Flippin’ Stumps With Billy Blakely
Phillip Gentry
Head guide Billy Blakely of Blue Bank Resort on Reelfoot Lake uses his flippin’ technique to load up on summer crappie.
Using B’n’M Richard Williams designed Crappie Wizard, Blakely works his magic around stumps.
Blakely claims flippn’ is child’s play. Even 5 year old Jack gets in on the action.
The key to catching crappie on any lake is to know the location of baitfish – crappie won’t be far behind.

Question: Billy, tell us about this “stump flippin” tactic you use. How does it work?


Blakely: It’ll work anywhere you have standing timber, stumps or vertical structure like boat docks and piers, the places where baitfish bunch up when the water gets hot. It’s pretty simple, I take a Thill slip cork and attach it above the bait. Then I ease around the stumps rows we have here at Reelfoot and use the rod to flip the bait around and between the stumps. The cork will put the bait at the right depth and hold it still.  I use either a 1/8 ounce jighead or a double minnow rig with at least a ¼ ounce weight.


Question: Are you saying you can flip one of our Capps & Coleman double minnow rigs under a cork? I bet that’s difficult to do.


Blakely: Naw, I fish the cork on B’n’M’s Crappie Wizard rod, the one designed by Richard Williams. It’s a 7 ½ foot rod and the flippin’ part is half swing and half pitch. It let’s you reach out further than you could with a longer jigging pole and put the bait exactly where you want it without having to put the boat right on top of the fish. It’s really easier than casting, my 5 year old boy Jack does it all the time.


Question: You mentioned that this is your better summer time tactic. What makes this so effective during the summer time?


Blakely: On Reelfoot or any other shallow water lake during the heat of the summer, crappie will follow shad into the tree stumps where there’s better oxygen. They get sluggish and to get them to bite you have to put your baits right on top of them. That’s why I like a little bit heavier bait under the cork. You flip it between the stumps and it zips right past the crappie’s nose so fast it gets his attention. Then you let it sit still under the cork and he’ll either hit it or he won’t. That saves you a lot of time compared to tightlining baits all over the lake like we do during the spring and fall when crappie are more active. By targeting specific stumps and structure you catch more fish.


Question: How long does this pattern last?


Blakely: It all depends on the baitfish. They start to bunch up in the stumps when the water gets hot right after the spawn and they’ll stay there all summer. Wherever baitfish bunch up, crappie will bunch up under them. This pattern usually lasts until fall when the water starts to cool off and the baitfish scatter out, that’s when we go back to dragging for them.


Question: Reelfoot has a lot of stumps and standing timber all over the lake. Is there a specific depth or area of the lake works better for you?


Blakely: I locate the best areas to fish by doing a little scouting the night before, especially if I haven’t been on the lake in a couple of days. When it gets still during the last hour of daylight, you can see shad flipping on top of the water between the stump rows. I’ll ride around and check out a few places that have at least 5 – 8 feet of water around the stumps, looking for signs of shad on the surface. Then I know where to go back the next morning after the bait has settled back into the roots around the stumps. Just remember, crappie are always going to follow the bait.


To experience flippin’ for crappie first hand, visit Bluebank Resort, located on beautiful Reelfoot Lake and spend the day with guide Billy Blakely. He can be reached through the resort at 1-877-BLUE-BANK or visit their website at www.bluebankresort.com.