Crappie Fishing Tips

Single Pole Jigging for Crappie

Crappie Fishing Tips

Crappie Fishing Tips: How to Single Pole Jig for Crappie

Do You Need Livescope

The most talked about product in crappie fishing today has got to be the Garmin Livescope. It has changed the landscape as much as the digital fish finder did years ago. Not only does livescope provide an almost video quality image it also looks ahead of your boat. The transducer can also be installed on an independant arm to scan your area. To not only chase the crappie with your jig, but to see if the crappie are the size your looking for. I can go on and on about the pluses to this new technology, but everyone can’t or don’t want to afford this new technology. I wanted to offer these crappie fishing tips on single pole jigging for crappie without the new technology. There was some great single polers around before livescope, but I would say there are more today.

I wanted to get the livescope elephant out of the room early in this article only because I want to cover more aspects to the technique. Single pole jigging is effective even without seeing the fish eat your bait. I do find it rather intriguing, but I’m not sure if I will ever own one. Side Imaging has helped my fishing tremendously and I still fish the cover no matter what I see. I use a 7 inch graph and with that small size it’s difficult to see fish in cover. I can sometimes see them and that is great but with the possibility of missing on some crappie if I leave a brush pile just because I didn’t see a fish is too good so I fish it and let the jig tell me if there are crappie there or not.

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This leads into my take on single pole jigging for crappie without livescope. Obviously livescope is going to make it so much easier to single pole jig for crappie but there is a learning curve there as well. Make no mistake, just mounting a livescope unit on the front of your boat will not automatically mean you are fast becoming an expert in single pole jigging for crappie. Just not how it works. I’ve spoken with anglers that are frustrated with their livescope. They even express the dreaded buyers remorse because they still ain’t catching fish. It takes study and practice to figure out anything. That’s why there will always be people better than you and me no matter what kind of unit they’re using. I won’t say that a great single pole crappie angler without livescope will outfish a great single pole angler with livescope, unless the guy with the livescope hasn’t figured it out.

Tips for Single Pole Jigging With Livescope

  • Use a long jig pole for jigging with livescope
  • Rig a sinker or a bead above the bait to see your presentation on the livescope screen
  • Approaching cover to jig for crappie with livescope


Many crappie fishermen and women don’t like trying to handle a 12 or 14 foot crappie jig pole. I’m one of those. When using the Garmin livescope technology a long pole is vital to consistently catching big crappie. Crappie can be a little skittish. When it comes to big crappie approaching 2 or even 3 pounds they become even more skittish. They will skedaddle if you get too close. This is the reason for the long poles in spider-rigging for crappie. They get the baits ahead of the boat. The noise of the trolling motor is far enough that you catch them before they spook. Same thing with livescope. The great thing about livescope is that you can see the crappie. You can stay with them whether they’re hunkered down inside a big brush pile or cruising in open water chasing shad.

The forward looking livescope allows you to chase the crappie. The technology is so advanced that you can actually determine the size of the fish your after. This is why the Garmin livescope has become so popular with crappie tournament anglers. The ability to pull up to a brush pile or stump row and scan for fish. When you find the crappie you can see if they are the size you need. If they are not you can move on until you find a pile of slabs and you know you are fishing for crappie that can win you the tournament. This fact has not escaped crappie tournament anglers when they started seeing giant stringers hit the scale by people single pole jigging for crappie the secret didn’t take long to leave the lake.


The length of your crappie jig pole isn’t the only thing to consider when choosing a pole for single pole jigging for crappie. A fast action crappie pole is important in choosing a crappie jig pole. Fast action rods loads quickly and has great sensitivity. This sensitivity is needed to detect those light bites especially in the colder months when crappie are sluggish. It also gets to the backbone of the rod quick so the quick hook sets, needed when single pole jigging, can be made. Getting a quick hook set allows you to get those big crappie hooked and moving away from the other crappie and out of the brush where they live.


The most awesome thing about the Garmin livescope is the ability to see the fish and to see your presentation. Whether you’re jigging for crappie or using a minnow being able to see your bait and placing it in front of a crappie will trigger them to bite. Without the livescope this would not be possible. On such a consistent basis. In order to see your bait and meanuever it into the crappie’s face many angler rig a split shot above their presentation. The large split-shot shows up well on the livescope. It helps you see where your bait is. Another thing I have seen recently is the placement of a large bead about the size of a marble set 10 or 12 inches above the hook. The bead is held stationary by a bobber stop above and below the bead. The bead shows up good on the livescope as well and adds less weight. There is two schools of thought on this. The split-shot angler can use a tiny jighead and still have the weight needed to keep the bait straight up and down in the water column. This is very important when trying to place the bait exactly where you want it while moving around.  The angler with the bead will need to use a bigger jighead to have the weight they need but sometimes the larger profile of the bigger jighead is what the crappie want. Using both crappie rigs can come in handy depending on the situation.


