When ice fishing for crappies, it seems that sometimes there are a lot of things that are needed to complete a catch. Increasing your odds is the name of the game and going above and beyond the average techniques is how you win. Deadsticking is one of those techniques that can increase your catch on the ice this winter.

Deadsticking basically consists of a stationary rod, either in a rod holder, across a bucket or whatever way you want. This is meant to keep a presentation at a certain level and without action from the fisherman. Using a bobber or float can work as well. The action of a deadstick is all dependent on the bait or lure. Minor adjustments here or there are added, like a little jiggle of the rod to keep things moving, etc.

Deadsticking has a few major roles:

It allows you to use two different presentations
It draws in fish when using a lively minnow
It allows you to fish at different depths at the same time
covering more of the water column
It often times weeds out the bigger fish and triggers
them to strike
It can be your only means of success on a negative day
And, it doubles your odds when you are trying to
pinpoint the proper presentation

There are more characteristics of deadsticking but I feel those are the most important.

So, here they are in detail...

It Allows You to Use Two Different Presentations

Using two different presentations allows you to determine what the fish want faster and more efficiently. When using both maggots and minnows, it tells you what fish prefer and which ones are not worth using and that given time. If noticing that minnows are working but you can't buy a crappie on maggots, then you can switch both lines to minnows and visa versa.

It Draws in Fish When Using a Lively Minnow

This can be one of the most important characteristics. Often have I been fishing only to have one or two fish show up and then leave, but by dropping down a minnow on a deadstick, it kept those fish there and also drew fish in to see what all the commotion is about. Fish will stay as long as they have food. How many times have you been fishing a school of crappies and after you catch a fish the school moves on before you can unhook the crappie and drop your jig back down? I know it has happened to me numerous times, but by dropping a minnow down on a deadstick you will notice that some of those schooling crappies will stick around, maybe not to feed on the minnow, but because they feel food is still in the area. It works.

It Allows You to Fish at Different Depths at the Same Time Covering More of the Water Column

Finding out what depth the fish are coming through at can be difficult in deeper water. If you are fishing at the wrong depth then sometimes the fish won't even come into your area if they are not inline with the jig. By deadsticking a minnow or maggots, you can utilize more of the water column and stay inline with those suspended crappies, not to mention those crappies roaming the bottom too.

It Often Times Weeds Out the Bigger Fish and Triggers Them to Strike

I've noticed this to be the case for crappies on several occasions. The larger crappies pass up the jig and maggots and engulf the deadsticked minnow on a plain hook. Often times the more aggressive crappies will take the minnow and they are typically the first ones you catch, which are also some of the biggest. Larger crappies often times want a piece of meat and a struggling minnow is an easy meal.

It Can be Your Only Means of Success on a Negative Day

If you can understand deadsticking and find a system that works, it can really improve your catch on negative days. On those negative days, spooky crappies dart at the sign of anything that moves too fast, looks to fake, or isn't sitting still right in their face. By deadsticking a small 1/64 or even 1/200 oz jig with a single maggot or even a small finesse plastic, you can accumulate a nice catch even on those tough, seemingly impossible days. Let the fish have a starring contest with your jig and let the maggot or tiny plastic do the work. Although you might think the plastic or maggot isn't moving, it is. The fish know that and those microscopic movements are what those crappies pick up because they are accustomed to feeding on zooplankton and micro-organisms ten times (or more) smaller than your jig during the winter. Slowly will the crappie move towards the jig and with a split-second rake of the gills the jig is inhaled. The art of keeping the jig as motionless as possible can really help on those days when nothing else works.

And, it Doubles Your Odds When You are Trying to Pinpoint the Proper Presentation

Doubling your odds, now who wouldn't want that? Increasing your odds is the name of the game, and by deadsticking you are doing what it takes to catch fish and improve on a day of fishing.

Try deadsticking for crappies next time you are on the lake if you haven't already. You might be surprised.
Good Fishin,
Matt Johnson
Guided Open Water and Ice Fishing

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Ultimate Panfish League