Gearing Up For Fall Crappie
If you’re looking to catch big crappie this fall but don’t know where to start, this guide is for you. Here’s a rundown of where to find autumn crappie and the best tackle for landing plenty of plate-sized papermouths.
Two Fantastic Fall Crappie Locations
In many lakes, anglers will often find crappie relating to deep vegetation between 10 to 15 feet. Large weed beds leading into fertile bays or vegetation close to deep basins are especially good zones.
Basin flats between 20 and 35 feet are another prime location. Crappie will concentrate around key features, including breaklines leading to soft-bottoms, contour bends, points leading into flats, rock piles and mid-lake structures.
Best Baits For Weed-relating Crappie
Size 4 and 6 Rapala X-Raps, size 3 and 5 CountDowns, Ultra Light Shads and Ultra Light Cranks are perfect for fishing over and around weeds. A swim-pause or twitch-pause retrieve gets the job done most days.
The VMC panfish jigs are equally essential presentations. Notables include the 1/16 and 1/8 ounce Curl Tail Spin Jig, Curl Tail Spinnerbait, Boot Tail Jig, Tungsten Probe Jig, Flap Tail Jig and Hot Skirt Glow Jig.
Fish a jig using a slow swim or hop-fall retrieve for suspending crappie. When crappie hold tight to veg, pitching a jig into pockets and along edges will catch them.
Tip: When crappie are active at dusk, a jig beneath the VMC Lighted Slip Float is tough to beat. The float’s bright light makes it easy to see strikes in the fading light.
Top Lures and Jigs for Deep Dwelling Crappie
As water cools, the deep crappie bite heats up. Locating crappie using electronics takes time, but once you find a school, hook-sets aren’t far away.
Vertically jigging is a reliable tactic. Keep the lure several feet above the school. This puts it in the strike zone of up-feeding slabs and appeals to active fish.
For baits, size 3 and 5 Rapala Jigging Raps are some of the best. These fast-sinking, baitfish look-a-likes appeal to big crappie and have excellent hook-up percentages.
The Rapala Rippin’ Rap (#5), Rapala Slab Rap, along with the VMC Rattle Spoon and Flash Champ Spoon are equally reliable for catching fall crappie. The compact Tungsten Chandelier Jig is a good option for downsizing and sinks like a stone
Cold-water crappie also can’t resist the VMC Hot Skirt Glow Jigs and VMC Bucktail Jigs. When fish are fussy, drop a 1/8- or 1/4-ounce jig to stimulate strikes. Lightly lift and drop the jig, similar to writing a lowercase “m” with the rod tip.
Can’t go Wrong Panfish Combo
A 13 Fishing Defy Silver 6’6” or 7’ light power rod paired with a 13 Fishing Creed K 2000 Reel make an ideal combo for the techniques discussed above. The ultra-sensitive Defy Silver’s Japanese 24-Ton HTC2 graphite and soft touch evolve finesse reel seat ensure you’ll feel even the lightest bite from a crappie, while providing the power and control needed to land giant crappie. The Creed K delivers superior performance and features a butter-smooth drag system.
Fall crappie line options
Sufix Advance Monofilament in 4- to 6-pound test is great for crappie tactics. Advance Monofilament is subtle, has half the stretch of traditional mono and delivers excellent sensitivity.
Another option is Sufix Advanced 832 Superline in 6- or 8-pound test paired with a similar strength Sufix Advance Fluorocarbon leader. No-stretch, ultra-sensitive 832 Superline is well suited for deep crappie and making long casts.
Tip:Tie-in a VMC swivel 18 inches above a Rapala Jigging Rap or a jigging spoon to prevent line twist.
Fall fishing equipment
You’ll want a pair of Rapala’s EZ Open Forceps for fall crappie fishing. The tool’s smooth, one-handed operation makes hook removal easy. Serrated line scissors easily cut monofilament and fluorocarbon. Use Rapala’s Fisherman’s Super Line Scissors for cutting Advanced 832 Superline.
A ruler is handy for practicing selective harvest and “catch-photo-release” of big crappie. Rapala’s rulers have large, easy-to-read numbers for a fast, accurate measurement. When keeping crappie for the table, having two fillet knives makes the task go faster. Use a 4” fillet knife for the initial cuts when cleaning crappie. Then remove skin from the meat with a 6” blade.
Tip: Learn more about fish-cleaning tips here
The fall season is here, folks, and big schools of crappie are converging around deep weeds and on deep basin flats. Gear-up and go catch ‘em!