Find the Best Crappie Fishing Reel Under $50

BUTTERY SMOOTH CRAPPIE REEL

  Abu Garcia Silver Max & Max STX Spinning Reels

Abu Garcia Silver Max

SMOOTH OPERATOR REEL

Shimano Sienna Spinning Fishing Reel

Shimano Sienna Spinning Reel

MOST DURABLE CRAPPIE REEL

Piscifun Viper X Spinning Reels, Carbon Fiber 33LBs Max Drag, 10+1 Shielded BB, Saltwater Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel, 5.2:1/6.2:1, 500, 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000 Series

Piscifun Viper X

With countless budget-friendly spinning reels on the market, finding the right model for crappie fishing can be daunting. After extensive testing of the top affordable options, I’ve narrowed it down to three reels that offer smooth performance, reliability, and great value.

Utilizing my decades of experience fishing for slab crappie, I put these reels through their paces, jigging and casting for hours on end. The models that made the cut exceeded my expectations with their versatility, durability, and refusal to quit, even when battling feisty black crappie.

Factors to Consider When Buying The Best Crappie Reel Under $50

  • Drag System: The drag system is crucial for fighting hard-pulling fish. Look for smooth, consistent drag with the strength to handle feisty crappie. More ball bearings generally provide smoother performance.
  • Gear Ratio: The gear ratio determines how much line is retrieved per crank. Moderate ratios around 5:1 provide a good balance of speed and torque for crappie fishing. Faster ratios tire your hand quicker but help pull in fish faster.
  • Weight: Since crappie fishing often involves casting all day, a lightweight reel will minimize fatigue. Graphite or aluminum bodies are ideal for reducing weight while retaining strength.
  • Line Capacity: Match the line capacity to your crappie fishing style. If jigging shallow structure, 100 yds of 6-10 lb test is sufficient. For trolling or drifting open water, larger capacity for 10-14 lb line is better.
  • Corrosion Resistance: Saltwater environments require better sealing and protective coatings to resist corrosion. For freshwater, basic anti-corrosion measures should suffice.
  • Bail Design: The bail should smoothly flip over to prevent backlashes and tangles. Manual bails are common in this price range but automatic options are ideal.
  • Bearings: More stainless steel or shielded bearings generally provide smoother performance and increased durability. 5-7 good quality bearings is ideal for a $50 crappie reel.

Top Recommended Best Crappie Reel Under $50 In 2023

SMOOTH OPERATOR SPINNING REEL

Editor’s Choice: Shimano Sienna Spinning Reel

Shimano Sienna Spinning Fishing Reel


As an experienced angler and tackle reviewer, I was eager to put the Shimano Sienna spinning reel through its paces. This reel combines quality construction with an affordable price tag, making it a great choice for budget-minded fishermen.

During several months of testing, the Sienna impressed me with its consistently smooth drag performance thanks to the Propulsion Line Management system. The graphite frame kept weight down for all-day comfort, while remaining rigid enough to crank in feisty fish.

Line capacity is somewhat limited compared to larger models, so I wouldn’t recommend the Sienna for heavyweight saltwater species.

It handled freshwater bass, walleye, and panfish with ease though. An audible bait clicker would be a nice addition, but overall this reel surprised me with functionality rivaling models double the price.

For a versatile, low-cost spinning reel, the Shimano Sienna is tough to beat.

MOST DURABLE SALTWATER SPINNING REEL

Piscifun Viper X Spinning Reels

Piscifun Viper X Spinning Reels, Carbon Fiber 33LBs Max Drag, 10+1 Shielded BB, Saltwater Freshwater Spinning Fishing Reel, 5.2:1/6.2:1, 500, 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000 Series


After testing the Piscifun Viper X 1000 series reel for several weeks in both fresh and saltwater, I was very impressed with its smoothness, durability, and versatility. 6.2:1 gear ratio provides extremely fast line retrieval, perfect for quickly reeling in larger species like redfish and snook.

Despite the speed, each turn of the handle felt buttery thanks to the 10 + 1 shielded stainless steel ball bearings. I was able to make long casts without any backlash, and the anti-reverse handle worked flawlessly.

The 33 lb carbon fiber drag felt extremely powerful, handling big runs without slipping. The lightweight graphite body resisted corrosion during extended saltwater use.

While not completely sealed, the clutch system and washers did a good job keeping sand and grit out during beach fishing. At this price point, the Viper X clearly stands out for inshore saltwater anglers needing a durable, high-performance reel that can handle big fish.


As an avid crappie fisherman, I was eager to test out the new Abu Garcia Silver Max spinning reel. After spending a few weekends jigging and drift fishing with it, I’m pleased to report it performs smoothly and reliably for a budget-friendly reel.

The lightweight graphite and aluminum build makes it feel feather-light, an important factor for all day fishing comfort.While it doesn’t have the premium drag strength or refinement of high-end reels, the felt drag system provides sufficient stopping power for average sized crappie.

I paired it with 6lb monofilament and had no issues fighting feisty 10-12 inch black crappie. The 5 stainless steel ball bearings give it a buttery smooth cranking and casting action.

It lays line evenly on the spool.Retrieving 30 inches per crank is a nice pace that minimizes hand fatigue.

The Rocket Line Management and contoured spool lip give it good casting distance and accuracy for pinpointing structure.Overall the Abu Garcia Silver Max is an affordable, well-made reel that handles crappie fishing duties with ease.

Just be prepared to manually close the bail after each cast.And don’t expect the refinement of $100+ reels.

But for under $50 it’s hard to beat for all-around crappie fishing performance.

Questions & Answers

  1. What gear ratio is best for crappie fishing?

    The ideal gear ratio comes down to personal preference and fishing style. A moderate 5:1 ratio provides a nice balance of speed and torque for crappie fishing. It allows steadily cranking in fish while giving you some leverage if a bigger fish takes the bait. Anglers who prefer to retrieve line quicker for active fish may prefer 6:1 or higher ratios, but this can tire your hand faster when fishing all day.

  2. How many bearings should I look for?

    More quality ball bearings generally translate to a smoother spinning reel. For crappie reels under $50, 5-7 stainless steel or shielded bearings is ideal. This provides smooth cranking and casting performance without the high cost of reels with 10+ bearings. Focus less on the bearing count and more on the quality and protection of the bearings at this price point.

  3. Is a bait clicker necessary?

    A bait clicker is not an essential feature, but it can be helpful for crappie fishing. It produces an audible click when line is being pulled out, signaling a fish is biting. This allows leaving rods unattended instead of watching them constantly. However, manually engaging the reel or using rod holders also works for detecting bites. If the reel has other features you prefer, don’t avoid it solely for lacking a bait clicker.

  4. Should I look for an automatic or manual bail?

    An automatic bail that snaps back into place when cranking is more convenient than a manual bail. However, automatic bails are less common at this lower price point. Manual bails require manually flipping the arm over before each cast. This takes an extra step but becomes second nature with experience. Focus more on smooth performance and drag strength unless you strongly prefer automatic bails.

Conclusion

After extensive testing and analysis, the Abu Garcia Silver Max emerges as the best budget-friendly reel for crappie fishing. Its lightweight build, smooth 5 bearing system, and capable drag provide reliable all-day performance. While the Piscifun Viper X has greater sealing and the Shimano Sienna boasts added line capacity, the Silver Max strikes the ideal balance of smoothness, durability, and value. For the price-conscious angler seeking a capable, comfortable reel for jigging crappie all season long, the Abu Garcia Silver Max is a winning choice under $50.