By Dan Johnson

Jigs rank high among the deadliest crappie lures around. Day in and day out, few presentations hold a candle to these lethal little chunks of lead and tungsten. But even jigs are far from no-brainers, and savvy panfish fans continually tweak their tactics to consistently stretch their strings on hungry slabs.

With that in mind, here are two of my favorite rigs for jigging up crappies when other anglers can’t.

1. Fixed Float Finesse
When skittish spring crappies hold near the surface, you need a long-casting rig with a subtle splashdown. The solution? Suspend a tiny ice fishing jig like a Lindy Frostee teardrop or horizontal-hanging Tungsten Toad anywhere from 18 inches to 2 feet below a 2- to 3-1/8-inch Thill Mini Shy Bite fixed float.

The float provides ample ballast for long casts on a 6½-foot spinning rod stoked with supple, 4- to 6-lb monofilament line. Yet, the slender balsa design lands like a feather to avoid spooking wary crappies. It’s also a great strike indicator.

Tip the jig with a waxworm or small minnow and toss the setup well beyond schooling fish. Move the rig back through the fish with a slow, sweep-pause retrieve that imparts a tantalizing rise-and-flutter action to the jig.

2. Slip Jigging
When crappies tuck tight to dock posts, brush or other gnarly cover, fixed-float rigs can be tough to throw into the strike zone without snagging. Banish hang-ups and catch more crappies by switching to a small slip float like Thill’s compact Ice ‘N Fly.

The miniature slip float is easier to drop close to cover, and a long rod in the 12- to 14-foot range simplifies dipping a jig in close-quarters sweet spots.

Tie a small Lindy Little Nipper, Fuzz-E-Grub or Watsit Jig to the business end of the line and set your float stop so the jig dances just above the level of the fish. You can either fish the jig as is or tip it with a waxworm or small minnow.