Feeling the Thump with Steve Danna
By Phillip Gentry
Louisiana angler Steve Danna has been fishing for most of his life. He admits to starting his fishing career as a tournament bass angler, but later on made the switch to crappie fishing almost exclusively, because of one thing.
“It’s that thump,” he said. “That feeling you get when you’ve got your jig in the water next to a tree and that slab crappie nails it. The Thump is what got me into crappie fishing.”
The Tree Thumper combines the exact mix of strength and sensitivity to haul slab crappie away from standing trees.
Danna is a veteran crappie tournament angler and pro-staff member for B’n’M Poles who calls Louisiana’s Lake D’Arbonne home. Danna’s specialty is fishing standing timber, not just timber, but trees, specifically cypress trees of which D’Arbonne has in number. Those three things got him to thinking about how to fine tune that thump he loves so well so that it sings out like a pitchfork.
Each year, crappie gradually move out of their winter pattern and start to stage on standing cypress trees during the pre-spawn and spawning seasons. Single pole jigging for these fish is the preferred tactic to move them from the water to the live well and has been for many years.
The problem, as Danna saw it, was that most jig poles were either too stiff to get a good feel for when a crappie grabbed the bait or too limber to turn and haul a lively two pound slab away from the wood and into the open before the fish could hang the line.
The perfect scenario for fishing the Tree Thumper is a solitary of small group of trees with access to deep water.
“I started talking with B’n’M president Jack Wells and explained what I needed,” said Danna. “We worked on the design and specifications for over a year before we got it just right.”
The product of Danna’s efforts is the Tree Thumper. The rod features a heavy backbone with a fast and sensitive tip and is made of a secret blend of high-modulus graphite. The rod features ceramic inserts in the guides, a bottom reel seat, and a contoured handle made of 100% Portuguese cork. It’s made in both a 10 foot and 11 foot model.
“It’s light enough to hold in your hand all day long and it’s perfectly balanced,” said Danna, “but it’s got enough backbone to horse a big crappie up without so much bend that rod is nearly doubled.”
With the new Tree Thumper in hand, Danna’s next objective is to find the right tree to fish. Ideally, he’ll seek out a lone tree that’s standing in 3 – 5 feet of water or a small cluster of trees at the target depth. The tree(s) need to be situated with access to deeper water close by.
“Deep water next to shallow water is always good and a single or small cluster of trees will often hold more fish that a whole line of trees in the right depth,” he said.
The name single pole jigging may infer holding a jig completely vertical in the water column but that only covers one of three presentations that Danna uses to catch slab crappie. He wants to approach the target tree head on and then work all four sides of the tree.
Danna looks for crappie to begin staging on trees in areas of the lake that warm up first during the pre-spawn.
Using a 1/32 oz hair jig, he swings the jig out from the rod tip and holds the tip still while the jig pendulums back to him, always keeping the line tight.
His pitch lands beyond the tree he’s fishing, which targets fish that may be holding higher in the water column. As the jig swings, it becomes a target for mid-depth fish that are hugging the structure and once the jig completes its swing, Danna will fish it vertically near the base of the tree and any associated stumps.
“Early in the season, I’m picking spots with a southerly exposure because they warm up first,” he said. “Once the temps hit 60, I’ll be back and forth, up and down the lake, running and gunning. I guess it’s not so different from bass fishing after all.”
Check out B’n’M’s new products for 2019, including the Tree Thumper by Steve Danna, by visiting our website at bnmpoles.com.
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