How To Make ‘Em Bite with Steve Coleman

How To Make ‘Em Bite with Steve Coleman

September 07, 2023

How To Make ‘Em Bite with Steve Coleman

By Phillip Gentry


There are certain times of the year, certain water conditions, and even certain lakes, when fish just refuse to take the hook that is offered to them. Crappie are no exception to this rule. Ask any seasoned crappie angler and he’ll explain that you simply can’t make fish bite.

B’n’M pro-staffer Steve Coleman, yeah, THAT Steve Coleman, the one standing with Ronnie Capps holding all those Championship trophies- Steve Coleman, doesn’t accept this rule.

Coleman doesn’t dispute the fact that fishing can get tough. He said even currently on Reelfoot, his home lake in western Tennessee, things are tough, and most fishermen are finding it hard to catch crappie. Coleman has faced these conditions before. As a guide and tournament angler he’s had days when 7 fish in the boat seemed like an impossibility and yet he and Capps managed to get it done.

Having energetic live bait is key to getting that reaction bite from lockjaw fish.

Coleman admitted that when faced with the inevitable tough bite that comes up at the most inopportune times, having forward -facing sonar on his boat makes things easier, at least from the standpoint of knowing his bait is indeed in front of a crappie and giving him the ability to see the reaction of the fish to his presentation.

“The new sonar won’t make fish bite, but it lets you know what’s going on in their world,” said Coleman. “You can see the fish. You can see your bait. You can see structure, or lack of structure, or anything else that might be affecting the fish.”

For crappie fishing on Reelfoot Lake when things get tough, Coleman said his go-to rod is B’n’M’s new Little Mighty. This Japanese-style telescopic pole is perfect for light-action panfish and trout anglers. The rod features a traditional, high-end Japanese "Tenkara" style tip, with instructions on the packaging on how to tie it. Available in lengths of 10ft, 15ft, 20ft, and 25ft, this rod covers a wide variety of applications.

Forward facing sonar helps give real time feedback to let Coleman know what’s going on below.

Coleman believes in using the extra-long rod because he doesn’t want him or his boat being one of the influencers of making crappie have lockjaw or worse, just swimming off altogether without giving him a chance.

“If I’m fishing 12 feet of water, that’s all I tie on is 12 feet of line,” he said. “Maybe 6-pound test, not too heavy. I’ll peg a ¼ ounce sinker about 20 inches from the hook, which is my usual Eagle Claw 214 EL.”

Coleman said he forgoes artificial baits when it’s a dire situation. He needs live bait – good lively live bait at that, to get the bite he’s after.

“Here’s the secret,” he said. “I pinch a small split shot weight about 4 – 5 inches above the hook. So, all that minnow can do when he’s hooked through the lips is swim around in a little tight circle.”

Whatever your situation, B’n’M has the rods and the knw-how to help you catch more crappie.

The next hurdle is finding the fish, admittedly not too hard with the forward-facing sonar and he has the luxury of picking out the bigger fish to spend his time on. He’ll keep back far enough that he can lower his hooked minnow to where it’s right on the nose of the fish.

“Imagine him down there and then here’s this lively minnow buzzing all around his head,” said Coleman. “He might sit there for a minute, even two minutes, but at some point, he gets irritated enough and he’s going to suck that minnow in.”

That’s when you have to be paying attention.

“You only get one shot,” said Coleman. “If he spits it, or you miss him, you may as well go hunt another fish, cause that one is done for the day.”


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


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