Crappie: King of Spring

Published on: Mar. 18, 2014

typically not chase down a lure that goes screaming by them at high speed. Watch any accomplished crappie angler and you will generally see them using a slow, steady retrieve, bumping their bait into any available cover. At times when the crappie are not willing to bite on even the slowest retrieve, vertical jigging can be the most productive technique.

To vertical jig, just drop your lure down to a given depth (for example, right above a brush pile) and either hold it steady or slowly pump it up and down a few inches. Crappie often hang out in loose-knit schools at a specific depth. When you hook a crappie, count the number of times you turn the reel handle to get the fish to the surface. On your next cast, turn off the anti-reverse (on a spinning reel) and lower your lure that same number of cranks. Then, put a small rubber band around the spool of your reel to keep additional line from coming off. This will keep you fishing at the same depth and, unless they move on you, right in the middle of the crappie school. Another good way to keep your bait at a specific depth is to suspend it under a small slip bobber. Since this rig can be cast, it also allows you to vertically fish a distance from the boat or shore and reduces the chances of spooking the fish in shallow water.

Although a big crappie will occasionally try to yank the rod out of your hands, they are known as notoriously light biters. Keep a close watch on the line between the tip of your rod and where it enters the water. By watching for a slight twitch, or for slack to develop in your line, which will not happen unless something is messing with your lure, you will detect many crappie strikes that you cannot feel through the rod. It will take some time, practice, and a few lost jigs to learn the difference between the feel of your lure bumping into a limb versus a light crappie bite, but eventually you will catch on. A good rule of thumb is: When in doubt, set the hook.

Fishing Line

Four- to 6-pound line is sufficient for crappie. There are basically two types of line available, braided or “superlines,” and various formulations of monofilament. Both have their place in crappie

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