When most anglers see fall crappies on their sonar screen—either relating to a deep weed edge or spread across the basin bottom of an isolated pocket—they fish a traditional small jig tipped with either a soft-plastic dressing or a lively minnow. If the fish turn it down, most anglers will also decide to then put on an even tinier jig and fish it slower. Not me. I’ll fire up the fish instead by rapidly dancing a spoon above their heads—my two favourites are venerable Williams Wabler (below left)and the innovative Freedom Minnow (below right).
You can often get crappies so excited by engaging their competitive spirit, in fact, that after you’ve landed a couple of fish, the ones left below will quickly rise up to intercept your bait as soon as it hits the water. It’s as though they’re shouting, “Me too, me too!”
To properly work the spoons, I use light three-, four- or five-pound-test gel-spun line such as Sufix Fuse tipped with a foot of similar-strength Maxima monofilament as the leader. And here’s a secret: I double up my Wablers to get the presentation down faster.
To double up, I take two identical size W20, W30 or W40 Wablers and remove the O-rings and hooks. I then sandwich them together and reattach the O-rings and one hook. This doubles the offering’s weight without changing its crappie-appealing size. It also lets me customize the set-up, mixing and matching among the Wabler’s many different colours and finishes.
When I get a school of fish assembled and fired up using, say, a sandwiched pair of 1¼-inch W20 Wablers weighing a fifth of an ounce, I’ll switch over to an even bigger and heavier offering of sandwiched W30 Wablers. Likewise, I’ll upsize my Freedom Minnows. Doing this fuels the feeding frenzy even more.
Finally, never vertically jig the spoon at the same depth you spot the fish. Instead, dance it at least a foot above their noggins and force them to commit. Pauses are also essential, because nine out of 10 fall crappies will smoke your spoon when it’s sitting still after you’ve popped it up and let it fall. Remember, you vertically jig the spoon to attract the fish, but pause it to triggerthem to bite. And bite they will in the fall, especially when you spoon-feed ’em.