I’m often surprised at how frequently people ask me if braid is a wise choice for chasing crappie. My response is, why wouldn’t it be?
It’s understandable that many anglers might assign a certain level of unnecessary brutality to braid for crappie applications.
Braid is incredibly strong, and unforgiving – do we really need such a fishing line to tackle the diminutive crappie?
Well, no. We don’t need braid. But there are a few applications where it might present some advantages.
By and large, braid is a great fishing line type for chasing crappie in most conditions, and with many rigs. But so are mono and fluoro.
So is there a better or best fishing line option? I’m not confident the crappie angler will catch any more or any less crappie based on line choice.
The message is this. If you want to use braid for chasing crappie, you should. Let’s have a look as to why.
Fishing Line Types For Crappie
Is braided line good for crappie fishing? The answer is yes. With that established, let’s look at why. But firstly, we should address one of the main driving forces behind gear choices.
Ultimately, like many things fishing, line selection should come down to personal preference.
I know that’s a lame response when you’re seeking details as to why you should choose one over another.
But for me, personal preference underscores many decisions where gear options are present – performance advantages notwithstanding.
We fish better when we fish the gear we are more confident fishing.
If we use spinning reels 90% of the time, it stands to reason we’ll be more confident with spin over casting.
The same is true for fishing lines. If we spool, tie, cast, strike, and battle with braid most of the time, then this is what we should use.
Good results often come from familiarity with our gear and the resulting confidence.
Good fishing is often about feel and groove. When you’re in the zone, the fishing’s often better.
That said, let’s take a deeper dive into braided line for crappie.
Braided Line Strength & How it Applies to Crappie
Crappie are tenacious little fighters. That’s why we like catching them. But they’re small fish that don’t need much in the way of line strength to subdue the toughest of them.
4 to 8-pound line is very common for targeting crappie, with many braid anglers using as much as 10 because the line diameters are so thin.
Line strength serves two purposes.
Firstly, it’s line strength that ensures we’re in the fight.
Secondly, it’s line strength that allows us to pull our rig through the cover and recover our lures when we hook the structure.
8-pound breaking strain is the same whether it’s braid, mono, or fluoro.
The advantage of using braid is the line diameters are so thin that we can use smaller reels and pack on plenty of line.
The big advantage of braid is that we can up our line class and fish very heavy cover with a great chance we’ll not lose a lure.
Some anglers will fish as much as 15-pound braid as insurance against lure loss.
There’s no disadvantage to this approach, and no doubt it’ll save your favorite lures, and therefore some cash.
However, the issue for many crappie anglers, is that 15-pound breaking strain takes plenty of sport out of a crappie battle.
10 to 15-pound line is definitely overkill for crappie.
Heavier line is a trade-off when crappie fishing in deep cover. But I’d much rather fish heavier line than lose my favorite hard bodies to snags.
If heavy cover isn’t an issue, fish 4 to 6-pound braid with a light fluoro or mono leader for great results.
I’ll always use a mono or fluoro leader for a bit of stretch and shock resistance.
Braided Line Stretch & How it Affects Crappie Fishing
Contrary to popular belief, braid is not completely without stretch. There’s a very small amount of stretch in braid that’s barely detectable under normal use.
However, relative to mono and fluoro, braid is stretch free. This is where braid gets its sensitivity.
Its braid lack of stretch which delivers incredible lure performance and amazing feedback through the line.
With braid, anglers can detect the smallest bait inquiries, the movement of currents, and the contours of the river bed as the lure glides past.
The feel is one of the great benefits of braid, particularly when chasing a smaller class of fish.
The next huge benefit of braid is hook setting. Without stretch, a simple lift of the rod tip can deliver a very solid hook set.
It’s important to note, however, that hook setting benefits are tempered with a downside.
Rash, erratic, and early strikes will often result in pulling the hooks. This is especially true with fish that have soft mouths.
It’s braid’s lack of stretch that can make it particularly unforgiving. Especially for the novice angler.
Novice anglers using full graphite rods and braid often struggle to set hooks due to early aggressive strikes.
While this can be frustrating, a conscientious angler with good instruction can hone their strike technique and mitigate braid’s unforgiving constitution.
The sensitivity of braid can be a handy advantage for crappie, especially when they’re timid or lure and bait shy.
Braided Line Weight and Casting Distance
Braid is heavier than fluoro and mono. Coupled with its tiny diameters, casting long distances is a breeze.
Boat anglers have a little more flexibility when it comes to casting distance.
Land-based anglers rely on distance to get them to strike zones well away from the bank.
If you’re casting a lighter class of lure, and you really need to send it, braid can be a strong advantage – particularly lighter line classes less than 6 pounds.
Braided Line Memory & How it Affects Casting for Crappie
Line memory is when the fishing line holds the shape of the item on which it is stored, such as your reel or a spool.
Mono and fluoro have a lot of memory and hold their shape.
You will notice as you pull line from a spool it comes off in loops. It remembers the shape of the item on which it was stored.
Mono and fluoro wound tightly onto an arbor can create tangles due to line memory. This is compounded by line twist.
Anglers can find themselves in a world of inconvenience.
This is particularly true for crappie anglers, as they’re often using very small reels, onto which mono and fluoro are tightly wound.
If using a spin reel, line twist will come into play adding twist insult to memory injury. It can be even worse if no swivel is used in your rig.
Braid has no memory. This means when you pull it from your reel it will hang limp, and not recoil into the shape of your reel arbor.
Without the worry of line memory, the only thing you have to contend with is twist – and braid will certainly twist.
You will often find crappie anglers choose to use braid for no other reason than it has no memory, which can be a huge advantage when fishing with small reels and light gear.
What Braided Line Test Weight is Best for Crappie Fishing?
