Best Crappie Reels Reviewed: Tiny Reels that are Huge on Performance

You can turn each crappie into a whale by using ultralight tackle for fishing. This adds to the excitement of angling for this species. You will soon be hooked on these speckled devils after just one afternoon of catching them!

The good news is that crappie reels don’t have to cost a lot to deliver great performance. We’re here to help you if you’re looking for a crappie reel or are new to the sport. Below you will find our recommendations for choosing the right reel as well as reviews of some of our favorite reels.

Here’s a quick look at the top crappie reels.

ReelLine capacityBearingsGear Ratio
CS8 Spinning Reel,Cadence Ultralight Fast Speed Premium Magnesium Frame Fishing Reel with 10 Low Torque Bearings Super Smooth Powerful Fishing Reel with 36 LBs Max Drag & 6.2:1 Spinning ReelCadence CS-8 10006 lb./110 yards9 + 1 roller bearing5.2:1
BassPro Micro Lite Elite6 lb./150 yards6 + 1 roller bearing5.2:1
KastKing Summer Spinning Reel,Size 500 Fishing ReelKastKing Summer 5004 lb./240 yards9 + 1 roller bearing5.2:1
okuma Ceymar Lightweight Spinning Reel- C-30Okuma Ceymar C-104 lb./100 yards7 + 1 roller bearing5:1
Pflueger PRESSP20X President Spinning Fishing Reel, 100/4Pfleuger President PRESSP20X4 lb./100 yards6 + 1 roller bearing5.2:1
Shimano Reels Spinning SN500FDC Sienna 500Spinning Reel Front Drag, 3BB + 1RBShimano Sienna 5004 lb./100 yards3 + 1 roller bearing4.7:1

Best Crappie Reel Reviewed

Cadence CS-8 1000Our Choice!

CS8 Spinning Reel,Cadence Ultralight Fast Speed Premium Magnesium Frame Fishing Reel with 10 Low Torque Bearings Super Smooth Powerful Fishing Reel with 36 LBs Max Drag & 6.2:1 Spinning Reel

 

Specifications

Pros

Cons

Line capacity:6 lb./110 yards
Bearings 9 + 1 roller bearing
Gear ratio:5.2:1
  • Operation super-smooth
  • Very high quality, excellent drag system
  • Casting is great
  • Drag is not sealed or watertight

Summary

Cadence’s CS-8 reel is an outstanding reel that could challenge more established brands in terms of performance.

The CS-8 runs extremely smooth and is built to a high standard. Cadence packed this ultralight full of high-quality components. This makes it a worthy competitor to even the most expensive options. It fishes just like a high-end reel and offers the same performance as expensive options.

As you would expect, the drag is amazing. It uses a carbon fiber brake system that is reliable smooth and efficient. Cadence claims that the reels are comparable to models twice as expensive. Cadence believes that this is true. We are sure you will agree if you get one!

The casting is excellent and the CS-8 is a great reel for a medium price.

BassPro Micro Lite Elite


You can read the complete review of the Bass Pro Micro Lite Elite Reel!

Specifications

Pros

Cons

Line capacity:6 lb./150 yards
Bearings 6 + 1 roller bearing
Gear ratio:5.2:1
  • Affordable pricing
  • Smooth operation
  • Excellent drag system
  • Many line capacities
  • Casting is great
  • Drag is not sealed or watertight

Summary

BassPro reels are a great choice for those who don’t want to go with a brand name. They’re also very affordable and will keep you smiling. These reels are actually quite high quality for their price.

This is not my opinion. Check out the reviews! After testing it against other competitors, I bought and now fish one of these rods on my ultralight rod. The MicroLite Elite was as smooth as the Pfluegers three times it’s price. However, it takes a little more force to close the bail using a crank.

The front-mounted drug works well and is very smooth. Casting is also excellent.

This reel has a lot to like. It’s small, lightweight, and can hold 150 yards of mono (6-pound) easily. This is a remarkable ultralight reel. If those features concern you, the MicroLite Elite might be a good choice.

KastKing Summer 500

KastKing Summer Spinning Reel,Size 500 Fishing Reel

Specifications

Pros

Cons

Line capacity:4 lb./240 yards
Bearings9 + 1 roller bearing
Gear ratio:5.2:1
  • Affordable pricing
  • Smooth operation
  • Excellent drag system
  • Casting is great
  • Drag isn’t sealed or waterproof
  • Low-quality handle
  • Durability could be a problem in the long-term

Summary

KastKing’s Summer 500 reel is an excellent reel for a very affordable price. We recommend the KastKing if you are unsure about changing to ultralight reels, have a tight budget, or need a backup reel.

The Summer 500 runs as smoothly as its rivals, which is surprising considering its high price. There will be a noticeable difference between the Summer 500 and the Pflueger patriarch, but it is possible to buy.10KastKings are the same price

However, don’t expect perfection. Although the bail is not easy to close with a crank it can still be done. However, there are no worries about the durability of larger models. They will likely have trouble with heavy fish like reds because the internal gears don’t provide enough strength. But for crappie, this cheap performer will suffice.

