I grew up crappie fishing with my dad. Even though a lot of things have changed in our lives, to this day one of our favorite things is to get together each fall and go crappie fishing. Crappie offer fast action, make great eating and are fun to catch.

Light Tackle Tips to Coax Crappie Out of Hiding

Each fall in our local reservoirs, crappie move shallow to chase shad through the limbs of submerged timber. This migration puts the fish in easy reach of kayak anglers.

The easiest way to find fish at this time of year is to use a run-and-gun approach. I hit downed trees and stumps as quickly as possible. I may catch a fish or two from several trees, but when I find a really productive tree, I catch one crappie after another.

person holds up a crappie caught in fall with light tackle
Paperwork papermouths. | Feature photo: Kyle Hammond

To fish the trees, I start casting my lure to the outside edge and limbs. Then, I cast closer and closer to the tree. I let the jig sit for a few seconds and give it a few twitches. Then I repeat, alternating pauses and twitches.

Best crappie tackle

My favorite tackle setup is a six-foot, light power, fast action St. Croix Triumph spinning rod with a small 1000 series Shimano Sedona spinning reel. With lightly biting crappie, the fast action quickly sets the hook. The rod is nimble enough to cast a light jig and powerful enough to pull a crappie out of the tree limbs.

I spool the reel with six-pound test abrasion-resistant monofilament line. The light mono slips through the float smoother than braided line.

My favorite way to catch crappie is with a small slip float. The rig consists of a foam float that slides on the line.

To rig up the slip float, I slide the stopper about a foot onto the line. Then I add a small bead, the float, and another bead. I attach the swivel with a Palomar knot. I add a 10-inch leader of four-pound monofilament and a small jig.

Before I go fishing, I tie a bunch of leaders and jigs. If I get snagged, I can easily replace the leader and keep fishing.

Best crappie lure

My favorite lure is a 1/16-ounce Neon Moon Eye Jig from VMC paired with a two-inch Stinger Shad from Southern Pro Tackle. Moon Eye jigs are extremely sharp and very durable. The Stinger Shad imitates the primary forage and comes in a wide variety of awesome colors. I usually start with natural colors like Crystal Shad or Bayou Booger. If the fish don’t respond, I switch to gaudy colors like Cajun Chicken.

To start out, I set the bobber stop at 18 inches. If I don’t get bites, I lengthen the drop by six inches until I find the depth holding the fish.

crappie caught in fall
Speckled treasure for late season anglers. | Photo: Kyle Hammond

If I’m lucky, a crappie pulls the float underwater. But most bites are more subtle. I pay close attention to the float. A slight tick, sideways movement or laydown can indicate a bite. If anything seems different, set the hook.

On the best days, when I find the right tree, I catch one crappie after another. The fast action is a fun way to end the season and put some fillets on the table.

Cover of Kayak Angler Magazine Issue 49, Fall 2022This article was first published in the Fall 2022 issue of Kayak Angler Magazine. Subscribe to Kayak Angler Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.

Paperwork papermouths. | Feature photo: Kyle Hammond



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