Crappie fishing has become a real passion for me the last few years, thanks to a good fishery, good electronics and good equipment available to crappie anglers. I don’t enjoy fishing with live bait and I don’t enjoy trolling. So the idea of spider rigging with 8 minnows or idling around aimlessly for hours hope to pass through a group of fish on Kentucky Lake never really appealed to me. So I learned to cast to brush, laydowns, rocky points, dip brush with long rods, shoot docks with short rods and finally stalk them in open water with Livescope.
With so many ways to catch crappie literally 12 months out of the year now, anglers are asking a lot of questions about rods, reels, rigs, line, jigs, jigheads, weights and more. And there are dozens of rods out on the market for crappie fishing in just about every way you can imagine from spider rigging, trolling, jigging, casting, pitching, shooting, dipping, pushing, pulling and more. So the space has gotten a lot more crowded and confusing for some folks who just want to be consistently catching fish.
I’ve spent the last year really narrowing down and refining my approach to be efficient with my time and put fish in the boat every time I go. I hope my trial and error process will help some others simplify their crappie fishing too. I’ve basically dialed down to three rod sizes and actions that cover all of crappie fishing for me.
Small Medium and Large
I basically boil it down to a very simple system. I have a small, medium and large rod. In other words, I have a short rod or what I call a small rod for close quarters fishing and for really accurate shooting. I have a medium rod or what I call a do-it all casting rod that can handle open water casting, closer pitching and even a bit of vertical jigging. Then I have a large rod — a long rod that I can stay off the fish and dip cover or hold a jig in place over a suspended fish until he feels like biting. I don’t make it much more difficult than that.
Some anglers always want to know what’s the best brand, best length, best action. All of that depends on the angler. I tell people this system is a better approach because you can pick a brand or set of rods that you like and fits how you fish. I will share my favorites for lengths and actions and show several examples from several brands to illustrate.
For instance, in this picture are three of my favorites from Jenko Fishing — The X-13, the X-series 7-foot casting rod and the 6-foot Hypersense Marksman shooting rod. The Jenko Trick Stick Light and the X-series Casting are my go-to’s when it comes to casting for crappie at a distance.
The small rod is more than docks
Originally, I wanted a short 6-foot rod for shooting docks. And bar none, it’s my favorite. Specifically the B’n’M Sharp Shooter is my favorite for shooting docks. Put 4-pound line and a 1/16-ounce jig on that setup and you can shoot a jig to the back of the dock. But the short rod will do so much more than just get you underneath boats and dock walkways. When you’re fishing a piece of visible cover and you want to stay back and shoot into the cover, the short rod and the shooting cast is way better than trying to a whip a jig into the cover with an over hand cast. I will shoot at visible stake beds, laydowns, cracks in bluff banks, between weeds, and more. I shoot a lot in windy conditions where the wind catches a little light jig more the higher it is off the water.
A little short rod is handy for tight quarters, precise placement and heavy wind.
The Sharp Shooter from B’n’M Poles is shown here along with their new 75 Series Combo that is an awesome casting in between rod that can handle casting at a distance to crappie, pitching to nearby cover and even some vertical jigging as well. And then the B’n’M Poles The Stick long jigging rod is 13 feet of slab snatching goodness. It’s comfortable, strong and sticks crappie in deep cover. So if B’n’M Poles is your favorite or you’re looking for a solid long storied crappie company to get your rods from, this is a great 3-rod mix to handle everything.
Long rods for the stubborn ones
Now that we’ve been able to study crappie behavior for a couple of years thanks to Livescope, we’ve all been educated on how stubborn crappie can be. For the thousands of crappies I’ve caught, I’ve not caught at least that many. Meaning I saw fish come and look at my jig and turn away on the screen way more than I’ve seen them bite. Nature of the game now.
But when the fish get very stubborn, like they can do in really cold weather, during fronts, during other seasons like spawn, a long rod that lets you stay off the fish, dip a jig down deep into the cover and coax them out with a long pause in their face. When they are really down in the cover and won’t come out to chase a jig, a long rod is indispensable. You can pendulum a jig out 20 feet and let it swing down and back to the fish. So it’s more versatile than just right under the boat.
Get good at holding your jig real still just above the fish or just above the cover and let them ease up and suck it in. At times it will catch you some of the biggest fish around. The 13-foot to 15-foot rods seem to be all the rage but honestly I like a 10 or 12-footer. Not to much to fight with and still can keep back off the fish a few feet.
The 7-foot rod for casting is my staple
Most of the time I’m going to start by trying to catch fish casting from a distance. Even with water temps last winter of 37 degrees we were able to stay off and slow down our jig enough to catch big suspending crappie casting from 40 feet away. I will ease in and pitch to fish from 15-25 feet away. And finally get over them and vertical jig. Most of this I will do with a 7 to 8-foot spinning rod. I like a longer rod with medium light action give me enough load and tip to send a small 1/16-ounce jig.
Most of the time I can stall my retrieve for a couple of seconds over a fish and get the commit. And when they are really active I can real hot and heavy with 1/8-ounce jigs a pound the aggressive ones. You can do almost everything with a good 7 1/2-foot medium-light spinning rod like the Jenko Trick Stick Light or B’n’M Poles 75 Series Combo or Lew’s Wally Marshall Classic Series.
Find these 3 rods and catch crappie every time
Shoot docks, dip shallow cover, cast to deep suspending fish, pitch to submerged brush piles and stake beds, fish laydowns, tightline jigs to lethargic fish, snipe them, stalk them and catch them. Three rods is all you need to be efficient at all of the casting/jigging techniques that I’ve been able to use to catch crappie every single month last year. Hopefully I can slip out this weekend and keep the streak alive.
I think Jenko and B’n’MPoles have some of the best long rods for vertical fishing and dipping cover. Other good ones include Todd Huckabee rods, ACC Crappie Stix, and Lew’s Pro Target rods.
For a shooting rod, the B’n’M Poles Sharp Shooter is my favorite right now. I also like the Wally Marshall Classic rods. Other good ones include the Jenko HyperSense Marksman and St. Croix Panfish rods.
For casting from a distance, I like the Jenko Trick Stick Light and the B’n’M Poles 75 Series combo.
You can find Jenko rods at Jenkofishing.com, SportsmansOutfitters.com or MidwayUSA.com
You can find B’n’M Poles at BnMPoles.com.
You can find Lew’s Mr. Crappie rods at Lews.com, FishUSA.com and MidwayUSA.com.