Best 6 Augers for Ice Fishing (Hand, Gas & Electric Powered): 2020 Reviews

Break out your parkas and your winter fishing gear – the days of leisurely kayak fishing on a lake by yourself or your favorite fishing partner are over for the season.  Don’t fret though, fly fishing season will be back soon enough later in the year.

The good news is that this opens up lots of opportunity for one of our favorite types of fishing – Ice fishing!  While learning to ice fish is an acquired taste that not every fishing enthusiast will dive into, we feel that there’s loads of fishing opportunities including catfish, pike, and sunfish out there for the taking.

As with any type of fall/spring/summer conditions, you want to make sure you have the most appropriate type of gear for your expedition and ice fishing is no different.  Let’s talk about our favorite Augers in 2019.

Outside of a communication device to use in the event of an emergency, there is no piece of equipment more critical for the ice fisherman than an ice auger.

You travel a good ways to go out on the ice, and you want to put the hole in quickly with a reliable piece of gear that won’t give out on you in the middle of drilling.

You have a lot of choices given the apparent simplicity of a piece of equipment designed for drilling holes.

How do you choose an ice auger for fishing? It all comes down to three choices: human powered versus horsepowered, fuel choice, and blade size.

If you already know that you need a power auger and not a manual auger, then you are way ahead of the game.  If you are just starting out in the world of ice fishing, it’s probably smarter to grab a hand auger for your first season to save a little money for additional fishing gear.

The buyer’s guide below will walk you through what’s important to ask yourself before picking up an auger for the winter.

How to Choose an Auger:

The first thing to decide when purchasing an ice auger is whether to pick a manual auger or a powered model. The selection comes down to how many holes you plan to drill, the speed with which you want to drill them, and the thickness of the ice.

Should you choose a Hand Auger?

Why wouldn’t you want to just select a powered auger? Weight. If you’re fishing in a remote location or one that’s not particularly easy to get into, a hand auger is a good choice.

It’s a third as heavy as a powered auger. Plus, if you’re fishing early in the season when the ice is not so thick, and if you’re not drilling more than a few holes, a hand auger will do the job. It’ll certainly warm you up.

Another reason to select a hand auger is the price. You can find a great hand auger that’ll set you back less than $75. A good powered auger easily cost you three times as much. If you’re on a budget, go with the hand auger until you can afford a powered model.

The hand auger is also a good choice if you are an occasional ice fisherman (is there such a beast?). There’s no reason to spend the money on a powered auger if you’re going out once a winter.

Note, too, that if you’re fishing for large species and need that 10” hole, the hand auger is not the right choice for your situation.

Should you choose a Power Auger?

For many ice fishermen, powered augers have completely replaced the hand auger. They have become extremely reliable and, if you fish a lot on hard water and weight/portability is not an issue, the powered auger is the only way to go.

There are four power sources for powered augers: two-stroke, four-stroke, propane, or battery.

Two-stroke engines have been used to run power augers for years. They run on a mixture of gas and oil, a reliable choice and, until recently, the only real choice available.

For speed they’re unbeatable But with new technologies and designs, the two-stroke is seeing some competition because it’s higher maintenance and can be more difficult to start than other choices.

Four-stroke engines require much less maintenance and are much easier to operate than a two-stroke. The newest four-strokers cut the ice as well as a two-stroke, and some run on propane as well.

Cutting the ice is cleaner with a four-stroke, just as fast, and they don’t produce the kind of smoke you get with a two-stroke. The downside is they’re more expensive than other options.

The propane-driven ice auger has become extremely popular the last couple of years. It’s lower maintenance, easy to clean, and quieter than the two- or four-stroke engines. Propane-driven models are easy to start and have a lot of power.

Electric ice augers are convenient and, with the new lithium batteries, are quiet and efficient. If you’re drilling in a wheel-house, you won’t find a cleaner source of power. The silence with which they operate is a huge factor at first ice.

Auger Blade Types & Choices:

Ice augers come in a variety of sizes, with the 8” and 10” being the ones most commonly used. Blade size choice comes down to the size of the fish species you’re after. The larger hole is going to give you better performance in the long run.

Making sure your blades are sharp is critical when you’re heading into a new fishing season. The regularity with which you change blades is all about how many holes you drill – no surprise there, right?

You can sharpen or replace your blades, and there are sharpening jigs available, though it’s inexpensive to have a pro do it for you. It’s easy to change an auger blade, easy enough that you can do it at home or in the field.

Can I add accessories to my Auger?

We’d be remiss if we didn’t say something about accessories for your auger. The number one accessory? An auger blade extension.

The last thing you want to have happen is be out fishing in March when the ice is the thickest and discover you don’t have enough length to complete the hole. Good luck finding an extension when that happens.

No, you’ll want to have an extension on hand before you hit the heavy ice.

The other thing you’ll want to consider is getting a cover for the power head if you’re using a powered auger. Cold weather makes plastic brittle, so a cover will protect the plastic components. It will also protect the exhaust.

Top 6 Augers for Ice Fishing in 2020:


1. Eskimo 8″ Mako Quantum Auger Series:

Eskimo M43Q10 Mako 43cc with 10-Inch Quantum Ice Auger

This Eskimo Mako comes with an 8-inch auger that’s 42-inches long. With a 30:1 gear ratio, it’ s going to cut through any ice you’re facing this winter without breaking a sweat.

It runs on a high-performance, 8,000 RPM Viper engine and is easy to operate. It features a fingertip throttle control and foam-grip handlebars. The dual Quantum blades are replaceable.

The Mako starts right up in cold weather. It’s not going to win a speed contest, but it’s slow, steady, and persistent.

The 42-inch auger cuts through the thick ice so well you’ll be tempted to drill more just for the heck of it. It’s easy to keep upright, too, and runs very smoothly.

As with any gas powered auger it takes a few holes to break in, but it is a workhorse that will serve you extremely well for years to come.


2. ION G2 8″ Electric Ice Auger 40V:

ION 19150 40V 3 amp-hour Electric 8-Inch Ice Auger, with...

Behold the electric Ion ice auger, with reverse! Ion’s 40V Max Electric is a surprisingly high-performance beast, featuring an 8-inch auger that’s 37.5 inches long.

A 12-inch extension is included, bringing the Ion ice auger length to a whopping 49.5 inches. At a measly 17 pounds, the Ion G2 is lightweight and easy to carry.

It’s easy to operate, too, thanks to the wide-spaced handlebar design and large trigger. A battery charger is included.

It really can drill holes as well as a gas auger, too. You will need to keep the battery warm on extremely cold days when you aren’t using it – keep it in the shack or in your pockets and it will be fine.

The 6-amp-hour Gen. 2 lithium ion battery lasts a long time, much longer than you’d think. You should be able to drill 30 to 40 two-foot-deep holes on a single battery charge (Ion specs it at 100 holes in 20″ of ice) This electric auger has a reverse feature, too, which is a huge plus.


3. Eskimo High Compression 40cc Propane 10-Inch Quantum Ice Auger:

Eskimo HC40Q10 High Compression 40cc Propane with 10-Inch...

With a high-compression, 40cc, 4-stroke engine, and a 10-inch auger that’s 42 inches long, you are going to be the envy of every other fisherman on the ice with this Eskimo.

