Choosing the Right Monofilament Line for Crappie
September 16, 2009
Old-timers had a cane pole, heavy braided nylon line and a minnow rig. It was the best tackle at the time. But what if they had been using 8-pound test monofilament line? It's impossible to know but I'm sure some catches would have tripled or quadrupled.
Modern technology has changed fishing but things have gotten complicated. We have fluorocarbon, co-polymers, braid, superline, color, stretch/no-stretch, line diameter factors and pound-test. It can be confusing so let's look at a few factors to consider when selecting a monofilament line for fishing a small crappie jig.
First, there are general rules-of-thumb for monofilament strength and resulting line diameter. The heavier the line the stronger it will be so you'll lose fewer fish, have fewer break-offs and the line will handle rougher conditions like thick brush or rocks. The downside to heavier line is stiffness and its visibility in the water. Lighter line will get more bites, provide better bait action, is limp and casts further but you'll lose more baits and break off more often. Your choice is a decision of compromise.
Ultra-clear water is the toughest of all fishing situations. Fish have good vision in clear water so anything foreign has the potential of spooking them. Stick with a clear, 4-pound test line for most clear water fishing but going down to 2-pound test line when fish are extremely spooky. Go with the heaviest line and baits the fish will allow but downsize if you don't get bites.
On the opposite end of the scale are muddy waters like the lakes in Mississippi and other specific waters around the country. Visibility is often about a foot so line diameter isn't critical. A larger 8- or 10-pound test makes fishing easier because you can straighten hung-up hooks without breaking your line. Also, when you get a huge slab or other species of fish you have a better shot at landing them without breaking your line. In this situation you can use whatever line type you prefer with most fishermen choosing high-visibility. A high-visibility green or yellow fished side-by-side with clear line will catch an equal number of fish. The advantage of the high-vis is that you can see more bites when a fish lifts, pecks or moves sideways with your bait.
What about the best all-around line for your crappie fishing? If you fish waters that are moderately clear 6-pound test is the best choice. You'll get more bites on smaller diameter line because you'll have better bait action than you'll get with larger, stiffer line.
If the waters you fish are mostly stained or if you only make it to the lake a few times a year, I suggest sticking with 8-pound test. A slightly heavier line is more forgiving when a knot is less than perfect or when you don't change line as often as you should.
So what are my specific picks? On spinning outfits I suggest 6-pound-test monofilament for good casting distance and bait action. A limp line like Berkley Trilene XL is a good choice.
Long poles get three specific recommendations. The first is 6- or 8-pound Vicious Panfish high-visibility yellow for stained water. Try Vicious clear blue fluorescent in clear water. This line is limp, strong for its diameter and is excellent for casting. The other is Wally Marshall high-visibility green that's a good all-around economical line.
Yamamoto makes jigs that will catch crappie but you need them on the right line for them to perform properly and for you to see the bites. Select the line that's right for you, take proper care of it, change it periodically and maybe you can consistently put more fish into your livewell.
About the Column
I look forward to bringing you updates from our pro staff, tournament news and a lot of how-to tips and tactics you can apply directly to your fishing. This column will answer questions including: How to choose the right line for crappie; Getting more crappie from a brush pile; and How to get the most action from your jig. My goal is to educate and entertain so rare-back in your computer chair and enjoy learning more about crappie fishing.