A crappie in the water

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Weigh Crappie Before You Catch Them Day 5: How to Work a Jig for Crappie

A crappie swims towards a lure
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Editor’s Note: Jordan Newsome of Iron Station, North Carolina, has crappie tournament fished for eight years but has been crappie fishing since he was a child. He fishes the Crappie USA Tournament Circuit (https://www.crappieusa.com/), the Central Carolina Crappie Trail (https://www.crappie.com/crappie/north-carolina/423350-central-carolina-crappie-trail), the Yadkin River Crappie Trail (https://www.facebook.com/yadkinrivercrappietrail) and the Fish the Carolinas Crappie Trail (https://www.fishthecarolinas.org/). Newsome has become an expert on using the latest technology – the Garmin LiveScope – to catch crappie.

A fisherman inspects his two crappiePhillips: When you see the crappie stop, and you’ve decided you want to catch it, how do you work your jig?

Jordan Newsome: The LiveScope I’m watching has a grid that shows how many feet I am from the crappie, and how deep the crappie is in the water. Based on the direction my trolling motor is facing, I’ll know the direction I need to cast my jig. If I see a big crappie that’s 30-feet away from my boat, I want to cast my jig about 5-feet past the crappie and let my jig fall, so it swings like a pendulum in front of the crappie. I want that pendulum swing to deliver my jig about 2-feet above the crappie, because in crappie fishing, you never want your jig to pass within 1-1/2 to 2-feet below the crappie. If that fish doesn’t bite the jig, on my next cast, I’ll pass the jig to within 1-1/2 to 2-feet of the crappie’s head. With the Garmin LiveScope, I not only can see the fish and the water depth where it’s holding, I can see my jig when it hits the water, starts to fall, gets closer to the crappie and determine the distance from my jig to the crappie as it’s falling and swims in front of the crappie’s face. When I’m reeling my jig in front of the crappie, I can see how the crappie reacts to the jig, watch it inhale the jig and often set the hook before I feel the strike.

A crappie in the waterIf I see my jig pass in front of a crappie that doesn’t attack it, but instead swims alongside or behind the jig, then I know I either need to change the color of jig I’m using or speed-up or slow-down my retrieve. That’s when I’ll change the color of my jig for the next cast or either speed-up or slow-down my retrieve. I have several colors of jigs I depend on to make big crappie bite. I’ll fish a Bobby Garland Baby Shad Swim’R (https://www.lurenet.com/brands/bobby-garland) in a natural shad-looking color called Monkey Milk that’s a clear bait with blue flake in it about 75% of the time. In dingy water, not muddy – I’ll fish a Bobby Garland Blue Grass Baby Shad Swim’R that’s clear with green in it. I’ll also use a black-and-chartreuse colored jig body and a June bug color.

A fisherman displays his crappieI fish three different sizes of jig heads: a 1/32-ounce, a 1/16-ounce and a 1/8-ounce. If I’m fishing in zero-visibility water, I’ll use the 1/32-ounce jig head. If I’m trying to catch a crappie in 10-20 feet of water, I’ll use the 1/16. If I’m fishing 20-foot deep or more, I’ll fish the 1/8-ounce jig head. One thing to note when you’re using a LiveScope is that the jig body determines how well you can see the jig on the LiveScope. A soft plastic body that doesn’t have a tail on it is much harder to see than curly-tail jig body. I’ve learned that the more action your jig has in the water, the easier and better you can see your jig on the LiveScope.

To sum up, the three keys to catching more and bigger crappie are:

  • Find a guide or a crappie fisherman who’s used LiveScope for several years, and get him to teach you how to use this new technology;
  • Keep your bait at least 2-feet above the crappie to begin with;
  • Know that if you can afford a LiveScope, it will improve your fishing at least 100% – whether you’re fishing for crappie, bass or catfish.

Cover: Crappie The Year-Round River Fisherman's BibleTo learn more about crappie fishing, check out John E. Phillips’ book, “Crappie: The Year-Round River Fisherman’s Bible” at https://www.amazon.com available in Kindle, print and Audible. At this writing, some states are still having deer seasons which run through February 10th and others last even longer. To learn more about hunting for deer, check out John E. Phillips’ “Jim Crumley’s Secrets of Bowhunting Deer”, now available as of January 1, 2022 in Audible, as well as paperback and Kindle at https://www.amazon.com. You may have to copy and paste this link into your browser. (When you click on the books, notice on the left where Amazon says you can read and hear 10% of the book for free). On the right side of the page and below the offer for a free Audible trial, you can click on Buy the Audible book.Cover: Jim Crumley's Secrets for Hunting Deer


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