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Springtime is here and the crappie are on the banks. Most people will employ the ever popular minnow and bobber. There are those however that prefer to use artificial only presentations and for those this technique could be of interest. Early spring is a great time to be on the water in search of crappie. Crappie tend to take up residence in some impenetrable brush that can be hard to present a crappie jig effectively, without hanging up. These brush piles can be tough to fish but they also tend to hold a lot of crappie because it is so hard to fish and many anglers will not risk hanging up to fish the thickest part of the brush. This leaves behind a gold mine for the bobber jiggers.
Many of you have probably heard of or read about the float and fly technique, a great presentation for lethargic smallmouth bass when the water is cold. This same method is deadly on springtime crappie whether they are active or not. A crappie tube or grub is tied below your favorite bobber at a depth that fits the situation. Usually in the spring the crappie can be found in one to two feet of water unless a cold front hits and backs them out to a little deeper water. You might have to use a slip bobber in this situation but it works just the same.
When bobber jiggingin deep water you should pull the bobber toward you then allow it to sit. The first sign of a bite set the hook as the crappie will spit the jig quick if it doesn't taste right. This is one time you should not wait until the bobber goes under to set the hook like when fishing live bait. This method works great but this article is directed more to the shallow crappie in thick cover. Slip bobber jigging is another presentation that deserves its own article to fully explain it and I will touch on that in the future when the crappie begin to suspend in deeper water. For now let's talk about bobber jigging in thick shallow brush.
You can see the rig in the image above. Simple right. It is but this rig can do many things that will help you catch a limit of crappie from heavy cover. Normally the jig is set only one to two feet from the bobber. When the crappie are moving up they are usually in water this shallow but even if they are four to six feet deep they will come up and get it as long as the color and size is right which is very important. The size of the jig you use can usually be determined by two things. Water temp. and size of crappie your lake produce. Now I have caught some slabs on tiny tubes but to catch numbers you should adjust the size accordingly. As for color it has been my experience that a certain color seems to just work better on certain lakes. You probably already know what color works best on your home waters and if not just experiment with many different colors until you find that magic combination. On one of the lakes I fish red flake body with chartreuse tail is the ticket. Sometimes it is a tube and sometimes it is a curly tail. It all depends on what the crappie want that day. Usually the tube works best when the fish are a bit sluggish after a cold front while the curly tail grub works best when the fish are active.
Now finally the benefits of bobber jigging over just a straight jig. The beauty of bobber jigging for crappie is the ability to place your tube or grub smack in the middle of the thickest brush but from a distance. The amount of water that covers the brush determines the depth you should set your jig or tube. You want your jig to penetrate the brush without getting hung up. Crappie will come up and get a well placed jig especially when it is jigging in the same spot for several seconds and this can be accomplished with the bobber and jig combo.
My favorite way to bobber jig is to throw into thick brush placing the jig into a hole in the brush. I let the jig soak in this hole for a few seconds. Many bites come on this pause, especially if the color is right, without ever moving the jig. After a few seconds you should twitch the bobber ever so slightly. Many times the crappie will strike immediately. If the fish are sluggish you may want to twitch and pause in this spot for up to a minute before moving to the next hole in the brush. No need to reel in and cast. This rig allows you to pull the jig out of that hole and place it in another. By pulling steady the jig will glide up and over the limbs allowing you to set the jig in another hole in the brush where you can begin the twitch pause sequence again.
This technique is very effective for springtime crappie and can help you catch crappie that other anglers may not have even tried for. Presenting your jig from a distance is key when the crappie are so shallow. The bobber allows you to present your jig vertically and keep it there indefinitely allowing for a slower presentation. Pulling the jig from one hole in the brush to another takes some practice but can be mastered in no time. Another great thing about this rig is that you can use a very light jig head. The weight of the bobber allows you to cast or swing your rig from a distance and the selection of bobbers on the market today can definitely help adjust for some very long cast. The lighter jighead makes it easier to pull from one hole to another as it will lift in the water much easier as you pull the bobber toward you. Be sure to drop the jig in the hole and not the bobber because the jig is trailing the bobber and will hang on the limbs you are attempting to clear.
Springtime crappie fishing is a popular pastime in the midwest and the lakes can become fairly crowded with anglers probing the very brush piles that you plan to fish. Bobber jigging can be your ace in the hole and will help you pull crappie from seemingly impenetrable brush that has been pounded for hours before you even get there. Be patient and learn this technique this spring. You won't be disappointed.