Summer Panfish Tips: Crappie

We round out the series on Summer Panfishing today with one of the most popular species on the water: crappie. Crappie can be tougher to find, as they tend to hold a little deeper than most other panfish, but this doesn’t mean they’re uncatchable. Keep reading to learn how you can use key baits and tactics to fill your livewell with crappie this summer.

As the summer heat starts to decline and clings to the few remaining weeks of August and early September, crappie tend to move towards main basins in waters that tend to be shallow. One of the best ways to capitalize on this is trolling, a tactic not unfamiliar to crappie anglers.

Small crankbaits will be your best friend when trolling for crappie this summer, since they perfectly imitate the forage that attracts crappie this time of year. Bomber, a popular manufacturer of crankbaits, offers panfish lures to get the job done. Other great options include Storm’s two-inch Hot-n-Tot and Cotton Cordell’s 2.5-inch Wally Diver.

Having multiple rigs will help cover more water, but you’ll also need to outfit yourself with good trolling setups. Light action trolling rods are great for crappie, as they offer more give, which keeps them from ripping lures from the fragile mouths of crappie. Small linecounter reels are a good idea, as well, since they can help break the technique down to numbers and depth. Furthermore, I recommend using braided line with a layer of monofilament backing. Braid will help the crankbaits dive quicker and the lack of stretch is more sensitive to strikes.

Multiple rigs help cover a wide range of water, but you’ll also need cover different depths, so using a variety of crankbaits is smart. The key to trolling, especially when trolling near the bottom for crappie, is to keep your lures deep, but also to keep them just above the bottom cover. You’ll probably need to experiment with depths by letting out and taking in line at first, to find that perfect depth, but once you do, you’ll be in good shape.

Having a GPS can help for future trips, as they let you retrace productive paths and locations on the water. Like I said, the key is experimenting with depths until you find where crappie are holding. After that, you should have no problem enticing slabs with the erratic, tight wobble of a small crankbait this summer. Tie a few on and troll your favorite crappie lake and your freezer—not to mention your stomach—will be filled with crappie in no time.