For fall crappie work, consider these finer points, as needed:
Back on the chain gang: The name of the game for fall trolling is “slow,” but if you have trouble getting that speed down, deploy one or two chain lines (heavy link chain on rope leads) off the stern. Adjusting rope length affects how much chain contacts the bottom; more chain, more drag.
Scent of success: Fall crappie feed heavily during peak periods, but even these gluttons can become sluggish during the midday lulls. Sweetening your jigs with scented gels, pastes and sprays like Kodiak Paste, Pro Cure Gel, Smelly Jelly and Bang Fish Attractant can turn lookers into biters.
Rigged and ready: Snags happen and when you break off during a hot bite, re-rigging can cost you valuable fishing time. Maintain operational readiness by wrapping several premade tight lining rigs (for live baits) around a section of pool noodle. Keep the noodle in a convenient location for easy access. It doesn’t hurt to stick a few spare jigheads in the foam, too.
Lock ‘em up: We’d all like to think the best of humanity, but in most cases, rods left unattended will often grow wings and fly away. Locking, elevated racks keep your deck neat and manageable, while preventing theft. After all, what’s the good of finding crappie if you can’t reach ‘em.
Brighten those dreary days: Fall’s shifting weather will bring the occasional overcast gloominess, but don’t despair, crappie will still bite — you just need to consider a couple of helpful points.
Bottom tappin’: Aggressive crappie will hold above or around whatever cover they’ve chosen in clear feeding positions, but when the fish hold tight to their fortress, drop a jig right into the branches and let it hit bottom. Often this triggers a fish to bite what looks like an easy meal running for cover.
Sweeten the deal: Tipping crappie jigs with Berkley PowerBait Crappie Nibbles encourages the fish to hold on long enough for anglers to detect light bites. The problem arises when rain drops turn the scented nuggets into a sticky mess that’s hard to rig.
Prevent this frustration the night before your trip by spreading a day’s worth of Crappie Nibbles on paper towels or newspaper and covering them with the same for a couple of hours. This dries and toughens the nibbles for easier handling and better hook gripping, with no loss of scent/taste attraction.
The right touch: Even active crappie can bite so lightly, you’ll miss a lot of opportunities by being late on the response. Stay on top of your game — especially during the dulling effects of dreary days — by holding the rod in one hand and lightly gripping the line with your opposite thumb and forefinger.
Another option: Tuck the line under the middle finger of your rod hand and hold it against the foregrip. With either strategy, a little tightening on the line telegraphs a bite and signals your hook set.