Complete Guide to Kayak Fishing for Crappie – Be An Expert Today!

Kayak fishing for crappie is a lot of fun but…

It’s also not very easy to do, especially for beginners.

There are so many things to keep in mind including the fishing environment, weather, season, and the right gear and techniques to use.

But after reading this post, you should be well on your way to mastering the art of catching a ton of crappie while kayak fishing. You will know those common mistakes anglers make and how to avoid them.

Today, I’ll let you into these expert secrets that I personally tried, tested, and shared with several of my buddies who have become pro crappie fishers with these steps. So sit tight and let’s shape you up into a skilled crappie catcher in no time!

kayak fishing for crappie

Kayak Fishing for Crappie Basics: Know Your Target

Many beginner anglers make this one, solid mistake:

They don’t know their target well enough.

They simply grab their sit on top fishing kayak, get on it, then scour the waters not knowing for sure if they are even at the right place.

Thus, it is not surprising that they end up spending HOURS in the water and not finding a single crappie.

The first thing to keep in mind is to know where to find crappie. Yes, it is widely available in North American waters such as rivers, streams, ponds, and lakes.

However, there is a season for catching this fish, as well as their preferred location based on the time of the year.

Where to Find Crappie

Crappies don’t go to the exact same place all year round.

For instance, they tend to frequent deep ledges, docks, and bridge pilings during winter.

Yet, they prefer to go deeper into the water in summer, specifically at day time. They are commonly found near structures underwater during summer months to stay cooler. Once nighttime sets in, they move to shallower waters and low-light conditions.

As for spring, it gets a little trickier. Their habitats are more diverse due to varying patterns such as the pre-spawn, spawn, and the post-spawn season.

Crappies go to shallow waters before spawning season. This is usually the case whether at day or night in spring.

Once they start spawning, they still remain in shallow waters but particularly on their beds. They feed actively in preparation for spawning, this is why it should be easy to catch them.

However, once spawning ends, they return to deeper waters. The best place to look for are creek channels, as well as structures near their beds. You have a higher chance of catching crappie by being at the right time and at the right place.

Choose the Perfect Lures for a Successful Kayak Fishing for Crappie

Once you know the right spot to catch crappie, then you are ready for the next important thing:

Choosing the best lure to use.

This is a tricky ordeal considering dozens of good options out there. But you have to keep in mind that there is the right lure to use for a certain location and water condition.

Here are some of my favorites including how to use them for best results.

1. Drop- Shot Rig

I prefer to use the drop-shot rig for suspended crappies. This presents your bait to your target in a vertical position. You will need a sinker for it, which fits the line’s end.

Most anglers opt for hooks resembling an octopus that are short-shanked in appearance. These work perfectly well with live-bait hooks. I suggest that you simplify the rig with the use of a ball-bearing type of barrel swivel to connect the leader with the line. This helps to prevent the line from twisting.

Any sinker should be perfect for drop-shotting. Thus, making it easy for beginners. However, I would use slender sinkers to minimize snagging issues. Adding a snap when hooking up the sinker to your rig end also assists with changing weights fast. This also allows the lure to adjust immediately to the current strength and depth of the water.

2. Simple Bobber Rig

Next up is a simple bobber rig. This works perfectly well when you are dealing with clear water.

When your targets are in shallow water, this rig is simply brilliant. You can also use different types of floats and bobbers such as cork, balsa, or plastic snap-on models.

However, if you plan to fish in deeper water, you should consider the correct distance of the bobber on the fishing line. I would slide up the bobber on the line and close to the rod tip. In shallow waters, it is best to have no gap at all between your bait and bobber.

3. Slip-Float Rig

This is my personal favorite because of the versatility and ease of using this lure.

When trying to catch crappie in pilings and docks, as well as moving current, this rig is the best choice to consider. Additionally, you can use it no matter what depth of the water. Just slide your stop knot down or up to quickly adjust to the water’s depth.

The secret to success with this lure is the close proximity between the lure and the float. This makes the slip float easy to cast and with accurate precision.

4. Minnow and Brush Jig Rig

Another lure I prefer is the minnow and brush jig rig. I highly recommend this when catching crappies hidden in thick covers such as brush piles, tall vegetation, and flooded timber.

Since crappies opt to hide in these areas, you need the right lure that can get them out of these spots and onto your boat. You should opt for a dressing that’s synthetic or marabou with your minnow. However, if you use weedless jigs in thick areas such as brush and weeds, I would use a natural bait on the jig hook shank (without anything on it).

