View Full Version : Moving over to fresh-water fishing- any advice?

01-04-2015, 01:17 AM
Greetings all,

My name is Tony. I'm a long-time saltwater fisherman, but I've recently decided to switch to fresh water fishing, due to location. We live near Lake Anna in VA. (We are here to help parents, and will be here for the foreseeable future.)

I'm tired of the three-hour boat tow anytime I want to go fishing. So crappie, bass, and fresh water stripers are going to be my new quarry.

It's a big adjustment, but now I'm excited about learning something new. For the last month or so I've been doing research, trying to learn all I can.

I have a rugged 1957 Crestliner Viking 14’ v-bottom w/a 25 tiller on the back, that has been a great boat. But I just got a 16 footer with a 40 HP and a big livewell. If it proves reliable, I'll sell the 14'.

I have a basic assortment of lures to get started, and will fill in with more, once I start developing a pattern of what works for me.

One thing I've been effective with are soft plastics. That's what I fish with 95% of the time. I imagine I'll do the same in fresh water. Last year I went a few times, and blind casting 1-1/2" curly tail panfish Assassins was very effective on the crappie. Fun! Now I want to really target them.

Any advice for a complete crappie fishing newbie? I'm all ears!

And a question... Can I use my fly rods for long lining? Seems like my 7/8 wt. would be perfect, action-wise, if I add a 20' leader of 4-6 lb flouro.

Thanks for the great place to learn and share!


01-04-2015, 10:00 AM
First off, welcome to the forum and to the addiction of Crappie fishing. Your fly rods will be put to good use with a spinning reel, or with the fly reel and a bit of a different approach. Bead chain or lead eyes on a Bugger, clouser, deciever or the Crappie Candy will give you some to fool with. The spinning reel can't be too small because of line memory and we don't cast too far anyway. I like a little more handle in the rod holder for longlining than a fly rods have to offer. Good enough electronics are a big plus to find the off the bak structure they like a lot this time of year. GPS is also a plus, I used a handheld for 12 years so don't trade the kids for one. Something most folks do as beginners is overwork the bait. This time of year the fish are less active and I get a lot of fish just dead sticking the bait with an occasional 1/2" twitch or rise and fall on the bait. I use plastics almost 100% and there are days when a minnow will put a few more in the boat but I'd rather fool em than feed em. Lots to read here from some folks that have spent a lot of time and money refining their technique. Have fun with it......Skeet

01-05-2015, 01:34 AM
Thanks for the welcome! I've been reading a lot here, and honestly, I'm only just starting to understand much of what I read. For instance, I understand pulling (trolling) but I have yet to figure out what pushing means. But when I don't understand something, I just do a search, and someone here is kind enough to explain it somewhere, so I'm learning more by looking it up.

I've got six fly rods from 7-10' long. I have probably 20 spinning reels I could put on them, but I was thinking that if I kept my large-arbor fly reels on them (and all of them have fighting butts on them, so they fit in rod-holders) they would still be an efficient way to present baits and jigs.

I've recently been on YouTube, watching some spider rigging. One guy uses "crappie" rods that look like a fly rod with a longer rear grip. The reels look like a little fly reel, but he actually never used the reel. He found the depth the fish were holding at on the sonar, set out that much line, and simply dropped tiny jigs down to them and put the rod in the holder. He would tap the rods in the holders with his fingers, and that tiny movement would trigger strikes, and he would just lift the fish into the boat, unhook and repeat! That has me thinking that I could do something similar with my fly rods.

I have 4-5 ultralight rods that are supposedly made for crappie, but I only like one of them. It's a very fast action rod, with a tip the size of a pencil lead, painted fluorescent pink. That rod has great feel and line control, and that tiny tip shows the slightest taps. The other rods just feel like wet noodles to me. Not sure what to do with those. It figures, the rod I like cost more than 3-4 of those others. I guess good rods tend to be expensive, regardless of the intended species.

Your advice to take my time and enjoy seems very smart and practical. I'm just all revved up right now, but plan to take it slowly, as far as buying and spending money.

