Many common crappie hang-outs don’t lend themselves well to casting approaches. The crappie get in the cover, instead of just around it, leaving no practical angle for delivering a cast. The only way to put a YUM Wooly Beavertail or other 1 1/2-inch YUM offering in front of these fish is to use a long crappie rod or pole, which you can poke right into the cover, and then drop the bait among the fish.
Early spring and even the first warm snaps of late winter push crappie into shallow cover along the edges of lakes, especially when heavy rains add stain to the water. The fish will move into treetops, around cypress knees and buck brush and way up under docks – the very types of area that are toughest to cast to.
Anglers armed with extra-long rods – be them telescoping poles or more modern graphite crappie rods – can reach in among the branches or under the dock and place a bait virtually anywhere by simply letting line down. And they can drop baits a foot or 10 feet simply by pulling line from the reel in measured strips.
Even if an angler could cast into many of these places, getting a jig back out would be a different story. And doing so would require reeling the bait back too quickly to gain the interest of most early-season fish, which are still in their slow-motion mode.
Even along riprap banks or beside bridge pilings, where casting would be easy, using a long pole allows an angler to suspend a jig in the strike zone, twitching it only occasionally or not at all. Often adding zero motion at all is the best presentation this time of year.
Presentations help anglers determine the best specific bait for the day. A slow swimming motion, attained by moving the rod tip side to side within a brush pile or beside a row of rocks, brings a YUM Wooly Curltail to life. A Wooly Beavertail, with its horizontal flaps, lends itself better to a gentle jigging approach. For standstill or ultra-slow presentations, many anglers favor a 1 ½-inch Vibra-King Tube.
Because of the abundance of cover, many anglers choose to use relatively heavy line, such as 12-pound-test Silver Thread Fluorocarbon, and light-wire hooks. That allows them to pull hooks straight when needed to get them out of brush.
The only major qualification of the reaching-out approach is that the water has to be somewhat stained for an angler to be able to position the boat only a pole’s length away – often in shallow water. However, if the crappie have moved shallow and are back in the thick cover, chances are good that the water is carrying a fairly good stain.
Because of the normal water color, color schemes that include a lot of black, along with bright colors like pink and chartreuse, tend to work the best. However, anglers should bring a selection and be ready to experiment, allowing to crappie to reveal their preferences.