John's Journal...


The Importance of Line to Crappie-Fishing Success

Click to enlargeEDITOR'S NOTE: Kent Driscoll of Cordova, Tennessee, has enjoyed fishing for crappie for 30 years. He's fished in crappie tournaments and finishing third in 2000 and fourth in 2002 at the North American Crappie Classic. Each spring and summer, Driscoll fishes the Crappie USA Circuit, Crappiemasters and the new Crappie Angler's Association, using a wide variety of tactics that produce crappie all year long. For the next two weeks, we'll learn how Driscoll finds and catches crappie.

Question: Kent, how important is line to your crappie-fishing success?

Driscoll: Line is critical, because it lets me get my bait to where the crappie are holding, allows me to hook the fish and enables me to get the fish to the boat. One of the most-important aspects of crappie fishing is knowing when and how to adapt your line choice to fishing conditions. Water clarity is the key.

Click to enlargeQuestion: How do you adapt your fishing to the water clarity?

Driscoll: I fish primarily my local lakes in northern Mississippi: Grenada, Arkabutla and Enid. These lakes are all flood-control lakes and are heavily stained. In heavily-stained water, you have the ability to fish high-vis line. Green and gold lines and Mossy Oak's high-vis line perform better for crappie fishermen in these stained-water conditions than clear line does. An advantage of fishing heavily-stained lakes is that you can fish a heavier line than you can in clear lakes. In a clear-water lake, I'll fish from 4- to 8-pound-test Mossy Oak clear line.

However, I fish a stained lake like those located in north Mississippi and Tennessee with 10- to 12-pound-test line. When I can, I like to fish the heavy line because I have the advantage of putting more pressure on the crappie and being able to pull them out of the brush easier and quicker than I can with lighter line. So I really prefer to fish heavier line when I can. However, if I'm going to a clear lake, like Norfork Lake in Arkansas where I finished third in the North American Crappie Classic where the visibility was 10- to 15-feet deep, I had to fish 6-pound-test line. In that tournament, my partner and I missed taking first place by .5 of an ounce. On Norfork Lake, if we'd been fishing in open water, we would have used 4-pound-test line. However, since we were fishing in brush, we had to step up to 6-pound-test line. The other advantage that we had in that tournament was that we were fishing with 16-foot B'n'M trolling rods to get the lines well away from the boat and motor while we trolled. We were spider rigging over deep brush piles.

Click to enlargeQuestion: Kent, how often do you change line?

Driscoll: Once again, that depends on the clarity of the water. When I buy a reel for one of my B'n'M crappie poles, I'll only buy a reel that has two spools. I'll spool Mossy Oak's high-vis line on one spool and Mossy Oak's clear line on the other spool. Once I've got the line on the spools, I put a piece of tape over the tag end of the line, not only to hold the line on the spool, but also to give me message board where I can write. On that piece of tape, I'll write the pound test of the line and the date I've put the line on the spool. I'll put the spools in a small bag that I keep in my tackle box. Then at any one time, I'll have eight to 10 spools of fresh Mossy Oak Fishing Line with me while I'm fishing. This system allows me to change line very quickly, whether I'm fun fishing or fishing in a tournament.

If I'm using Mossy Oak's high-vis line, and I'm not getting any bites when I'm seeing fish on my depth finder, then I want to change my line and fish Mossy Oak's clear line. One of the problems with clear line is that you can't see the bite on the line nearly as easily or as quickly as you can with high-vis line, especially if you get a light bite. Many times, the crappie will be biting so lightly that you won't be able to feel the bite even on a super-sensitive pole. However, with a high-vis line, you can spot the slightest twitch when the crappie sucks in your bait, even if the bass doesn't get hooked. Many times a crappie will simply pick up the bait and move it off to the side. If you have ahighly-visible line, you can see that line move away from its normal track through the water. But, if you're in very-clear water, you have to use clear line and depend mostly on your ability to feel the bite rather than see the bite. Fishing in clear water with clear line is so difficult that I've learned I catch more fish in clear water by having the pole in my hand rather than in my rod holder.

Click to enlargeAnother mistake many crappie fishermen make with their lines is they'll often set their drags too heavy. If you're fishing clear water with 4- to 6-pound-test line, you've got to have that drag set really loose. You want to have enough tension on your drag to set the hook; however, after you set the hook you want some of the pressure taken off the line by the
crappie's ability to pull out drag off the reel.

To learn more about Mossy Oak Fishing Line, go to For more information on B'n'M crappie poles, visit


Check back each day this week for more about KENT DRISCOLL - EXTRAORDINARY CRAPPIE FISHERMAN

Day 1: The Importance of Line to Crappie-Fishing Success
Day 2: What's The Best Length of Time to Leave Line on a Spool
Day 3: Why Driscoll Gets Wet to Catch Crappie
Day 4: Jig Fishing
Day 5: Cranking Up for Crappie



Entry 292, Day 1