Those targeting crappie with braid will often fish 4 to 6-pound breaking strains.
Because crappie are so small, you don’t need any more than this, even for trophy crappie.
However, there are exceptions to this, and it’s usually due to fishing heavier cover. But it’s the type of cover that will determine whether or not you up your line class.
If you’re fishing heavy cover with gnarly hard structures, it can make sense to up your line class and save a few lures.
In these cases, anglers will fish as much as 10 to 15 pounds breaking strain. Sure, it takes out the element of the fight – the crappie won’t break your line during the fight.
However, you will have a far better chance of getting your favorite hardbody out of a snag you’ve just hooked.
Crappie hug cover like many fish.
At times we’re compelled to throw perfectly good lures into places from where they’re likely to never return – unless you have strong line to pull them out.
Fishing light as you dare is always the rule of thumb. However, it becomes very expensive if you’re throwing away good lures to ugly snags.
Braid does a fine job of cutting through soft foliage. If you’re fishing weeds and soft vegetation, the cutting properties of braid ensure you can get away with staying light.
Be aware, however, that some foliage can hang on to lure very tightly, so it might be prudent to up the line class if the foliage is particularly thick or woody.
Your default setting should always be to fish for crappie as light as the conditions allow. The lighter your line, the better your lure and bait presentation.
Even if you hook a record-breaking crappie, 6-pound line will be more than enough to win the battle.
A 12-inch crappie (a nice size) weighs in at just over a pound. You don’t need a heavy class of line to wrestle such a fish.
In the absence of heavy cover, keep your line class 6 pound and less for the best lure and bait performance.
Tips to Fish for Crappie with Braided Line
Here are some good tips for those wishing to fish braid on their next crappie hunt.
Fish Light Use Spin
Fishing ultra-light for crappie is as much fun as catching marlin from the blue water – and far less physically taxing.
Use a spin outfit and place 4-pound braid onto a quality 1000 spinning reel. Soft plastics are fun, spinners are cool too. However, a quality minnow-profile hardbody is the best.
I’m frequently surprised at how often experienced crappie anglers overlook hard body lures.
Don’t be afraid to use a hard body that’s a little larger than you might think appropriate.
I’ll nearly always use a selection of hard bodies. Crappie are fish hunters, and they’ll often attack baits bigger than their mouths can handle.
Use a Quality 8+ Strand Braid
These braids are expensive. However, you’re not using much at all to fill the spool of a compact reel.
Treat yourself to a quality braid with 8 or more strands and the roundest profile you can find for an ultra-smooth feel.
Careful Strikes. It’s all in the wrist
As mentioned earlier, braid can be very unforgiving. Not only do crappie have a small mouth, but it’s also particularly soft.
Heavy strikes with braid will often result in pulling the hooks. Keep your rod tip low and use an easy flick of the wrists to set the hooks.
During the battle maintain pressure but don’t wrestle or scull drag the crappie with speed. Take it easy with a steady, deliberate retrieve.
This can be difficult when pulling crappie out of heavy cover. Your natural reaction is to pull it out of the sticks before you get tangled up.
Again, be patient with steady pressure. Lift your rod tip if it helps you lift the fish out of cover.
Learn the Line Differences
A good angler understands the differences between line types, and how they feel compared to each other when deployed.
Take three spin outfits on a crappie hunt. Spool one with braid, one with mono, and the other with fluoro. Fish no more than 6 pounds.
Rig each outfit the same and use the same technique for targeting crappie. Change between each outfit after a period of 5 to 10 casts.
It’s good to do this crappie fishing as it’s great fun but also teaches you about the differences of line properties without the worry of dropping a prize fish.
Understanding how line properties impact casting, working, hook setting, and fighting not only make you a better angler but also gives you the knowledge you need to make the best line choice for the circumstances.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Braided Line Scare Crappie?
Generally speaking, crappie are not line shy. While braid is definitely visible to fish, its small diameters tend to make it less intrusive.
You will also be using a leader of at least 4 feet. Mono or fluoro is difficult for crappie to see and therefore unlikely to spook them.
However, In heavily fished areas, fish of all species can be a little line shy and easily spooked.
If this is the case, you might be better placed to fish fluoro in these locations. By and large, braid shouldn’t present any issues.
Be aware that heavily fished areas where there’s very clear water and little wind are always best fished with mono or fluoro.
What Color Line is Best for Crappie?
Our default position with line color is to always fish in stealth mode. This generally means matching your line color to the waters you’re fishing.
Again, the use of fluoro leader negates most of the issues associated with line-shy fish. However, fishing still clear waters on windless days can present some issues.
If I’m fishing in a popular location that has clear waters, and little to no wind, I will generally select fluoro as the line of the day.
While that’s my default position, I have often fished these locations with high-vis fishing lines and still caught fish without a problem.
Matching the fishing color to the water color/environment, or going with clear fishing line is simply best practice, not a guarantee.
What Size Braid Should I Use for Crappie?
When using 4, 6, and 10-pound braids, the line diameter is pretty well irrelevant. These lines are already very fine. You’ll fill a 1000-size spin reel with plenty of line.
These diameters are also unobtrusive in the water so not really a big issue for line-shy fish. Never mind fussing about line diameters with braid of this test weight.
What Line Class (test weight) Should I Use for Crappie?
As mentioned earlier, I like a 4 to 6-pound braid for targeting crappie. It’s very rare that I’ll fish above that.
However, If I’m throwing expensive hardbodies into ugly cover, I have no problem upping the weight to 10 pounds – I hate losing expensive lures.
Always consider giving the kids a more forgiving breaking strain of 10 to 15 pounds. Knots and snags are a pain with light lines – particularly braids.
Heavier lines classes are far more forgiving, and I’d rather see the kids hook and land a fish than suffer drop after drop. Catching fish is inspirational.