The Ten Commandments of Crappie Fishing
Phillip Gentry
The prostaffers at B’n’M have created this list of 10 Commandments to help crappie anglers catch more fish.
No arguing with results, Whitey Outlaw relies on live bait to win crappie tournaments.
The use of chartreuse is prevalent in the coloring of a lot of crappie tackle, from baits to hooks to jig heads.
Baitfish movements are one of the most influential factors in where you’ll find crappie.

Like the Israelites of the Bible, crappie anglers often struggle because we ignore the simplest rules for life. Though far from biblical, the pros at B’n’M banded together to create this list of ten absolute truths that have played a fundamental role in their success as professionals. Designed to assist and enlighten all crappie anglers, from the novice week-end angler to the seasoned professional, these principles will help everyone become more successful, which at the end of the day, can be measured by the number of crappie in the livewell.

  1. Thou shalt use live bait. South Carolina pro Whitey Outlaw claims that using fresh live bait is the only fool-proof method for consistently catching crappie year round. Using live bait precludes the crappie angler from being concerned with what colors of artificial baits to use. It also presents the fish with the same food it is accustomed to eating.

    “I have been crappie fishing my whole life,” said Outlaw, “that’s more than 40 years, and in all that time, I have always caught at least some crappie by using live bait. I’ve never gone home empty handed.”

  2. Thou shalt be patient. Well known Grenada Lake guide John Harrison submitted that the problem he sees with many crappie anglers is they get in too big a hurry. The guide explains that if fish don’t perform the way the angler expects them to, most anglers start second-guessing themselves. They also end up riding all over the lake which translates to wasting time that could be spent fishing.

    “If you have a pattern that you’re confident in, be patient, give it time to work,” said Harrison. “Many times a pattern may change slightly or occur a little later in the day. Being patient allows you to make small changes and get back to what you’re confident in.”

  3. Thou shalt use something chartreuse. Top winning tournament angler Mike Walters claims that of all artificial colors out there, chartreuse seems to be the one crappie prefer most. From jig skirts to jig heads to hooks and lures, chartreuse is and always has been a winning color.

    “The old joke is - it doesn’t matter what color jigs you use for crappie fishing, so long as it’s chartreuse,” said Walters.

  4. Thou shalt keep your baits above the fish. Pickwick guide and crappie fishing promoter Brad Whitehead reminds anglers that due to the shape and positioning of a crappie’s eyes, mouth and body, crappie always feed in an upward direction and rarely feed down. He suggests paying attention to the level of fish marked on your electronics and fish at or just above that level.

    “No matter what you’re fishing with or how you’re fishing it, depending on water clarity, I suggest keeping your baits from 6” – 2 feet above the fish,” said Whitehead. “Just 6 inches below them, and you’re likely to get skunked.”

  5. Thou shalt be versatile. Making a living as a crappie fishing guide on Kentucky Lake has taught Richard Williams that he needs to catch crappie the way they need to be caught, which is not always the way he wants to catch them. He claims the fish will tell you what they want. This principle extends from which tactics to use, which baits to tie on, even what areas of a lake to fish.
    “At the end of the day, the guy who fishes only one way, never adapting to what the fish want all day long, regardless of what other clues he’s seeing, is the one who comes back to the dock with the least fish,” said Williams.

  6. Thou shalt follow the bait. B’n’M pro-staff manager and tournament angler Kent Driscoll states the obvious in claiming the best way to catch fish is to fish where the fish are. The best way to know where the fish are is to follow the bait.

    “Know the seasonal patterns of the baitfish on the lake you fish,” said Driscoll. “Know where they are on the lake, what size bait is present in the area you’re fishing and do your best to “match the hatch” in that location.”

  7. Thou shalt fish slower. Midwest Crappie TV show host Russ Bailey said the most common problem he sees with both week-end and tournament anglers is that they tend to fish an area too fast, especially during the spring after a cold front or anytime fish are not active.

    “If I’m fishing a row of boat docks and a boat has just worked them, I watch how fast the other boat’s fishing,” said Bailey. “Most of the time I can still catch fish right behind him where he didn’t, not because I’m a better fisherman, but because I’ve disciplined myself to slow down and fish a spot repeatedly if I know they’re there.”

  8. Thou shalt believe in your ability. Seven time National Crappie Champion Steve Coleman explains he and partner Ronnie Capps would have never won the tournaments they have won if they didn’t have confidence in what they were doing. The pair combined to develop a technique which brought them phenomenal success.

    “Back when we started, slow vertical trolling was pretty much unheard of,” he said. “We mastered the technique and we stuck with it even when things got tough. We could never have done that if we weren’t confident in our ability.”

  9. Thou shalt learn proper boat control. Crappie Masters Team-Of-The-Year angler Jim Reedy, who incidentally looks more like Moses than anyone else on staff, explained that it’s easy to be right there on top of willing crappie and still struggle to catch them because of poor boat positioning.

    “With many crappie tactics, where you position the boat dictates whether your baits are in the strike zone, the speed of your presentation, and how realistic your baits look to the fish,” said Reedy.

  10. Thou shalt use good equipment. In an equipment-intensive sport like crappie fishing, every component of your set-up can make you or break you. What good is having a boat, trolling motor, outboard, depthfinder, rods, and reels if they don’t work when you need them to. At B’n’M, we live this basic truth by providing top quality fishing rods and gear to match every need for the crappie and panfish angler. We take our role as the final link between you and that great day on the water or that trophy-winning fish very seriously.

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