Vertical Jigging

Video best line for vertical jigging crappie

You can vertical jig to gain an advantage to catch crappie you wouldn’t catch with other methods. Some people like jigging because they get to feel the thump that the crappie makes during the strike.

Vertical Jigging is a handy technique when fishing stumps, brush piles and other deep structures that you can’t troll through. You can also work your baits with different presentations that would be hard without a long rod. One of the drawbacks is you are more likely to get tangled or stick your jig into a tree. In this article, we are going to cover what you need to know about vertical jigging.

Rod and Reel Selection

When jigging for crappie a basic cane pole will do the job however, standardized jigging rods with reel seats have been developed. I like an 8 -12 feet rod for this technique in an ultralight to medium light. Casting and spin-cast reels work well for jigging because you are not casting long distances usually. Some vertical jig with 2 poles (one in each hand ) I recommend one pole for beginners.

Jig/hook selection and setup.

When I vertical jig I start off with a 1/16 ounce jig. If I want my bait at a certain depth faster I’ll switch to a 18 ounce jig. On the opposite side of that, when I want my jig to fall slower I’ll switch to a 1/32 or 1/64 ounce jig. To increase your hook up percentage some anglers bend out the hook tip with a pair of pliers just past the lead part of the jig. Be careful not to bend it too much, just experiment a little at a time.

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To cover more of a depth range you may want to try a double jig rig. Leave around 18 inches between your jigs. The leader length needs to be about 6-12” inches in length on the upper jig. You may also rig the second jig with a different bait to see if the crappie will bite it better.

Line selection

Clear 6lb monofilament is my go-to size for fishing line. Crappie fishing line also comes in Hi-viz and Camo varieties besides the clear. Hi-vis is great if you can’t see well or the crappie doesn’t take the bait hard. Braided line also works well when jigging for crappie while giving the advantage of a smaller diameter for the lb test.

If you’re not getting the number of bites you want to consider the following:

  1. Can I downsize the size line I’m using?
  2. Could I switch to a clear line?

Bait Selection

When you are choosing your bait you need to think about the action that it’s going to make during your presentation. With a lively minnow, it will make a lot of action on its own, requiring less movement. Tubes seem to have really good action working them up and down as compared to an artificial shad or grub bait where you can move it sideways to create a swimming action.


Finding the right depth for crappie can be a challenge when jigging. The most popular method when not using a bobber is the countdown method. With this method, you estimate what depth you’re fishing at by counting the number of seconds the line comes off your reel after casting. For example, a 1/16 ounce jig will fall around 1 ft per second. If you’re wanting to fish 15ft deep you would wait 15 seconds before stopping the line.

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You can use your rod to measure the line before dropping it in the water. Take into account the amount of water between your rod tip and the top of the water when you are estimating what depth you’re fishing at. Some people drop the bait down until it hits bottom then reel up until they get a bite. I’ve also seen others put a rubber band on their spinning reel only allowing the line to dispense at a certain amount.

Some days you will find that crappie wants more action than others when making your presentation. When the bite is tough, slow down your presentation.

5 Presentations for Vertical Jigging

  1. Lifting and dropping: After your bait is in the strike zone you lift your rod tip around 2 feet holding for a few seconds then dropping back to the same depth as before.
  2. Swimming the jig: Once you get to your desired depth you start moving the bait sideways and around. This gets your bait looking natural and generating vibrations for the crappie’s lateral line.
  3. Pendulum: Instead of dropping your bait straight down you can pitch it out creating a pendulum motion. This is when you cast your lure out letting the bait swing into the cover from the side.
  4. Bumping Cover: You bump your jig or bait against stumps or parts of the brush pile trying to get the crappie to bite. Do take care to not get tangled using this technique.
  5. Dead sticking: It seems to work well for me. Just drop the bait down and hold as still as possible. Some of the videos you see online of crappie sucking minnows in, are being still.
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Boat Control

The key to good boat control when vertical jigging is slipping up on the crappie without them knowing you’re there. After finding them on a fish finder, turn your engine off assuming you are at a distance from them, then lower your troller motor. Use your troller motor to slip up without bumping the boat into the cover. Throw a buoy marker out not directly on the cover but as a reference point. If you have a short distance between structures that hold crappie you can also use the troller motor to move from place to place (short distances).

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>