Introduction: Crappie Fishing and the Length of Rods
I was recently down at the Cabelas near the house and happened to browse through the fishing rods as one does when in a Cabelas or a BassPro.
While being familiar with crappie fishing and having my favorite rods for various purposes in various lengths, I couldn’t help but notice the sheer numbers of rods and lengths available. I can only imagine how overwhelming it can be to try and select a fishing rod, especially if you are a beginning fisherman.
With that in mind we are going to discuss what the best crappie rod length is in a given situation and why you might want to select a different length. But let’s start with a quick answer, for what is the best crappie rod length, before we dive into the details.
The ideal length of a crappie rod is dependent on the style of fishing you intend to do. For shooting the docks and targeted casting a 6 foot rod is ideal. For crappie spider rigging and trolling then a 14 to 16 foot rod is the perfect choice. When ice fishing for crappie, select a rod that’s around 2 to 3 feet in length.
Now that the best lengths are out of the way, let’s discuss why these lengths are the best.
Length of Crappie Rods – Best Crappie Rod Length for Each Fishing Style
When looking for a crappie rod you can find lengths starting as small as 2 feet and ranging all the way up to 20 feet long.
This huge variance in rod lengths is due to the nuances of fishing and the different baits, presentations and conditions present during each style of fishing.
Length for Crappie General and Targeted Casting
For all around fishing in the most flexible conditions I feel that a rod between the lengths of 5 and 7 feet is ideal. Hence why I recommend a length of about 6 ft for targeted casting. Targeted casting includes working a bait along the shore line, targeting bushes and rocky outcroppings and of course shooting the docks.
A rod that is 6 feet long is small enough that you can control your cast, but still large enough to use it to control and lead the fish. Often it is necessary to guide the fish away from certain obstacles as you real it in, you will find they attempt to snag the line on anything they can once hooked.
Ideal Length of a Crappie Rod for Ice Fishing
When talking about ice fishing for crappie I mean on lakes that have a good solid ice layer over them. In these instances you are often going to be cutting a hole in the ice and fishing through that.
Since you are fishing straight down in these cases, there is relatively little need to have a long rod to properly position the bait and retrieve your fish.
For these reasons I recommend that you select a rod that is around 2 to 3 feet in length. Keep in mind that with this length of rod you need a limber rod with light action. (Quality rods should list their action rating.)
This lighter action will help to compensate for the pull when you set the hook.
Selecting a Rod Length for Spider Rigging and Trolling
Spider Rigging and Trolling style crappie fishing is where the big rods come out. Both of these techniques use the extremely long rods crappie fishing is known for.
While it is possible to spider rig with poles as short as 8 feet in length, this frequently results in tangled lines.
With many tournaments allowing as many as 8 rods, spider rigging and trolling both take advantage of this.
Rods are mounted along the front of a boat and fanned out in several directions from there, creating the appearance of spider legs reaching over the water.
Unless there is a lot of overhanging cover such as trees the longer a rod here the less chance that you will tangle your lines. Longer rods also allow you to cover more water if fishing above channels or drop offs under the surface.
Most professional crappie fishermen prefer a rod in the vicinity of 14 to 16 feet with it seeming that 16 feet rods are the most commonly seen in tournaments.
If you know what depths you intend to fish then you can set up your rods in the style of a cane pole. In these cases the rod has no reel, simply a line that is cut close to the same length as the pole. This has the advantage of allowing you to simply pick up the rod and the fish swings to you.
If you want to adjust the depths you’re fishing at though, make sure to select a crappie rod that has eyelets and a reel.
Weight Considerations For Length
While it may not be a factor you have considered, keep in mind that the longer the pole, the more it will weigh. For instance a 16 foot Lews Wally Marshall only weighs 9.6 ounces without a reel this feels like far more when it’s all held out in front of you.
I suggest that you hold the pole for a few minutes in the store to see how comfortable it is to do so. If after a relatively short period it causes pain in your wrists then you might want to go with a shorter rod.
1,2,3 Piece Rod or Collapsable How is Length Affected?
In years past sometimes your only option for longer rods was a two or 3 piece rod. Now it is not that uncommon to find 1 piece rods up to 8 feet in length.
When selecting a rod length for crappie fishing, make sure to consider not only the overall length of the rod when assembled, but also its transport length.
This becomes even more critical if you have extended travel times to reach the fishing hole. Two and three piece rods allow you to separate the pieces and reduce their overall length in that manner.
The downside to doing so with these rods is that frequently they are still rigged for fishing and if you are not careful they can easily get tangled.
Another option is telescoping rods. These rods are frequently made from fiberglass or other light weight material and feature sections that slide into each other. These come in both cane pole styles with no eyelets as well as styles designed for reels in which eyelets are positioned at each section.
One drawback is telescoping rods can rarely be found in lengths longer than 8 to 10 feet. This means you will need a 3 or even a four piece rod if looking for rods of that length.
There are mixed opinions on collapsing fishing rods, but I do feel they definitely have a place in my fishing gear.
My favorite telescoping rod is a 6’6” KastKing Blackhawk while it’s not the super long rod used for trolling, it makes an excellent all around and general casting rod to keep in the truck.
To sum it up, while there is no “best” there are definitely use cases for a specific length of crappie fishing rod.
If you take nothing else from this post though, suffice it to say that for most teenage and adult anglers a 6 foot crappie rod featuring light or ultralight action is the way to go.
This length will get them started in the sport and present them with the largest selection of fishing styles. This length of crappie rod can be used for casting, spinning, fishing with a jig and shooting the docks, you can even fish a minnow under a bobber with no problems.
If you want to know more about selecting a rod length check out this article on rod lengths by age group. In the meantime, hit the water, catch a slab or two and enjoy the outdoors.