Man Fishing with a Casting Reel

7 Best Crappie Fishing Reels of 2020 Reviewed

Fishing for crappies is all about finesse and accuracy…

You’ll be spending all day casting into tight spots, experimenting with your depth and retrieve.

After considering all the options our top picks were…

The reel you use should reflect that, you’ll want a light, smooth reel that casts nicely.

There are so many reels on the market with different features…

The price ranges can be huge and it’s hard to know which one is best for you.

Here is a review of some of the best crappie reels out there to make your choice a little easier.

The Top Three

Best All-Rounder

Abu Garcia Revo X

This is a lovely little reel from Abu Garcia and the magic lies in its simplicity. The body is made from carbon fiber, is strong, light and makes the reel a joy to cast with.

Abu Garcia Revo X

The All-Rounder is a reel that has everything you need while being great value.

It’ll last, stay smooth, have a good drag and be an asset on the water.

The best allrounder is the Abu Garcia Revo X.

This is a durable, light, carbon fiber reel at a great price.

The drag is strong and smooth and it’ll have your back for years on the water. 

Best on a Budget

Okuma Ceymar

The Okuma Ceymar is a solid reel overall at a great price. The body is made from graphite for durability and corrosion resistance, you’ll be able to bounce this reel around without much concern.

Okuma Ceymar

The ‘best on a budget’ reel will do all the basics well and have the lowest price possible.

We’re looking for durability, quality, and the best price tag.

The best on a budget reel is the Okuma Ceymar.

It’s built to last from quality materials, has a great drag, a quick smooth retrieve and you’ll love fishing with it. 

Editor’s Choice

Shimano Stradic CI4+

The Stradic CI4+ is about as sophisticated as it gets when it comes to crappie reels and you’ll be able to use it everywhere. It’s made from a carbon fiber body, keeping the weight down, while making the reel strong and durable.

Shimano Stradic CI4+

This is the reel I would choose based on my years of experience if money was no object.

The editor’s choice is the Shimano Stradic Ci4+.

This is a super-light carbon fiber reel with all the features you could think of and is built to last a lifetime.

What to Look for

What are you fishing for?

We know what we are fishing for here, crappies, and as previously mentioned we are looking for a light, accurate reel.

That being said, you might want to use your reel in multiple environments and fish for crappie one day and snapper in the sea the next.

TIP

Think about what you want your reel to do for you and where it’ll do it. If you want to fish in saltwater and freshwater with the same reel, be sure it can handle it. 

Line Capacity

The amount of line you need your reel to hold depends on what you’re trying to catch.

When crappie fishing, almost all lightweight reels will have more than enough line on them.

Crappies won’t take long runs, but they will dash for cover.

Landing them is more about stopping them snagging you than chasing them down.

TIP

If you want a reel that can be used for multiple species, be sure it holds enough line for them, especially if you’re thinking of targeting species like bonefish. 

Using Braid

Braid is the line of choice these days; it lasts longer, has a smaller diameter and gives a longer more accurate cast.

You’ll probably want to spool your reel with it at some point.

TIP

Make sure the reel you choose has a braid-ready spool.

Without it, the line will slip and won’t give you an even lay when spooling your reel.

Most reels are braid-ready, but it’s worth checking. 

How Heavy Is The Reel 

Crappie fishing involves a lot of casting, you’re always pushing lures into cover and you do it all day long.

A light reel is going to make casting all day a lot more comfortable…

Your arm won’t get tired and you’ll be able to keep going into dusk. 

Corrosion & Durability

A reel that is durable and handles corrosion will last a long time.

Once you’ve found a reel you like and gotten to know it, the last thing you want is for it to fail.

RECOMMENDATION

Pick a reel that’s built to last and is made from quality materials like graphite, stainless steel, brass or carbon fiber. 

Drag, Strong and Smooth 

When crappies run for a snag it’s your drag that’s going to stop them.

You aren’t going to need a powerful drag as crappies are quite small, but you’ll need a smooth one.

Having a sticky drag while stopping a fish running for cover is a nightmare and you won’t get full control in the fight.

