Ice fishing for crappies is an addiction for Wired2fish contributor and follow ice-head Ben Anderson. Anderson dives straight into catching as he immediately locates a mega school of slabs in the middle of a featureless basin using forward-facing sonar. He then details his process of staying on top of the fish and triggering aggressive reaction strikes using lifelike and durable soft plastic-encased jigs instead of traditional live bait.
TACKLE USED (retail links)
- ELECTRONICS – Humminbird ICE HELIX 9 MSI+ GPS G4N MEGA Live Bundle: Buy at Bass Pro Shops
- BAIT – Berkley PowerBait Power Switch, 1/16-ounce: Buy at Tackle Warehouse
- ROD – Shimano Convergence Ice Rod, 32″ Light: Buy at Amazon
- REEL – Shimano Sedona FJ Spinning Reel: Buy at Bass Pro Shops
- LINE – Shimano Mastiff FC Fluorocarbon Line, 4-pound: Buy at Tackle Warehouse
- AUGER – StrikeMaster Lithium 24v LITE, 8-inch: Buy at Bass Pro Shops
- BIBS – StrikeMaster Pro Bibs: Buy at Bass Pro Shops
FINDING BASIN CRAPPIES
Anderson prefers targeting winter crappies in shallow lake basins to prevent barotrauma. On this particular lake, the basin averages an ideal 16 to 17 feet deep, making the fish color-rich (abundant light), strong, and releasable. But despite being a small lake, winter crappies are still notoriously tricky to locate and stay on top of. Anderson is a forward-facing sonar practitioner and leverages Humminbird MEGA Live when hunting fish. After heading out into the basic, he can effectively search over 100′ to his sides (200′ radius) from a single hole. Once he locates a sizeable school, he gets down to fishing.
HOW TO CATCH CRAPPIES ON PLASTICS
There are thousands of excellent crappie soft bait and jig combinations, but Anderson opts for a unique forward-facing sonar-optimized one. The Berkley PowerBait Power Switch is a plastic-encased jig that, in addition to coming in several color options, is highly durable and can be fished on a continuum from subtle to aggressive—no more lost time to re-rigging during the heat of battle. Just keep catching.
ROD SETUP FOR ICE FISHING SHALLOW SLABS
Your rod setup is essential when targeting big crappies in shallow water. Anderson highlights the importance of using a sensitive rod to detect bites and absorb the runs and head shakes of big crappies hooked on a short leash. Oh, and believe it or not, a smooth drag matters, too, when a freshly hooked crappie takes a hard run on a 4-pound line in shallow water. Straight fluorocarbon gets the nod here. It sheds water thanks to hydrophobic properties, making it ideal in freezing conditions. Also, low visibility generates more bites while the right about of stretch reduces line breakage and tearing hooks free.
Anderson offers a treasure trove of tips and techniques to help you catch more and bigger crappies through the ice. From the optimal gear selection to the strategic use of MEGA Live, this video is helpful for ice fishing enthusiasts looking to enhance their skills and success in catching crappies. Check out the Wired2fish Ice Fishing Channel for more how-to info and gear recommendations.