I admit it. I know pushers. Yes, I know pushers get a bad rap, but these pushers aren’t pushing drugs instead they are pushing crankbaits and more specifically lipless crankbaits.
It all started with a trip out on the water with PICO Lures owner Mitch Glenn. Utilizing several rods, Glenn was able to present different lures at different depths to crappie along with other game fish. One of the lures happened to be a PICO Perch that’s a lipless hard bodied lure.
Surprisingly, it’s not the first time I have used lipless crankbaits to catch crappie. The first time was with planer boards. The technique was simple. All we did was let out about 70 feet of line and attached an Off Shore Tackle planer board (www.offshoretackle.com) to the line then let out some line to keep the planer away from the boat.
Glenn’s technique didn’t require planer boards. Instead he utilized rod holders to keep the lipless crankbait away from the boat and separated to keep the lures from tangling. The t-bar style rod holder was built strong enough to hold rods and large reels with line counters.
“During the summer months the PICO Perch resembles a small one inch or inch and a half bluegill that everything in the lake is feeding on. What makes the PICO Perch a great summertime lure for pushing is its action. It has a really tight wiggling action,” said owner of PICO Lures Mitch Glenn.
He noted that as the water warms up in the summertime everything in the lake starts having a tighter wiggling action. During the summer months, Glenn will move out away from the shoreline brush and fishing soft plastic lure on a jig head one-poling to out on channel ledges and flats where the crappie are feeding on shad. “You find the shad this time of year and you will find the crappie. On Beaver Lake that could be 20- to 25-feet deep,” said Glenn.
Actually, the PICO Perch (www.picolures.com) is part of the family of lures referred to as a countdown and retrieve. Some anglers also call them lipless crankbaits due to the fact this style of crankbait is missing a protruding lip that makes a crankbait dive compared to other crankbaits. The majority of anglers will just cast and reel this style overlooking one of the best ways to catch crappie on it by pushing it.
The key to catching crappie pushing lipless crankbaits in the strike zone is controlling the depth at which the lure is running. “It’s actually a technique that Scott Vance has helped us get down to a science where we are using one of his 3-ounce weights and trolling the lures at a 45 degree angle at 1.4- to 1.5-mph and going through the schools of shad. If you let out about 14 feet of line down at a 45 degree angle it will keep a lipless crankbait at approximately 11 feet deep. Due to boat speed and rod tip action a crappie will absolutely slam a rod tip down when they strike it,” said Glenn.
Lipless crankbaits are available in a wide range of color patterns. Every color from a crawfish imitating to shad patterns to wacky oranges and pinks. As crazy as the color patterns are crappie seem to be extremely finicky when it comes to what they will bite and that seems to change constantly. “I like to mimic the colors of the forage the crappie are feeding on. During the summer months the crappie are feeding on shad and the belly of a Smokey Joe has just the right color, size and action to be effective in off colored or stained water,” said Glenn.
When presenting a lipless crankbait deeper, Glenn will use brighter color patterns when fishing deeper. PICO Lures Pink Glimmer and Geezer Clown are good examples of bright color patterns to push when fishing in stained or deeper water. He fishes the brighter color patterns because brighter colors lose their color density once they get so deep with less light penetration.
His set up for pushing lipless crankbaits was to move the lure far away from the trolling motor. He uses long rods like B’n’M Poles POW-R-Troller that are available in 14-, 16-, or 18-feet in length designed for holding heavier weights up to 3-ounces with little bend in the high-vis tip section. Instead of monofilament or fluorocarbon fishing line, Glenn uses braid with line counter reels so he knows how much line is out. Glenn will have four rods on the port side and four on the starboard side with the front two pushing lures and back two long-lining. It’s a perfect set up so two anglers can watch each side for strikes and quickly grab the rod once they see a crappie strike taking the rod tip down.