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Ronnie Capps On Fishing The Crappie Spawn – Part 1

Ronnie Capps On Fishing The Crappie Spawn – Part 1

March 14, 2022

Ronnie Capps On Fishing The Crappie Spawn – Part 1

In this week’s article, Crappie fishing legend Ronnie Capps takes us back to old-school crappie fishing during the spawn.

Phillip Gentry


The spring spawning season for crappie is widely anticipated by crappie anglers all across the country. None are immune to the thrill of catching brilliantly colored fish in just a foot or two of water, including crappie fishing champion Ronnie Capps.

Capps explained that crappie fishing has changed dramatically on his home lake of Reelfoot, Tennessee especially in the last 2 – 3 years, but the spawning season has generally remained the same.

“Crappie will spawn with the longer days and warming water,” said Capps. “These fish are cold blooded, so the water temperature has a lot to do with their spawning urges. I’ve seen years when it got really cold and windy through the winter, the lake may not have frozen over, but it got super chilled and delayed the spawn until late May.”

Ronnie Capps and Steve Coleman are huge fans of leaving the boat and modern sonar behind and getting in the water after spawning crappie.

Capps said many crappie never leave the shallows on Reelfoot and it may be hard to tell when fish are actually spawning and when they’re still in the pre-spawn phase.

I’ve seen black crappie move up into a foot or so of water a month before the spawn and folks say their spawning,” said Capps, “but their really just using that super shallow water to get warm and help those eggs drop down.”

While Capps has become a big advocate of live image sonar for crappie fishing, he said he still does a lot of traditional spawn fishing because most of the time he can see the fish in the water and doesn’t need to use sonar.

One of his very favorite fishing tactics when crappie do move shallow to spawn is to don a pair of waders and go hunt them on foot. Few things are as exciting as slowly walking through the shallows surrounded by half submerged timber, vegetation and other cover and picking fish off one at a time.

Sporting spawning colors in the spring, male and female crappie will invade shallow water to rear their young.

Capps and his partner Steve Colemen even went so far as to design a crappie fishing pole made especially for wading for spawning crappie.

In designing the Capps and Coleman wading rod for B’n’M poles, the pair wanted a great rod for casting or dipping, with a slightly stiffer action designed for wade fishermen.  The result was an all-purpose rod in either 8- or 9-foot lengths that feature a bottom mounted cork reel seat and a blank made of IM6 graphite which offers a blend of strength and sensitivity.


 All you need to wade for crappie is a rod, a pair of waders, a small box of tackle, and a stringer to keep fish on.


“Eight feet is plenty long enough for reaching out but still allows you to handle the rod in heavy cover,” said Capps.


In place of a bait tank and tackle box, Capps relies exclusively on jigs in 1/16 oz weights paired with a small selection of Southern Pro plastic tubes. He packs these in a small hand-size tackle box that will fit in the front pouch of his chest waders. On occasion, he may tip the jig with a crappie nibble or other scent providing bait but maintains it normally isn’t necessary.


“The only thing those crappie are interested in is getting that jig away from their nest” he said. “Sometimes they’ll ‘bout take the rod out of your hands doing it.”


The final piece of wading gear is a chain or rope stringer that the angler can clip to his waders and string fish on as they are caught.


“If it’s real thick you might want to shorten it up, but most of the time fish on the stringer will float right along behind you and be out of the way,” said Capps.


Next time, Ronnie Capps puts his waders away and dispels the myth that shallow water crappie can’t be caught using live image sonar. In Ronnie Capps On Fishing The Crappie Spawn – Part 2, the veteran angler will share some of the secrets he’s learned about Live Image sonar and spawning crappie.


Seasons may change, but wherever fishing takes you, B’n’M has been there. Look us up online at





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