Side Pulling Jigs for Crappie

side pulling jigs for crappie
Joel Harris Fishing is a guide service that Specializes in Side Pulling. Photo by Ken McBroom

Side Pulling for Crappie

When it comes to crappie fishing very few things have gone unnoticed. Spider rigging was once just a few poles leaned against the edge of the boat in anticipation of a bite. We never used electronics in those days. At least not in the bow of the boat. We certainly didn’t track, follow or chase the fish like today. No, we just drifted or poked along with the trolling motor on low searching for a bite never knowing when it would come. Now days not only can we see the crappie bite our jig or minnow, but we can often tell how big it is. Oh, how the times have changed. There is also a number of crappie fishing techniques that have evolved as well. Spider rigging has become as technical as bass fishing and maybe more so. There are so many great ways to catch crappie today like side pulling jigs for crappie.

Side Pulling Technique For Crappie

There’s one technique that, while gaining in popularity, is still unknown to many crappie anglers. The technique is side pulling. Side pulling is a specific way of fishing for crappie. You must set up your boat and tackle for side pulling. A full commitment is needed to side pull for crappie. I was introduced to side pulling jigs for crappie on Dale Hollow lake with one of the best there is. I was attending the Brushpile Fishing media camp at Cedar Hill Resort. When I arrived at Cedar Hill Resort, I noticed a bright yellow boat parked in the parking lot. It was set up a lot different than the other boats. We were there to get article ideas and knew that it was a boat I wanted to fish out of sometime during the camp. I knew about side pulling so the technique specific War Eagle 754 boat was no mystery. Fishing for crappie with it was. I was on the lookout for the owner and soon found him. Joel Harris introduced himself to me and told me he wanted me to fish with him to learn about side pulling.

Joel Harris owns Joel Harris Fishing Guide Service and guides on Pickwick Lake. His specialty is side pulling and he even learned from Roger Gant, arguably the master of side pulling. Joel, like any angler will do, built upon the lessons he learned from Roger and adapted the technique to best suit the lakes he fished and his clients. If you are interested in side pulling or if you just want to catch some crappie give Joel Harris a call.

side pulling for crappie

Fishing In Comfort

Side pulling is a comfortable way to crappie fish. The trolling motor is mounted on the side of the boat for a controlled sideways drift. It is best to use the wind, but you can side pull against the wind too. With the boat drifting sideways 3 people can fish out of the side of the boat. This allows for more room for the angler. It makes it easy to stretch out a little and relax. You also never have to get out of your seat. If you need to move just start the engine and go. There are V-shaped rod holders welded or clamped along the side of the boat.  You lay your pole in the V and rest the handle on the side rail behind you. This makes it easy and quick to grab the rod and set the hook. A great set up for guiding anglers.

Best Time For Side Pulling Jigs For Crappie

Side pulling can be used any time of the year. However, like any technique it has its best times. The great thing about side pulling is once mastered it really only has one time of year that it doesn’t work. That time is the spawn when the crappie is super shallow. There is an exception to this rule though as there always seems to be. That exception is in clear reservoirs where crappie will spawn in 6 to 8 feet of water. On these lakes side pulling will work, even during the spawn.

In the winter crappie like to hunker down in cover and side pulling can be tough. However, Joel informed me that he can keep his rig over brush piles and fish them from his side pulling set up just fine. After fishing with Joel and hearing this I have come to the conclusion that this set up is probably the most versatile way to chase crappie.

Crappie Tackle For Side Pulling

The tackle used for side pulling is nothing real fancy. A 10’ BnM The Difference Rod which was designed by Roger Gant, the pioneer of side pulling for crappie. The best reel for side pulling is a baitcasting reel. The reason is that to get the correct amount of line out you have to count pulls by pulling line from the reel to the first guide or a mark on the rod. It’s much easier to pull line from a baitcasting reel than from a spinning reel. The line we used was 10-pound test Gamma fluorocarbon. You should use a lighter line when the water is clear. Time on the water is the best way to adapt to the many variables when it comes to how many pulls for what depth. Jig size, line diameter, speed is just a few of those variables.

Baits Used For Side Pulling

The baits can vary, but Joel only uses jigs and tips them with Slab Bites by Crappie Magnet. These are small, scented bits that most people call marshmallows. These Slab Bites go on the tip of the hook and crappie love them. Joel said the minnow man would go broke if he was waiting on him to buy minnows. One less thing to worry about, that’s for sure. The jigs we used the day I fished with Joel was Crappie Magnet Pro Series Fin Spin Jigs. These jigs have a spinner on the head and for some reason the crappie was biting the gold blade much better than the silver so keep changing up to see what the crappie want that day. It does make a difference in your overall catch rate.

If you have never side pulled for crappie you should check it out. It’s an excellent way to fish, especially with a smaller boat. Side pulling might be something you would like to set your boat up to do. I would suggest going with someone that has their boat already rigged. Then you can see if your boat can be rigged to side pull or if you might want to purchase a boat specifically for side pulling. I do think you will like it.

Watch This Video Of Roger Gant and Russ Bailey Side Pulling on Pickwick Lake

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About Ken McBroom 216 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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