I work on boats for a living, but I rarely get to go out in mine, because I'm so busy all the time. Moving over to fresh water fishing means I can trailer my boat 8 minutes to the ramp at daybreak, fish for a couple of hours, and still get back in time to start work at a reasonable hour. Or maybe in the evenings after work, once the days get longer. I'm hoping that will happen several days a week, and that I will really learn the patterns to fish effectively, and enjoy the process of learning.

I'm just rambling now, so I'll sign off and keep reading the forums. Can't wait to catch my first real slab!

Thanks for the feedback and advice!


01-05-2015, 01:54 AM
Welcome aboard. Sounds like you are well on your way. It becomes a passion or an addiction. There are so many techniques to catch crappie. They all produce allot of fun and some great tasting table fare.

01-05-2015, 09:22 AM
More about the rods. The UL rods I have handled have had little backbone in the butt or middle, what I believe is called a parabolic bend that begins in front of the handle, and I have a hard time controlling any fish of size. Light and medium light work better for me, and my favorite casting rod is a 2pc 6'6" lightning rod that is about 6 yrs old. Real light tip that loads well and backbone enough to be useful. Most"Good" rods you'll really like are one piece so this goes against the norm. Long crappie rods are no different. Some say medium and are too soft to be that IMHO. Buy nothing that you don't handle first. I use the BnM Bucks Graphite Jig Pole (BGJP) and pull, spider and single pole with them. They are a bit light for pushing, where a weight is added about 3' in front of the crankbait or jig or whatever, and a bit heavier rod is needed for that. The fly reel looking reels you saw used are basically that, single action jigging reels. One of the plus' of these is no line twist like a spinning reel when giving drag. I like a spinning reel just to keep everything consistent. I use 2000 series reels to keep the line memory a bit larger than the UL reels, which absorbs the tic and thump we wait for. Lots of folks use braid for spider and trolling tied direct to the bait, as I do for deep jigging. Less lost baits and better contact. Now I'm rambling and need to go to work. Keep us posted....Skeet.

01-05-2015, 04:12 PM
Welcome to the site. You'll meet lots of good people here and I encourage you to attend a spring or fall camp near you. You'll meet people from all over the country at these camps . Like they said start out slow cause once you get going you'll figure out what works best for and your style , your lakes etc. It can as cheap or as expensive as you want, the fish can't tell the difference between a kayak or a Ranger, a cane pole or a $300 rod & reel . Just have fun it's not about what you catch it's about who you are with and who you meet Good luck

01-06-2015, 12:58 AM
Starting slow seems like good advice. I'll stick with my current stuff and add to it slowly.

You describe what I'm talking about regarding rods better than I do! So I know you understand.

Of my current tackle, my fav crappie rod is a Bill Dance crappie stick. My lightest Shimano FX combo handles well, but it's not as sensitive. The Bill Dance combo was $65, if I recall, which seems a bit much, but it feels great in my hands. I need to see if I can find others with similar action for less $$$.

So curious, what do your preferred rods cost? The B&M for instance?


01-06-2015, 12:35 PM
Welcome to the site. I am new myself but have been speck fishing for years. Being a member here will really help sharpen your skills so you are ahead already. Different types of rods will be needed for different situations, as you can tell. I have many but it's been a multi-year process. I moved from the telescope cane poles to tightlining (pushing in front of the boat) 14-16 foot rods. Now I am learning to long line out the back of the boat(different set up). Some of the same equipment can be used for different techniques so don't do like it did and rush into it an overspend. The $65 you spent on a combo is good. I have rods(BPS, B'N'M) that cost $60+. I spent $40 on the 14' Berkley C-series Crappie Pro Spinning Rod at FISHUSA. It has a white tip and light power. Use the spinning reels you already have if you can. The line I use is 6#mono hi-vis yellow from Vicious. Some prefer clear line. I just use a clear leader.
I hope this helps!

01-07-2015, 12:26 PM
Very interesting reply. Thanks for the details!

I'm interested in the trolling methods, but plan to start off slowly. I'm thinking I should start with finding drop offs and brush piles where the fish tend to be and then dropping mini jigs down on them.

