Spring Crappie Tackle Set-Ups

March 25, 2021

By Greg McCain

Mention crappie fishing tackle, and stock images of wispy rods, tiny reels, and gossamer line emerge from the past.

In a more modern sense, crappie fishing tackle – specifically rods, reels, and line – has evolved far beyond the ultra-light gear of yesterday and comes in a variety of lengths, strengths, and sizes. Most agree that the rod and the line are the most important elements of the tackle trifecta with the reel often serving as nothing more than a line-holder for many presentations.

ACC Crappie Stix surveyed members of its pro staff – guides, tournament competitors, and other crappie fishing experts from across the country – and they shared their typical set-ups for spring fishing. Pro staff members challenge their tackle on a daily basis, and their on-the-water experience reveals a wealth of information for the average crappie fisherman.

Take Missouri tournament competitor Jeremy Lindsey, for example. His presentations for taking crappie and other fish have run the gamut of everything available through the years. However, like many other fishermen, Jeremy has joined the live sonar generation and can be found with one of two models of ACC jigging poles in hand when he’s looking at the screen.

Jeremy, who fishes most of the major Missouri crappie-fishing venues, favors the 11’ and 12’ rear-seat models as he chases crappie with LiveScope.

“I dip all the time,” Jeremy said. “I do a little casting, but mainly it’s run-and-gun with the dipping rod. I run the 11-footer. I call it my combat rod, takes the jig tight to the trees.

“With the rear seat, you don’t have a lot hanging back there. You can turn the rod easily and poke it between the willow trees. Get it in deep and tight.

“Most of the time, I have the 12-footer in hand. My go-to rod is the 12-footer.”

Jeremy (follow his personal page or Black Dog Outdoors LLC on Facebook) chooses his reel and line, which complement the rods perfectly, for very specific reasons. He pairs a Pflueger 10 series spinning reel spooled with fluorocarbon with the jigging poles.

“The Pflueger 10 series is very balanced (on the ACC rods),” Jeremy said. “The reason I use them is that there’s a Walmart in every town that I fish. If I wreck a reel, I can walk into Walmart, get one off the shelf, and put it right back on and get back to fishing.

“Those little Pflueger spinning reels are tough. I have some that are seven or eight years old. They keep on clicking.”

Through his years of fishing, Jeremy has experimented with various types of lines. He’s settled on 10-lb. (or heavier) fluorocarbon, which is not always user-friendly on a spinning reel.

“You’ve got to work it,” he said, explaining that he runs the line on and off multiple times to eliminate memory. “I actually prefer it over braid. I put it on, spool it off and put in back on. There’s no memory on my reels.”

Jeremy puts his tackle to the test on a regular basis – “I fish hard,” he said. – and the ACC rods-Pflueger reel-fluorocarbon line combination works well for him based on his current fishing preferences.

Jeremy’s set-up parallels recommendations that ACC Crappie Stix owner Andy Lehman makes when quizzed about which reels to pair with the rods that he markets. Keep in mind that the recommendations are general. Ultimately, Andy said making reel choices comes down to personal preference.

Numbers vary by brand, but anything with a 5 in the model number is generally the smallest make, 10 is the next size up, etc.

“For all mid-seat rods, you want the 50 or the 500, the smallest one,” Andy said. “You want it as light as possible on any mid-seat rod.

“On the rear seat, the 10’- or 11’- rear-seat models, you want the 1000 series reel because you want that weight back there. On the 12- and 13-footer, we use the 2500, and it’s amazing how much different it makes to put a heavier reel on them.”

Andy added that some of his pro staffers use 10 series reels even with the shorter dock shooters and casting rods, with the slightly heavier weight offset by better performance and less line twist with the bigger spools. They still balance well.

As far as models, Andy mentioned several, but his basic idea is this: “We’re not telling anyone to go spend a lot of money on reels.”

ACC pro staff members pursue crappie with just about every presentation imaginable. Here are some of the other tackle set-ups, home states, and contact information if applicable:

Goose Gutzman, Minnesota, (follow on Facebook)

“For casting I like using the 8- to 11-footers. I run Suffix hi-vis yellow mono. It’s easier to see on really windy days so I can keep the slack out. Running the long poles also gets that slack out really quick.

“I’ve been using the Wally Marshall series Lew’s reels with my long ACC rods.”

Tim Howell, Mississippi, Long Branch Guide Service, (follow on Facebook or 662.251.5625)

“This time of year I’m running 16’ ACC trolling rods … I use 10-lb Slime Line hi-vis. For single-pole LiveScope, I am using 16’ trolling rods.”

Tim said he has no reel preference for trolling but for other applications he uses Piscifun Carbon models.

Don McClish, Oklahoma, PointBreak Crappie Guide Service, (follow on Facebook or 918.316.3363)

“Most of the time, I have 10 to 12 rods on deck of various lengths rigged with various profiles from 6′ to 13′. The 13′ paired with a 1000 series Finesse by Ardent for the extra reach. My most used is the 12′ paired with a 500 series when I’m scoping for dropping. 

“The most versatile for me is the 10′ super grip with a 500 series. I can pendulum pitch a jig more accurately and faster whether it be open-water fish, cork and jig to the bank, or a blade head through the timber. 6′ paired with a 500 series for casting and dock shooting.

“All reels are spooled with .009 40-lb. Gliss line also by Ardent.”

Fred Mooney, Illinois, Full Moon Fishing Service, (follow on Facebook or 618.731.1601)

“This time of year, crappie are scattered and on the move and my go-to is trolling 16’ ACC with Piscifun Icex 500 reels and 10-lb. hi-vis orange and green Slime Line, multicolor to help with tangles … I also run the 10’ super grip with 1000 series Piscifun Viper and the same line …”

Reagan Smith, Illinois, Reag’s Guide Service, (centralilcrappieguide.com or 309.642.8106.)

“For dock shooting I like to use the 6’6” rod. I use 6-lb. KastKing hi-vis green line. I use that on a variety of reels from cheap Bass Pro Quick Draws to Shimano Siennas to Pflueger President spinning reels.”

Jared Gilbert, Alabama (follow on Facebook)

(Team partner) Jonathan Phillips and I use the 6’6” for our all-around go-to rod for casting and shooting docks. 4-lb. gold Gamma line. We’re using the Piscifun Carbon X reels.”

Jody Stephens, Georgia, Crappie Daze Guide Service, (crappiedaze.com or 770.656.4520)

“My set-up is 2-16’, 2-12’, and 6-8’ rods (for long-line trolling). That covers a 40’ path and 4’ between lines and helps with wild fish tangles! Diawa 3000 reels and 6-lb. hi-vis Mr. Crappie line.”