By Rebecca Vito


Looking over the edge of the boat and seeing an entire school of crappies just chilling in and around a big ol’ tree stump is a great way to get the blood pumping. In that far too brief period of time each spring, you can just drop a jig down and keep pulling fish to the boat. It is one of my favorite times of the year to fish for crappie in Southern Ontario. But what if you are fishing from shore?

Shore-fishing for crappie is a must when visiting small ponds and lakes, but it can be a great alternative to dragging the boat out for day on the water. When I began shore-fishing for crappie my go-to technique was always a 1/32oz jighead with a curly-tail grub or a small tube. I would cast out and retrieve as slowly as possible, trying to let the lure fall into the weeds where the crappies were suspending, but also trying to prevent snagging the weeds. This method worked fairly well and I was able to land several crappies on each outing.

Over time, changes have been made to this technique, including a switch to the Berkley Micro Power Nymph that outfishes any other lure I have ever tossed for crappie, yet I found I needed something different. There are days when the bite is so slow that it is impossible to keep the jig within the strike zone long enough to get a bite – that’s when I turn to a slip-float.

When fishing for crappie from shore, nothing works better than a slip-float with your favorite lure tied beneath it. The advantage of using a slip-float is that you can keep your lure within the strike zone for an extended period of time, even when it is windy. This allows those finicky fish, like the ones I always seem to encounter, the time they need to take the bait. Slip-floats are cheap, easy to use, and a great technique on any conventional fishing rod.

To rig a slip-float all you need is to:

1. Gather the supplies – a stopper, a bead, a float, some slip-shot, your lure


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 2. Tie on the stopper – slide the plastic tube up the line, push the string off the tube, tighten the string, clip the ends, and remove the plastic tube

3. Put on the bead, the float, and a split-shot (I experiment to see what weight will have my float sit properly)

4. Tie on a lure


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While float placement is important, you are able to adjust it while fishing (by sliding the stopper up and down your line) so pick a length and start casting. Keep in mind that crappie feed upwards, so a float placement that allows your lure to rest just above the fish is your best bet. The float will help if you need to make a long cast to reach the crappies, but just as often they will be close to shore and you can pitch the float out there.

I have three basic retrieves depending on the situation. If it is windy, or there is a good current, I will take a cast and let the float drift along, occasionally twitching my line to give the lure some added movement. When the air and water are still I will let the float sit for a period of time, then drag it in a little and let it sit again. I will do this all the way back to shore. Giving the line an occasional pop and letting everything settle is a great way to provoke strikes. The last retrieve is continuous reeling – cast it out and gently reel it back in.

When the float moves, do not set the hook like you are catching an aggressive smallmouth bass. Instead, gently sweep your rod to the side and feel for weight. Crappies are known as paper-mouths for a reason, and an aggressive hook-set will lose you more fish than it will catch you. By using a gentle sweep and feeling for the weight, you will improve you hook-up percentage, and if the fish isn’t hooked on the first sweep, the lure movement will often cause them to commit and take your lure.

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Recently, my fishing partner and I decided to compare the slip-float method with our traditional jig method. It was a breezy evening at one of our favorite ponds and I decided to be the slip-float tester, with a power nymph on a light jig head getting tied on beneath my float. While we both caught crappie, my slip-float rig proved to be far more efficient. I took fewer casts to land the same amount of fish, and when the wind kicked up, I landed several fish to each one he caught without the slip-float. We ended up landing over 100 crappies – all caught while fishing from shore.

Shore-fishing is an extremely effective way to catch crappie, and using a slip-float will make it easier for you target the fish and detect those lighter bites. Remember, the key to anything in fishing is to have patience and enjoy your time on the water. If you do that, the crappie will be sure to follow.


Written by:
Rebecca Vito
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Please leave a comment below:
  1. Thanks Rebecca went and used this rig today ended up catching a few white bass gonna start using this rig for now on. Gracias.

  2. milkshake78 says:
    Posted June 29, 2013 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Rebecca for the crappie tips,I love catching them.

  3. Great article Rebecca, thank you for sharing with us! We look forward to more articles in the future.

  4. Rebecca, thanks for the heads up to Crappie Crazy. Great post. I was wondering how you rigged your slip float set up. Now I know! Thanks, again.

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