It features an auto-prime fuel system, too, so you simply flip the switch to ON and start drilling. The beauty of the Eskimo High-Compression Propane auger is that it is both lightweight and powerful.

With its high compression ratio, this auger eats ice like butter, and it’s a dependable piece of equipment.

It’s easy to pull start this beauty, too, and is available at a very good price. In practice, a single 1lb tank of propane should drill around 100 holes before changing. It will chew through the ice with no effort at all.

It has plenty of power for even the thickest ice, and with no gas fumes it is a perfect choice for indoor drilling.


4. StrikeMaster 7″ Lazer Hand Ice Auger:

You’re going to be surprised at how quickly the StrikeMaster Lazer hand auger puts the hole in the ice. It features chrome-alloy stainless steel blades, powder coated paint to reduce ice build-up, and an ergonomically designed handle with soft rubber grips.

The handle adjusts from 48 to 57 inches, so it accommodates various ice thicknesses and fisherman heights. It’s a precision instrument that’s faster than you would expect it to be.

You’re not going to want to use any hand auger on holes that are bigger than 6-7 inches unless you are in excellent shape or have a helper on hand.

That said, the Lazer blades on this hand auger do a fantastic job – it is fully capable of enabling you to cut through 16” of ice in about a minute. It cuts smoothly, and makes a nice backup for your powered auger, too.

If you need something portable and you are fishing for sunfish or perch, this is the perfect hand auger.


5. StrikeMaster 8″ Mora Hand Ice Auger:

StrikeMaster MD-8 Ice Fishing Mora Hand Auger, 8-Inch

If you plan to hike and ice fish, then the 8″ Strikemaster Mora hand auger is perfect for the job. It features high alloy carbon steel blades and powder coated paint to reduce ice build-up just like its sibling, the Lazer.

Soft rubber grips and ergonomically designed handle system make this hand auger a joy to use. The adjustable handle goes from 48” to 57”. Its two-piece design makes it easy to transport and store. Comes with a blade guard.

The Mora is an impressive ice auger that drills quickly and effectively. It’s worth purchasing the adaptor for use with a drill, but unless you plan on drilling a dozen or so holes you’ll likely find the auger alone does a fantastic job.

It takes very little effort to operate and does extremely well with 6” holes. The 8” version cuts through ice like butter, too, though it will give you a workout if the ice is fairly thick.


6. StrikeMaster Lithium 40v 10″ Ice Auger

If you wonder what the best ice auger money can buy this year is, check out StrikeMaster’s best-selling Lithium Electric Ice Auger. For ice fishing this auger is an absolute beast. It is fast, powerful, lightweight, silent, and cuts through thick ice like a hot knife through butter.

Plus, the battery holds a charge much better than cheaper models and can last a day in sub freezing temps. This lithium-ion battery-powered workhorse can drill 75 to a 100 holes on a  single charge through 18” to 24” inches of ice. In addition it has reverse function for a perfectly clean cut.

Anglers with decades of experience claim that they have been looking for this auger all their lives. The price is steep, but this bad guy is worth every SINGLE penny.

See it in action in the short clip below!


Wrapping Up & Final Thoughts:

Ice fishing is one of the most exciting times of the year for any angling enthusiast and we feel it’s a great experience to try out as long as you have proper guidance and take proper care during your first expedition.

Seasoned ice fishers know that this sport is more dangerous than traditional lake, river or stream fishing and as such, we always recommend that you tap into any resources that you have to get someone with a high level of experience in ice fishing before braving the cold on your own.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our breakdown of one of the most critical pieces of gear for any serious ice fisher.  If there’s a model we missed that you feel belongs in our list, please feel free to let us know by dropping a line in our comments section.

10 Fantastic Fishing Spots in North Carolina

From the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains in the west to the gorgeous outer banks, North Carolina is full of great fishing spots. Freshwater fishing enthusiasts have many choices where to go fishing for large and smallmouth bass in the many lakes and reservoirs.

Those with a passion for streams and hiking have thousands of miles of waterways, most with stunning rainbow and speckled trout. The best fishing spots in North Carolina are easy to find, too.

If all that fishing is not enough, there is the vibrant music scene. While bluegrass may be what most people think of when someone mentions North Carolina, you can listen to any musical genre you want while discussing your big catch over a craft brew from one of the state’s many breweries.

The vibe here is very different from other places like the East coast fishing areas in Connecticut or Maine.

Get ready for a great fishing trip because North Carolina offers some excellent opportunities for saltwater fishing. You can cast a line from the shore or pick a guided trip for some deep-sea fishing that you will never forget.

So, start packing up your tackle and gear because after reading this list, you’ll want to go fishing in NC.

1. Lake Fontana

With more than 400 miles of shoreline and a water surface of 10,230 acres with a ton of different branches, Lake Fontana is one of North Carolina fishing destinations that are best suited for bass fishing. (Check out our step-by-step guide to catching big bass here).

There’s even an annual bass tournament on the lake (this year, it was held in March) were anglers can win real cash, have unrestrained access to entertainment venues, and try out the local cuisine.

You can even try your hand at trout fishing at one of the many different streams that feed into the lake. Record-breaking fish are common, making this one of the best fishing spots in North Carolina.

Make sure you are properly geared for your trip and make sure your fishing gear can stand up to some of the larger fish in the area. Bass over 10 pounds and huge catfish and muskie are routinely caught on the lake.

You can also pull up your boat and explore the ruins of old homesteads or hike a huge network of trails. The best part about Lake Fontana is that you have many options for both camping and fishing.

You may see these types of fish at Lake Fontana:

  • Largemouth or smallmouth bass
  • Kentucky Spotted Bass,
  • Walleye
  • Bluegill
  • Lake Trout
  • Muskellunge
  • Crappie
  • Crap

While there, be sure to visit Fontana Dam, which is the tallest dam on the eastern seaboard. When you are not fishing, it is worth the trip to take in this wonder. Be sure to check out Fontana Village for a bite to eat while you are there, too.

2. Jordan Lake

jordan lake

image by pixabay

Jordan Lake is a 13,940 acre reservoir in the New Hope Valley just west of Raleigh. It is a popular destination for those who want to get out of town for some quality fishing time.

It has a depth that averages 14 feet and maxes out at 38 feet, so this is a shallow lake in an area that gets hot in the summer. While Lake Fontana has shoreline does not enable easy access to the lake, Jordan lake’s 180 miles of uninterrupted shoreline can meet every fisherman’s needs.

Thanks to the many campgrounds, local shops, restaurants, and accommodation opportunities, you can either come alone or bring the whole family with you. There’s something fun and engaging to do at Lake Jordan for everyone, from junior to grandpa.

You can hook these types of fish at Jordan Lake:

  • Largemouth and smallmouth bass
  • Channel catfish
  • Black or white crappie
  • Bluegill
  • White or striped bass
  • Yellow perch

Largemouths are usually huge due to the generous aquatic vegetation that sustains and feeds the species. On average, a largemouth weighs more than 6 lbs, with the largest specimen ever caught at the lake weighing slightly over 14 pounds.

3. Lake Norman

Lake Norman is a 32,000 acre lake that draws in many anglers because it is an excellent place to fish for bass. While there are some big catfish in this lake, it also has an abundance of white perch.

