Best Bluegill and Crappie Reels

My Top Choices For Crappie and Bluegill Reels

While you are out shopping for bluegill fishing equipment, there are some pieces of gear that are more important than others. The reel is not as important as having a good bluegill and panfish rod, but it is still a necessary piece of equipment that you should spend a little extra money on. Probably the most important thing to look for in bluegill and crappie reels is a decent drag system. You are probably asking yourself, why do I need a good drag for bluegill and crappie? Yes, they are fairly small fish that don’t typically test drag too much, but you have to remember that you are often using very light line. If you want to land that trophy bluegill or other panfish, you will need a decent reel with a good drag to prevent your 2-4 pound test from breaking or tearing their sensitive mouth.

Another factor to consider is your reels ability to land larger fish that tend to hit bluegill baits. If you are out for a calming bluegill fishing trip and you happen to hook a large bass or a trophy sized crappie, you will need a good drag if you plan on landing that fish. Crappie are known for having a very delicate mouth, (that’s why they are called papermouths) If you want to get the best crappie reel for bringing in those hard to land lunker crappies, you’ll absolutely need a smooth drag.  Below you will find my top picks for the best bluegill and crappie reels for the price.

Shimano Sienna

Shimano sienna ultralight fishing reel for bluegill and panfish

Shimano sienna ultralight fishing reel for bluegill and panfish.

The Sienna by Shimano is the perfect reel for catching panfish. The one in the image is a 1000 size, and I find this to be a great size for bluegill and crappie fishing. If you go into the 500 sizes in the Shimano reels they just don’t seem to have enough line capacity. The 1000 sienna reel will give you enough space to use plenty of 4-8 pound test line and still be small enough to compliment your ultralight rod nicely.

I have used Shimano sienna reels for years for all types of fishing and I find them to be a tremendous value. They have good drag systems, they feel great because of the smooth bearings and all around I find them to be a great bang for your buck reel for bluegill and crappie fishing.
Check the current price of these reels here at Amazon

Pflueger President Spinning Reel

Pflueger President is among my top choices for mid-range crappie reels.

Pflueger President Spinning Reel is a great choice for bluegill and panfish.

The Pflueger president spinning reel is a very smooth reel with a good drag system and is absolutely loaded with ball bearings (9). While I have never personally seen the need for this many ball bearings, there is no doubt that this reel is as smooth as silk. The Pflueger President has a great smooth drag that will allow you to easily battle bigger fish and slab crappie without any trouble, and is always a good choice for the hardcore angler. This reel costs about twice as much as the Shimano reel above, but if you want to get a good reel for the price, this is a great choice for your panfish fishing needs. This crappie reel is a great choice if you are looking to buy a mid range reel and really get your moneys worth.
Check out the current price of the Pflueger President here at Amazon

Shimano Stradic

The Shimano Stradic 1000 fishing reel is the ultimate ultralight panfish reel.

The Shimano Stradic 1000 fishing reel is the ultimate ultralight panfish reel.

The Shimano Stradic reel is a step above both other reels mentioned. If you are truly looking for the best ultralight spinning reel for panfish, you have found it. The drag on the Shimano stradic makes it truly one of the best crappie reels available. ONe of the hardest things while fishing for large crappie is to keep them on the hook without tearing their mouths. The Stradic will handle that with ease. While it costs 2x than the Pflueger reel listed above, it is also in a class all it’s own. The stradic has a legendary drag system and is truly as smooth as any fishing reel on the market. The price is not for everyone, but if you want to own the best fishing reel for bluegill and panfish, you are looking at it. Throughout my years of fishing bass tournaments and extreme fishing adventures I have used several Shimano Stradic’s. These reels are certain to put a smile on every bluegill anglers face.

Check the Current price here at Amazon


The reels above will all be great for your panfishing needs. Depending on the price range you are looking in I have given options above for pretty much everyone. The Shimano Sienna at the top of the page is a great ultralight reel for the small cost. While it is inexpensive, I have found them to be extremely reliable reels for their minimal price point. The Pflueger president is slowly becoming a favorite for anglers of all varieties and the smooth operation and silky drag system in this small package makes it a great choice for crappie reels in the $60ish price range. As for the Shimano stradic, you have to be on a pretty high budget to spend the money for this reel, but if you do—it’s worth it. These reels are awesome and hard to beat for any reel in their price range.

There is a “best panfish fishing reel” listed for everyone’s budget, you just have to decide how much you want to spend and how important a great ultralight reel is to you. No matter which reel you purchase, each of the three options I have listed are great choices for your ultralight panfishing needs.

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