Crappie Fishing Tackle – The Essentials

Anglers have a wide variety of gear, called tackle, that can be used to catch fish. Crappie anglers are no exception – however the sheer amount of crappie fishing tackle that you can choose can be overwhelming. There are literally hundreds of different rods, reels, lures, hooks, bobbers and lines that you can choose from.


In this article we will cover the basic crappie fishing tackle you should have in your tackle box for effective crappie fishing.


If you want to maximize your crappie catch you must use the right rod.


For all-around crappie fishing the best rod and reel type will usually be an ultralight or light spinning combo. It’s the rod and reel of choice for most crappie anglers because of its versatility and finesse and light line.


Fishing Rod Characteristics:


So what separates one fishing rod from another? Rod length, action, power, and material are the big four:


  • Rod length – Using a longer rod usually means you will be able to cast further. This comes at the expense of weight and portability.


  • Action – Action is the speed that the rod tip returns back to straight after it is flexed. Faster action rods are more sensitive but harder to control.


  • Power – Power is how stiff the rod is. Rod powers vary from ultralight to heavy.


  • Material – Rods are generally fiberglass or graphite – this is sometimes called carbon fiber – or a hybrid of both. While fiberglass is cheaper and more durable it is heavier and less sensitive than graphite.


Types of Crappie Rods:


There are several different types of crappie rods to choose from – the cane pole and the spinning rod.


Cane Poles:

  • Cane poles are simple.
  • No reel to a cane pole – just a rod and a line holder to wrap the fishing line around.
  • Cane poles allow precise and delicate vertical jigging.
  • Cane poles initially were made from bamboo and while manufacturers still make rods out of bamboo, although most are now telescoping and made of fiberglass or graphite.
  • Cane poles range anywhere from 7’-23’ with powers that range from ultralight to medium.
  • For crappie fishing a pole between 10’ and 16’ is usually a solid choice. This length allows you a decent amount of range while also being easy to control.


Spinning Rods:


  • For most crappie fishing techniques, a spinning combo is a better choice for a crappie rod and reel.
  • For all-purpose/technique crappie, a 5 to 7 foot, medium or slow action, ultralight or light graphite rod is usually the best choice.
  • You will want a 5 to 7 feet crappie spinning rod because it’s a good balance between casting distance, weight/sensitivity, and portability.
  • The reason you want a medium or slow action is because crappie has very delicate mouths. Fast action rods make it very easy to rip the hook out of the crappie’s mouth.
  • Slow action rods allow more “shock absorbing” to occur with a cost sensitivity.
  • Finally, you should choose an ultralight or light power rod because crappie is on the smaller end of the fish size spectrum, and your use lighter lures and baits to catch them.


Check out my Abu Garcia Black Max Fishing Combo Review


Spincasting and Baitcasting Rods:


  • Spin casting rods are rods designed to hold a spin casting reel.
  • Spincasting reels are normally mounted above the handle. In addition, spin casting rods also have small eyes and a forefinger grip trigger.
  • The spincasting rod is very similar to a bait casting rod, so similar in fact, that either type of reel may be used on a particular rod.
  • At one time rods were offered as specific “spin casting” or “bait casting” rods but has become uncommon.
  • Nowadays rod design is geared to fit either fishing style and rods are marketed simply as “casting rods” with no demarcation as to which style they are best suited for in use.
  • In general, casting rods are typically viewed as somewhat more powerful than spinning rods and can use heavier line and can handle heavier cover.



Crappie are not very large fish.


Most crappie you will be catching will be between one and two pounds, although some lakes, such as Lake Okeechobee in south Florida, are known for producing fish over two pounds.


Despite some rare sizes anything above 6-to-8-pound test line is unnecessary for catching crappie. I would even say you will almost never need to go above 6 pound-test.


There are several types of line you can use for catching crappie:




  • Most anglers use monofilament line as it is inexpensive and widely available.
  • Monofilament line has a few benefits when it comes to crappie.
  • Monofilament line stretches. For crappie, it can actually be good that it does this, because it provides some “shock absorption” when setting the hook.
  • Crappie have thin lips and the stretch in the line will actually reduce the likelihood of “over-setting” the hook, resulting in the hook ripping through the lips.
  • Monofilament line also floats more than other line materials. It is a better line to use in the winter spawning season where the fish will be in shallow water.




  • Crappie have excellent vision.
  • Fluorocarbon line is a great choice for crappie fishing, because this material is virtually invisible underwater.
  • The drawback is that fluorocarbon line is generally quite expensive, but this may be offset that you don’t need anything more than a four or six-pound test line, and don’t need an incredible amount of line .
  • Another nice benefit of fluorocarbon line is that it won’t degrade as fast as monofilament does in UV light and through abrasions.


Braided Line:


  • Braided line is making a comeback in recent years.
  • This type of line is very commonly used for fishing deep-water species – most of the season crappie are deep – because of its lack of stretch and faster sink rate than monofilament.
  • Braided line also has more sensitivity, allowing you to feel the bites of these generally small fish.



Spit shot is a small weight that is crimped on the fishing line to weight it down.


Use split shot helps when fishing for crappie deep.


There are variants to a straight split shot you can experiment with to see what works. These variants can help with presentation and visibility in water for the fish.


Bottom line, the split shot is crimped on the line at about 6 to 12 inches above the hook. Use the appropriately size split shot for the depth you are fishing at as well as the size of minnows you are using. I have used split shot that was too small for the big minnows I was using and the minnow kept swimming up. I had to put on a bigger split shot to keep the minnow at the depth I wanted.





An Aberdeen hook has a long shank and a light wire bait hook. While Aberdeen hooks are not for every live bait application, these types of hooks can be very effective for newcomers to crappie fishing.


There are some pluses and minuses to Aberdeen hooks.


Aberdeen hooks have a long thin-wire shank and sharp point that easily penetrates the mouth of most panfish.


If you get caught in a branch or other type of cover, they will usually straighten out and come free – don’t worry though they easily return to their original shape. This is a good thing because it may prevent you from losing your hook. There is nothing more frustrating than having to stop to re-tie on a hook.


Check out my article on crappie hooks.


With an Aberdeen hook the point will dull or even bend and blunt easily. You will want to check them regularly and replace them as needed.


Finally, the lighter design of the Aberdeen hook may straighten out on a bigger fish until you learn how to set the reel’s drag properly to play a fish.


In general positives outweigh the negatives in most situations with the Aberdeen hook and many anglers swear that these light wire hooks will help you hook far more fish. I agree with their assessment 🙂




It is easy to get lost in the vast amount of tackle you can get for crappie fishing.


At a minimum, the basic tackle for crappie anglers should include a good selection of Aberdeen hooks, a casting rod and/or cane pole, some 4-6-pound monofilament line and some split shot. Don’t forget the minnows!


After you master the basics you can then begin experimenting with other tackle gear to see how it best works for your style and environment.


The good thing is you will never to lack for gift suggestion lists! My wife and kids know what I want for my birthday and Christmas – Crappie fishing tackle!


Good luck with your crappie fishing!



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