Although this lake can be crowded at times, you can get good results when you put in a day fishing here. With 500 miles of shoreline, you can go off by yourself to fish and get away from the popular spots.

Excellent access and a variety of catfish means this is one of best fishing spots in North Carolina to wet a line. The types of fish you can catch at Lake Norman include:

  • Largemouth, striped, white or spotted bass
  • Channel, blue or flathead catfish
  • Black crappie
  • Bluegill
  • White and yellow Perch

The bad news is that you’ll need a fishing license to catch fish at the lake, the good news is that there are no seasonal restrictions when it comes to bass, you can catch it year-round. Striped bass should be no larger than 16″ while black bass and crappie should not exceed 14″ and 8″ in length, respectively.

For more info on the permit and fishing limitations, check out www.ncwildlife.org.

4. Lake James

Lake James is a 6,800 cold-water lake that boasts depths of 120 feet below the surface or more. This makes Lake James the home to many different species of fish, including those enjoying cool water. This lake is a great fishing spot especially in summertime.

For those of us who want something beyond the typical bass fishing experience, there is the thrill of chasing Northern pike or tiger muskies on this beloved North Carolina lake. But the most spectacular catches are smallmouths, which are often surprisingly big.

Lake James is popular for a lot of reasons beyond fishing. It is easy to access and has plenty of boat rental and camping facilities. It also has more than one marina, unlike a lot of lakes.

Plus, thanks to the amazing scenery and its crystal clear water, Lake James is one of the most beautiful lakes in the Old North State.

Here’s what you can expect to find at the end of your line at Lake James:

  • Largemouth, white or smallmouth bass
  • Blue catfish
  • Black or white crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Northern pike
  • Tiger muskie

5. Lake Chatuge

Lake Chatuge 7,480 acre scenic lake located in the Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains along the North Carolina and Georgia border, which offers anglers over 7,000 acres of water surface in the summer. Spotted bass, white bass, largemouth bass, and hybrid bass are the most common fish you will find there.

But don’t be surprised to see a walleye on your line, too. You can use a Georgia or North Carolina fishing license, so it is a popular spot for anglers from both states.

Here are the species of fish you can catch at Lake Chatuge:

  • Largemouth, smallmouth, spotted, or hybrid striped bass
  • Channel catfish
  • Black Crappie
  • Bream
  • Bluegill
  • trout (nearby Chatuge Dam)
  • Walleye
  • and 22 more fish species.

Historically speaking, Lake Chatuge used to be the best place in Georgia to fish for smallmouth bass, but the species experienced a rapid decline after the illegal introduction of spotted bass into the lake. The blueback herring has also been an unwelcome guest in the lake since the ’90s.

Today, the most common species is the bass. The largest hybrid bass to be caught in Chatuge stood at a whopping 25 lbs 8 oz, an official state record that hasn’t been shattered to this date.

Also, the lake is known for hosting the largest walleye ever caught in the state (13 lbs, 8 oz in 1986).

6. High Rock Lake

High Rock Lake is 15,180 acres and the deep-water lake hosts some exquisite schools of bass and crappie. The large size means there is a lot of room to find your own special fishing hole to reel in the big ones. With 365 miles of shoreline, there is so much for everybody to explore.

You don’t even need a boat to wet a line thanks to the lake’s jaw-dropping 336-mile-long shoreline.

But if you really need a boat, you’ll want to check in on the boating regulations depending on what type of watercraft you plan to use. There are numerous marinas to supply your every need. You can also rent a boat to get out in the deeper parts.

Here’s the fish species that dwell in High Rock Lake:

  • Largemouth, white, and striped bass
  • Channel, flathead, and blue catfish
  • Black and white crappie
  • Bluegill

Be wary that unlike the previous two lakes on our list, the water is not clear, so make sure that you stockpile plenty of brightly colored lures and spinnerbaits.

Check video above for a gentleman’s experience while boat fishing for crappie on High Rock Lake.

7. Ocracoke Island Outer Banks

If you want to get away from it all and enjoy some great deep sea or offshore fishing, go to Ocracoke. This remote community was once a popular hangout for pirates like the infamous Blackbeard.

While there, visit Teach’s Hole for some great swimming time near the shore and bountiful fishing further out.

Ocracoke is not for the faint-hearted due to its remoteness. There are a lot of vacation rentals on the island. However, they book up fast because it is a beloved place to escape the everyday insanity of big city life.

Anglers can count on catching:

  • Drums
  • Sharks
  • Bluefish
  • Flounder
  • Spanish mackerel
  • Pompano
  • Spots
  • Croaker
  • Sea mullets

On your way to Ocracoke try fishing near Swan’s Quarter. Most people take the ferry to get to Ocracoke. However, the remoteness and tranquility of Swan’s Quarter are worth fishing, if you have the time.

8. Smoky Mountains National Park

With thousands of miles of streams to fish along, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a great place to explore. You may know this is the most visited park in the entire National Park system.

However, most visitors only venture a few feet from their cars, leaving many places to drop a line in the water. You can discover many trout fishing spots by getting on the trail and fishing further out than most people dare to venture.

A backpacking-style fishing rod that collapses can help you have a more comfortable fishing expedition.

However, before going to the Smokies, you must purchase a state fishing license from either North Carolina or Tennessee first if you aged 13 or older. Kids aged 12 or younger are allowed to fish at no charge if they are with an adult that has purchased a permit of license.

The cost of the license largely depends on the type of fishing and the area you plan on visiting and you need to buy it before arriving at the park as you cannot buy it from the National Park Service.

All licensed anglers are allowed to fish from half an hour before dawn until half an hour after dusk (the official hours) year-round. There’s a limit to how many smallmouth bass and rainbow trout, brook, and brown trout you are allowed to take home (juts 5
per day per adult and 2 per day per kid).

9. The Tuckasegee River

If you love to fly fish, head to the Tuckasegee River, which fans have nicknamed, “The Tuck.” This gorgeous river is home to some great fly fishing.

In fact, it is one of the best fishing spots in North Carolina. For the bass fishing enthusiast, “The Tuck” offers some of the biggest smallmouth bass in the Smoky Mountain Region. This means you could catch bass that are close to eight pounds and 16 to 20 inches long.

This is a family-friendly river with good access. When you are not fishing, you can take rafting or tubing trips to cool off. Anglers on the river also enjoy catching the steelhead from Lake Fontana that start running into “The Tuck” in April.

You’ll spot trout and many other types of fish in the Tuckasegee, which is one of th ebest places in North Carolina to fish trout. However, don’t be surprised by the size of Tuckasegee River (around 40 to 100 yards in width).

The Catch-and-release period starts on Oct. 1st and continues through early June. It is a great fishing spot for beginner and advanced fishing enthusiasts alike that don’t mind catching mostly medium-sized fish. There are also many other great fishing spots nearby, like Fontana Lake and the Nantahala River.

10. The Nantahala River

Just down the road from the Tuckaseegee is the Nantahala River, one the best 100 trout-fishing rivers in North America and a popular place for national fly fishing championships.

It offers hands-down some of the best trout fishing experiences the state has to offer but you’ll need a state fishing license from NC with a trout stamp on it first.

This family-friendly river provides excellent fly fishing. You’ll want to avoid some parts of the river frequented by rafting trips, but there are plenty of choice spots.

