The Best Of Both Worlds
Phillip Gentry
Not one to take sides, Ronnie Capps claims he and partner Steve Coleman use both casting and trolling tactics at the same time when crappie are too shallow to reach by trolling alone.
. While Steve mans a set of 16 foot Buck’s Graphite jig poles, Ronnie works the skinny water by casting a jig on a slip cork.
Designed as a dock shooting rod, Capps loves to pitch a slip cork baited with a marabou Road Runner jig using one of B’n’M’s Sharpshooter rods.
Even in the heat of a tournament, catching crappie on the small rod is a lot of fun and easily adds weight to the day’s total.
At first blush, it looks like something to do to pass the time while trolling. Ronnie and his partner Steve Coleman are seated in their typical position, side by side in the front of the boat with eight; no wait a minute, seven rods splayed out across the front of the boat. Ronnie, who’s sitting on the side of the boat closest to the shoreline, has a small spinning rod casting to the bank. He explains how this tactic came about.   

“It’s definitely a shallow water tactic that we’ve used a lot of places, especially when you’re dealing stained water, said Capps. “Right after the spawn is over, a lot of males are as shallow as they can possibly can get and it’s a problem to get a 23 foot Ranger close to the shoreline with the deep keel that we have in our boat.  The keel’s bumping when we’re getting most of our bites trolling, so we just started backing down on the pole count and using one for casting, sometimes we’ll push four rods and cast with two, both of us will be casting.”

Capps claims the two of them can cover a lot more real estate, especially the skinny water variety by casting those ultra shallow flats that they can’t get to with the trolling poles. 

“Even though we’re using long 16 foot Buck’s Graphite Jig Poles to troll, we’re still spooking fish in water that shallow,” he said “Using this spinning rod, I can cast 50- 60 feet in front of the boat and get bites on fish that we might otherwise miss even with the long poles. They’re usually male fish, but we’re catching a whole lot of fish in that zone that nobody can really get into.”

Obviously, B’n’M has a wide variety of both casting and trolling rods for Capps to choose from, but his choice for the hand held rod was tad unexpected.

“I’m using a B’n’M Sharpshooter, it’s actually a dock rod,” said Capps. “It’s a great rod for this kind of close range pitching.  I rig a slip float with a #5 split shot and a 32nd ounce jig.   I was using a Roadrunner today.  I like to use marabou, rather than any plastics, with the technique because of its great action.”

The veteran explains that the undulating action of the hair is better suited for this type of shallow water action than a plastic jig, which doesn’t move as fluidly under the cork as the marabou. He also takes pains to find the right kind of cork, one with brass grommets so there is no problem with the line creasing as it slips through the cork. His retrieve of the rig in a stuttering motion also helps attract bites.

“The movement of the cork when you tilt the cork over rocks it back and forth,” he said. “In combination with that #5 split shot, you get an undulating effect in your marabou jig. If you’ll do it with just a couple of inches of line out, you can see the whole thing work.  It’s amazing what kind of action you’re getting.”

The action is a big plus, but the places he can put it often makes the difference between trolling by and catching fish.

“Using this little system, you can keep a bait right by a tree, log or a stake bed for at least thirty seconds and keep the action going,” said Capps.  “You don’t have to keep reeling the cork to you.  Just basically get it in the strike zone where you think the fish might be and just sit there and work it.”

Though Capps and Coleman may be trying to catch the biggest fish they can find, there’s nothing wrong with having fun while you’re doing it. Post spawn males guarding a nest before they move off the bank are not subtle biters. When one is around, he’ll let you know.

“They’re aggressive,” laughed Capps.  “You can just cast it near one and give him a second to check it out. He’ll knock the fire out of that thing.”

Having fun, winning tournaments, and catching crappie is what we’re all about at B’n’M. To find out more about our wide selection of crappie fishing rods, whether you’re casting, trolling, or both, visit our website at and look through our on-line catalog.