Learn These Awesome Live Imaging Tips to Start the New Year
By Phillip Gentry
As the calendar flips over to January, many crappie anglers are making New Year’s Resolutions. For any, this means either making the jump to adding forward facing sonar to their arsenal of crappie techniques or resolving to get better at using live imaging for crappie fishing.
Whether you’re new to the technology, or just want to up your game, apply these live imaging fishing tips from several noted B’n’M anglers to make you a better crappie angler.
Pro staffer Kent Driscoll said one secret he’s found when fishing with his Live Scope unit is not to let the crappie look at the bait too long. If Driscoll sees the fish react on the screen, he starts raising and reeling, stating that a lot of strikes come with the bait moving away from the crappie.
Whether fishing around structure or in open water, seeing your bait in real time is an eye opener.
“I set my range to about 60 feet and just bump along with the trolling motor and start sweeping the transducer trying to zero in on fish,” he said. “Once I see something I want to target, I’ll set the range to about 30 feet and cast past the fish and work the bait past him, just above the fish’s head.”
Out in Texas, B’n’M pro staffer Brian Carter is making the jump to more natural looking baits. Carter ties many of his own crappie jigs and prefers hair jigs to anything else. His go-to bait is a ¼ oz jig head with a sickle hook, which he says is the standard for his area from October through May. He paints the heads pink then wraps hair on the jig.
“I love to experiment with a lot of different hair materials,” said Carter. “My favorite is probably white deer hair- the standard bucktail, but I also like to use squirrel, wild hog, and have even tied some jigs from javelina hair. It’s almost as hard as porcupine quills and it’s hard to tie, but it makes an interesting jig.”
Many jig anglers who thought they understood structure fishing have changed their tunes now that they can see the real picture.
Grenada Lake crappie guide John Harrison spent most of his fishing life with a jig pole in hand, working a crappie jig around a tree stump or stick up. In crappie fishing circles, he’s one of the best jig fishermen around. In his own words, Harrison said one thing that has made him a better jig fisherman is the advent of forward-facing sonar.
“I love fishing stick-ups, things you can see on the surface,” he said. “With this Live Scope sonar now can you not only see if there is a fish on a stick up, you can tell what side of it he’s on, is he facing in or facing out, and of course how deep below the water he is.”
You won’t hear the old adage “Find the bait, find the fish” come out of the mouth of pro-staffer TJ Shands. Shands breaks the crappie fishing mold by saying he doesn’t really want to see a lot of baitfish when he’s fishing. In fact, he said too much baitfish in the water blocks his view when he is in search mode with his sonar unit set to 50 feet and he’s cruising around at 1 – 1.5 mph on the trolling motor looking for crappie to target.
Adding weight to your line may not be the best option for getting your jig down to the fish quickly.
“Some bait is OK, the smaller the pods the better, he said. “Those big waves of baitfish hide the crappie and if the bait is not scattered and broken up, it usually means the crappie are not in a feeding mood anyway. Don’t waste your time.”
Rend Lake guide Kyle Schoenherr once believed that crappie fishing was one of the most predictable fish to target, once you figured out seasonal patterns. He said using Livescope has changed his tune.
“Technology has changed that,” he said. “The behavioral patterns change daily, sometimes even hourly, and the Live Scope lets you see that. Instead of running multiple poles, I’m now running single poles. My clients are sitting in the front of the boat watching the Live Scope screen and I’m either sitting or standing behind them, operating the trolling motor and panning the LiveScope back and forth.”
While some crappie anglers prefer to use additional weight on the line to get their jig to the fish on the Live Scope screen faster, pro-staffer Ron Bilbrey said why not double the chances of a hook-up.
Instead of the additional weight, Bilbrey adds a second jig to the line, solving the dilemma of having crappie hit the inline weight that many Live Scope anglers add to their line to get their baits down to the fish quickly. The second jig also makes his presentation easier to see on the screen and allows him to adjust the arc of the swing to meet the fish.
“A lot of fish will pick up on the bait during the fall and ideally hit it then, but a lot of fish also follow the bait a bit. It seems more natural to let it swing past the fish then reel or dead stick although some days they either want it moving or they don’t,” said Bilbrey.
Next Time, not all crappie rods are created equal. Our B’n’M pro’s will give you the rundown on their picks for the best live imaging rods.