This is a cold river, so you will want to wear some good waders. You’ll also need some outdoor clothing, even during the spring and summer months. This river is especially a great place to cool off from the summer heat.

The most common fish species here include:

  • Wild/stocked brown trout
  • Wild/stocked rainbow trout

The hatchery-supported ares are closed in March.

Bonus North Carolina Fishing Destination: Sutton Lake

When it comes to bass fishing, North Carolina has plenty of destinations to choose from. One of the best bass fishing lakes in North Carolina is an interesting place called Sutton Lake. The lake is a power plant cooling reservoir known statewide for its impressive largemouth population.

Sutton Lake has unusually warm waters even during winter months because of a nearby powerplant whose discharge keeps water temperatures of all the lake’s seven ponds into the 70s and 80s even in winter.

This fact makes the lake a surprising fishing oasis for all bass die-hards during the cold months. In addition, from December 1 through March 31 anglers are barred from keeping the catch. This translates into trophy-sized captures in late March and April.

Beside largemouth bass, Sutton lake hosts several other species:

  • Black crappie
  • Sunfish
  • Bluegill
  • Flathead catfish

Last-Minute NC Fishing Tips

Sometimes the best fishing spots in North Carolina are where you must hike to. People fish out the easy to reach spots sooner.

So, if you can, try to catch fishing holes that require a 30 minute to one hour hike to reach. Here are some more fishing tips for you:

  • Pay attention to individual area rules. Fishing in N.C. is great but there are some areas that have different rules than others. Catch and release-only areas can sometimes be on one section of a river while on another, you can keep your catch if you meet the size limits.
  • Some spots are becoming more crowded. North Carolina is a beautiful state that is wonderful to live in and the secret is out. With more people deciding to make their home in the area or vacation to N.C., some of the choice spots are crowded. Going at non-peak times can help, too. You can also find a spot closer yet far far away from the crowd.
  • Book lodging, guided trips, and boat rentals well ahead of time. During busy times of the year boats and lodging, as well as guided fishing trips can book up quickly. If you are determined to go to a certain popular place, the sooner you book the better. Guided fishing trips can be hard to get, especially if you have just shown up. Check out Airbnb and VRBO for affordable rates on local lodging.
  • Expand your fishing knowledge. There are a lot of great places that offer lessons and chartered trips if you want to learn a different way to fish or get out from the shoreline. If you have never fly fished, sign up with a local guide to learn the best techniques.

If you have any spots that you think we’ve missed, feel free to drop us a line on Facebook or by email (subscribe to our list) and let us know!

Featured image by: Pixabay

Best Fishing Locations in Illinois: Top 10 Spots to Visit for Your Next Catch

Illinois attracts many fishermen as a recreational sport with its many fishing tournaments. It is one of the best states to fish in in the Midwest as the Illinois fishery management has created many breeding reservoirs for recreational use.

Fishing in Illinois can be fun for anglers of all levels of skill because the Prairie State’s is abundant in natural lakes that are packed with large catfish and largemouth bass.

You’ll find a wide variety of fish here, just like you would in states like Connecticut or North Carolina. (Check out our full guide to catching the best fish in North Carolina here.)

If you are planning a fishing trip to Illinois, the many options might overwhelm you. But, fear not because here is a list of the top 10 tried-and-tested locations for a great fishing expedition. Keep reading so you can choose your favorite.

1. Mississippi River

The Mississippi River spreads across most of the United States, from Lake Itasca in Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. The mighty Mississippi River is as long as it is muddy. But this river rewards anglers with some of the best trophy catches.

While fishing in Illinois, you can test your mettle by landing a jumbo catfish. All it takes is the right bait. During the day, you can scavenge for hidden caves for catfish and then return at night to snatch them when they are feeding.

Here’s what you can catch in Mississippi’s muddy waters:

  • Largemouth and smallmouth bass
  • Sauger
  • Bluegill
  • Crappie
  • Walleye
  • Catfish (the most spectacular catfish, though, can be found in the Louisiana segment of the river)
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch

Due to the vastness of the river, around 3,000 miles, it is widely believed that one could spend their entire lifetime casting a line on a 30-mile segment and would not be able to unlock all that portion’s secrets.

The Mississippi river is both immense and majestic, an earthly paradise for all sport fishing enthusiasts.


2. Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan is one of the top places to fish in the entire state of Illinois.  It’s near Chicago, making it a great location for tourists with families, and giving you plenty to do if you decide to explore other outdoor activities than fishing.

Reelers of all levels of experience can enjoy boating on the lake. They do have a maximum speed limit of 55MPH on the lake, which shouldn’t be a problem for most anglers, unless you decide to do some speedboating in between your fishing expeditions.

There are also “slow” areas where you need to watch your speed and your wake.  It’s also a great place for kayaking and overall exploring some of the more beautiful scenery in the Chicago area.

In winter and early spring, you can also go ice fishing on Lake Michigan.  Make sure you bring your favorite Auger along.

The best part about Lake Michigan is that it hosts the greatest variety of fish among all of Illinois lakes. It has almost any species of fish one could catch in Illinois and more, including trout, salmon, and the voracious pike. (Click here for some less-known fishing tips if you are into Northern pike).

Here are some of the types of fish you can expect to catch out on Lake Michigan in no particular order, depending on where you end up (it’s a big lake).

  • Salmon
  • Bass
  • Crappie
  • Whitefish
  • Smelt
  • Lake trout and/or brown Trout
  • Walleye
  • Northern Pike
  • Muskie
  • Steelhead

3. Heidecke Lake

Heidecke Lake is a former cooling lake for the Collins Station Power Plant that has been out of service for more than 10 years. They have some rules to follow for fishing Heidecke lake, so be sure to review them before you go.

The lake is unique in structure because it has a perched part for better cooling, but it can be risky when it is windy.

The lake also varies in depth, so it is advisable to use a fish finder to locate schools of fish. There is not much vegetation there, but there is also less timber in the water.

It’s a great place to find a wide variety of fish, so you’ll want to have a variety of gear that can be tweaked on the spot to handle just about any type of fish.

Heidecke Lake now holds the title of an ambient lake that provides a wide variety of fish including:

  • Smallmouth, striped, largemouth or yellow bass
  • Walleye
  • Muskellunge
  • Hybrid striped bass
  • Channel catfish
  • Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Pumpkinseed
  • Bullhead

While fishing along the banks, you might get surprised by trophy-sized smallmouths (which this lake happens to be abundant in), walleye, hybrid striped bass (the last two species are more likely in spring).


4. Lake Springfield

When fishing in Illinois, you may want to visit Lake Springfield, a beautiful parkland with abundant wildlife. Woods and bluffs surround the shoreline. Anglers in the area can encounter wildlife like deer, turkey, and even eagles in the winter season.

Amenities include the nature park, picnic shelters, and a boathouse that offers a view of the lake and which you can rent for special occasions .

Anglers can rent a kayak or canoe, too, to go out on the lake. The warm water from the plant affects only one-fourth of the lake where schools of bass search for plankton.

Anglers can hook a variety of fish here as well including:


5. Crab Orchard Lake

Crab Orchard Lake is an artificial lake they constructed for flood prevention and recreational purposes. It is a 7,000-acre paradise for water skiers, swimmers, campers and fishermen.

They also allow all manners of water transportation without restrictions. Lotus planting and introducing largemouth bass every year have stabilized the local bass population.