You may opt to thread the minnow onto a jig hook or right behind the head – just like when you are inserting a grub tail made of plastic. When you use it in this manner, a weedless jig that’s minnow-tipped should be highly durable.

5. Double Jig Rig

One issue when crappie fishing is getting some tangles when you troll or cast.

However, this will be yesterday’s news once you use different jig weights. This is why this type of lure is ideal. The double jig rig minimizes tangles while making it easy to set up. You can also use it when drifting, trolling, and casting.

Tie your jig securely to either end of your 4 to 10-lb test fluorocarbon or mono line, specifically a 3-foot length. Then, loop the leader fastened to the jigs, preferably a foot distance from your lighter jig. Use a double overhand knot to tie it up.

Be sure to maintain a small loop as this will be attached to the line. Next, add in a snap swivel to make it easy for you to change your lures and frayed leaders.

I recommend that you use different colors and styles of jigs. They should also vary in weight to ensure the optimal performance once you cast.

Do remember that crappies prefer to eat meat. Thus, they are quite responsive to lures they see, particularly jigs. With this in mind, you should make it a point to deliver your bait precisely in the right habitat where your target is located. By doing so, you can ensure an excellent catch for the finest results.

Here are additional tips and tricks you might want to know how to use the correct bait when kayak fishing for crappie. Watch this video to discover more about the comparison among each type of bait and lure.

Should You Use a Live Bait or Crankbait?

I would use a crankbait in the summer as this proves to be more effective this time of the year. When you throw your crankbait, it kicks up some dirt and creates a reaction strike to your target. This is the case when crappies are deeper in the water.

I recommend a crankbait that is capable of diving from 12 to 20 feet into the water when fishing in the summer. This should be great for running the bait along channels, flats, and ledges. Just be careful when going through structures since snagging may occur.

As for live bait, I would go for minnows as these baits work amazingly well. Crickets and worms are fine, too, yet not as effective as minnows. Suspend minnows or allow them to float – either way, it should work fine.

Another thing I would add is choosing the correct color of the jig trailer.

If uncertain, the most practical option is a light-colored one with a natural hue. I would also go for a straight and curly tail. These should work if you are just starting out and not quite sure what to get. Eventually, you can expand and consider varied sizes and colors as your proficiency level also increases.

Interestingly enough, many crappie anglers vouch on the effectiveness of the chartreuse color for the jig. It should be worth having one in your tackle box and see for yourself how it works for you.

Preparing for Kayak Fishing for Crappie

Now that you know some lures to use, the next thing to do is to prepare your important gears.

I particularly am fond of using my fly rod to catch crappie as it is a lot of fun. This is greatly effective when your target is in its feeding season. When the bugs are out, a feeding frenzy might just arise anytime soon.

A great strategy that I have found to be very successful is throwing in my dragonfly popper. It never fails to see a bunch of crappies attack this thing right on the water’s surface. However, it gives the best result in the evenings and mornings, particularly in the summer and spring.

Not quite comfortable using a fly rod? In this case, a spinning rod should be a good choice. You can fish any type of lure or bait as you want with the right spinning rod.

I would stick to a 4 to 6-lb test fluorocarbon line. This is highly effective when using such delicate presentations. Moreover, the line is so thin that fish won’t even see it clearly for better results.

However, you may want to use a heavier line between 8 to 10 pounds test when trolling with your crankbaits. This type of line allows your lure to creep deeper.

Check out this video for pro tips on catching crappies with the correct line and technique.

Kayak Fishing for Crappie: Quick Checklist

Before you begin kayak fishing for crappie, be sure to go through this list to help you achieve success in your catch.

  • Check out brush piles, bridge pilings, and docks
  • Use the correct lure
  • Do not miss out on drop-offs and ledges
  • Wear safety gears for paddling
  • Bring a sonar to keep it fast and easy

At first, you may need to survey the area and mark certain possible spots where crappies may be hanging out. This is an important step before you camp out and start fishing. Do keep in mind that the season and temperature of the water impacts their choice of habitat. So, you should know where you need to be looking for your target based on these conditions.

Bottom Line

Kayak fishing for crappie is an enjoyable activity that many avid anglers love. For amateur angling enthusiasts, the whole feat of catching crappie seems to be a challenging experience. However, after knowing more about these tips and tricks, you should be well on your way to boosting your catch and mastering this art of angling!

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