May 27, 2015
Savvy crappie anglers are all aglow about the latest lure craze. Lure manufacturers have tinkered with glow-in-the-dark baits and attractants throughout the years, but the concept never seemed to gain much momentum until touring pros and guides started revealing their successes with glow lures and jigheads.
Tournament successes with glow lures have converted six-time national crappie champion Ronnie Capps into a glow advocate. "I let the fish tell me that a long time ago," he says. "I've been fishing with nothing but glow the last five or six years."
Glow lures are available in a range of colors. Dr. Keith Jones, Berkley's director of fish research, thinks crappie can discern certain glow hues better than others. "Crappies are like bass and bluegill in that they have a truncated cone spectrum," he says. "Our eyes have cone cells that detect red, blue, and green, but they have cone cells that detect only red and green, so their visual sensitivity in the blue and violet ends of the spectrum is weak. They are far better at discriminating reds, greens, and chartreuse than they are blues, purples, and violets. So as long as the wavelength a lure releases lies within the individual spectrum of a crappie (red, green, and yellow), then the fish should be able to see it when everything else would be dark."
White glow lures also are easier for crappies to discern in low-light conditions. "White reflects a broad spectrum of wavelengths which with our eyes translates to white; but I'm not sure what that translates to the fish," Jones says. "Crappies can see white and it would be easily distinguishable from objects that have a true color."
Glow baits can be found in the tackle boxes of the nation's top crappie tournament competitors and fishing guides. Here's what's inside.
Bobby Garland Mo' Glo Series
South Carolina pro Whitey Outlaw is credited with helping the lure company design its line of glow lures and jigheads. "They work everywhere in the U.S.," he says. "They are something different that the fish can see." The tournament veteran's favorite glow color is the Outlaw Special, a combination of lime with chartreuse, which he likes to use in clear water during low-light situations. He opts for the 3-inch Bobby Garland Slab Slay'R and Stroll'R in glow colors and attaches the soft plastics to the Mo' Glo jigheads.
Outlaw says the Mo' Glo lures helped him and his partner win the 2010 Crappiemasters Alabama State Championship on the Alabama River. "We practiced a couple of days with different colors and the day before the tournament we put a glow jig on and the fishing unbelievably picked up in numbers."
Berkley Chroma-Glow Crappie Nibbles
Since retiring from the Bassmaster tournament trail, Ken Cook has been crappie fishing and has discovered the virtues of the glow concept. While fishing on a dirty-water Oklahoma lake in the spring, he caught some crappies on a 3-inch Berkley PowerBait Ripple Shad. "These fish were deep," he says. "They were done spawning and were grouped in depths of about 15 to 25 feet."
Since he knew the water would be dark at that depth, Cook enhanced his lure with a white Berkley Chroma-Glow Nibble. The move paid off as he caught several slabs with the addition of the glow attractant. "I think it made a difference in fishing that deep, dark water," he says.
Southern Pro Capps & Coleman Glow Tubes
This new line of glow baits produced victories for Ronnie Capps and Steve Coleman at the two-day Crappie USA Mississippi Super Event and the one-day Crappiemasters tournament at Reelfoot Lake.
The glow tubes work best for Capps in dirty water conditions, but he's caught crappies on these lures in clear water at Reelfoot Lake during March and April before the vegetation started growing. "We were casting in water that was 11„2 to 2 feet deep and did really well with them," he says.
Southern Pro offers 11„2- and 2-inch glow tubes in 26 colors with most of the lures containing a dash of chartreuse. Capps has a lot of confidence in chartreuse.
Charlie Brewer's Slider Company
Three glow hues (white/pink, glow, and black/glow tail) are available on the 1- and 11„2-inch Charlie Brewer Slider Grubs and Charlie Bee. The Whirly Bee also comes in a black glow-tail hue.
"During the day, the sun charges the glow tail, so when you fish deeper where it's darker, the tail glows and at times that attracts fish," says Charlie Brewer Jr. "It offers a different type of attractant."
Slider grub fans also use the glow version at night to help crappies better see the offering. "A lot of anglers charge the lure using a flashlight, fish it for a while until the glow dies, then recharge."