The creel limit for largemouth bass is three per day and they must be larger than 16 inches. Spinnerbaits and artificial lures produce the best results for largemouth bass.

You can hook any of these fish species in Crab Orchard Lake:

  • Channel catfish
  • Crappie
  • White and largemouth bass
  • Bluegill

6. Devils Kitchen Lake 

Devils Kitchen Lake features a large amount of largemouth bass spreading over 810 acres. With steep slopes and sandstone valleys, the deep Devils Kitchen Lake is a sight to behold.

Clear waters and submerged timber make the ideal habitat for fishing. But there is a 10 horsepower limit on outboard motors. Plus, the southeast part of the lake is accessible only to boats with electric motors or by pedaling.

The lake has standard site regulations on fishing, including what types of watercraft you can use. The regulations and constant efforts of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources are contributing to the healthy numbers of fish in Devils Kitchen Lake.

Here’s what you can find on the end of your line:

  • Rainbow trout
  • Bluegill
  • Redear sunfish
  • Largemouth bass
  • Yellow perch
  • Crappie

7. Rend Lake 


When most people think about fishing in Illinois, they think of Rend Lake, a reservoir with a longshore close to Benton, Illinois.

The depth of this lake varies from 10 to 35 feet, which is enough for fisherman to explore. You can also get a guide or an eight-hour boat trip with supplies like water, bait and tackle.

There is a golf course at Rend Lake, too, making it a versatile place for fishing in Illinois.

The park also offers camping sites, museum tours, hiking and cycling. There are lots of largemouth bass, but you can only take those larger than the 14-inch minimum length.

Anglers can expect to find one of these fish species in Rend Lake:

  • Largemouth or white bass
  • Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Channel, blue or flathead catfish
  • Carp

8. Evergreen Lake 


Evergreen Lake is a man-made pond in Central Illinois they built back in 1970. It still attracts people who love fishing in Illinois with its many eye-pleasing areas, lots of greenery, and camping facilities.

Whether you are a professional reeler in a rowboat or a landlubber on the shore, you’ll see plenty of fish. You can rent a paddle or rowboat for a fair price.

However, there’s a 10 HP limit for motorized boats on the Evergreen Lake, just like on any state-owned body of waters in Illinois to encourage a quiet fishing environment. What’s more, starting Oct. 1st until January 1st, gas-powered motors are completely forbidden in the Southern parts of the lake to protect migratory birds.

All in all Evergreen Lake, IL, is a beautiful and peaceful place for fishing or having a day out with family – the trails are very well-kept and there are many well-run camping grounds and play areas for children around the lake.

If the horsepower limit is not an issue, you can snag these fish at Evergreen Lake:


9. Sand Pond


Sand Pond may only be a small pond, but it offers a place of relaxation on its sandy shores. You can fish with choirs of western chorus and leopard frogs in the background. In the summer, the marsh-like pond is full of dragonflies and places for catfish to hide. This location is a must-go-to for landlubbers of all skills.

In the spring the trout almost jump on your hook. But there is a creel limit of one largemouth bass a day. You may even encounter waterfowl or Canadian geese, but stay away because th
c2d
ey are protective of their young. They don’t allow boats or wading in Sand Pond.

Landlubbers can cast their lines and catch these fish:

  • Bluegill
  • Channel catfish
  • Largemouth bass
  • Rainbow trout

10. Fox Chain O’ Lakes


The Fox Chain O’ Lakes is an impressive 987-acre fishing location with 488 miles of shoreline for anglers of all stripes very close to Chicago. The chain is a continuous string of lakes on the Fox River, without counting 5 adjacent lakes, that makes a fantastic fishing and boating location.

The deeper waters of the Fox Chain are heavily populated with motorized watercraft, especially in the weekends, thanks to the lakes’ close proximity to Chicago and Madison (steer clear of Fox Lake if you’re a peace-seeking angler at the end of the week).

The chain has been described as “the busiest, most used inland waterway per acre” in America.

But there are plenty of spots – look for shallower waters, where you can have your fishing fix in peace while admiring the natural scenery. The lakes are packed with bluegill, large-mouths, small-mouths, catfish, and walleye.

If bluegill is what you’re after, set camp on the 45-foot deep Catherine Lake. For Northern pike and trophy-sized bass head to Channel Lake. For a peaceful day bank fishing and excellent panfish, choose Buff Lake or Petite Lake, two smaller ponds in the chain.

Grass Lake is the shallowest in the chain (3 ft) but it is home to plenty of pike, catfish, and bass. For muskie, head to Fox Lake, but since it is heavily boat populated over the weekends get help from a local guide or do it yourself in off-season or during the week.

Even better, Lake Shabbona, which is a two-hour drive from Fox, is reportedly jam-packed with muskies. You can’t get back empty-handed from Shabbona.

The Fox Chain lakes aren’t short of campgrounds, bait shops, marinas, swimming locations, and local guides to fishing hot spots.

The guides specialized on catching the elusive muskie, or ‘Musky’ in local slang, are some of the best in the state, so if you’re looking for an adrenaline-packed fishing expedition that’s hard to forget don’t hesitate to book a trip beforehand. And bring Junior with you.

In wintertime, some of the lakes make great spots for ice fishing but check the state and local regulations for such endeavor before embarking on a fishing trip.

Here are the fish species that you’re most likely to see on the end of your line at the Fox Chain O’ Lakes:

  • Bluegill
  • Bass
  • Flathead catfish
  • Northern Pike
  • Walleye
  • Muskie
  • Black and white crappie
  • Perch
  • Other panfish

Bonus Lake: Lake Shelbyville

Lake Shelbyville marina

Lake Shelbyville is a man-made wonder in central Illinois. This artificial reservoir with 11,100 acres of pool surface and 172 miles of shoreline turns 50 this year.

The lake was originally build to shield Kaskaskia River Valley of rampant flooding, but in the meantime it has turned into a beloved attraction for anglers and vacationers alike.

With eight public beaches, just as many public campgrounds, 3 marinas, and more than 1,000 campsites, there’s plenty to do at the lake. Lake Shelbyville attracts throngs of anglers especially from early May to late June when the most predominant fish species, the white bass, can be caught by the hundreds.

It is estimated that around one million white bass now call Lake Shelbyville their home, with many fishing stories claiming that the white bass population there is so abundant that anglers can catch bass at almost every cast.

Other popular fish species at Lake Shelbyville include:

  • Bigmouth buffalo (trophy up to 20 lbs)
  • Muskie
  • Walleye
  • Carp (very popular with bowfishing enthusiasts)
  • Crappie (there were reported record catch rates in the last couple of years)
  • Freshwater drum
  • Sauger
  • Yellow bass
  • Striped bass fingerlings

Final Thoughts

There’s no shortage of amazing fishing spots in Illinois. The Prairie State’s wide system of lakes and rivers offers plenty of room for both beginner and advanced anglers to cast a line and be rewarded royally soon afterward.

All Illinois fishing destinations on our list offer countless opportunities to catch some jaw-dropping trophy fish to remember for a lifetime. No wonder Illinois is currently one of the best places to throw a line in the Midwest.

