There are few things more important than having a good pole, or set of poles, that does a good job of handling the baits, allowing a good hookset and are comfortable to use. Selecting the right poles for your crappie fishing can be confusing with all of the choices available. The following are some guidelines along with specific examples of poles available from our new magazine sponsor, BnM Poles.
Ask yourself, “What is the purpose of the pole?” This will determine many of your choices when picking the characteristics you must have. One of your first picks is pole length.
8 to 10-foot: Good for an all-around vertical jigging pole. The shorter pole gives better control than longer models plus it will be lighter to hold. Short is the key when fishing brushy areas with low, overhanging limbs.
Example: the BnM Duckworth Float & Fly Rod is outstanding for doubling as an 8-foot jigging pole and a top quality spinning rod for light baits or tossing minnows.
10 to 12-foot: Good all-purpose slow trolling length. They are also a good length for a combination slow-troll and vertical jigging pole. Longer jigging poles are good in open water areas around snags or in grassy/lily pad areas. Buck’s Graphite Jig Pole, BGJP, has been a standard for many years.
13 to 14-foot: Longer poles become important when water is clear, you’re fishing for shallow fish and/or you speed up your presentation.
Clear and shallow water are conditions when you will spook fish. The further you get baits away from your boat the better your chances of them seeing your baits before they see or feel your boat.
Faster trolling situations with the poles in front are needed to keep line away from your trolling motor prop.
15 to 20-foot: For the same reasons as mentioned above, long poles in clear water will catch more fish. The Reelfoot Classic will likely be won with a team using poles in this length range. The BnM Slo-Troller series is tops in the 10 to 20-foot class.
Power trolling big 5-ounce sinkers with jigs or crankbaits is another reason to select extra long poles, usually 16 foot models. Pro Staff Trolling Rods were developed to pro staff specifications for the right blend of strength and tip action.
Standard reel-forward models have been around for decades. They are ideal for pole holders and the pole can double for vertical jigging.
New fly-rod type reel placement at the end of the handle is ideal for vertical jigging. First, it gives good balance with your hand resting in front of the reel. A balanced rod isn’t pulling on your wrist so you’ll be less fatigued at the end of the day. Also, balance gives better sensitivity so you you’ll feel more bites. The reel placement also allows you non-pole hand better control of the line. Buck’s Best Ultralight and the Capps & Coleman All-Purpose/ Wading Rods are two good examples.
Graphite or Fiberglass
Fiberglass is tougher and less expensive. It’s good for using in pole holders and can help keep baits still on a windy day. The West Point Crappie Poles are quality glass poles.
Graphite is the standard for most applications. It’s more sensitive and lightweight so is perfect for vertical jigging. It’s also good for trolling because you can see light bites. They can be better crafted for specific tip and butt strength so special purpose poles can be made.
You don’t want the same pole for jigging a 1/32-ounce jig and pushing a crankbait. Your jigging pole needs to be light with a decent backbone and very sensitive tip.
A Bucks Brush Cutter is a heavy duty jigging pole that’s versatile but works best in heavy brush with a jig or slip-cork and minnow. Its strong build lets you to quickly hoss a fish out of the cover.
Your trolling poles should match your technique. Choose a typical moderate strength pole for slow trolling but for heavy sinkers and power trolling you’ll need a much heavier backbone for the load.
Other Options and Tips
Snake eye wire line guides will work if you only use heavy weights but raised line guides are the best way to go. Wet line on a pole blank creates friction making it difficult to get a tiny jig to pull the line off the pole. Raised line guides reduce this problem by keeping the line off of the pole.
Cork handles feel good, are slightly more sensitive but will get slick in rain or with fish slime. EVA foam handles are excellent for rod holders and they won’t get slick with rain or slime.
A hook holder near the handle is nice for quickly getting the jig ready for travel without having to hook it in a line guide. If you do place a hook on a line guide, be sure to put it on the foot and not in the eye itself.
A fixed reel seat is more solid. The sliding rigs give you more versatility on reel placement but can be a pain to keep in place.
You can get poles that collapse or ones that come apart. The collapsible are good for the really long rods because it makes storage easier and much quicker. The 2, 3 and 4-piece rods keep seem to be a little more solid in design with better line guides. Both have advantages and disadvantages so select the type that fits your needs.
One of BnM’s pro staff teams, Ronnie Capps and Steve Coleman, have made their mark on competitive crappie fishing for many years and continue to lead the way. They have won six Classics. They have combined with BnM to design some specialty poles to help take fishing to another level by providing the perfect tool for the job. Just as a carpenter needs the correct saw and power hammer to do his job right, fishermen need the right tools for maximum performance.
The Capps & Coleman Series Trolling Rod was designed by them with a few special characteristics. The rods offer a lighter action that detects the smallest of bites and a tip action that helps maintain the proper jig/minnow performance.
It has an enlarged bell-shaped handle allowing minute tip-to-water adjustments by pushing the handle further into the rod holder. Also, an offset reel seat gives easy removal from a pole holder.
First, decide what you need in a rod based upon your technique. For example, if you want to push crankbaits you’ll probably want a heavy backbone, 14 or 16 foot pole. Having your basic needs picked, you can then look to see what is available. Then you can decide which price level you want.
Never pick a pole that won’t do the job no matter what the price may be. You’ll be better off waiting until you can save your money to get the right one or the set you need.
We’re fortunate. Today’s poles are the best ever at reasonable prices due to extreme competition. Forty dollars will get you an excellent pole and you can get good ones for less. Higher dollar poles get you specific characteristics that you need.