Then once I feel I've got that figured out, I'll slowly start adding more advanced methods. I hope to meet more experienced fishermen and see some of their methods. That always fast-forwards the learning process!

Thanks for the rod advice. I might try to get one or two of those that you mention, if I can find a good deal.

Trying something new is a thrill of it's own. I'm enjoying this already, and I haven't even hit the lake yet! :biggrin


01-07-2015, 01:15 PM
Here's a little trick for you to try :

Crappie Pappy Article (http://www.crappie.com/articles/crappiepappy.htm)

Works on brushpiles as well as any other cover/structure types mentioned in the article.

... cp :kewl

01-08-2015, 03:03 AM
Very nice, clear descriptive article! Thanks for that!
And thank you Crappie Pappy!


01-08-2015, 08:06 AM
While you shop, try to handle a St. Croix 6 6 l f , A one piece rod with a blue label. It's about $100 more or less but has a wonderful action and is very light. I'm still on the fence about spending that much for a rod but a man has to dream.

01-08-2015, 09:01 PM
While you shop, try to handle a St. Croix 6 6 l f , A one piece rod with a blue label. It's about $100 more or less but has a wonderful action and is very light. I'm still on the fence about spending that much for a rod but a man has to dream.

Most of my light tackle salt water jigging rods are G. Loomis ($$$) with a couple of BPS Extremes thrown in. ($100). Without a doubt, they catch me more fish in the specific type of fishing I specialize in. So I understand that a good rod can be expensive.

But I'm not ready to drop that on a crappie rod quite yet, unless I know it will increase my catch significantly, or greatly increase my enjoyment of the process.

But out that being said, I'm definitely going to check the St. Croix out on my next trip to Bass Pro. Thanks for the tip!


Fish on Line
01-09-2015, 11:38 AM
A lot of the small UL stuff was Built for Ice Fishing. Crappie are a Fish that spook very Easily. The deeper the water under the Boat tends to spook them less, Hense, Longer Poles catch better in shallower water. For Shooting Docks something like a Ugley Stick, Light action about 6 foot will shoot a tiny Jig almost 20 feet under where most Anglers never put a Jig. Most all my Poles are 11 ft and I Painted the Tips with Florescent Orange, Some People see the Greenish yellow better. Coloring the Tips help see light Bites when using Pole Holders

01-12-2015, 10:05 AM
That is interesting and makes a lot of sense.

I'm planning on using my 10', 7/8 wt. fly rods in the spring. They are nice, fast-action graphite, and should work well for crappie. Trying to decide on whether to keep the fly reel, or swap to a spinning reel.

Thanks for the insight.


Fish on Line
01-12-2015, 03:18 PM
Tony, A Lot of Crappie Combos have a small level wind Reel that will make you want to take a Hammer to!!! The space between the spool and the side plate is too large and the line wraps around the spool shaft kinking the line. You might have to take it apart a dozen times every time you use it. Think about not seeing the biggest fish of the day pulling on your Jig. Also the Clicker anti reverse will not work correctly letting good fish off the line

01-12-2015, 04:25 PM
Welcome to the site!

Seems you have a lot of nice gear and would think you have enough to find out how you want to fish for crappie. I say that because personally in spring I long line troll 98% of the time. I like this because I catch as many as anyone and usually nice size as well. The big plus for me is with my physical body not being what it use to be, is a very comfortable way to do this and I have as much fun (and relax more than most) as anyone.
Then in summer I usually fish deeper water and brush so just tight line, but want to try some crank baits at some point. Just this lake has so much wood I am not sure a crank is a great option for here.

01-12-2015, 11:34 PM
you guys have me chomping at the bitt, with all of these methods! THAT is why I'm so interested in crappie fishing. It seems that there are MANY methods and techniques to explore and learn.

A few years ago, I pulled a tiny curly tail jig behind a rowboat and caught the most crappie I'd ever caught in my life. It was purely accidental, I was just trying to get to the next spot, and forgot to reel in. BAM! Fish on! So I repeated it, and later I pulled two jigs for double the catch. They weren't big, but it was new to me and a real blast.

I'm really going to enjoy this learning process!