TIP

Make sure the reel you choose has a smooth drag and try to test it before you buy a reel if you can. Simply crank up the drag on the reel and pull a good amount of line off it, if it comes off smoothly you’re good to go. 

Our top picks…

Here are our top choices of crappie reels.

We have compared them against each other.

They are all great reels and have different strengths.

Pflueger President

A reel that a lot of people love and rely on. The body, rotor and side plate are made from graphite, making the reel durable, corrosion-resistant and light for long days of casting. It’s a comfortable, easy to use reel.

Pflueger President

The Plueger President is a reel that a lot of people love and rely on.

The body, rotor and side plate are made from graphite, making the reel durable, corrosion-resistant and light for long days of casting.

It’s a comfortable, easy to use reel…

The internal workings include a stainless steel shaft, aluminum handle, and brass gears – you’ll be able to use this reel in both salt and freshwater.

… you’ll be able to use this reel in both salt and freshwater.

The reel has a quick and smooth retrieve under pressure thanks to the 10 bearing system.

You’ll be able to turn up the heat against a crappie swimming for cover and get it in quick-time.

The quick retrieve will also help when fishing topwater lures that need that extra bit of speed. 

The drag is made from a stainless steel/oil/felt drag system that is super smooth and will stand up well to corrosion.

The spool is double anodized aluminum and braid-ready for easy spooling.

The reel can give an uneven line lay on retrieve in some cases which will cause overwinds and other issues while on the water.

Anti-Reverse Feature

It comes with anti-reverse which is turned on and off by the flick of a switch.

The bail arm is made from aluminum, but can close mid-cast.

This will be frustrating and you may lose a few lures to this.

NOTE

The gears can grind after a while, especially after saltwater use. In addition, the reel isn’t sealed and be sure to maintain it well. 

Specs

  • Mono capacity YD/LB : 225/4, 145/6, 130/8
  • Braid capacity YD/LB : 275/6, 190/8, 160/10
  • Max Drag : 4.5kg
  • Gear Ratio : 5:2:1
  • Ball bearings : 9+1
  • Weight : 250g
  • Retrieve rate, per crank : 25.3
  • Retrieve Side : Right/Left
  • See the full specs for the Pflueger President

Pros

  • Smooth retrieve, even under pressure
  • Drag is smooth
  • Lightweight for good casting
  • Quick retrieve rate

Cons

  • Bail arm closes mid-cast,
  • Line can bunch up on retrieve
  • Gears can grind after a while

Shimano Sedona F1

Shimano makes great reels and is one of the most trusted manufacturers in the world. The Sedona F1 is an awesome reel and Shimano has filled it with features usually found in their higher end models.

Shimano Sedona F1

Shimano makes great reels and is one of the most trusted manufacturers in the world.

The Sedona F1 is an awesome reel and Shimano has filled it with features usually found in their higher end models. 

…The Sedona F1 is an awesome reel and Shimano has filled it with features usually found in their higher end models 

The reel is super light thanks to the use of some plastic components and the composite HCT 7 M body.

It’s a pleasure to cast thanks to the low weight, its G Free Body system and Propulsion Line Management System.

G Free Body and Propulsion Line Management System

The G Free Body moves the center of gravity to the rod to help you cast further and more comfortably.

Combine this with the Propulsion Line Management System that stops backlashes, wind knots, plus reduces friction and you have a casting machine.

The insides are made up of Shimano’s cold-forged HAGANE gear system…

The insides are made up of Shimano’s cold-forged HAGANE gear system which is about as durable as it gets when it comes to gears.

They’ll be smooth for a lifetime, handle pressure and are robust enough for saltwater use.

Spool

The spool is made from aluminum, is braid-ready and gives an even line lay.

It’s been designed to let the line off in small tight coils for optimal casting.

The drag and retrieve are smooth as butter despite the low bearing count.

Missing Feature

As good as it sounds, the reel does have some drawbacks though.

It doesn’t come with anti-reverse which I know a lot of fishermen rely on.

