While usually willing biters, fall crappie fishing can be challenging given their nomadic nature. Wired2fish’s Kyle Peterson shares his system for locating roaming schools of fall crappies using Garmin LiveScope Plus and then how to catch them using realistic micro finesse plastics fished using a balanced Bait Finesse System rod setup. *Additional links at the bottom.
TACKLE USED (retail links)
- PLASTIC – Z-Man Micro Finesse Shad FryZ
- JIG – Z-Man Micro Finesse ShroomZ, 1/10-ounce
- ROD – Cashion ICON Bait Finesse Systems Casting Rod, 6’10” Medium Light
- REEL – Tsurinoya Darkwolf Ultra KF-50s Casting Reel, 7.1:1
- LINE (braid) – Sufix 832 Braid Neon Lime, 8-pound
- LINE (leader) – Sufix Advance Fluorocarbon, 6-pound
Find the crappies
Love it or hate it, forward-facing sonar is the most effective way to find suspended crappies on the move. Peterson shares his process for scanning the lake using his forward-facing sonar while still at the wheel. When fall crappie fishing, consider breaking a lake or basin area down into quadrants, and pay attention to wind direction and orientation. Crappies will often consolidate on the windward side of the lake. After finding some fish, Peterson takes to the bow and tries maintaining a 40-foot or greater distance from the fish to prevent spooking — live sonar has taught us that fish are more boat shy than we realized. We try treating fishing like deer hunting, with a stealth approach usually producing better results.
Downsize to smaller lures
While there are times and places that big crappie jigs work best, downsizing to smaller baits is a proven way to improve your fall crappie fishing, especially on pressured fisheries, during cold fronts, or on northern fisheries. Peterson puts a small but capable 2-inch paddle tail swimbait to work with excellent success. The mushroom head jig swiftly brings the bait to depth, marks well on forward-facing sonar, and allows Peterson to fish horizontally and vertically to contact the roaming schools and coax bites from the pack. Notably, it’s not easy to find micro paddle tail swimbaits that engage at slow speeds. We were impressed with the consistent action from the new Z-Man Micro Finesse Shad FryZ and its optimal size and profile.
Consider using Baitfish Finesse System (BFS)
Conceived and developed in Japan, BFS allows anglers to cast small, lightweight lures with relative ease and accuracy. And as with other innovative Japanese gear and tactics, BFS has spread stateside and is gaining momentum with bass and crappie fishing. Peterson discusses his fall crappie fishing BFS setup, which starts with a purpose-built Cashion ICON BFS rod paired with a BFS reel spooled with a light braid-to-fluorocarbon leader. Peterson can launch micro finesse plastics straight into the wind without backlashing with the added benefit of reduced line twist, plus the feel and fun of using a casting setup in what has traditionally been a spinning scenario. If you haven’t tried BFS, it’s an enjoyable and different way to fish small baits.
- LIVE SONAR – Garmin LiveScope Plus System (GLS10 & LVS34)
- FISH FINDER (bow stack) – Garmin GPSMAP 8612xsv
- FISH FINDER (bow stack) – Garmin GPSMAP 8616xsv
- TROLLING MOTOR – Garmin Force Trolling Motor