As mentioned above, the ability to see ahead of your position and in almost video type resolution, you’re able to see beforehand if the cover you’re approaching has any crappie in it. If there is some fish in the cover turn down your trolling motor to low and approach slowly and quietly. A lot of livescope anglers are going to the newer trolling motors out today. They feature a brushless motor for more stealth and efficiency.  When approaching crappie cover that has a school of crappie start by fishing above the cover with your bait. This approach is the same when fishing a big lay down. You want to pick the crappie off as you move deeper into the cover. If you go into the cover and hang a branch or pull a 3 pounder through it as soon as you get there you will probably not catch another crappie from that cover until it settles down. You will have to come back later.

If you start above the cover you entice the more aggressive crappie out of the cover. You can catch them away from the school. You do this until you can’t get one to come up to strike. Then lower your bait closer and closer to the cover. This way you can pick off as many fish as possible before crashing the cover and banging around in there which can trigger bites but can also spook fish. Get the bites first away from the school and you’ll catch a few more crappie from a single school. You can still come back later and catch more. Use the same tactic to put more crappie in the boat.

Tips for Single Pole Jigging Without Livescope

  • Look for obvious cover like standing timber
  • Fish a little deeper to keep from spooking fish
  • If you do fish shallow know where the cover is and sneak in

Before livescope there was plenty of great crappie angler single pole jigging successfully. Obviously when you can’t see the crappie you have to use other techniques to consistently catch them. The good news is you can still do it. If you’re anything like me and don’t have the new technology here is a few ways to help you catch some crappie.

The most obvious crappie tip for single pole jigging without livescope is to locate visible cover. Standing timber is a great place to start. When I was a kid my dad and I used to have to break ice at the boat ramp to launch the boat on a lake in Tennessee. Each trip we went straight to the back of one of the major creeks where the low water exposed the tops of standing timber. We never even turned on a fish finder. We lowered our jig down the side of one of those trees. My dad and I would almost dead stick the jig to catch a few crappie. Most of the time these were big crappie.

We learned over the years where those slabs lived and could return every winter to catch a few giants. Those are great memories with my dad and way before any of these fancy fish finders today. In fact we had a flasher on our boat for many years before I even saw a digital one. This was single pole jigging for crappie at its finest and anglers still enjoy the same today.

Today you can actually single pole jig isolated cover that isn’t visible with the new fish finders. Even the least expensive fish finder today will mark brush and stumps and even fish. While these fish finders might not show the fish swimming or its size, you can still mark your bait and see fish come up to eat it. Ice anglers use a flasher still to mark fish. They can tell when one comes up to their jig. You don’t have to have the new technology to single pole jig for crappie. Bass anglers have been targeting bass for years with just a sonar without down imaging or side imaging and they know when a bass is about to bite. 


When jigging for crappie without livescope you might want to fish a little deeper. Without the forward looking technology you must be within the transducer cone to see the cover and or the fish. To be over the fish, without spooking them, you might need to be a little deeper. I will say that I fished with an excellent crappie tournament angler that had Humminbird 360 and he had the trolling motor on pretty high to fight the wind. We were fishing isolated stumps in 6 foot of water. I couldn’t believe we weren’t spooking the crappie. He had the water boiling over the stump maneuvering the boat into position. It was an eye opener for me. I try to be as careful and stealthy as possible, but when conditions don’t allow for stealth I’m less worried about spooking crappie. I will fish the shallow cover anyway. The water that day was a little muddy. That might have kept them locked on the stumps. They couldn’t  resist our feather jig presentations.


The best way to single pole jig for crappie in shallow water without livescope is to know where the cover is and ease up to it. You can mark cover with today’s GPS units and go back to those waypoints to jig for crappie. Stop the boat well away from the cover or waypoint. Put the trolling motor on low and ease up to it to jig for crappie. I like to use the wind to position the boat above the cover upwind and let the wind push me over the cover as I fish it. This doesn’t work so well in clear water. However, any stain at all and it works great for jigging shallow cover without livescope. 

Another option when you don’t know where any shallow cover is located is to mark it on your fish finder. Return later to jig it for crappie. You can mark several spots on your GPS. You now know where the cover is located and can return and use a stealth approach to jig it. It cannot be overemphasized how spookey the bigger crappie can be. You know the cliche, they didn’t get that big for being stupid. Practicing stealth is vital whether you use livescope or not.

NOTE: Just a tip on the single pole jig pole you need when not using livescope. A long pole is needed, as mentioned above, for single pole jigging for crappie using the livescope. That’s because you can see the crappie 10 or 12 feet in front of you. Without livescope you have to be much closer to see the cover and/or the fish on your graph. A shorted jig pole is needed to get your bait within the transducer cone and visible on the graph. If you plan to see the fish approaching your jig a shorter jig pole is needed. It will get the bait below you as you jig the cover for crappie. 


Check Out Bobber Jigging for Crappie

About Ken McBroom 307 Articles
Ken McBroom is an accomplished outdoor writer and photographer. Growing up in Lynchburg Tennessee allowed him many opportunities afield as a boy and young man. Later in life, after Desert Storm, Ken’s wanderlust took him to Alaska to live and work and experience the last frontier. Married now with two beautiful children, Ken now calls Kentucky home where he continues to communicate our American outdoor traditions and the lifestyle it offers.

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