The bail arm can malfunction and affect your casting and the reel can tighten up after a while but this is rare, it’s most likely due to poor maintenance. 

Specs

  • Mono capacity YD/LB : 200/6, 140/8, 120/10
  • Braid capacity YD/LB : 150/10, 145/15
  • Max Drag : 4kg
  • Gear Ratio : 5:0:1
  • Ball bearings : 3+1
  • Weight : 245g
  • Retrieve rate, per crank : 36”
  • Retrieve Side : Right/Left
  • See the full specs for the Shimano Sedona F1

Pros

  • Excellent for long, accurate casts
  • Well made and durable.
  • Good for fresh and saltwater
  • Light for long casting days

Cons

  • There is no anti-reverse.
  • The bail arm can malfunction.
  • The retrieve can tighten up after some use.
  • Low bearing.

Editor’s Choice

Shimano Stradic CI4+

The Stradic CI4+ is about as sophisticated as it gets when it comes to crappie reels and you’ll be able to use it everywhere. It’s made from a carbon fiber body, keeping the weight down, while making the reel strong and durable.

Shimano Stradic CI4+

The Stradic CI4+ is about as sophisticated as it gets when it comes to crappie reels and you’ll be able to use it everywhere.

It’s made from a carbon fiber body, keeping the weight down, while making the reel strong and durable.

The Stradic CI4+ is about as sophisticated as it gets when it comes to crappie reels and you’ll be able to use it everywhere…

The reel includes the HAGANE gear system for further durability and the G Free Body system to keep you casting comfortably all day. 

The drag is made from a multi-disc carbon fiber system.

This makes it super smooth, strong and durable.

NOTE

The max is a bit high for crappie fishing, but you’ll want it when using this reel in other environments.

X-Ship Technology

The retrieve is smooth and quick thanks to the bearings and high gear ratio.

The reel also comes with X-Ship technology, for increased gear efficiency when under pressure.

This will let you get maximum efficiency in every wind when fighting a fish. 

The spool is aluminum, braid ready and includes a grooved power roller that assists with line management.

It reduces knots, twists and ensures even line lay.

Missing Feature

Unfortunately, there is no anti-reverse in this reel and the line roller bearing can fail – Shimano will replace this for you though.

The bail arm is made from aluminum, but it is a little stiff to engage. 

Specs

  • Mono capacity YD/LB : 200/6, 140/8, 120/10
  • Braid capacity YD/LB : 150/10, 145/15, 100/30
  • Max Drag : 9kg
  • Gear Ratio : 5:0:1
  • Ball bearings : 6+1
  • Weight : 190g
  • Retrieve rate, per crank : 35 inch
  • Retrieve Side : Right/Left
  • See the full specs for the Shimano Stradic CI4+

Pros

  • Super light reel
  • Great line management
  • Very durable
  • Can be used in fresh and saltwater
  • Excellent drag, especially for light line

Cons

  • Anti-reverse isn’t included
  • The line roller bearing can fail
  • The bail arm is a bit stiff

Best All-Rounder

Abu Garcia Revo X

This is a lovely little reel from Abu Garcia and the magic lies in its simplicity. The body is made from carbon fiber, is strong, light and makes the reel a joy to cast with.

Abu Garcia Revo X

This is a lovely little reel from Abu Garcia and the magic lies in its simplicity.

The body is made from carbon fiber, is strong, light and makes the reel a joy to cast with.

This is a lovely little reel from Abu Garcia and the magic lies in its simplicity…

The rotor is made from graphite, adding to the durability, while helping to keep the price down. 

The gear ratio is high and combined with the ball bearings makes for a fast and smooth retrieve.

The drag is made from Abu’s Carbon matrix Hybrid drag System.

This is a multi-disc carbon drag that gives smooth long-lasting performance.

Abu’s Rocket Line Management System

The reel comes with Abu’s Rocket line management system that ensures even line lay, no twists or backlashes no matter what type of line you’re using.

Gone are the days of tangles on the bank that take up valuable fishing time. 

