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Fishing Skills

Finesse for Success Fishing Crappie

by Sandi Kennedy 25 Sep 2022

“Finesse Fishing isn’t just for Bass”

Finesse is a style of fishing, a delicate presentation to entice a bite from any highly pressured fish. It is best achieved with ultralight gear. What happens when even that isn’t enough to fool wary fish? A more refined gear is needed, a more subtle approach.

Necessity was the Mother of Finesse Fishing

Born in Japan, a land that knows many anglers and highly pressured waterways, finesse fishing became a way of life. With so many livelihoods dependent on catching fish for food or income, gear better suited to fool the fish was top priority. These smaller spool reels and lighter rods that were developed have slowly but surely found their way into the American market. Most of the  instances of finesse fishing have been heavily related to bass until now, with many companies jumping on board releasing their own versions of finesse specific rods and reels that are much lighter than what you would use for bass fishing. This gear has been growing in popularity with panfish and trout  anglers alike in the past couple of years. With more and more people taking up the sport in our country, many of us have yearned for an advantage over the influx of new competition and we got it!

New Dog, Old Tricks

That statement may seem a little backwards, but it actually is right on point. You can use all of the same lures and techniques that you have used with your standard ultralight setup, just on a smaller scale. Think reels that can send a 1/32 ounce lure a country mile with a rod to match. Bigger is not always better and gear that is capable of throwing the smallest sized lures have surely shown us that less is more.

What am I Finessing?

One of my favorite fish to target is black crappie, also a favorite of about 10,000 other anglers in my area. Which is why I need a leg up on my competition. These fish have become accustomed to being bombarded by a plethora of lures being hurled at a relentless rate in their faces. You’ve heard that you’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar, right? Well, you’ll catch more fish by gentler means as opposed to a disruptive approach. The lightest gear possible will hide your presence, the fish won’t know you’re there until they are on your hook.

Crappie fishing

When am I Finessing a Bite?

You can use this technique year round, there is no wrong time to turn on the charm. I will use my ultralight setup for all panfish and trout.

Fall is quickly approaching, or flannel weather as we call it around here, and fish are once again on the move. As the water temperatures cool and fish are coaxed from their summer retreats by moving baitfish, crappie can be found shallower and in greater numbers.

By Land or By Sea

Crappie can be found in lakes, ponds, and rivers. They tend to like slower moving water, but I have caught them in spillways with very rough churning water.

If you are bankfishing, you could try drifting lures under a bridge or dock,  fish along a channel or near underwater structure such as tree stumps and submerged branches. Crappie are a schooling fish, so where you hook one more are bound to follow. Be prepared to thoroughly work an area until you find them. Crappie are usually on the move with changing tides and weather patterns.

In a boat, electronics can greatly assist you in locating some prime spots. Look for ledges and drop offs. Fishing the bank with overhanging trees will likely provide crappie with favorable habitat.

Tricks of the Trade

I have caught crappie on light to medium gear, but to truly enjoy the fight nothing beats an ultralight setup. I paired a Zephyr 1000 SFS spinning reel with a 4’6” Perigee II spinning rod. The sensitivity of this combo is like no other and the fight of landing even the smallest crappie is quite compelling!

The Zephyr and Perigee II are capable of sending lures that weigh just 1/32 of an ounce a very impressive distance with no additional weight such as a bobber. My goto lure that produces the most is a 1/64 ounce jighead paired with a EuroTackle 1.2 inch Y-Fry soft plastic under a bobber. Small lures and light line, 6 pound mono is my preference to get the job done.

Hardbody lures can add a bit of excitement to crappie fishing and are an excellent search bait for locating the schools. Some great choices include in-line spinners, spoons, and small crankbaits.

One More for the Rod Holder

If you are new to fishing or even if you are already an enthusiast, I urge you to check out gear specifically designed to improve your panfish game. Crappie are located throughout North America so there is no reason why you can’t enjoy them too!

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