Come spring in Southern Ontario there are a plethora of fishing opportunities. Depending on where you are, seasonal regulations can impact what you are allowed to target, but panfish are always open! Crappie are on of the most sought after of the panfish and for good reason. They are tasty, can grow big, and if you can find them you can usually catch them. Bobber, split shot and a minnow and away you go! What if you are looking for a more practical way to catch them. Live bait is cumbersome and messy, especially when fishing from shore. Well, what should you do if you want an alternative? Well I love throwing swimbaits for crappie!
Swimbaits Under a Crappie Float
Floats and crappie go together like peanut butter and jam. Under a slip float you can slowly swing and even hang a swimbait right onto of a school of crappie. You can give it little twitches that will make the tail flail and wiggle. It is a different profile and action than your typical crappie fluke. On the other hand, a fixed float will let the swimbait slowly swim in an arc pattern as you move the float closer you you.
Rigging the Float and Swimbait
I prefer using longer, soft rods when fishing floats. A seven foot light or even ultralight rod is a lot of fun to fight a big crappie on. Sensitivity isn’t as important since the strike is detected by the float. That extra give in the fishing rod also helps prevent ripping hooks out of the crappies soft mouth. I typically use six pound mono as my main line. I’ll attach my float and if I need it split shots on the heavier mono.
I like reels with faster pickup like the like the Daiwa Procyon 2500D-CXH. With 34 inches of pick up per crank I can take up slack line quickly. I attach three or four pound fluorocarbon with a small micro swivel and my swimbait and jig to the fluoro. I like using the smallest jig I can with the right size hook. Owner and Gamakatsu make some great 1/16 and 1/32 ounce jig heads that fit one and two inch swimbaits perfectly.
Swimbaits and Jigs
Even tho a float is the standard, taking off the float is a great way to catch fish! It is my favourite way to use a swimbait for crappie! It is more of a you versus fish once you get hit. No float watching, just waiting to feel that thump! It is a much faster way of fishing than running a float and depending on how the fish are dispersed more efficient. The biggest advantage is without a float your casting is more accurate. You can pitch your swimbait under docks, along pilings, and more efficiently swim it around and through structure without a float. All of that said, the best reason to fish a jig and swimbait is that thump! You feel the hit every time, and often they are savage!
Rigging Swimbaits for Crappie
I love using a Medium Light rod, my top choice is a 6 foot 8 inch rod with a very soft, fast tip. Paired with a reel like the Daiwa Procyon 2500D-CXH loaded with 5 pound braid topped with a long 6 lb fluorocarbon leader. Again, that quick line pickup really comes in handy when a crappie hits at the top of the swim ark.
A beefier leader is a good idea when you are fishing straight to a swimbait. Since I am casting the swimbait around cover, docks, pilings and I often rub right against the structure. Six pound fluoro also has a more abrasion resistance than four pound. Since I am fishing the swimbait faster than with a float, the fish have less time to inspect it. Another advantage to a thicker line, it slows down the fall rate of the swimbait. That is definitely a bonus with crappie being up feeders. I am using a 1/16 or 1/32 oz jig with a number 2 hook.
Crappie are a fun fish to target and there are many ways to target them. Swimbaits are versatile and catch lots of crappie. Give them a try, you won’t be disappointed!