By Michael Ernst
Crappie and other panfish fishing can be much overlooked as we get more experienced and pursue bass, striper, walleye, etc. But let me tell you, once you get into ultralight kayak fishing, there isn't much more fun than catching a pile of crappie or bluegill on a super ultralight rig.
When I heard the term ultralight growing up, in my head popped a 5-foot flimsy rod spooled with 6-pound test, maybe 4-pound if I was feeling risky. Now my go-to rig to chase those small little fighters is a 7-foot ultralight rod with a little bit of backbone and a nice sensitive, flimsy tip. On the rod I have a 1000 series spinning reel spooled with 2-pound mono.
Fishing small 1/64-ounce jigs such as the Trout Magnet without any weight or with a float can be done effectively with this rig. People always try to tell me that 4-pound mono is plenty small. They assume that the reason to use a line as small as 2-pound is the lack of visibility due to the small diameter, and in that 4- or 6-pound is small enough.
The biggest reason 2-pound test line is so effective, however, is the jig falls and works in almost a completely natural way. There is not near the resistance that a heavier line will have, even 4 -pound. Another bonus is casting a tiny jig without any extra weight a good distance can be accomplished with such a light line.
My go-to technique when chasing crappie or bull bluegills is to cast a 1/64 oz Trout Magnet jig without any weight. Sometimes I have to count down for up to 20 seconds to get the lure to the right depth. But that slow fall is irresistible to the target and often your jig won't make it to the bottom without being eaten!
When searching for the panfish, I will also put another jig under a float, with the float set to the right depth where the fish are hollding. I toss the rod in a rear rod holder and let it drag behind my kayak about 50 feet. You would be surprised how many fish that second line will catch!
I guarantee you will increase your catch rate if you drop to 2-pound-test on your ultralight setups. But remember, you will need a high quality reel with a good drag for when that big bass sucks in that tiny jig!