Crappies are a type of freshwater fish found in North America, both its species being popular panfish. There are many different fishing methods used by people all across the States, including ice fishing during the cold days of winter.
To improve your performance and make crappie fishing more enjoyable and productive, we offer you a few tips and tricks for the best experience. First of all, you might want to consider using a reliable portable fish finder to increase your chances of success.
What type of gear you need
Being an all-year fishing opportunity, both black and white crappies can be caught with methods adapted for each season. What is even better, unlike bass or carp, which can fight back or set themselves free, crappies can be caught by any angler, regardless of their skill or previous experience. This makes them ideal for beginners.
No expensive gear is needed to catch crappie, thanks to their reduced size. You can stick to carbon fiber or bamboo rods, their reduced weight being an important feature.
Telescopic rods are good too, particularly for bank fishing. The reels can be bought from most shops – most good freshwater models will work just fine for crappie fishing, but for better results, you can opt for a reel with a larger diameter spool.
The ultra-lightweight line is the most suitable for crappie fishing. Monofilament lines were trendy in the past, but now the braided line is also commonly used. It has a little stretch and less memory than monofilament, helping you achieve greater casting distance.
Type of bait
Jigs are the most popular lures for crappies; highly adaptable, versatile and easy to make them by yourself, they are inexpensive and can be found everywhere. Spinnerbaits can be bought at any fishing store and, if used correctly, will yield great results.
The same goes for homemade ones – you can use components from different models to make up your own, or you can build everything by yourself with objects found in your home. You can use a roomy fishing backpack to store all your bait.
Live bait is another option for crappie fishing. Live minnows are widely used, together with larval insects. The latter is recommended for wintertime ice fishing. Soft baits make things easier for those who do not have the time or desire to catch live minnows and grubs. The smelly pellets are shelf-stable, can be stored with ease and come in a variety of colors and flavors.
Once you have obtained all the accessories, equipment and bait required for crappie fishing, you can start learning and experimenting with the many techniques that can be used.
Whether you own a boat or not, there is always a technique adapted for the time of the year and the surrounding environment, and for the great fishing boat seat you own as well.
Traditional bobber fishing is a technique most anglers are accustomed to using, and it is effective on crappie. It can be used with jigs, lures, and baits, with the rig being as simple as possible.
To obtain it, fix a plastic bobber to the line 1 to 3 feet from the end. Tie the jig onto the end, and you are ready. For live minnow, a small split shot can be placed 8 to 12 inches from the end, followed by a small crappie hook.
Vertical jigging is another efficient method, even though it requires a little bit more patience to be successful.
The rig consists of one or more jigs tied to the end of the line. Hang the rod over the bank or boat and let the jig drop into the water, allowing it to sink to the bottom. Once the desired depth has been reached, lightly bounce the rod tip a few times to move the jig.
Reel in some line, bouncing again, and allow the jig some time to sit. The procedure can be repeated until the fish bites. If this does not happen, try again after a few moments; once you obtain a bite, remember the movement patterns used and repeat them.
For deeper water, the slip float technique can be used – it will allow you a precise depth control, something useful if you have a fish finder on the boat. Similar to bobber fishing, the rig only allows the bobber to slide up the line until it hits a stopper. Adjustment is made by moving the stopper up or down along the line.
If you do not know the exact depth the fish are at, using this method allows you to adjust every time after failing to obtain a bite. Once that happens, you can keep fishing until you no longer catch anything. Then, you can either change the spot or readjust the depth.
Casting and retrieving is the most active way of catching crappie. It requires a medium size rod with sensitive tips, which help you feel the lure as it moves through the water. Jigs and spinners are common lures for this technique, together with plugs and small crankbaits.
Cast as close as possible to a structure without getting the hook stuck in the vegetation – there is no float to prevent this from happening. By consecutive attempts, determine the depth the fish are at. Start by allowing the lure to sink to the bottom, and then change the depths until you catch the fish.
When to fish for crappies
Crappies can be caught in all seasons, but the best time of the year is during spring. As the water starts warming up, the fish will move to shallower water for the pre-spawn period.
Vertical jigging is the best method for this moment. Once the spawn is done, the crappies will go to even shallower waters, guarding the nests. Cast and retrieve is most recommended in this situation.
Autumn is another great time for crappie fishing, as their appetite increases, and they return to the shallower water.
Less popular seasons are summer and winter, when, you will have to use deep water techniques as the heat or cold sends them to the deepest part of the lake. Moreover, during winter, the bites are subtle and can be easily passed by if you are not careful.
Apart from these tips and tricks, constant practice and experience will, in time, lead to better experiences and more productive fishing. All you need is patience and enough determination to improve your crappie fishing skills. Make sure you dress properly, and if you don’t want to get soaked, you might want to consider getting men’s or women’s hip waders, too.