Mason uses a 7-foot, two-piece Bass Pro Shops Micro Lite IM6 graphite spinning rod ($40; basspro.com). This lightweight stick provides just the right combination of castability, hooksetting power, and shock absorption for dealing with a trophy-class crappie--or whatever else you encounter. "You can throw a 1/16-ounce grub a country mile with this rod," Mason says. "It weighs next to nothing, yet it'll wear out a big fish--besides lunker crappies, I've caught 6-pound largemouths and 10-pound catfish on it." He pairs the rod with a Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris JMX1500 reel ($80; basspro.com) spooled with 6-pound P-Line CXX X-tra Strong fluorescent green mono-filament ($12 for 600 yards; basspro.com). "The bright line color doesn't spook the fish, and it lets you detect light bites visually even on windy days, which you'll have plenty of in early spring."