When crappies move into thick cover, one of the best ways to get them out is with a jig-and-bobber rig. Whether they’re deep or shallow, sometimes a jig produces better results than live bait.
The jig-and-bobber rig has been around for a long time, but I still get funny looks from folks who haven’t heard of it before. It’s deadly for sluggish crappies that tend to bury themselves into thick brush and don’t seem to want to eat. This technique can actually trigger a reaction strike, and it can help you catch some crappies even when live bait just doesn’t interest them.
HOW TO RUN IT
The jig-and-bobber rig is just as it sounds: a jig placed on your line beneath the bobber. The jighead can be equipped with just about any artificial complement such as a plastic grub, tube or bucktail. This rig allows you to drop your presentation deep into visible thick cover. In shallow water, you can easily drop the jig into small holes in the cover and allow it to get in there where the crappies are hiding. Once it’s in the right position, a slight twitch of the bobber will really give that jig a lot of action and drive crappies crazy. I think the erratic action and color of jigs plays a big role in getting a reaction bite. If the cover isn’t visible (common when fishing in deeper water), use your electronics and a slip bobber to position your jig just above the tangled mess of cover. Again, twitch the bobber, but watch your electronics and sometimes you’ll see the crappies come up to bite.
Shallow-water slabs find it difficult to resist a dangling jig under a bobber. (Photo credit: Ken McBroom)
The jig-and-bobber rig is best tied on spinning tackle. While crappies aren’t normally too line shy, I believe lighter line helps you get more bites. I like a 7-foot spinning rod and a spinning reel spooled with 6-pound-test line when I’m dropping my jig into the brush. I’ll jump up to 8-pound line if I’m hooking some really good crappies, but never any heavier than that. I’ll go down to a 6-foot rod if I’m hovering over brush piles so I can keep my jig and bobber close to the boat, which allows me to see the jig better on my electronics.
The cane pole is another option, and one that I really like to use when fishing shallow, clear water where the fish are spread out. A 10- or 12-foot cane pole allows you to drop your jig into small pockets and holes in the brush very efficiently. With some practice, you’ll be surprised how quickly you can move through one brush pile and onto the next. The length also allows you to stay back a bit and silently lay your presentation where it needs to be.
It doesn’t take a lot of gear to catch crappies in heavy cover, but it can be a lot of fun when it all comes together.