My grandma and mom would take me with them to the old St. Francis River where I sometimes fished but was usually more interested in skipping rocks. However, I remember watching them as they used a cane pole, braided nylon line, cork and sinker. At the end of the line was a hook and minnow. Grandma and mom would dip around old laydowns and other likely spots they could reach from the bank. I wonder how many more fish would they have caught if they had good, clear 10-pound test mono?
Today we have excellent fishing lines that range from high-visibility to basically invisible. We can have stretch or no-stretch, limp or stiff, and a variety of materials with fancy words describing them. So how do we choose a good line to catch crappie? The following are a few tips to help you decide.
#1. You can’t go wrong with monofilament or co-polymers. These are similar except the co-polymers are combination of monofilaments to get the best limpness, diameter and abrasion resistance possible. If you like simple and good all-around performance, choose one of these. Picks include: Excel or Crappie Maxx Super Vis Line; Vicious Panfish clear or high-vis; Sufix Elite; and fluoro coated Lake Fork.
#2. Fluorocarbon line, when compared to monofilament, is stiffer, requires better knots but has less stretch making it more sensitive. It’s heavier so it sinks faster making it good for getting deep. The line becomes practically invisible under water. Examples include: Berkley Vanish; P-Line Floroclear and Yamamoto’s Sugoi Line.
#3. Braided lines are very different. They have no stretch so they are extremely sensitive. They are small diameter with 15 pound test being approximately the same size as 4 or 6 pound monofilament. Some fishermen do not like the limpness but others swear it’s the best for jigging in cover. Also, no-stretch line requires a limber pole to avoid too much pressure being put on the fish causing hooks to rip out. Berkley Nanofil, Power Pro and Spiderwire fit the bill here.
#4. Another important factor is high-visibility or low visibility. High visibility line lets you see what your line is doing. You can see the angle of your line when slow trolling. When trolling crankbaits you can see where your line is located and when it rises with a fish. When jigging you’ll see light bites, tics and lift bites. Some fishermen think the visible line spooks fish causing fewer bites while other fishermen believe they see more bites so they catch more fish. Try it and decide for yourself.
#5. Select line size carefully. There are general rules of thumb that apply. First, the smaller the line the more bites. It’s no secret because small diameter line will spook fewer fish and your bait will have more action. Line that is too light, however, means more break-offs when hung up or when a big fish is on the line. So the second rule of thumb is to use the lightest line possible for the conditions you fish.
#6. How about one more rule-of-thumb to help you select the right size? Use lighter line in clearer water; and heavier weight line in dingy. It’s common to use 4 pound test in clear northern waters while 10 pound is common in big fish, murky waters in Mississippi. If there is a ‘normal’ line size for crappie it’s 6 pound test in clear water and 8 pound in others.
#7. The last factor is price. Bulk, store-brand lines like you find at Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops and others can give you a good general purpose line at a good price. If you want to pay some bucks for specialty fluorocarbons and braids it’s not wasted money. These lines can last a long time so their price per trip may not be any more than monofilament. Don’t buy the el-cheapo lines of any type because they will likely be stiff, have weak spots and will make your fishing experience less fun due tangled lines and lost fish.
Tip of the Month
Glue a snap swivel into one end of a 3/4 or 1-ounce egg sinker. When your jig hangs up clip the sinker onto your line. Keep a tight line and let the sinker slide down to your jig. It will knock it off of the hang-up. If not, jig it up and down a few times to free the jig.