June 23, 2014 Share

How to Crank Up Crappie Now

Originally Published on Nov 18, 2011 “From the Docks” NBC Sports

The standard recommendation for catching crappie, and November can be a solid month for slab on many of the southern reservoirs, is to downsize and fish light jigs. But there are a growing number of crappie anglers who are producing limits trolling medium-sized crankbaits like No. 7 Flicker Shads fished not on a long-line, but weighted with 2-3-ounce weights to get them down to the fish.

Crappie guides like Brad Whitehead of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, use 2-ounce Guppy Weights (available from Offshore Tackle www.offshoretackle.com) when trolling 14 to 20 feet or so; he goes to the 3-ounce model when working 20+ feet of water. He uses a 10-pound mono mainline to the Guppy Weight and a 3.5-foot leader between the weight and the crank he uses.

Whitehead likes to target bottom-hugging crappie holding on large, stair-step flats adjacent to the river channel. He drops the weight to the bottom, reels up a couple times, and then uses his trolling motor to push the boat from 1.5 to 1.7 MPH.

Mr. Crappie Wally Marshall is also a fan of trolling cranks for fall crappie, but he targets suspended fish using cranks in the 2.5-inch range. Marshall uses a four-foot leader behind a 2- or 3-ounce Bullet Weights Troll Tech Crankbait Downrigger and runs his baits about two feet over the fish he locates on sonar.

Crappies will take surprisingly large baits. I’ve landed several on bass-size cranks, and my wife took a monster a 7-inch lizard fished on a Carolina Rig, so the idea of using a cranks makes sense, especially when targeting slabs. —Steve