January 31, 2017
When small spoonsare properly pumped, cast, trolled or fluttered, these flashy metal lureswiggle like baitfish with the bends. Crappie are attracted by this action, andbig catches of big panfish result.
You’ll catch more crappie if you stick to 1/32- to 1/2-ouncespoons, which are easier for small-mouthed crappie to inhale. But whether a1/32-ounce spoon or a 1/2-ounce version is best depends on various factors.
For example, when crappie in clear water are holding reallydeep—say 25 feet down—I opt for a heavier spoon such as the 3/8-ounce CottonCordell C.C. Spoon. This lure’s weight gets it into the strike zone quicker, abig plus. For crappie on shallower features, I prefer a smaller spoon like the 1/12-ounceAcme Kastmaster. Crappie find it irresistible, and they’re easier to hook onthe smaller lure.
Choose the spoon that seems best for conditions youencounter.
Most spoons come pre-rigged with a split ring or snap-swivelline tie. Use it. Tying directly to the spoon inhibits the lure’s action.
Line and Rod Selection
Most spoon-fishing strikes come as the lure falls and feellike faint taps or “heaviness” on the line. Using braided line allows easierdetection of these subtle hits. Also, a fast-action rod may work better thanmedium- or slow-action rods typically used for crappie fishing because atoo-limber rod decreases sensitivity and makes strike detection andhook-setting more difficult.
Today’s spoons are available in many hues. Which color isbest? Most anglers prefer silver, white and other light colors in clear water,and go with gold, red, chartreuse or brighter colors in stained/muddy water.
Spoons also are available in realistic finishes resemblinglive baitfish. Crappie feeding on shad are attracted by silvery shad-likefinishes. Where crappie feed largely on golden shiners, try a finish thatmimics these baitfish, and so on.
Use the Right Spoon
To locate winter crappie schools, cruise over underwatercreek/river channels, humps and other favored structure while pulling atrolling spoon or weedless casting spoon behind the boat.
Jigging spoons donot work well as search lures. Instead, an angler should pinpoint fishfirst using electronics, then position the boat directly over them before usingthese lures.
Work jigging spoons with a vertical presentation. Positionyour boat beside target structure, then lower the lure to the bottom. Take upslack, sweep your rod tip upward 1 to 3 feet, then slowly drop the rod tip,letting the spoon free-fall but keeping “in touch” with it at all times.Repeat, and be attentive for pick-ups as the lure falls.
Casting spoons will nab crappie when cast and retrievedacross horizontal structures such as submerged points or road beds. Let thelure sink, then reel up slack. Now rip the spoon off bottom by snapping the rod from a 10 o’clock position to12 o’clock, then allow the spoonto flutter back down. Repeat this process until the lure is beside the boat. Setthe hook at any unnatural bump or weightless feeling.
When action is slow, altering a spoon may bring success. Forexample, using pliers, you can bend a spoon to make it flutter more erraticallyas it sinks, producing more strikes. In muddy water, super-glue a lure rattleto the spoon; the added soundhelps crappie find your lure. Replace a plain treble hook with afeather-dressed treble, or add a plastic tube body, minnow or scent bait to thehook to coax more hits.
Spoon and Jig
If you feel hits but can’t hook fish, fix the problem bytying a 6-inch leader of light mono to the spoon hook then adding a crappie jigto the tag end. The smaller offering darting behind the larger spoon nabs short strikers.
Try working a small shad-imitation crankbait in combinationwith a spoon to catch inactive, suspended crappie. Tie on a three-way swivel,then add a 2-inch Cabela’s Suspending Rad Shad or similar crankbait on a12-inch leader to one eye of the swivel, and a 1/12-ounce Cabela’s CastingSpoon or similar spoon on an 18-inch leader to the other eye. When thecrankbait dives, the spoon follows, a pairing even finicky crappie find hard toresist.
Many spoon fishermen use a fast-action spinning or spincastingrod, but a long jigging pole or fly rod works great, too. Lower the spoon anduse flicks of the wrist to load the long pole, making the lure hop erratically.
Seeing is Believing
Savvy spoon fishermen use sensitive fish-finders that allowseeing a spoon as it is fished around crappie beneath the boat. With goodsonar, you can place the lure right on a persnickety crappie’s nose and work itwith various actions. Knowing you’re in the strike zone reduces frustration,encouraging you to try various tricks until one produces the desired result—acrappie in the boat.