This reel casts well and the front drag system is smooth. Although it isn’t as smooth as the Shimano Sienna, or other more expensive models, it is still impressive.

We have one complaint about this reel that is amazing, and it is the poor-quality knob at the handle.

Okuma Ceymar C-10

okuma Ceymar Lightweight Spinning Reel- C-30

Specifications

Pros

Cons

Line capacity:4 lb./100 yards
Bearings7 + 1 roller bearing
Gear ratio:5:1
  • Affordable pricing
  • Smooth operation
  • Excellent drag system
  • Casting is great
  • Drag isn’t sealed or waterproof

Summary

Okuma’s C-10 reel is small but powerful. It is priced to suit any budget and shows that you don’t have to pay more for a better reel.

The C-10 reel is smooth when you turn it. It also closes quickly on a crank. This Okuma reel is converting more people than other brands due to its outstanding build quality, which translates into exceptional overall performance.

The C-10 is also equipped with a front drag system. You won’t be disappointed, even with a 2-pound line.

The Okuma casts well on ultralight rods and can hold 100 yards of 4-pound mono. You may notice a slight difference in performance between the Okuma and other budget-minded reels that we reviewed, but it will leave you wondering why you would pay more for such a small margin.

Pfleuger President PRESSP20X

Pflueger PRESSP20X President Spinning Fishing Reel, 100/4

 

Specifications

Pros

Cons

Line capacity:4 lb./100 yards
Bearings6 + 1 roller bearing
Gear ratio:5.2:1
  • Affordable pricing
  • Smooth operation
  • Excellent drag system
  • Casting is great
  • Drag isn’t sealed or waterproof

Summary

The President of Pflueger continues the trend we’ve seen in our reviews towards ultralight reels that are high-quality and affordable. This brand is a trusted brand in the industry, and just one crank will show you why.

This Pfluger, like all other reels we reviewed, outperforms its cost-point and easily competes with high-end options. You will be impressed by its smooth operation and how it fishes.

It casts extremely well and is reliable with a light line. This reel, like the Okuma or Shimano, has a small spool that holds only 100 yards of mono 4-pound. This is not a problem for us. However, if you are concerned, we have larger ultralights.

Pflueger reels have a long history of popularity and are a favorite among crappie anglers. You might find yourself hooked.

Shimano Sienna 500

Shimano Reels Spinning SN500FDC Sienna 500Spinning Reel Front Drag, 3BB + 1RB

 

Specifications

Pros

Cons

Line capacity:4 lb./100 yards
Bearings3 + 1 roller bearing
Gear ratio:4.7:1
  • Affordable pricing
  • Smooth operation
  • Excellent drag system
  • Casting is great
  • Drag is not sealed or watertight

Summary

The legend of Shimano’s reels is not without reason. They are the benchmark against which all spinning reels should be measured. Although the Sienna 500 is quite affordable, it offers excellent quality and performance.

The smooth operation of Shimano’s Sienna reel is proof of that. The Sienna reel can be used in summer fishing. However, it will need to be winterized and re-lubed. This smooth spinning is a great example of why having more bearings doesn’t always make it better.

This reel’s front drag system is smooth as butter and works well with even the lightest line. This is an important feature that distinguishes quality reels from other brands.

It casts well and, in my experience, reduces the performance gap between reels of the same company and reels made by other manufacturers.

It can hold monofilament from 2 to 6 lbs. This is a great size for crappie and one that you should seriously consider.

Our Pick – The Cadence CS-8 1000

It was not an easy decision. We also note that you don’t have to spend a lot to get ultralight reels with high performance. You’ll be impressed by any of the models in our reviews, and all of them will do you good.

The Cadence CS-8 was chosen because it offers the best performance for a reasonable price. It offers the same smoothness, casting, drag, and quality as a $200 reel. This is a new standard in affordable excellence. It can hold a lot of mono and slender braid and can tackle almost any fishing adventure that the rod it is paired with can handle.

It’s important to remember that other reels, which are approximately 1/2 to 1/3 the cost of the Cadence and offer almost the same performance, are available for about the same price. You don’t have to worry if you are on a budget, need a slower reel, or can’t find the CS-8. These reels can deliver great results.

You can either love or hate the choices. Please leave a comment below if you like (or hate) our choices or if you have any other thoughts.

How to Choose a Crappie Reel

A quality reel is what you want for your money. There are many options available, so it’s important to know what to search for.

It’s all about the size!

Crappie is known for being “papermouths” and can take a bigger lure and hook than they might think. However, their mouth tissue is quite fragile. To increase your chances of catching these tiny devils, you can switch to lighter gear. We recommend ultralight rods that have a quick to medium-fast action to cushion the hookset.

Ultralight tackle is popular for crappie fishing. To match your rod, lure, and line, an ultralight reel is also necessary. You can fish with larger sizes, but it will make your rod and reel combo unbalanced and make you less efficient.