Northland Tackle Fire-Ball Jigs
Minnesota guide Brian Brosdahl selects a glo-rainbow 1/16-ounce Fire-Ball Jig tipped with a minnow or a piece of nightcrawler to catch crappies from weeds in clear-water lakes. "I take a half of a crawler and fold it in half and put it on the jig," says Brosdahl, whose clients catch numerous fish in early summer on the glow-jig-and-worm combo. "The glow Fire-Ball gets their attention as it falls in the weeds. The crappies are belly to the bottom and come up to eat it. We use them under slipbobbers with a barrel swivel about 2 feet above the jig."
Lindy XChange glow Jigs and More
When fishing the stained to murky waters of Lake Eufaula, Oklahoma, guide Barry Morrow relies on glow jigs and soft plastics. He frequently fishes with a double rig consisting of a standard colored soft plastic on a Lindy XChange System jighead or standard Lindy Jig in a glow hue, and something like a Lindy Little Nipper in glow or a Fuzz-E-Grub. "If I am using the Fuzz-E-Grub on the bottom of my rig, I go with a glow jig on top" he says.
The XChange jigs, which allow instant changes of jighead sizes and color without retying, are available in six glow colors. Morrow's favorite glow tints are Patriot (white, blue, and pink) and Bubblegum (pink, white, and orange). The Lindy Jig comes in 4 glow colors: glow, pink-glow, blue-glow, and green-chartreuse glow. Little Nippers, hand-tied with feather tails, are available in chartreuse glow and pink glow.
Yum Vibra King Tube
A combination of a Lindy glow XChange jig head and a glow Yum Vibra King Tube works well for Oklahoma guide Todd Huckabee whenever he encounters green water. "I use those any time the water has a green tint because when the water is that color the shad almost have an iridescent glow," he says. "If the water is clear, the shad have a silver color. The glow jig really seems to shine when there are shad fry around trees."
Huckabee always uses XChange glow heads with non-glow soft plastics in muddy water (3 inches or less of visibility) and on cloudy, windy days in clearer water.
Blakemore Roadrunner Walleye Glow Heads
The Roadrunner glow head has been a key to Coy Sipes' success in national crappie tournaments. The Alabama guide and touring pro trolls shallow murky water with double rigs that include a 1/4-ounce Road Runner glow head with a glow or standard color plastic body tipped with a minnow. He sets a minnow on a hook about 2 to 3 feet above the Road Runner.
Pink and chartreuse glow Roadrunner heads trolled 3 feet deep in the weeds at Grenada Lake produced a fifth-place finish for Coy and Gilford Sipes in the 2010 Crappiemasters Mississippi State Championship. "All of the fish were coming off the bottom lure (the glow rig)," Coy says.
John Neporadny Jr., Lake Ozark, Missouri, is a veteran outdoor writer and contributor to In-Fisherman.
6 Arc of Slabs, Northeast Mississippi
Like the Bordeaux region grows world-class wine grapes, the Arc of Slabs is famous for producing giant crappies. Grenada, Sardis, Enid, and Arkabutla — it's a tossup which of these reservoirs might be best for giant white crappies during March and April. Jigging in brush and spider-rigging are the best bets. Wading, too, at times. Contact: Guide John Woods, 731/334-9669; Guide John Harrison, 662/983-5999.