The gears are within the X-Crafty gearbox design that keeps them aligned within the carbon body.

They’ll keep their alignment under pressure and ensure that every wind puts pressure on a fish.

TIP

The reel can be used in both fresh and saltwater, it’s not sealed though so be sure to clean it well. 

Nearly all the reel’s materials are super high quality, but it’s let down by its PVC handle – it would have been nice if it was aluminum.

NOTE

The reel arm can stick sometimes and the bearings grind after some use – this is rare and most units work well for a long time. 

Specs

  • Mono capacity YD/LB : 185/6, 130/8, 110/10
  • Braid capacity YD/LB : 190/8
  • Max Drag : 5.2kg
  • Gear Ratio : 6:2:1
  • Ball bearings : 6+1
  • Weight : 218g
  • Retrieve rate, per crank : 33 inch
  • Retrieve Side : Right/Left
  • See the full specs for the Abu Garcia Revo X

Pros

  • Smooth drag.
  • Good caster.
  • Lightweight.
  • Good line management.

Cons

  • Reel arm can stick.
  • Bearings grind after some use.

KastKing Sharky III

Even the smallest of the KastKing Sharky III reels are a bit of an overkill for crappie fishing in terms of line capacity and max drag. There is nothing wrong with having a lot of line and a powerful drag though.

KastKing Sharky III

Even the smallest of the KastKing Sharky III reels are a bit of an overkill for crappie fishing in terms of line capacity and max drag.

There is nothing wrong with having a lot of line and a powerful drag though, especially if you want to use this reel for more than crappie fishing. 

The drag has a max of 15kg’s, that’s a lot of power and will be useful when fighting big fish.

The carbon fiber multi-disc system makes the drag smooth and durable while being able to stop a strong fish.

The bearings and gear ratio give the reel a smooth, fast retrieve that does well under pressure..

The body, rotor and side plate are made from high percentage fiber-reinforced graphite that’ll stand up well to some abuse.

The bearings and gear ratio give the reel a smooth, fast retrieve that does well under pressure – excellent for stopping fish that are trying to snag you.

Anti-Reverse Feature

It comes with anti-reverse and an aluminum braid-ready spool.

The line is known to bunch up and create a lot of wind knots on the retrieve, but this could be user error. 

The reel features a shield system to stop water and dirt reaching the internal mechanisms, but it’s a bit hit and miss.

Some reels seem to fail after being used in saltwater. The bearings grind and the drag can stick, but with some proper maintenance, this should be avoided.

NOTE

In very rare cases, parts can fall off and break on these reels. 

Specs

  • Mono capacity YD/LB : 200/6, 170/8, 130/10
  • Braid capacity YD/LB : 200/20, 170/30, 130/40
  • Max Drag : 15kg
  • Gear Ratio : 5:2:1
  • Ball bearings : 10+1
  • Weight : 196g
  • Retrieve rate, per crank : 26.2 inch
  • Retrieve Side : Right/Left
  • See the full specs for the KastKing Sharky III

Pros

  • Large line capacity.
  • Strong, smooth drag.
  • Good anti-reverse.
  • Lightweight for easy casting.

Cons

  • Drag and bearings can go after use in saltwater.
  • Line can bunch up on retrieve with wind knots.
  • Parts can fall off in rare cases.

Sougayilang Spinning Reel

The Sougayilang DK1000 has an insane price tag and is actually pretty solid. It’s the perfect size to target small freshwater species like crappies and is durable enough to be used in saltwater.

Sougayilang Spinning Reel

The Sougayilang DK1000 has an insane price tag and is actually pretty solid.

It’s the perfect size to target small freshwater species like crappies and is durable enough to be used in saltwater.

It’s the perfect size to target small freshwater species like crappies and is durable enough to be used in saltwater…

The drag is smooth and strong thanks to the carbon fiber multi-disc system.

It’ll be plain sailing pulling fish out of structure when they dash for it.

The drag is also sealed, stopping any salt or dirt from getting in there.

Build

It has a nice light and durable graphite body.

