Armed with the right rod and reel, amazing feats of panfishing are possible. On the flip side, a poorly matched outfit can be cumbersome an inefficient. Thankfully, pan fans have a forest of fine sticks at their disposal, along with an armada of high-performance reels—yielding a wider selection than ever before. To help sift through the choices, we offer this sample of new and noteworthy panfish combos, just in time to gear up for the season ahead.
Abu Garcia’s Revo S spinning reel balances well with any of the C-Series options. It’s light and strong, thanks to a one-piece X-Craftic alloy frame, graphite stem, and polymetric body and rotor. Other smart features include a machined-aluminum spool, six stainless-steel bearings plus a roller bearing, Everlast bail and Carbon Matrix hybrid drag.
One of our favorites is the DC Double-Touch Crappie Rod. Available in 8- to 12-foot lengths, it’s built from 40-million modulus IM-6 graphite for sublime sensitivity, which is aided by the pole’s unique “double-touch” system that allows your fingers to touch the blank in two spots along the Portuguese cork handle—just ahead of the reel seat, or farther up the handle for better balance. There’s also extra room below the reel seat for gripping the rod behind the reel to stretch the tip way out there to reach a choice stump or stakebed. Another smart feature is the series of chartreuse depth-monitoring wraps. Placed at 12-inch intervals along the blank, the wraps take the guesswork out of gaging water depth. Just raise the tip and let the jig swing back to the rod to know for sure.
The company’s new Buck’s Best UltraLight Reel is a perfect match for this rod. Lightweight yet crush-resistant ABS material keeps total weight to a svelte 1.6 ounces, which helps reduce fatigue from vertical fishing. It also offers dual ball bearings—a rarity in a line-keeper reel—and a 1:1 gear ratio.
In the reel department, Cabela’s new Fish Eagle Spinning Reel makes a fine complement for under $30. Despite the modest price, it offers solid features such as instant anti-reverse, an aluminum spool, Stealth Oscillation for even line lay, four bearings, and Everlast oversize bail system. While there are four models in the Fish Eagle family, the smaller two, geared to 4-and 6-pound line, are top picks.
Weighing just 4 ounces, the IM-8 graphite rod features Fuji guides, an EVA reel seat, and pro-style guide train, with guides aligned opposite the spine for maximum performance. It handles 4-pound line and light lures well, and offers great sensitivity with enough flex to keep delicate fish on the hook. The smallest option in Pflueger’s newly redesigned Trion spinning lineup matches well with it. Weighing 5.9 ounces, the TR120 holds 100 yards of 4-pound mono and has 6-pound maximum drag capacity. With a 5.2:1 gear ratio, it swallows more than 20 inches of line per turn of the reel handle. Standard features include four stainless-steel ball bearings plus a roller bearing for the one-way clutch, a silky, multi-disc drag, and titanium line roller.
Match it with a Matrix Tiny20 spinning reel, which offers a quartet of stainless-steel bearings, infinite anti-reverse, balanced rotor, ResistTwist line roller, FatWire bail, machined aluminum spool, and multi-disc, enhanced drag system—a plus should larger prey engulf your offerings. Weighing 7.4 ounces, it balances well with the long rod, and accommodates line from 2- to 6-pound test—pinnaclefishing.com.
Amenities include stainless-steel guides, a graphite reel seat, which aids sensitivity, and weight-trimming, non-slipping EVA foam handle. It’s paired with a Mr. Crappie size 75 Slab Shaker spinning reel. Featuring a lightweight graphite reel and rotor, it sports updated cosmetics, a chrome-plated spool and drag knob, dual bearings, and holds ample line for long casts. At under $30, it’s a steal.
Another fresh face in the Slab Daddy family is the new Jig/Troll Spinning Combo. Matched with the same size 75 spinning reel as the Dock Shooter, it does double-duty, covering trolling and jigging applications. Available in lengths of 9, 10, and 12 feet, I dare say its dimensions and moderately slow action apply to floats, too. All feature premium fiberglass blank, EVA foam handles, and graphite reel seats.
Glorvigen recommends a reliable, lightweight spinning reel like the Mitchell Avocet Silver AVSIV-500UL, a slick little ultralight with four bearings, instant anti-reverse, aluminum spool, multi-disc drag, and NeverFail bail spring. “It handles light breakstrengths, giving you even line lay—with no coils,” he says.