How a Carolina-rigged Crankbait Scores Big Crappie

News & Tips: How a Carolina-rigged Crankbait Scores Big Crappie...

Fishing crankbaits for crappie needn't be a big-boat, multi-rod affair. You also can cast and retrieve a single lure for big-fish action.

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Oklahoma crappie guide Todd Huckabee uses a Carolina-rigged Smithwick Rogue to catch summer crappie that want a big meal.

Oklahoma City crappie guide Todd Huckabee does this using a Carolina-rigged, 4-1/2-inch, suspending Smithwick Rogue in shad-like colors.  

"When big crappie go deep in winter, their metabolism stays high," he said. "These fish are preparing for the spawn, and they're eating a lot. But during summer, these same deep-water crappie are lazy. If you drop a lure like a jig down to them, often it's not enough to entice them. They don't seem interested in eating something unless it's bigger. That's why I use the Rogue.

"You make this rig with a 1/8- to 1/4-ounce tungsten weight above a barrel swivel on the main line," Huckabee continued. "Then tie a 3-foot leader from the swivel to the crankbait. Cast it, let it sink, then crawl the lure across the bottom. Big crappie find it irresistible." 

Huckabee often fishes with another modified crankbait rig as well. This one employs the Fat Free Shad or Fat Free Guppy.  

"I modify each lure by removing the back treble hook and placing a crappie tube skirt on the hook's shank," said Huckabee. "The hook is then replaced. The skirt works just like the feathers on some topwater plugs, giving the lure more action. I like to alternate colors of the components. For example, I might use a crankbait that has a citrus-shad color and add a pink skirt. This seems more effective than using components with similar colors."  

Huckabee uses this rig to target crappie when they're feeding on threadfin shad around shoreline riprap and rocks.  

"The shad often are right up on the rocks where you can see them," he says. "The crappie position themselves beneath the baitfish, usually in 5 or 6 feet of water. I fish the Fat Free crankbaits just like I might fish them for bass — working them parallel to the bank, cranking them down to the rocks and making contact with the bottom. Then I slow the lure down and just wait for a big crappie to strike."  

One year Huckabee caught more than 200 crappie, each exceeding 2 pounds, using this rig.