reelfoot lake tennessee
reelfoot mallards


Resorts and Lodging



Bait and Tackle

Reelfoot Maps

General Reelfoot

Calendar of

Fishing Information

Hunting Information

Eagle Information

Fishing Report




River Levels

Contact Us









Reelfoot Lake Crappie Fishing Methods
with guide Jackie Van Cleave

   When Crappie fishing with veteran guide Jackie Van Cleave, I got to see just exactly how it's supposed to be done. Being a crappie fishing novice I just figured you go out there and throw out a lure and catch some fish. But, there is a best way to do things and guides always know the little tricks.

   The rig he uses is nothing complicated. Jackie likes to use 13 foot crappie poles with 10 lb. line and a double minnow crappie rig with a slip bobber. The Crappie rigs are available almost anywhere around the lake. He likes to hook his minnows through the eyes, as this will keep them alive longer and make them pull through the water better as he drifts. The 13 foot poles will help you cover more area and it also makes it possible to just lift the fish in the boat, even when fishing the deeper areas of the lake. The 10 lb. line helps you pull loose from the stumps, and you will catch some stumps.

   The slip bobber is something that I wasn't used to. They are also available at most of the area resorts and stores. The bobber slides up and down the line from the crappie rig to the bobber stop. The bobber stop is placed at the depth you want to fish, so it returns to the same depth quickly every time. There are many different kinds of bobber stops, though most of them are basically a piece of string. They are available packaged with the slip bobbers. Jackie also said that you can use a piece of unwaxed dental floss for a bobber stop. Just slide the bobber stop up and down the line to adjust the depth you want to fish.

   Jackie will fish from 6-9 poles in his own homemade trolling rack like in the picture at right. The poles will be angled down until the tips are about 6 inches from the water. This allows you to set the hook quickly without having a bunch of slack line. One word on setting the hook: You don't want to yank it hard like you would a bass, just lift it up smoothly and quickly. The crappie has a paper thin mouth and an easy hook set is all that's needed. Setting the hook hard will only pull it loose.

   The real trick is not the rig used, but the control of the boat and the ability to fish an area efficiently. Tricks of the trade like this one are important, those little techniques make all the difference. He has mounted electric anchors on both the front and back of his boat. By subtly raising and lowering the anchors in conjunction with the use of the trolling motor he can control the exact position and speed of the boat. From my time fishing with him, I would have to conclude that most people drift through prime areas too fast. If you're in em, you got to stay in em. Then as the bites subside, just drift a little more and stop again when they start hitting. The day I fished with Jackie last week, we fished for over 2 hours and probably didn't move a hundred yards the whole time.

   The last thing that really surprised me was how hard it was to detect some of the hits. You've got to watch those bobbers with an eagle eye, because sometimes it may be just a slight sideways movement, and if you hesitate they're gone.

   Try to use some of this information the next time you're out there. You probably won't catch em like Jackie does, but it should help.

   Make sure and read about my Crappie fishing trip with Jackie...on this page

 For more information on Jackie's  guide services: Click Here


     reelfoot home
Page designed by :
All contents except Mallards and David Maass
artwork are property of