Walleye Fishing Tips: How to Fish for Walleye and Catch Them

There’s a reason why four states claim the walleye as their state fish. Not only do walleye give anglers exciting, fast-paced action, they’re one of the best tasting fish you can hoist out of freshwater beside Northern Pike.

Found in lakes, reservoirs, and rivers throughout the U.S. and Canada, walleye are a very accessible fish, perfect for brand new anglers and seasoned pros alike.

If you’re ready to learn how to catch walleye, this article covers everything you need to know to get started chasing this fun-to-catch, delicious fish.

Walleye can be found all across the continental United States, but catching them requires patience, skill, and tact. Let’s jump in.

Meet the Walleye

Walleye are native to Canada and much of the Northern United States, especially Minnesota, but have been introduced in waters from coast to coast, as far south as Arkansas. Walleye can be caught year-round by boat or from shore, and in the north, are a prime target for ice fisherman in the winter.

As the largest member of the perch family, walleye commonly grow up to 30 inches long and can weigh over 10 pounds. Male walleye reach maximum weights of approximately 6 pounds, whereas female walleye can grow well beyond the 10-pound mark.

Walleye have an olive to dark green back, brown-tinted yellow sides, and white bellies. They have a long but stout body, a tall, spiny dorsal fin, and a large mouth with sharp teeth.

Walleye get their name from their large, glassy, blind-looking, “wall-eyes.” Their eyes have a reflective layer within the retina that helps them see in low light conditions. As predators, walleye use their excellent vision to their advantage, doing most of their hunting at dusk, dawn, and throughout the night.

Bait fish like minnows and the fry of other species are the primary food source of Walleye. In addition to bait fish, walleye feed on leeches, nightcrawlers, and really just about anything swimming that will fit in their mouth.

Where to Find Walleye

Closeup of walleye with bait in its mouth

Walleye are a cool-water fish, favoring water slightly warmer than what a trout might prefer, but not as warm as the waters where bass and panfish thrive. Lakes and large rivers with cool, clean water, and a sandy or gravel bottom are ideal habitats for walleye.

Kayak anglers and twin kayak anglers may want to stick to bass, sunfish and crappies and grab a regular boat for fishing walleye due to the depths they commonly reside in.

If you’re looking for a reliable kayak, check out our quick buyer’s guide and kayak reviews: Find the Best Fishing Kayak.

Deep Water During the Day

During the day, walleye spend most of their time in deep water, from depths of 15 to well over 30-feet.

Depending on the season and conditions, walleye either stay close to the bottom in deep water or move higher up in the water column to feed on schools of baitfish.

Shallow Water at Dusk and Dawn

Late in the evening and early in the morning, walleye often move into the shallows to feed, eating their fill of baitfish before retreating to deeper water.

You’ll find them cruising along the shore near weed lines, rocky points, and other structure as they use their excellent eyesight to hunt.

Overcast Days and Choppy Water

There are two conditions where you’ll often find walleye feeding throughout the day: overcast days and choppy water.

Since dark, cloudy days and choppy water, dubbed “walleye chop” by anglers, both limit the amount of light that can penetrate the water, these conditions give walleye the advantage over prey with lesser eyesight.

Walleye Fishing Gear

Before you set out on your next Walleye fishing trip, you are going to want to make sure you have the proper gear setup. Outfitting yourself correctly comes with multiple challenges. You’ll want to make sure you have the right fishing rod, reel, fishing line, lures and bait.

To help you avoid any missteps, we’ve outlined what we feel are practical options for all your walleye fishing equipment needs in the breakdown below.

1. Choosing a Rod for Walleye Fishing

Even though walleye can get pretty big, they are notorious for having a very delicate bite.

They are also known to spit out a lure
within a few seconds once they realize it’s fake.

To maximize your success in detecting a bite and hooking a walleye, you need a rod that’s highly sensitive, but stiff enough to help you make a quick, solid hook set.

You also need a rod that’s powerful enough to help you get larger fish to the boat but isn’t too much of a pain to carry with you on longer fishing trips.

Rods for Jigging and Lure Fishing:

Fast to extra fast action rods in the 5 1/2 to 6-foot range with medium-light to medium power are ideal for techniques like vertical jigging and other types of lure fishing for walleye.

The shorter length reduces the distance between the rod tip and your hands, which helps you feel bites sooner. Shorter rods also weigh less than longer rods, which can reduce fatigue during long days of jigging and casting.

When you’re jigging in very deep water, the stiffer, fast action rod helps you impart lively action to your jig and helps you set the hook quickly and powerfully.

Rods for Live Bait Rigging:

Moderate to fast action rods in the 6 1/2 to 7 1/2 foot range with light to medium power are best suited for live bait rigging applications. They can also pull double duty for many cast and retrieve techniques.

The lighter power gives you a more sensitive rod overall which helps you detect subtle bites, and the longer length gives you more leverage to make a solid hook set.

With more flexible, moderate action, the rod acts as a shock absorber, giving the fish more time to eat the bait before detecting the tension of the line, thus increasing your chances of a hookup.

Rods for Trolling:

Most walleye anglers who do a lot of trolling prefer medium to medium-heavy rods with moderate action in the 7 1/2 to 10-foot range.

Since trolling rods are likely to get banged up in the boat, fiberglass is often used because, while it isn’t as sensitive as graphite, it’s more durable.

Using a longer rod for trolling keeps your line away from the boat and reduces the risk of getting tangled up in the propellers.

Since the act of trolling bait and lures puts continuous stress on a rod, a rod with a more flexible, moderate action serves as a better shock absorber.

2. Best Reels for Walleye

Pflueger President

Similar to when fishing for white or black crappie, spinning reels are perhaps the most versatile, durable, and easy to use of all the reels used for walleye fishing.

For jigging, lure fishing, and live bait rigging, a good quality spinning reel such as the Pflueger President will cover most scenarios and last for many seasons.

Shimano Tekota

If you plan on doing a lot of trolling, you’ll want to look for a reel with a higher line capacity and a faster retrieve speed. Many trolling walleye anglers gravitate towards the traditional round baitcasting style reels such as the Shimano Tekota 300LC.

The Tekota has all the line capacity you’ll need, and even has a built-in line counter so you know exactly how much line to let out to get your lures and bait to the right depth.

Young anglers and novice casters may want to consider using a spincast reel when first starting out. The simple thumb-button casting of a spincast reel makes it easy to focus on catching fish instead of worrying about tangling up the line.

The Zebco Omega ZO3PRO spincast reel is tough enough to handle larger walleye, but still offers the easy-to-use functionality of a classic spincast reel.

3. Line Selection for Walleye

Standard monofilament line in the 8-12 lb test range works well for most walleye fishing methods. Many walleye anglers, however, have found that braid and superlines offer a few distinct benefits over monofilament.

Braid and superlines in the 8-12 pound test range have a significantly smaller diameter than monofilament of the same strength. This allows you to load more line on your reel and also helps you cast greater distances.

Braided line has little or no stretch, which helps animate a jig or lure when fishing deep, and helps make a quick, solid hook set.

For heavier duty fishing applications like trolling with lots of weight or dive boards, you may want to use a higher strength line, up to 20-pound test, but you don’t want to go too high.

Since most of your walleye fishing will be done on or near the bottom, it’s inevitable that you’ll get snagged every once in awhile.

