The Best Crappie Techniques for Beginners
By Greg McCain
In crappie fishing, sometimes the oldest methods are best. Even in an age when technology dominates the highest levels of competitive crappie fishing, those advanced tactics are not always best for inexperienced fishermen looking to get into the sport.
For childen or even inexperienced adults, certain techniques resonsate with those anglers possessing minimal fishing experience. On such occasions, perhaps simpler is better. When quizzed about the idea, ACC Crappie Stix pro staff members responded overwhelmingly with a singular idea: fish with a float.
While a couple of staffers diverged from the float-and -minnow or float-and-jig approach for novices, the majority responded that the old-school practice remains best for those people who lack fishing experience. Using some variation of fishing under a float introduces people young and old to crappie fishing in the easiest and most efficient way.
Most of the advice came from guides, who regularly bring inexperienced anglers aboard for their first taste of crappie fishing. Since much of their livelihood and guiding reputation depends on repeat business, guides want the initial experiences to be positive. Fred Mooney (Full Moon Guide Service, 618.731.1601), who has guided for years on Rend Lake in Illinois, practices the routine.
“A minnow under a slip cork is the simplest, most effective technique for young clients,” he said. “A visual indicator for the young, I think, is a much easier way to introduce them to the sport.”
Other members of the ACC pro staff echoed similar ideas:
Caleb Hensley, Texas, 903 Fishing on YouTube, 903.280.3072
“A minnow and a slip cork, in my opinion, is the easiest way, especially for children or beginners. I don’t have LiveScope, so I can’t sit that jig or minnow on that crappie’s head. That minnow will send a stress signal, and crappie can feel that all over the brush pile. I have had several children on my boat this summer with little to no experience in fishing, and they were slinging crappie in the boat. An 8’ ACC is perfect for slip corking. Cork goes down. Set the hook. It’s a pretty simple but very efficient way to catch crappie year round.”
Nick Whitten, Florida, @crappie_adventures on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok
“The simplest technique in Florida involves time of year. During the spawn in Florida, you can go to about any patch of weeds and set up shop with a minnow under a float and catch a mess of crappie. It lasts from about December to March.”
Reagan Smith, Illinois, Reag’s Guide Service, 309.642.8106
“Fishing a slip cork any depth or even a pear-shaped fixed cork under a jig. I might say jig and a fixed cork here (in Illinois) during spawn time is easiest for new people. They don’t have to worry about throwing a minnow off and can cast wherever they need to get and keep the bait. But definitely easiest when a cork is involved for new people to see the bite instead of feel.”
Brennan Schuette, Minnesota, Mid-Sota Media and Guide Service, 320.510.5072
“The simplest technique up here in Minnesota is slip bobbers in spring. When the fish scatter after the spawn, I generally target weed lines and pitch jigs. For the clients that have no fishing experience I will then troll micro crankbaits or underspin jigs to cover water, and this reduces them catching weeds every cast when pitching jigs. Hand them the rod and troll one mph and have them hold it. It requires no certain cadence or feel for the difference between weeds or fish.”
Jeff Jowers, central Alabama, Southern Scales Guide Service, 205.294.9202
“In my personal opinion, the easiest technique would be the slip bobber. Not that it’s my favorite but there are times when you have to do it, especially when working with children. It’s always exciting watching that cork disappear.
“However, when it’s hot and the fish are deep and by deep I mean 15-20 feet of water, I like to dead stick a bait vertically. There’s no casting or cadence that is required. Kinda like deep dropping for Snapper. Let line out to the desired depth and wait on that bite.”
Looking for an alternative to fishing under a float? A couple of ACC pro staffers who guide and are accustomed to having inexperienced anglers in the boat suggest another method that works.
Matt Xenos, east Tennessee, Wired for Crappie Guide Service and on YouTube, 865.640.1602
“Long line trolling with jigs. No doubt. A good trolling set up with rods staggering 12’, 10’, 8’, 6’ on each side of the boat, two jigs per pole, 16 baits in the water. The speed varies from .5 to 1.2 mph, depending on the depth you’re trying to fish and the mood of the fish.
“The reason being because crappie can be caught mostly all year round and absolutely no electronics are needed. This technique is simple because the boat does the work and sets the hook. Watch the rod bend and reel ‘em in!
Not all new/youth crappie fishermen have expensive electronics or know how to read them to find structure to fish with jigs or minnows. I have taken a lot of youth and new anglers on guided trips on which we trolled. We put lots of fish in the boat, and they always have lots of fun. Having fun is what keeps them coming back. Fun first and fish second.”
Jody Stephens, Lake Oconee, Georgia, Crappie Daze Guide Service, 770.656.4520
“Long line trolling! I call it the Ronco method! Cast it, set it, forget it …until that rod bows up!”
For anyone looking to get into crappie fishing, ACC Crappie Stix has a rod that fits the occasion. From youth models to casting rods and more, ACC has your crappie fishing rod needs covered. Check out the full line at https://acccrappiestix.com/#.