A float and a jig is a reliable method for catching crappie; I always have one of these set-ups rigged and ready in my boat. There's something to be said, however, about mixing things up now and then. One way to do this is using a blade bait instead of a jig under a float. I touched on this tactic in my Three Cs of Spring Crappie article but wanted to share more on this method.
|A blade bait, such as the Bass Pro Shops XPS Lazer Blade, paired with a slip float will drive crappie crazy.|
I use lightweight blades around 1/8-, 3/16 and 1/4-ounces. Bass Pro Shops Lazer Blade and Johnson Thinfisher, which includes a sonic chamber for added vibrations, are two reliable choices. Blades catch crappie for the same reasons they do bass, walleye and pike. A blade bait is an excellent baitfish replica, which makes it a great choice when crappie are keyed-in on minnows. Plus, the lures emit loads of vibration and put out lots of flash, both of which attract fish — and big ones, too.
Another virtue of a blade is that it's deadly at activating a school of fish. Let me explain. It's common to find crappie in a neutral mood, but with the right presentation, the pod can be stimulated to become more active and interested in feeding. Here, commotion is your friend. The vibration, flash and large profile of a blade bait is excellent for riling up a school.
Think of a group of crappie lingering around a brush pile or weed bed like a herd of zombies from a horror flick. When all's quiet, they're passive and slow-moving, until a potential meal passes noisily through their turf. Then they get an appetite and their speed picks up. Then a few start biting and the scene erupts into a feeding frenzy.
A slip float also lets you position the blade above suspending crappie. Don't be shy about putting the blade several feet above where you mark fish on a graph. The bait's ruckus will call fish up to attack. Match float buoyancy to the blade's weight. A slip float is a must in order to be able to jig the blade.
A blade can be fished anywhere you would a jig beneath a float, but treble hooks are more prone to snags, something to keep in mind when plying timber-living crappie. When first trying this rig, take a few short casts near the boat so you can observe the blade's action when lifted. A light twitch or steady lift is all it takes to get a small blade scurrying seductively and sending out plenty of fish-catching flash and vibration. Different than a jig, a blade is wicked at putting big crappie in the net. Give it a try.