Bridges Over Cold Water
Finesse tactics are usually reserved for bass and walleye, but after downsizing his gear and designing a new rod with the help of B’n’M, Tom Mundy found he could do the same thing for crappie.
Big crappie seek out deep water under concrete bridges to stay warm. The bridges also collect brushpiles and woody debris which provide cover.
B’n’M’s new Slabtail Series is a super ultra light rod designed by Tom Mundy to finesse cold water crappie.
- The tight gap of the Slab Tail jig assists with fishing straight down in brush. The jig will lay flat on the structure rather than grabbing hold.
I watched the rod tip quiver as Mundy reeled in line, looking for some indication a fish was interested in the slowly ascending jig.
“You see that?” he asked.
“I didn’t see anything” I protested.
“Exactly” he quipped, setting the hook with a long sweep of the rod as it came to life in his hands, bowing over toward the dark cold water.
The thick slab crappie finally made it to the surface where I scooped it in the net before handing it to Mundy. “OK” I said, “explain.”
Bridges, boat docks, brush piles, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “This time of year, it’s all about the art of finesse.”
“Crappie are as dormant as they’ll be at any time during the year” explained Mundy, a B’n’M Pro Staff angler who owns and operates Fish Stalker Lures, a fishing lure company he started in his garage (www.fishstalker.com). “The only thing they’ll eat is something that’s right in their face. They won’t chase it and it has to be small.”
Mundy explained that he stumbled on the pattern a few years back when doing some field research for a soft plastic bait that he was considering marketing. He wanted a small bait that could be used “finesse style” similar to methods bass anglers used when fishing in the winter. The first place he thought to look for crappie in the winter was in and around concrete bridge pilings, a location that he had read attracted crappie when the weather turned cold because of the slow release of heat from the concrete. In taking a closer look he also found that these locations also most always had other structure under them that crappie favored—brush piles, logs and other woody debris.
“I’ll start looking for crappie to move to the deepest water they can find under concrete bridges starting in mid December. This starts to happen when overnight low temperatures drop into the 30’s. Once they move in, there are generally fish to be found until the end of February when crappie move out in response to spawning urges,” he said.
The trick to the bite was that the tip of the rod he was using was quivering as he reeled. Mundy uses super ultra light rods that incorporate a tip so fast that it is impossible to hold still-- except when a crappie bites. He’s watching for the rod tip to stop quivering, the result of a crappie gently inhaling the bait. With his tactics, Mundy is out to redefine the meaning of “finesse.
Mundy labored away building rods himself for his customers to use to fish his jigs. He had a great design, but he didn’t have the 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.
“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. It wasn’t long before he called me back and wanted to know when he could start production.”
The culmination of efforts resulted in one of B’n’M’s newest rods – The Slabtail Series. The new Slabtail rods are offered in two styles and lengths.
The 4’10” spinning rod features 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 features strengthened stainless-alloy guides that wrap around the rod blank for to help prevent the line from sticking to the blank in freezing weather.
As if a light rod wasn’t enough, Mundy uses four pound test hi-visibility line which he claims is imperceptible in the deep, dark water below the bridges. Tied to the end of that whisper thin line is one of his Fish Stalker Slab Tail jigs impaled on a tiny 1/64 oz. jig head. Mundy makes both the jig and the jig head and uses #8 hooks for his jig heads.
The final key is the jig action itself, a “do-nothing” presentation which in continuously in motion. The tail of the skirt resembles a little flap which Mundy hooks to ride flat in the water.
Locating places to fish this pattern isn’t hard. Mundy will fish any bridge on any crappie lake that has at least 12 feet of water under it. Bridge pilings collect brush piles and debris from both natural and man-made causes that crappie love to hold in during the cold extremes.
“I’ll check each piling to see if there are baitfish present” said Mundy. “No bait, no crappie.”
For more information on the Slab Tail rod visit our website at www.bnmpoles.com.