7 Ways to Adapt Real-Time Sonar to Your Favorite Crappie Fishing Techniques

7 Ways to Adapt Real-Time Sonar to Your Favorite Crappie Fishing Techniques

May 22, 2023

7 Ways to Adapt Real-Time Sonar to Your Favorite Crappie Fishing Techniques

By Phillip Gentry


When Real-Time Forward-Facing Sonar hit the market several years ago, it set the crappie fishing industry on fire. Initially anglers were foregoing multiple rod tactics and just chasing one fish with a single pole, which left out a lot of anglers who favored other styles of fishing.  

In his duties as liaison and pro-staff manager for B’n’M Poles, Kent Driscoll sees, and hears, about how some of the best crappie anglers in the country are adapting Real-Time sonar and making it their own for a variety of crappie fishing techniques.

“The cool thing is that now it’s been out for a while, we’re seeing anglers integrate that technology into the way they fish, rather than starting over from scratch,” he said. Driscoll described some of the adaptations he’s seen from B’n’M’s stable of professional anglers.

  1. Spider-Scoping – After all the years that tight line trolling dominated both tournament and recreational fishing, it’s no surprise many anglers weren’t ready to give up on the tactic.

“Guys are still trolling eight rods, pushing baits out of the front of the boat, but now, with this new sonar, they’re using it to steer toward the fish, and adjusting the depths of the baits in open water,” he said. “It’s cutting the time it used to take to find fish in half.”

With the ability to see real time action as well as scan areas ahead of your boat, Real Time sonar is providing a boost to a lot of different crappie fishing techniques.

Driscoll said there’s a huge advantage to spider rigging brush piles, knowing exactly where the fish are and making them come up out of the brush or moving with the school.

  1. Targeting Bigger Fish – Driscoll explained the simple equation for measuring the size of crappie with Forward Facing sonar.

“With the range screen set out to 30 feet, the width of the boxes on the grid overlay are 16 inches,” said Driscoll. “If you mark a fish and it doesn’t fill up that box, then it’s probably not what you’re going to need in a tournament or if you’re only after big fish.”

Driscoll said this method of size measurement goes with whatever style of fishing you’re using and is a great way to eliminate smaller fish.

  1. Chasing Open Water Fish – This method has become the new go-to for tournament crappie anglers, but the fish must be out in open water or at least suspended above structure so you can get a good look at each fish. By knowing what direction, how far away, and how deep the fish is, the angler can cast a jig or flip a jig out to the fish and watch the bait all the way down to the fish.

“It sounds easier than it looks,” said Driscoll. “You’ll find out real quick that these big fish aren’t stupid. You have to present the bait just right to get them to hit it. Fortunately, with crappie, you’ll probably get more than one shot at a particular fish, but they’re starting to learn when they’re being targeted.”

  1. Double Jigging – A variation on the Open Water technique, Driscoll said most crappie anglers have trolled double jigs and even casted a few double jig rigs, but the secret is how to catch crappie two at a time.

“This is particularly good on a school of fish or when a group of several fish are swimming together,” he said. “Pitch the line out with two jigs maybe 18 – 24 inches apart. Usually, the two-jig deal gets them excited, and you hook one fish. Instead of reeling in, open the bail and let the fish swim back into the school trailing that other jig. The other fish get excited because the hooked one is acting so aggressive and then another one grabs the other jig.”

B’n’M pro Tony Hughes loves the way he can measure a fish up before he makes a cast to it.

Driscoll said this takes patience to let the fish swim and it helps to watch on the screen as he’s swimming off but getting that second one on and then fighting them both to the boat is loads of fun.

5 – Dock Shooting – Like trolling, Real-time sonar lets you skip a lot of dead water and only target docks that have fish as well as target them on the right part of the dock.

“This lets you cull a lot of docks we used to fish hard because we’d caught fish there before,” he said. “The flip side is you can shine a dock you would never fished before and are surprised to see fish under it.

He also said the guesswork of how far to let the jig fall after a shot is gone because you can see how the fish react to the bait.

6 – Single Pole Jigging – Just like dock fishing, when you pull up to a row of stick ups or a weed line, Real-time Sonar lets you immediately move to where the fish are. It’s also helpful to be able to pitch to fish further away from the boat rather than getting right up on the structure and risk spooking fish that are holding there.

Pro Lance Hughey said spider scoping has become an obsession for him as well as a big time saver.

“If you look close, you can even tell if those fish you are seeing are actually crappie or just bream or yellow bass that are loaded into structure this time of year.

7 – Power Trolling – For the units that also have a perspective mode, Driscoll said some of the pros are using that wide angle view when power trolling at 2 – 3 mph and steering toward fish or groups of fish that are ahead of the boat.

“This works for long line trolling too,” said Driscoll. “You either find the fish suspended out in open water or you start seeing brush piles or stake beds ahead of the boat and pull or push your baits right over the structure.”

Needless to say, Real-time Sonar is here to stay, but so are the same old tactics and techniques for catching crappie that you’ve loved and spent so much time doing, only now they’re that much better.


Wherever fishing takes you, B’n’M has been there. To view all of our fish catching products, Visit our website at  

Also in Weekly Tips and Techniques

Finessing Pre-spawn Crappie with Kent Driscoll
Finessing Pre-spawn Crappie with Kent Driscoll

April 08, 2024

Pre-spawn crappie are typically aggressive biters, but there are times when some finesse is required.

Read More

Playing The Odds with David Jones
Playing The Odds with David Jones

March 04, 2024

B’n’M pro-staffer and Green River Lake crappie fishing guide David Jones said playing the odds is a great way to catch crappie any time of year.

Read More

Early Season Flatheads with Joey Pounders
Early Season Flatheads with Joey Pounders

February 09, 2024

B’n’M Catfish pro-staffer Joey Pounders said moving water during the late winter is his favorite time to target flathead catfish.

Read More

Join the B'n'M Fishing Club to earn points for every purchase, plus stay informed about the latest deals and specials.

Net Orders Checkout

Item Price Qty Total
Subtotal $0.00

Shipping Address

Shipping Methods