If your line is too strong it can be difficult to break free, in which case you’d have to cut your line, which can get expensive over time. Save the thicker lines for carp fishing and just roll with the punches.

4. Lures for Walleye

While live bait has been the go-to method used to catch walleye for ages, artificial jigs and lures have become more and more popular among anglers of all skill levels. Here are some of the most popular and effective lures to catch walleye.

Jigs

Jigs are very versatile and can be fished in the standard vertical jigging manner, or can be used as part of a trolling rig.

Some anglers like to add small pieces of bait, either minnows or nightcrawlers, to their jigs to entice even more bites.

Jig Heads for Walleye:

For walleye, the best jig head sizes to use range from 1/16 ounce to 1 ounce. The Northland Fireball jig heads are designed with walleye anglers in mind and are a great place to start if you’re not sure what to buy.

They have an extra eyelet to attach a stinger hook and have a shorter shank that works well with standard jig bodies, and can be used with live bait as well.

Jig Bodies for Walleye:

Curly tail grubs, like the Yamamoto Single Tail Grub, come in a wide range of sizes used to target different species, but for walleye, you’ll want them in the 3 to 5-inch range.

When balanced on the right size jig head hook, curly tail grubs wiggle and pulsate when pulled through the water, imitating the action of a live minnow.

For an even more realistic imitation of a minnow or other bait fish, you can use one of the many swimbaits available, like the PowerBait Ripple Shad.

When rigged on a jig head and pulled through the water, their paddle-like tails wag and vibrate creating an action that walleye can’t resist.

Spoons

Just like bass, spoons often catch walleye when nothing else will. There are two main types of spoons used to catch walleye: jigging spoons and flutter spoons. Jigging spoons are usually fished by vertical jigging and imitate an injured or dying minnow falling to the bottom.

Flutter spoons can be fished either cast and retrieve or as part of a trolling rig, acting more as attractors than any specific imitation.

Jigging spoons are narrow, heavy, and designed to get to the bottom quickly. Spoons weighing between 1/2 ounce and 1 ounce are ideal for walleye, with 3/4 ounce being a good all-around size for many conditions.

There are many different styles of spoons to choose from and all provide different action, but The Cotton Cordell C.C. jigging spoon is a time-tested classic that every walleye angler should have in their tackle box.

Flutter spoons, like the Michigan Stinger Scorpion Spoon, have wider, thinner blades that take longer to sink but provide a more fast-paced wobble and flash. Since they weigh less, flutter spoons often need additional weight added when casting or trolling.

Crankbaits

Crankbaits are hard bodied lures with a lip that causes them to dive down when pulled through the water. Most crankbaits are shaped like a baitfish, and the shad style crankbaits are most effective on walleye.

The best crankbaits, like the Berkley Flicker Shad (pictured above), have a rattle inside that makes a noise, making the crankbait even more attractive walleye.

Crankbaits can be fished by casting or by trolling, and are great when you need to cover lots of water to find fish.

5. Bait for Walleye

For those times when you try every lure in your tackle box yet nothing seems to work, live bait will rarely let you down.

The best bait to catch walleye is often what they feed on naturally, and different baits work better than others depending on the season and conditions.

Minnows

For most walleye anglers, minnows are the live bait of choice. You can use minnows year-round, but they are typically most productive in the spring and fall when the water is colder.

In many regions, shiners are the most widely available type of minnow and are sold at most bait shops. Creek chubs, shad, and red tails also make good live bait for walleye. If you have a cast net, you can catch your own bait, but if not, head to your local bait shop and they should have what you need.

You can use minnows anywhere from 2 inches up to 8 inches long. Smaller minnows will likely land you good eating size walleyes, whereas the larger minnows will help you hook into some real trophies.

Leeches

Ribbon leeches and tiger leeches are found in abundance in many lakes and rivers and make excellent bait for walleye. Leeches are very hardy creatures and fished most effectively in water with temperatures in the 60s and 70s.

Bait shops often carry both varieties of leeches or whatever happens to be the preferred variety for the area in a range of sizes, anywhere from 2 to 8 inches long.

Nightcrawlers

Nightcrawlers can be used in nearly all conditions, but are favored for fishing in warmer waters.

Since nightcrawlers are so versatile (and cost effective), it’s always a good idea to have a few packs on hand for a day of walleye fishing.

Walleye Fishing Tactics

Walleye are a very approachable fish. From the simple act of jigging, to elaborate and sometimes complicated trolling rigs, walleye have something to offer all anglers, regardless of skill level.

Here are a few rigs and techniques to help you get started. Before we jump into our tips, let’s take a look at a great video from Tim Galati Outdoors:

1. Jigging

Jigging is a very versatile technique that can be used in nearly all water depths, conditions, and seasons. Jigging can be done with soft plastics, spoons, and with live bait, but regardless of what’s at the end of your line, the basic rig and technique is essentially the same.

How to Set up a Jig Rig:

Setting up a jig rig couldn’t be easier: simply tie on your jigging spoon or jig head to your main line and you’re ready to fish. Some anglers like to attach a swivel and leader material to their line before tying on a spoon or jig, but for most applications tying onto your main line is best. If using a jig head, thread on a soft plastic jig body or live bait onto the hook.

Use lighter spoons and jigs when fishing in shallower, calmer water, and heavier spoons and jigs when fishing deeper, or in heavy currents. Ideally, you want just enough weight to get your lure down, but not too much to limit its movement and action.

How to Fish Jigs:

Most jigging for walleye is done vertically, directly below your boat. There isn’t really any casting involved when jigging; you simply open the bail on your spinning reel and let your jig or spoon drop into the water until it reaches the bottom.

Once you feel your jig hit the bottom, close the bail on your spinning reel and reel in any slack until your line is tight. Walleye have a very subtle bite and can strike at any moment, so as soon as your jig hits the bottom be prepared to set the hook.

With your jig on the bottom, gently raise your rod tip between 1 and 3 feet then drop it back down. This movement will lift your jig off the bottom and animate it in the water, hopefully getting the attention of a nearby walleye. Continue this action with brief pauses in between.

When you feel a bite, set the hook with a quick, firm raise of the rod tip. If your hook connects, reel in your prize. If you don’t get a bite, move to a different location or try a different lure.

2. Cast and Retrieve

At dusk and dawn when walleye move into the shallows to feed, cast and retrieve fishing with crankbaits and other lures like jig heads with shad imitations, can be very effective.

How to Set up a Cast and Retrieve Rig:

To rig up for cast and retrieve fishing, simply tie on a lure to your main line and cast away.

For any given fishing situation, there are usually a handful of lures that will prove effective. As you fish, switch out lures until you find the one that gets a walleye’s attention.

Size, color, and action in the water are your primary considerations when choosing a lure for cast and retrieve fishing.

The best advice is to try and “match the hatch” by using a lure that represents or imitates the forage of your local walleye.

Start with natural colors like silvers, grays, and whites when using crankbaits or shad imitations, but there are times when you’ll need a brighter, flashier, more attractor-based lure to get a walleye’s attention.

How Fish Cast and Retrieve:

Cast and retrieve fishing is usually best done near the shoreline at dusk and dawn when walleye move into the shallows to feed. Structures like rock piles, jetties, vegetation, sunken logs, stumps, and flooded timber are great places to find walleye feeding on baitfish in the shallows.

