Saturday, May 4, 2013

Crappie Tubes: One Bait 3 Techniques

If you ask a selection of Crappie fisherman about their preferred bait for targeting crappie, most would quickly answer  a crappie or micro tube, and I would have to whole heatedly agree. A good crappie tube is not only my first choice but it is my second and third choice when it comes to targeting crappie, and here's how I do it. 


Slip-bobber fishing is the most common technique I see used to target crappie. It not only allows you to easily adapt to almost any depth, but it allows you to offer the fish both a slow and fast presentation all without changing baits.

To be successful with a slip bobber, all you need to do is remember a few basic steps. First, set your bobber depth so your tube is approximately 1 foot off the bottom. The objective is to make accurate casts to the deeper pockets or structure the crappie are holding to. Using your rod you want to slowly (at first) pop and move your tube, while only slightly moving your bobber. Depending on what the fish want on a particular day, you can start to do harder rod pops, and start to drag the bobber across the surface while still keeping your tube in the strike zone. Crappies will chase down a meal, but the water temps will often dictate how far.

Tip: if the action slows, don't be afraid to adjust your bobbers depth, move up or down in the water column to find fish that may have been ignoring your earlier attempts

when first starting out slip bobber fishing you will quickly realize that not all bobbers are equal, to date the best slip bobber I have found is the "Mr Crappie Slipper" by Betts.  It is a cigar shaped bobber that comes in weighted and non-weighted models. I personally prefer to use the weighted model as it allows me to down size my jig heads weight (providing better, softer motion in the water) but still gets me the casting distance I want/need. The shape also allows this combo to be skipped up under overhangs and bridges 

Slip Bobber fishing is a great technique when the season is getting started and the water temps are still relatively cool. But, like with any technique, there are times when a simple slip bobber wont cut it, what then? 

Jig Head: Dragging and hopping

This is a technique I tend to use more as the water temps warm up. It is a faster presentation that is more erratic then when using a slip bobber (it moves in and out of the strike zone). It works particularly well when the fish are active or when trying to pick out fish hanging out below the rest of the school.

like a jerk-bait, I cast the jig out, let it sink and give the rod sharp pops to make the bait hop and sink back down. Not exactly a weedless presentation, but it keeps you active and keeps things moving.  Try varying your speed, you can slow hop and pause these baits so they hit the bottom and the line goes slack. Other times I will steady retrieve so the bait swims just below the surface. Let the fish tell you what they want.  

A perk to fishing a Crappie Tube on a jig head is how easily you can change out a damaged tube, or change colours. Unlike with a slip-bobber there is no need to tie and retie your bait, the tube simply slides off.  My jig heads of choice tend to be the 'Fin-S" painted heads from Lunker City, (pictured above) or the Southern Pro Painted head tboth have a nice finish and hold up well to banging off rocks and other structure (or as well as can be expected)

Tip: Try varying the angle of your rod when jerking or hopping the bait. By holding the rod high you will be hopping the bait vertically exposing it to more of the water column, while jerking the rod to the side, will glide the bait along keeping it deeper at all times

Blade/Spin Baits:

The technique I enjoy fishing crappie tubes on the most has to be a small blade/spin bait like the Southern Pro Creek Runner (pictured above) . This baits allows me to cover water extremely well, and active fish hammer it, similar to a spinner bait bite when bass fishing.

Depending on water temps and what time of the season you are fishing, there are many ways to present a spin bait. The most obvious one is a steady retrieve. Soft and slow will run the bait deeper and a fast retrieve will burn it just under the surface. I also like to pop and twitch a spin bait, allowing the blade to really do it's thing calling fish in on the fall.

Spin baits are very versatile and allow me to make quick changes to my bait without having to retie over and over again. Simply slide the tube off and slip anew one on. These quick changes are important as I find many anglers get lazy and wont switch up an ineffective bait if it means tying and retying (yes we as a group can be lazy at times)

Tip: Like when spinner bait fishing for Bass to be successful with a blade bait you need to be fearless. Bang it off rocks and timbers, weave and rip it through grass, do whatever it takes to get noticed 

Tube Selection:

If you are an avid visitor to this site then you know I'm a bit of a tackle whore, I love to try new baits, even after I have found what I believe to be the perfect bait.. the search for the next best thing is always on-going. When it comes to Crappie tubes, I have two brands that I trust and use more often then not.

Southern Minnow Pro: A great looking minnow style tube bait, these babies are durable and have a different motion then the other tubes in my arsenal. The wider hollow cavity also allows for larger tube jigs or various sizes

Bass Pro Shop Squirt: This is my go to crappie tube, they are extremely durable and proven fish catchers. I use both the Squirming Squirt (1.5") as well as the Magnum (2") which is also salted

Tip: You may have noticed a bit of a colour trend throughout this article, you can ignore it, pink/white are awful choices for crappie fishing. lol

There you have, 3 uses for a bait I know any angler calling himself a "crappie man" has to own. So the next time your on the water in search of these golden beasts, be sure to test drive a new technique, it may just set you apart from the crowd

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