Finesse tactics are usually reserved for bass and walleye, but after designing his own tiny baits and a super light rod, Tom Mundy found he could do the same for crappie.
Finesse crappie fishing is as easy as fishing in a bucket, if you can do it from over 25 feet away.
Inspired by a freshwater shrimp, the Slab Tail jig has been catching crappie for Tom Mundy and many of his customers for years.
Fish Stalker Tom Mundy says finessing cold water crappie is a drop in the bucket.
Mundy, who owns Fish Stalker Lures (www.fishstalkertackle.com) in Laurens, SC, made his discovery of finesse fishing for crappie some 10 – 12 years ago and has been working on ways to improve it ever since. No matter how much better the technology gets, it all boils down to putting the jig in the bucket and pulling out a super-sized crappie, one at a time.
In reality, there is no bucket, but the reference helps Mundy, and the masses of anglers he has taught his finesse tactics to over the years, to concentrate on putting a tiny bait right in the face of lethargic winter crappie holding tight to deepwater cover and getting them to eat it. It’s vertical fishing with a flair for the super ultra-light, and the dividends are paid in thick fillets.
As the owner of a small lure manufacturing company, Mundy created his finesse tactics from the line up, starting with his own brain child – the Slab Tail jig.
“Years ago I was fishing on my home lake - Lake Greenwood, watching this guy catch fish after fish,” said Mundy. “After a while I couldn’t stand it and I had to ask him how he was doing it. The guy asked me if I had ever seen a freshwater shrimp. I said no, and he scooped up this tiny sea-monkey looking creature from the water. I’m not even sure it was a shrimp but my first thought was that it would make a great looking crappie bait.”
Mundy described the creature he had seen to his soft plastic mold builder - a small tube shaped body with a thin flat tail. After a few weeks of field testing, he had a simple and effective crappie bait to complement the Fish Stalker roster.
“It’s impossible to keep still in the water,” said Mundy. “I rig the bait so that the tail flaps up and down, not side to side, so it’s always moving in the water.”
Once he had the bait, he needed a rod that would present the lure correctly and be capable of detecting the slightest winter crappie bite.
“I wanted to build a super ultra light rod, similar to a fly rod, but I wanted it in a 5 – 6 foot pole, nothing longer,” said Mundy. “One of the best places to finesse fish is under bridges – a 10 foot rod is hard to manage under a bridge.”
Vertical jigging with tiny jigs using 4 pound test requires more than just an ultra-light rod and Mundy began experimenting with ice-fishing, fly, and limber fiberglass fishing rod blanks. Partial to the casting style, his design incorporated line guides that started on top of the blank and executed a half twist to the rod tip, like a spinning rod. The result was a casting rod with the feel and delivery of a spinning rod. Once he had the design for the job, Mundy also started making a spinning version of the super light, finesse rod.
Field testing proved to be more marketing than he needed. Every angler who idled up alongside Mundy wanted to know how he was catching so many fish in the dead of winter. Once they heard the story and found out he was making the rods, they wanted Mundy to make one for them too.
He labored away building rods for his customers to use to fish the jigs. He had a great design, problem was, he didn’t have time to build rods and continue to produce the number of lures that were being ordered by his retail store accounts. Something had to give. He needed help and had an idea where to turn.
“I had a friend introduce me to Jack Wells, the owner of B’n’M Poles,” said Mundy. “I told Jack what I was doing and he said he’d never seen a rod like I was describing and asked me to send him a couple of them to look at.”
B’n’M offers a large number of panfish-oriented fishing rods, most of which are in excess of 10 feet in length. Once Wells received the proto-type rods from Mundy, he knew he was looking at something that had great potential in the crappie fishing market.
“Tom has definitely built a following with both his jigs and this rod,” said Wells. “At B’n’M, pride ourselves on offering a fishing rod to meet every crappie anglers needs, now we’re going to be able to do that for finesse anglers too.”
B’n’M took over the production of Mundy’s rod design and dubbed the new finesse tool “The Slab Tail Rod”. Slab Tail rods will be offered in two styles and lengths.
The 4’10” spinning rod will feature a solid glass tip, five stainless-alloy guides and ultra light action in a one piece rod for finesse fishing. The 5’ 10” one piece casting rod will feature strengthened stainless-alloy guides that wrap around the rod blank for to help prevent the line from sticking to the blank in freezing weather and offer added sensitivity when using 4 or even 2 pound test line. Both models will be fitted with Portuguese cork handles.
According to Mundy, the science behind finesse fishing for crappie in coldwater is understanding that the colder the water gets, the tighter crappie will school on deep water structure such as rocks, bridge pilings, submerged timber and brushpiles. Crappie won’t move very far to take a bait, but if you put that bait right in their face, in other words, land it in the bucket, the action can be non-stop.
“Ideally, the water temperatures will be below 52 degrees,” he said. “I’ve never seen it get too cold for this to work, but we’ve found that 50 – 52 degrees is ideal.”
It’s like catching crappie out of a bucket.
For more information on the Slab Tail rod visit www.bnmpoles.com.