Crappie are one of the most popular freshwater fish species to target because they’re easy to catch and don’t require high-end equipment. When looking for the best crappie reel, versatility is an essential factor.
Armed with one good crappie setup, you can get out on the water and fish all types of crappie presentations. While some passionate anglers invest in high-end equipment, you don’t need to spend over $100 on a good crappie setup.
Reels Reviewed (Jump-to)
This guide will discuss the best crappie reels of 2022. Our team tested dozens of spinning reels and identified five reels that performed significantly better than the rest.
We have a non-biased approach to reviews, which our readers appreciate. Before discussing specific reels, let's review some fundamental qualities to keep in mind.
Crappie Reel Qualities
When choosing a fishing reel type, most anglers prefer spinning reels to baitcasting reels. Spinning reels offer more sensitivity and control over lightweight lures. They’re also easier to use with less learning curve than casting reels.
For more versatility, see our guide to the best reels for panfish.
The best reel sizes for crappie fishing are 1000 and 2000. Smaller 500-size reels usually don’t have enough line capacity, and larger 3000-size reels lack sensitivity.
If you can only have one size, a 1000-size reel is your best bet. 1000-size reels have the most versatility, and the ones we review have plenty of power for fighting bigger fish.
The most significant difference between the two sizes is line capacity. 2000-size reels have larger spools that can store more line; however, their larger size increases weight and can make it challenging to pair with a rod.
Whether you use fluorocarbon, monofilament, or braid, a 6lb and 8lb fishing line is best for crappie fishing.
As a general rule, you want to use a line that’s as light as possible. A lightweight line will keep your presentation moving naturally, improve casting distance, and keep fish from getting spooked.
You can use lighter 5lb and 6lb line weights when fishing in open water. However, when fishing around cover, a heavier 7lb or 8lb line will keep you from breaking off on obstacles. You’ll also want thinker line to pull fish from submerged obstacles quickly.
Spinning Reels for Crappie Fishing
1. Pflueger President - Best overall crappie reel
4.7 Stars | 2,780 Angler Reviews
The Pflueger President Spinning Reel stood out as the best reel for panfish fishing throughout our entire testing procedure. This versatile, well-made fishing reel doesn’t break the bank.
While some anglers like fishing with the most expensive equipment on the market, this reel has many of the same qualities as reels that cost over $200. The Pflueger President has smooth reeling, long casting distance, and strong drag.
When reviewing fishing reels, it’s easy to tell when manufacturers have attention to detail and a focus on build quality. The handle and spool don’t have any play or unintentional movement.
The best way to describe this sensation is that it almost feels like the entire reel was made from the same piece of metal.
Materials & Technology
Pflueger uses lightweight graphite materials to construct the body of the reel. All the components are corrosion-resistant, ensuring the reel keeps its smooth cranking action for years to come.
There are a whopping total of nine ball bearings inside the President reel. The drag also has a multi-disc design and a graphite rotor. We found the handle is comfortable in your hand, and the knob’s soft touch design is satisfying to use.
2. Daiwa Fuego LT 1000D - Best high-end reel
4.5 Stars | 41 Angler Reviews
Another reel we loved was the Daiwa Fuego LT 1000D. This reel is more expensive than the Pflueger President but has excellent styling and performance. It wasn’t a surprise that Daiwa made this reel strong and durable, as the brand is known for its high-end materials and build quality.
The Fuego LT has a lightweight design, strong drag, and exceptional casting distance. Daiwa designed this reel to have ultra-smooth cranking action that will keep its buttery feel through years of fishing.
This reel has a Magsealed main shaft that’s fully protected from the elements. The housing seals seven ball bearings, an Air Rotor, Air Bail, and a powerful drag system.
While it’s hard to beat the Pflueger President, this reel feels lighter in your hand. We also found it gives you more control with slightly more precise drag settings.
3. Shimano Sedona FI - Best Shimano reel
4.6 Stars | 1,285 Angler Reviews
If you’ve ever had a conversation about fishing reels, the Shimano brand was sure to come up. Over many years Shimano has built a reputation for producing the most reliable reels on the market without sacrificing professional performance. If you’re looking for a reel from this manufacturer, the Shimano Sedona FI is the best Shimano reel for crappie fishing.
This model was recently upgraded, making it lighter, faster, and stronger than ever. The proprietary Magnumlite rotor is included in all Sedona models and ensures smooth rotations.
Sensitivity and line management are some of the most critical factors when fishing for crappie and other panfish. The Sedona FI is incredibly sensitive and won’t deteriorate over time.
Shimano has achieved a new ball bearing design that makes the Sedona FI far more reliable. The reel is made with only four bearings and somehow manages to keep a smooth cranking action.
This also enabled Shimano to increase the gear ratio, making the reel faster without sacrificing torque. Since you don’t have to reel as quickly with a faster gear ratio, you’ll put less strain on the internal components.
For the money, this is one of the best value crappie spinning reels on the market.
4. Okuma Ceymar - Coolest looking reel
4.7 Stars | 2,580 Angler Reviews
The Okuma Ceymar is one of the best-looking spinning reels on the market. This model features a ported reel seat, which not only improves aesthetics but has the practical purpose of reducing weight.
There are several size options for the Okuma Ceymar. You can find small C-10 (1000) size reels up to C-60 (6000) size models. As with the others, the best spinning reel models for crappie fishing are the C-10 and C-20.
While size 1000 reels may be ideal for crappie, the C-20 is our favorite size for this reel. The C-20 is perfectly capable of catching crappie but also has enough strength for other fish species.
The Ceymar C-20 is compatible with heavier fishing line weights and can land trout, perch, bluegill, small bass, and small catfish. We’ve had fun hooking into 1lb to 2lb bass on this reel, which handled them efficiently.
With eight ball bearings, a corrosion-resistant design, and a multi-disc drag system, this reel has all the features and performance you need to hammer your local crappie population.
5. Piscifun Carbon X - Best lightweight reel
4.6 Stars | 1,411 Angler Reviews
The Piscifun Carbon X is an innovative and affordable fishing reel. Most reels are constructed from aluminum, alloy, or graphite, but Piscifun does it differently. The body, side plate, and rotor are entirely built from carbon fiber, making it one of the lightest spinning reels on the market.
Weight & Sensitivity
A lightweight reel is ideal for crappie fishing, reducing unnecessary strain on your wrists. The Carbon X reel is simply enjoyable because it’s as light as a feather and extremely sensitive.
When fishing in open water and suspending your bait in the water column, it’s not as important to have top-notch sensitivity. However, an ultra-sensitive reel will allow you to differentiate between rocks, sticks, and fish strikes when you’re around heavy cover.
The Carbon X casts far and has super smooth retrieves with a 6lb line. There’s something wildly exciting about catching crappie on a feather-light spinning reel and rod setup.