Fall Crappie Fishing
By Owen Gartner
As the trees begin to slowly reveal their skeletal form, our hoodies come crawling out of their summer stowaways, and the color orange begins to slowly dominate the seasonal designs of our favorite cans of beer, many of us begin pulling out our hunting gear - letting our rods become neglected - if not out right put away for the season altogether.
But veteran crappie anglers know better; when fall rolls around they know a previously dead late summer crappie bite picks up into a rapacious feeding frenzy as these panfish gorge themselves to prepare for the winter months to come. How can you best take advantage of this hot crappie bite? In this blog post we cover some of Discount Tackle's best crappie offerings, including baits and lures, line, and terminal tackle!
Baits and Lures
In the autumn, most crappie begin feeding heavily on whatever baitfish dominate their local waters, therefore some of the most productive baits imitate this sort of forage. The Bobby Garland Baby Shad is a classic choice for this sort of presentation. A simple, 2 inch straight tail soft plastic with a shad fry profile, the Baby Shad can be skipped under docks, jigged vertically, cast and retrieved, or even trolled. In addition to the impressive 50+ standard colorways, these slab-catching soft plastics even come in a range of glow-in-the-dark Mo'Glo colorways and both the standard and Mo'Glo versions pair excellently with Mr. Crappie Jigheads.
Pautzke Bait Co.'s Crappie Fire Balls in Blue (Shad Scent)
Another great choice this time of year are the new Crappie Fire Balls, developed by the egg bait experts at Pautzke Bait Co. (makers of the legendary Balls 'O Fire salmon eggs). This bait builds off of Pautzke's Fire Balls scented artificial eggs, which are made from a special synthetic biodegradable material that feels soft and natural, but is much more durable than old-school cured salmon eggs, and optimizes them for crappie fishing via an altered color and scent selection. They can be fished on their own similar to how you would rig panfish doughbait or used to tip the hook on your favorite soft plastic set up.
Hooks and Terminal Tackle
Aberdeen hooks have been a staple among crappie anglers for decades, valued for their thin wire and J-shaped design that makes them excellent for live minnows, crickets, and more. Among the wide variety of Aberdeen hooks we carry here at Discount Tackle, it's hard to go wrong with a classic such as Eagle Claw's 202AH Light Wire Aberdeen. The super thin wire and particularly wide gap on this hook are excellent for fishing with live minnows as its thin gauge is less damaging to the bait and the gap facilitates better movement.
If you prefer artificials over live bait fishing, a great choice for soft plastic baits is Gamakatsu's relatively new Crappie Jighead. A simple lead head jig with a spring coil baitkeeper and a size 2 hook, this jighead really shines when fished around brush piles and laydown as the baitkeeper keeps your plastic locked in place and the rounded head comes through all sorts of cover without easily snagging.
Fishing Line and Leader
Using ultra-thin and ultra-light line is essential when crappie fishing: Crappie have somewhat delicate mouths and the hooks used to target them tend to be made from extremely thin gauges of wire that are easily bent out. Nonetheless, crappie often hide in cover-heavy areas where you want some assurance your line won't break after a small nick or abrasion. Nanobraid from Sufix is the perfect line choice to balance these competing needs of sensitivity and abrasion resistance. It uses a proprietary weaving technique to achieve extremely thin gauges of wire for the given pound test, allowing for amazing stealth, sensitivity, and casting distance.
While Nanobraid is extremely sensitive, it is unwise to fish for crappie with braided line alone as you can easily tear the hook right out of the fish's mouth if your drag is set just a touch too high. Thus, we always recommend a monofilament or fluorocrabon leader when fishing with braid. As most anglers already know, monofilament floats and has a little bit of stretch in it, which is great for absorbing the shock of a strike. We recommend using a monofilament leader, such as Maxima's Ultragreen Monofilament, when trolling or vertically jigging for crappie, this will prevent potentially setting the hook to hard and loosing the fish, its natural green color is super stealthy too.
If you're in a situation where stealth and abrasion resistance are especially important, it may be better to employ a fluorocarbon leader as fluorocarbon is virtually invisible underwater and generally more robust than monofilament. Seaguar InvizX Fluorocarbon is a great choice here because it is offered in pound tests as low 4lb and generally regarded as one of the stealthiest leader material out there. It's even limp and supple enough to be used as mainline too.
Looking for more crappie gear? Click here to shop our full crappie selection.
Now go out there and start slammin' some slabs! Tight lines!