Matt Johnson Outdoors
Deadsticking for Crappies
By: Matt Johnson

When ice fishing for crappies
it seems  that  there  are a lot
of things that are  needed  to
complete a catch sometimes.
Increasing  your  odds  is the
name of the game and doing
what it  takes to  catch fish is
how it’s done.   Deadsticking
is   another   way    you  can
increase  your catch  on  the
ice this winter.

Deadsticking basically consists of a stationary rod, either in a
rod holder or across a bucket or whatever way you want. This
is meant to keep a presentation at a certain level and without
action from the fisherman. The action of a deadstick is all
dependent on the bait or lure. Minor adjustments here or there
are added, like a little jiggle of the rod to keep things moving,

Deadsticking has a few major roles:
•        It allows you to use two different presentations
•        It draws in fish when using a lively minnow
•        It allows you to fish at different depths at the same time   
covering more of the water column
•        It often times weeds out the bigger fish and triggers
them to strike
•        It can be your only means of success on a negative day
•        And, it doubles your odds when you are trying to
pinpoint the proper presentation

There are more characteristics of deadsticking but I feel those
are the most important.

So, here they are in detail...

It Allows You to Use Two Different Presentations

Using two different presentations allow you to determine what
the fish want faster and more efficiently. When using both
maggots and minnows, it tells you what fish prefer more and
which ones are not worth using. If noticing that minnows are
working but you can't buy a crappie on maggots, then you can
switch both lines to minnows and visa versa.

It Draws in Fish When Using a Lively Minnow

This can be one of the most important characteristics. So
many times have I been fishing to only have one or two fish
show up and than leave, but by dropping down a minnow on a
deadstick, it keeps those fish there and also draws fish in to
see what all the commotion is about both with the minnow and
the surrounding fish. Fish will stay as long as they have food.
How many times have you been fishing a school of crappies
and after you catch a fish the school moves on before you can
unhook the crappie and drop your jig back down? I know it
has happened to me numerous times, but by dropping a
minnow down on a deadstick you will notice that some of
those schooling crappies will stick around, maybe not to feed
on the minnow, but because they feel food is still in the area.
It works.

It Allows You to Fish at Different Depths at the
Same Time Covering More of the Water Column

Finding out what depth the fish are coming through at can be
difficult in deeper water. If you are fishing at the wrong depth
than sometimes the fish won't even come into your area if they
are not inline with the jig. By deadsticking a minnow or
maggots, you can utilize more of the water column and stay
inline with those suspended crappies, not to mention those
crappies roaming the bottom too.

It Often Times Weeds Out the Bigger Fish and
Triggers Them to Strike

I've noticed this to be the case for crappies on several
occasions. The larger crappies pass up the jig and maggots
and engulf the deadsticked minnow on a plain hook. Often
times the more aggressive crappies will take the minnow and
they are typically the first ones you catch, which are also
some of the biggest. Larger crappies often times want a piece
of meat and a struggling minnow is an easy meal.

It Can be Your Only Means of Success on a
Negative Day

If you can understand deadsticking and find a system that
works, it can really improve your catch on negative days. On
those negative days, spooky crappies dart at the sign of
anything that moves too fast, looks to fake, or isn't sitting still
right in their face. By deadsticking a small 1/64 or even 1/200
oz jig with a single maggot or even a small finesse plastic, you
can accumulate a nice catch even on those tough, seemingly
impossible days. Let the fish have a starring contest with your
jig and let the maggot or tiny plastic do the work. Although you
might think the plastic or maggot isn't moving, it is. The fish
know that and those microscopic movements are what those
crappies pick up because they are accustom to feeding on
zooplankton and micro-organisms ten times (or more) smaller
then your jig during the winter. Slowly will the crappie move
towards the jig and with a split-second rake of the gills the jig
is inhaled. The art of keeping the jig as motionless as possible
can really help on those days when nothing else works.

And, it Doubles Your Odds When You are Trying to
Pinpoint the Proper Presentation

Doubling your odds, now who wouldn't want that? Increasing
your odds is the name of the game, and by deadsticking you
are doing what it takes to catch fish and improve on a day of

Try deadsticking for crappies next time you are on the lake if
you haven't already. You might be surprised.
Matt Johnson Outdoors
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