2 Lake Erie, Ohio
The best opportunities are between Port Clinton and Vermilion, says Ohio fishery biologist Travis Hartman. Many marinas and backwaters have excellent crappie fishing in the spring, peaking in late April to early May, and occasionally in the fall. Good open-water spots are East and West harbors and Sandusky Bay. Check connected rivers, too. Lots of fish to 12 inches, with 14-inchers not uncommon, Hartman says. Craig Lewis of Erie Outfitters says Lake Erie is a surprisingly overlooked crappie fishery, considering the numbers of fish caught, up to 18 inches, as big as any in the state. Contact: Erie Outfitters, 440/949-8934; Ohio DNR, dnr.state.oh.us
4 Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee
Guide Billy Blakley says the crappie forecast for the 'Earthquake Lake ' is excellent for 2013, with average fish running 1 to 11„4 pounds and catches up to 23„4 pounds. The lake contains both black and white crappies. From March through May, spider-rig and jig around underwater wood, and jig around exposed cypress stumps. The bite picks up again in the fall. Top-notch lodging and food at Blue Bank Resort. Contact: Guide Billy Blakley at Blue Bank Resort 877/258-3226, bluebankresort.com
7 Weiss Lake, Alabama
The crappie outlook is very good for 2013, reports Alabama district fisheries supervisor Dan Catchings. Samples indicate one, and possibly two, strong year-classes of crappies in 2010 and 2011. Expect good numbers of harvestable-size fish from the 2010 spawn this spring, with the 2011 year-class contributing to the fishing in mid- to late 2013. Fishing picks up in February as crappies move shallow. March through early May is best, with April being the peak. Contact: Guide Richard Green, 859/983-0673, or book through Little River Marina and Lodge (256/779-6461); Guide Mark Collins, markcollinsguideservice.com
8 Kentucky Lake, Kentucky / Tennessee
Anglers look forward to the 'Crappie Capital ' living up to its name in 2013, says guide Steve McCadams. Expect numbers of quality fish with a shot at slabs over 2 pounds. While action during the spawn in late March into April is outstanding, don't overlook May and June, when stable lake levels and weather patterns find crappies concentrating around fish attractors at midrange depths, he says. Contact: Guide Steve McCadams, stevemccadams.com
9 Kerr (Buggs Island) Reservoir, Virginia/North Carolina
Numbers of crappies from 1 to 13„4 pounds with a chance for 2- to 3-pounders. Once the spider-rigging bite wanes in shallower creek channels by April, action turns to jigging deeper brushpiles. Contact: Guide Bud Haynes, 434/374-0308; Guide Keith Wray, 434/635-0207; Bobcats Bait and Tackle, 434/374-8381.
3 Lake Eufaula, Oklahoma
This shallow reservoir boasts numbers of crappies in the 2- to 3-pound range, with 37-fish limits common. In spring, the action is shallow, doodlesocking flooded buckbrush in high water, or working rocky banks and brush cover in low water, says guide Todd Huckabee. Crappies move to deeper brush later in spring. Contact: Guide Todd Huckabee, toddhuckabee.net
; Guide Barry Morrow, barrymro.com
; Blue Heron Bait and Tackle, 918/334-5528.
5 Lake Fork, Texas
Numbers of slabs from 11„4 to 21„2 pounds tend to get overlooked in this lake famous for lunker bass. Mid-May through June is guide Terri Moon's favorite time for crappies, when the fish head to brushpiles and bridge abutments in 20 to 24 feet of water. Pitching Fork Tackle's Live Baby Shads on 1/16-ounce jigs is a top option. Ivan Martin and Rick Loomis also guide clients to Fork's crappies in November and December, when fish are on points and in deeper brush. Contact: Guide Terri Moon, 903/383-7773; Guide Ivan Martin, 918/260-7743; Guide Rick Loomis, rickloomis.com
; Lake Fork Marina for lodging, food, and tackle, lakeforkmarina.com
1 Lake of the Woods, Ontario
The Woods is top-notch for black crappies to 16 inches, says In-Fisherman contributor Jeff Gustafson. Many crappies on this massive water have never seen lures, so once you find them, the numbers and quality are second to none, he says. Action starts in mid-May, with fish moving to shallow areas with cover. After spawning in early June, target them on weedflats in 6 to 10 feet of water. Float-and-jig combinations excel. Also try small suspending jerkbaits and swimming marabou jigs. Contact: Guide Dave Bennett, davebennettoutdoors.com
, 807/466-2140; Guide Jamie Bruce, brucescanadianangling.com
10 St. Johns River, Florida
The stretch of the St. Johns River south of Lake George offers outstanding fishing. Crappies from 2 to 3 pounds are caught regularly, with average catches well over a pound. This was the scene of an In-Fisherman television episode that airs this spring. Weedflats hold fish that can't resist tubes fished under a float. Or troll channel edges using jigs or minnows. Contact: Lodging at Castaways on the River, 352/759-4522, castawaysontheriver.com
; Guide Steve Niemoeller, 386/846-2861, cflfishing.com