintenance
  • The handle has some play

Abu Garcia Black Max Spinning Reels

Abu Garcia Black Max & Max X Spinning Fishing Reels (All...
  • 3 ball bearings + 1 roller bearing provides smooth...
  • Lightweight graphite body and rotor
  • Machined aluminum spool provides strength without...


  • 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 similar construction and bearing count. The line capacity, maximum drag, and IPT mark the difference between each model. 

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. The good news is the lack of jerks while operating the drag.  

I have owned a lot of Abu Garcia reels.  I find them reliable and reasonably priced.  What do I like the most about the Max X?  It’s ambidextrous, meaning it’s suitable for left-handed anglers.


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


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

Piscifun Viper X Ultralight Spinning Reel

Piscifun Viper X Spinning Reel, Ultralight 5.2:1 High Speed...
  • 【Powerful Performance】With a reinforced...
  • 【Smooth and Consistent】Equipped with double...
  • 【Lighter & Stronger】Based on high quality...


  • 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. Several sizes are available, and based on our observations recommend getting the 500, 1000, or 2000 models. They all retail for around 35 bucks, a price tag that most people will find attractive.  Overall I found this to be a very good reel for the money.  

The frame is graphite and sits in 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. The sealed drag knob increases corrosion resistance and protects the system against debris. 

Line capacity is a big concern. The CNC aluminum spool only holds up to 150 yards of line. But this is the size 2000 model. 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.

For us, it’s not a deal-breaker.  Don’t let the low price fool you, this is still a very good reel for crappie fishing. 


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


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

SHIMANO Sedona Spinning Reel

Shimano Inc. SE500FI Fishing Reel
  • Shimano Inc. SE500FI Fishing Reel
  • Shimano Inc. SE500FI Fishing Reel
  • Shimano Inc. SE500FI Fishing Reel


  • 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. By doing so, they increased casting distance and reduced fatigue. 

The oversized HAGANE gears do a good 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, more than 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 decreases as the line gets thicker. So beware. 

These reels have been significantly upgraded and are more durable than ever.  I love that they have made them lighter.  For me, this is one of the best crappie reels for ultralight fishing.


  • Strength in body with no noticeable flex
  • Smooth drag
  • Great casting distance


  • Low line capacity
  • Mediocre maximum drag

Daiwa Legalis LT

Daiwa Legalis LT 6.2:1 Left/Right Hand Spinning Fishing Reel...
  • Carbon Light Material Housing - LT Concept
  • ABS Spool (Advanced Ballistic System)
  • 6 Bearing System ( 5BB+1RB)


  • Sizes: 1000 and 2000
  • Line capacity (Yards): Up to250
  • Weight (Ounces): Up to 6.8
  • Maximum drag (Pounds): 10
  • IPT: Up to 30
  • 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. It can accommodate even more yards of thin line- perfect for crappie fishing.

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

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 has a faster IPT, which might be a decisive factor for some. 


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


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

KastKing Zephyr 1000 Spinning Reel

KastKing Zephyr Spinning Reel,Size 3000 Fishing Reel, Light...
  • ALL NEW DESIGN – KastKing Zephyr Spinning Reels...
  • MUSCLES – KastKing Zephyr spinning reels deliver...
  • KEY COMPONENTS - KastKing Zephyr fishing reels are...


  • 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 people will love. 

The reel has a graphite body. It is surprisingly heavy when compared with other reels of similar build.  It’s 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 fits 262 yards. Don’t worry- it is more than enough for crappie.

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.  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.  

I had the pleasure of testing this reel on Kashagawigamog Lake in Ontario.  I caught two crappies I didn’t even know they existed in that lake!  Ultralight gear is the way to go for crappie fishing.


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


  • 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 should 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 to 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 are powerful and heavier than graphite ones. They show little to no flex. Because of this, the reel can use its full strength. Nevertheless, since crappie 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. They are more suitable for heavy or aggressive fish. Two things that are crappie are not. That’s why you don’t need a large spool to tackle them. 

It is advisable to buy 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, then the spool spins six times per handle crank.

A high gear ratio means 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 your personal preference.

What is The Best Gear Ratio for Crappie Fishing? 

After putting it to the test, we recommend getting something around 5.2:1. It splits the difference between speed and strength, making the reel suitable for multiple 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. We recommend that you 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. That will achieve 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 poor performance. On the other hand, stainless steel typically offers much more drag than is 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. 

We recommend the carbon drag washers. They often provide a smooth experience and can be durable.

How Much Drag for Crappie Fishing?

Crappies aren’t known for their massive size. You do not have to purchase a spinning reel of more than 15 pounds. Besides, you will likely use lines way beyond that test strength. So, it will be a little overkill. Now, it would 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 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. If the bearings are of the same quality, a reel with more bearings will be inherently smoother.


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 out more quickly, depending on their thickness. 

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


Spinning or Baitcast Reels for Crappie? 

Right out of 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 for Crappie?

Given the fact that you’ll be using size 500, 1000, or 2000 reels, we would recommend going for an ultralight or light rod. 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

okuma Ceymar Lightweight Spinning Reel- C-30, Black/Red
  • Used by professionals worldwide
  • Tested for reliability and quality
  • Made using the highest quality materials

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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