The weight is ideal for long days of casting – you won’t struggle to push past sunset…

You’ll have a smooth, quick retrieve thanks to the gear ratio and the shielded stainless steel ball bearings can handle a heavy load under pressure. 

The spool and handle are made from CNC machined aluminum and will stand the test of time.

The spool is braid-ready, perfect for easy spooling. 

The handle does have some play in it and although the reel is pretty on arrival, the paint may peel off as you go. This won’t affect how it performs, but it won’t look the same after a season or two.

TIP

Be sure to lubricate the reel when you get it, it comes a little dry and some grease will do it wonders.

Specifications (Can only find them on Amazon)

Specs

  • Mono capacity LB/YD : 6/200, 8/150, 10/110
  • Braid capacity mm/m : 0.18/220, 0.2/180, 0.25/120
  • Max Drag : N/A
  • Gear Ratio : 5.2:1
  • Ball bearings : 11+1
  • Weight : 244g
  • Retrieve rate, per crank : N/A
  • Retrieve Side : Right/Left

Pros

  • High-quality reel.
  • Smooth drag and retrieve.
  • Casts well.
  • Light & durable.

Cons

  • Paint does start to peel off.
  • Needs lubrication on arrival.
  • Play in the handle.

Best on a Budget

Okuma Ceymar

The Okuma Ceymar is a solid reel overall at a great price. The body is made from graphite for durability and corrosion resistance, you’ll be able to bounce this reel around without much concern.

Okuma Ceymar

The Okuma Ceymar is a solid reel overall at a great price.

The body is made from graphite for durability and corrosion resistance, you’ll be able to bounce this reel around without much concern.

The Okuma Ceymar is a solid reel overall at a great price…

It features a multi-disc oil/felt drag system that is smooth and starts up with no sticking.

The oil/felt drag system will be great in freshwater, but will suffer in saltwater.

TIP

The max drag of 6kg is perfect for crappie, bass and trout fishing, but don’t go targeting anything bigger. 

The gears are made from brass and Okuma’s precision elliptical gear system reduces friction in the gearbox.

This helps you make longer more accurate casts as well as ensuring the reel is smooth under pressure when fighting a fish. 

The retrieve is quick and smooth, with no play in the handle. The reel also includes anti-reverse and an aluminum braid-ready spool. 

NOTE

There are a few negatives when it comes to this reel. In rare cases, the handle or anti-reverse switch can snap off and a noise can get into the gears after some use. However, this gear issue doesn’t affect how the reel functions and can be relieved with some good maintenance. 

Specs

  • Mono capacity YD/LB : 200/6, 160/8, 110/10
  • Braid capacity YD/LB : 145/8
  • Max Drag : 6kg
  • Gear Ratio : 5:0:1
  • Ball bearings : 7+1
  • Weight : 232g
  • Retrieve rate, per crank : 25 inch
  • Retrieve Side : Right/Left
  • See the full specs for the Okuma Ceymar

Pros

  • Smooth, strong drag.
  • Great for accurate and long casts.
  • It can be used in both salt and freshwater.

Cons

  • Handle or anti-reverse switching can snap off.
  • A noise appears in the gears after a while.

Conclusion

After considering all the options our top picks were…

Best All-Rounder

The best allrounder is the Abu Garcia Revo X.

This is a well priced, durable carbon fiber reel with all the features you need.

It can be used in both salt and freshwater has a great drag and a smooth retrieve. You’ll love spending time with it on the water.

Best on a Budget

The best on a budget reel is the Okuma Ceymar.

This reel has everything you need at an amazing price.

The drag is smooth, it casts well and is built to last.

Editor’s Choice

The editor’s choice is the Shimano Stradic Ci4+.

This is a top-end reel and the price does reflect that.

It has every feature available plus a great drag and a quick, smooth retrieve.

Its components are made of the highest quality materials and when combined with the carbon fiber body make it a reel for life. 

That’s our roundup complete and I hope you found it useful.

All of the reels above are worth considering, just be sure to pick one that will work for all the species and environments you plan on targeting.

If you do that, you can’t go wrong.

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