Getting Into The Swing of Single Pole Fishing With John Harrison

Getting Into The Swing of Single Pole Fishing With John Harrison

October 16, 2017

B’n’M crappie pro staffer John Harrison from Calhoun City, Mississippi is widely considered one of the best single pole jig fishermen in the country when it comes to catching crappie. Harrison is a full time guide on Lakes Grenada, Sardis, and Enid all of which are stained-water shallow lakes in north Mississippi.

As the summer rolls over into fall, Harrison’s favorite go-to tactic for catching crappie is a single jig pole outfitted with a 1/16 ounce jig.

“I like dark colors like black/chartreuse because it’s the most productive for crappie when you’re fishing stained water,” said Harrison. “Grenada Lake and some other northern Mississippi crappie lakes will be stained most of the year, especially if we get some rain.”

Harrison will head to the mid and upper reaches of most of his local reservoirs looking for areas where a deeper creek channel runs along or near the bank. He’s looking for woody cover that will provide shade to the deeper water access where crappie will hold waiting for baitfish to come by.

“I’ll primarily be fishing stick-ups, stumps, brush, or trees that come up off the bottom and stick up above the water,” he said. “Some fish will still be out deep but the hungry ones and often the bigger ones will be laying in that wood not too far from the bank.”

Harrison doesn’t cast the jig in and around the wood. Instead he positions his War Eagle boat within reach of the structure and will pitch his jig past the stick-up, and let the jig swim from the back side of the stick-up and swing back toward the boat.

“I generally use two kinds of presentations at each stick up,” he said. “The first pitch the jig will swim by the stick-up. On the second try, I’ll swing my jig right by the stick-up and then hold the jig still. Crappie only may be 3 or 4 feet deep during late September and October. Other days, they may be just off the bottom. You can raise and lower the jig along that stick-up, until you determine the depth where the crappie are holding.”

The guide’s advice is to vary your retrieve. He uses a pendulum type retrieve which doesn’t involve the reel at alto retrieve the line. Harrison pulls off about a foot of line shorter than the total rod length. That lets him swing the jig out past the stick up and then lets it pendulum back causing the jig to swim past the stick up. If crappie are in the mood to chase the bait, he said you’ll get hits while the jig is swinging. If the fish are more neutral and holding tighter to the cover, then placing the jig right beside the stick up and moving it up or down slowly will get the bite.

“My preference is a 9 foot Buck's Best Ultra-Lite or a Sam Heaton Super Sensitive with Bottom Seat & Touch System,” said Harrison. “Both of these rods have a reel seat on the underside of the rod and a cut-out in the handle that lets you put your finger right on the rod blank so that even the smallest bite is telegraphed right to your hand.”

Another important aspect of this type of fall single pole fishing is the sensitivity of the jig pole and the line you use when fishing stained water. Harrison maintains that the water is still pretty warm in most places and that tends to make the crappie lethargic.

“When the fish bite, it’s just a gently sucking action,” he said. “If you are casting and reeling a jig, chances are you won’t even feel the gentle tap on the line.”

Harrison will pair either one of his rod choices with Buck’s Best Ultra Lite Crappie Reel II. This light reel is great for all-day jigging.  It’s made of crush resistant ABS material, and has two ball bearings to ensure smooth operation while also allowing you to set the drag for the best rod performance.

The line Harrison uses most days is 6-pound Vicious line but if the water is a little clearer, he might go to 4 pound. The 4 pound line gives the jig better action. He also wants to use a line that he can see even on a bright, sunny day with glare on the water because often he will see the bite before he feels it.

The final piece of the puzzle is the action of the jig, which is important to eliciting bites.

I rarely use a curly tail jig with a single pole because when the jig is not moving, the curly tail just hangs limps and doesn’t look natural,” he said. “That’s when a hair jig, a tube jig or one of the minnow type baits with a vibrating tail work best.

“Even when the jig is holding still, it kinda shimmies in the water just like a real baitfish, said Harrison. “You stick that in their face and they’ll smack it.”

With fall on it’s way, be sure to stock up on all your crappie fishing needs by visiting the B’n’M website at or look for our products at your local crappie fishing retailer.

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