Many fisherman today purchase fancy depth finders but are unsure how to use the electronic's features to identify fish. Most of your run of the mill fish finders are used for locating brush, drop-offs, channels, or displaying the current water temperature. One thing that a lot of anglers are beginning to realize is that these new depth finders can locate schools of fish with extreme accuracy. Locating suspended crappie in open water is difficult for fisherman to master, however with the aid of electronics finding these fish can be achieved and catching them is very rewarding.
Location is key for starting a summer crappie search. It is important to do homework on a lake because crappie hot spots will vary lake to lake. To begin a search, inquire some information about the lake (lake map or online maps), this will eliminate hours of blind trolling around the lake looking for schools of fish on the depth finder. If the lake is shallow with a few deeper pockets, then those are the spots to start locating crappie and fishing the Freaky Franks Worm. The task of finding these suspended fish becomes more difficult with a reservoir style lake, where the lake is basically one big hole. In reservoirs start searching near points at the mouths of coves. Not every lake will have crappie suspended off shallow ledges leading into an old creek channel. Mark prime locations (humps, ledges, channels, drop offs) on a GPS or map. Electronics are a valuable tool in locating structure, bait fish, and crappie.
Understanding whats on the screen is key to locating bait fish, game fish, and structure. In the picture to the right, there are arch shapes that indicate fish. The fish are suspended out towards what appears to be a channel. Depend-ing on how tightly together the arches are packed, one can assume that this is a school of crappie. As you can see, on the bottom center of the screen, this person has their depth finder set to 200 kilohertz. That is about the perfect setting for 50 foot of water as shown in the top left corner. Upon reaching shallower water, turn that setting up. I recommend 455 kilohertz in shallow water because at that frequency, one can pick up a more in-depth picture. While running a trolling depth finder at a high frequency, then set the console depth finder to a lower setting; by doing this the electronics provides a quality view of the bottom without the surface disturbance from the boat. There's one draw-down to running electronics at a low frequency is that schools of fish might be missed on the screen, therefore turn the sensitivity setting up until the images on the screen can be interpreted.
Choosing a depth finder is a tough decision. For someone just getting into electronics, I would recommend starting on the lower end of the fish finder cost scale. It is not necessary to purchase a high dollar depth finder just because of a pro’s endorsement. Build confidence and experience before beginning a search for a customizable depth finder.
Once crappie are located then a great way to catch summer crappie using electronics is “spider rigging”. This type of fishing deploys multiple crappie rods out in front of the boat while slowly trolling or drifting. There isn't one specific way to do this and everyone has their own techniques. A proven spider rig technique is to run two jigs per pole, one tied two feet below the other. For the top jig use a 1/32 oz Slab Slammer and on the bottom use a 1/16 oz jig head with a Freaky Worm. For days when the bite is super slow, then tip both jigs with a minnow and continue making adjustments from there. It is best to keep rod tips about one meter apart and lower the very tip of the rod until about three inches from the water, this gives more control. I recommend using six-pound test high visibility line with 10 foot rods. Most of the rigging I do is in water deeper than ten feet on pinch points with plenty of natural bait in the area. Spider rigging bridges in the summer is an effective technique because bridges offer both structure and shade for the fish to feed.
Freaky Frank's Freaky Worm is a must have bait for crappie fishing. The weighted tail design gives the worm action that will trigger their aggression! The tail produces a natural movement that makes them easy to fish with a spider rig.This worm works well vertically jigged, worked under a cork, or trolled with a spider rig. Crappie just can't resist the freaky worm!
I would enjoy hearing tricks and techniques used with spider rigging, so feel free to email me at email@example.com.