Line capacity and weight

Ultralight reels are not just small and light, although that is important for balance. It’s not the size and weight of the reel, but the line it’s intended to cast.

Reels are usually designated with the midpoint weight they’re intended for. If you see a reel that has a capacity of 4 LB/110YDS, it can likely handle between 2 and 6 pounds. These numbers are usually for monofilament. These reels can hold the braided or heavier line, but it is worth noting.

Look for reels that can hold a monofilament line between 2 and 8 pounds. These reels will hold enough line to allow for all-day fishing and long casts. A braided line is also available if you require more strength or distance.

We have reviewed and a guide to help you choose the best crappie fishing line.

Ultralight: Spinning or baitcasting

Although this may seem controversial, we are not afraid to say so. For ultralight fishing, we strongly recommend using spinning reels. Major fishing companies such as Berkley also recommend them.

Baitcasting reels outperform other fishing gear for many applications. A large, powerful baitcasting rod with high drag settings is the best choice if you are trolling for the marlin. Baitcasting reels are also a great choice if you want to fish for largemouth, and you require the best casting distance and drag control.

It is robust, smooth, and has an enviable drag system. Why wouldn’t we be reviewing crappie baitcasting reels?

It’s simple. Baitcasting reels can often fail you when you fish ultralight tackle. These reels are not recommended for ultralight tackle, such as 1/32 ounce jigs or tiny beetle spins.

You can understand why by looking at how these reels work to unspool the line.

Casting with the bail open on a spinning reel allows for the line to unwind outwardly from the reel with little friction. The line is what moves the spool, not the spool.

On a baitcasting reel, however, the line is unwinded by spinning the spool, which is basically retrieving. It leaves the reel and must turn it, creating friction when you cast, regardless of how well-constructed and constructed the components are.

You won’t notice any resistance if you are chunking a Texas rig or a large spinning lure or 1/2-ounce crankbait. As the line drags over the spool, spinning reels will fall behind bait casters. For larger and more heavy applications, the baitcasting rod will outperform the spinning one in terms of distance casting and smooth casting. Ultralight lures will show their unmeasurable resistance, and you’ll be unable to cast as far.

Ultralight reels are often spinners. Most crappie anglers prefer spinning reels because of their ease of casting ultralight lures.

Smooth operation

I love to spin a reel when I’m looking for one. I then evaluate its balance on the rod and its function. I also like how it snaps the bail shut on a post-cast crank.

Smoother reels can make fishing a lot more enjoyable.

Quality is a drag

Two types of drag are available for spinning reels. These can be mounted on the reel’s tail, behind it, or at the top of the spool. You can also find waterproof drag systems, particularly for high-end reels that are designed for saltwater.

Low-quality drag systems are likely to be too tight with light lines like mono 2-pounder. No matter how light the line is, we want reels that run smoothly.

  • Rear drag although they are simple to use, these systems can be more difficult and less efficient because they do not directly touch the spool.
  • Front drag although they are more difficult to use while fishing, these systems have stronger, more reliable, powerful, and smoother mechanisms. These systems use mechanical “brakes”, which are applied directly to the reel’s spool. These are the drag systems that we seek in a high-quality reel.
  • Sealed dragWaterproofed, sealed drag system provides longer service life and protects from corrosion when you have the money. They are however more costly and you will decide if they are worth the expense for freshwater. We believe that the answer is no. None of the reels we recommend have a watertight drag.

Front Drag System

Ratio of gears

The gear ratio of a reel should be considered when choosing one. For example, 5:1. These numbers indicate how many revolutions of the spool each full turn of the handle produces: in this example, five.

5:1 refers to mid-pack. Anything lower than that is considered slow and anything higher is fast.

Two reasons this number is important:

  • Lure action spinning lure can be retrieved faster than you think. This will make it more active and require less time for the fish to strike. This can be beneficial in warm, clear water and on sunny days. Keep in mind, however, that not all lures work well if they are fished fast. Others perform better if they are retrieved slowly. When choosing a lure, you should consider the way you fish and what you throw.
  • Speed of retrieve higher gear ratios means faster retrieves. A high gear ratio is useful when you need to quickly cover large areas of water, such as when you are casting deep or casting far away. However, too much speed can lead to a negative outcome. You need to make sure you are retrieving the lure correctly for the crappie.

We generally consider 5:1 to be a good starting point for a general-purpose reel. All the options on our shortlist are centered around this number.

Last Thoughts

You’ll often see advertising for bearing count and housing materials to differentiate yourself from your competitors. These are not necessarily indicators of quality or performance for ultralight reels.

These little guys aren’t very tough on crappie. Reels that are larger and heavier take more abuse from big fish than those designed for. The housing material can really matter.

Lewis
Lewis Mark is a vastly experienced fly fisher. His encyclopedic knowledge of fly tying has led to start blog on fishing. He also review Fishing equipment based on his knowledge and experience.