When you find a good area with adequate structure, simply cast your lure near the structure and start your retrieve. Most of the time walleye will be near the bottom, so you’ll need to give your lure time to sink to get into the strike zone. There’s no one right way to retrieve a lure; the challenge is to experiment with your retrieve pattern until you get a strike.

3. Trolling

In large lakes, reservoirs, and rivers, trolling is one of the most effective ways to cover lots of water and find fish. In essence, trolling involves hanging lures and bait out the back of the boat as you slowly motor along. In the world of walleye fishing, there are many different trolling rigs to use, from the simplest to the most elaborate and complex.

Before we get into trolling rigs, check out this huge walleye that was reeled in by a fisherman at Josh Outdoors on Youtube.

The Bottom Bouncer and Spinner Trolling Rig:

This trolling technique involves a special weight called a “bottom bouncer” with a spinner blade and crawler harness trailing behind.

The spinner blades create flash and vibration that draws walleye in, and the addition of live bait like nightcrawlers or minnows gives off a scent that gets the walleye to bite.

Setting Up a Bouncer and Spinner Rig:

The basic bottom bouncer rig and spinner rig consists of:

  • A bottom bouncer. This is a weight attached to a piece of wire bent at a 90-degree angle. The bottom bouncer keeps the rig down on the bottom without getting snagged on rocks and bottom structure (or that’s the idea anyway).

  • Spinner blades. You’ll find spinner blades in many different shapes, sizes, and colors to customize your rig.

  • Colored beads or blade spacer bodies. These separate the spinner blades from the crawler harness. The Berkley Walleye Rig Making Kit has an assortment of both spinner blades and beads and can be helpful when getting started.

  • A crawler harness. This consists of one, two, or three evenly spaced hooks that trail behind the spinner blades and beads. The number of hooks should be determined based on the type of bait being used; one hook for minnows and leeches, and two or three hooks for nightcrawlers depending on size.

If you plan on building your own rigs from scratch, you’ll need hooks. Most anglers prefer octopus style hooks for this application. Size 2 or 4 is perfect. Gamakatsu makes some of the best.

You can either buy all the components separately and build your own rigs, or you can buy pre-made spinner and crawler harness rigs that are ready to tie on and fish.


How to set up the bottom bouncer and spinner rig with a pre-made spinner rig and crawler harness:

  • Tie the bottom bouncer to your main line.

  • Attach the loop end of the pre-made rig to the swivel attached to the bottom bouncer.


How to build a bottom bouncer and spinner rig from scratch:

  • Tie the bottom bouncer to your main line.

  • Cut a 3- to 4-foot long piece of leader material. Many anglers prefer fluorocarbon for this application as it is less visible underwater and more abrasion resistant. 15- to 17-pound test is what you want.

  • At one end of the leader, tie on a hook using a snell knot.

  • If you’re using more than one hook, attach the second hook to the line about 3 inches up from the first hook using another snell knot. Repeat the process again if using 3 hooks.

  • Next, slide your colored beads onto the leader directly above the last hook. Try to match the color of the beads to the color of the spinner. Use anywhere from 4 to 8 beads.

  • Slide your spinner blade onto your leader so that it rests against the beads.

  • Tie a loop to the end of your leader using either a double surgeon’s loop knot or a perfection loop. When you’re ready to fish, attach the loop to the swivel on your bottom bouncer.

  • Secure your minnow, leech, or nightcrawler to the hook or hooks and you’re ready to go!


Fishing the Bottom Bouncer and Spinner Trolling Rig:

The key to fishing this rig is dialing in the right boat speed. Ideally, you want to troll at speeds of 1 to 2 mph.

With your boat at the appropriate speed, make a short cast with your rig, or simply drop it in the water and let out line. You want your line to extend into the water at roughly a 45-degree angle.

You can either place your rod into a rod holder or hold the rod in your hands as you troll. While holding the rod you should feel the bottom bouncer making contact with the bottom. When you see a bend in your rod, it’s time to set the hook and reel in your walleye!

How to Find and Catch Walleye in Every Season

As with most fish species, walleye behave differently throughout the year. Each season brings unique fishing opportunities and challenges, and it’s your job as an angler to adapt accordingly to catch your limit.

It’s worth noting that geography can also play a part in locating the best walleye fishing areas. Sticking to the northern states in the winter comes with problems (weather) but you can still fish for plenty of Walleye, even in adverse conditions.

1. Fishing for walleye in the Spring

In the springtime, water temperatures begin to rise, and walleye begin to spawn. The spawn brings walleye into sandy-bottomed shallows close to shore where they make nests and lay their eggs. During this time, the fish get very aggressive, striking at nearly anything that comes near their nests.

Cast and retrieve fishing with crankbaits or shad imitation lures can be very productive when walleye are in the shallows. Dusk and dawn are hot times to catch larger female walleye, as they will often leave their nest to cruise the shallows and feed. Cast your lure near structure where you would expect baitfish to hold, slowly retrieve, and get ready to set the hook!

Trolling near shore with crankbaits can also be very effective, especially if you’re not sure exactly where the fish are located. Try to find sand bars or weeded areas with sandy bottoms to slowly troll over. If you get a few bites in a certain area, consider stopping the boat to do some cast and retrieve fishing.

2. Fishing for Walleye in the summer

As spring transitions into summer, the water warms and walleye head to deeper water. Vertical jigging in deep water can be very effective. White curly tail grub jigs or basic silver jigging spoons are good lures to use in the summer.

As summer progresses, the fish will head into the deepest parts of a lake or reservoir and a good fish finder really comes in handy. When searching for fish in the summer, trolling techniques that use deep-diving crankbaits, heavy bottom bouncers, or planer and diver boards are often your best bet. When you do find a pod of walleye, stop trolling and switch over to vertical jigging with spoons, curly tail grubs, or live bait.

Although the biggest walleye spend the bulk of their time in deep water in the summer, they still often move into the shallows at night to feed on bait fish. Night fishing with crankbaits in the shallows can be very productive in the summer, but it’s helpful to be familiar with an area before trying to navigate at night.

3. Fishing for Walleye in the Fall

Most walleye anglers consider fall to one of the toughest seasons to catch walleye consistently. The key to successful fall walleye fishing is being versatile and willing to experiment with different locations, techniques, and lures until you find fish that are willing to bite.

As walleye transition from their deep water summer dwellings into their fall and winter locations, their feeding activity often slows down. Regardless of your fishing methods, try slowing down. Use less weight on your jigs to get them to fall slower and have a more relaxed jigging action; use smaller crankbaits with a slower retrieve; ramp down your trolling motor a few clicks. And if slowing down doesn’t work, try speeding up! You never really know how walleye will act in the fall, so be prepared to try everything and get creative!

4. Fishing for walleye in the Winter

In the majority of walleye fisheries in the north, winter fishing for walleye generally means ice fishing with a hand or power auger by your side. In southern states where the lakes and reservoirs don’t ice over, many of the same principles of fall walleye fishing apply to winter. The fishing is generally much slower and identifying patterns become more challenging. Try to fish with an open mind, be willing to experiment, and when you do hook into that winter walleye, celebrate!

Three Insider Tips to Hook and Land More Walleye

Fishing for walleye can be a very rewarding pursuit, especially when dinner time rolls around. To you make sure you don’t come home empty-handed, here are a few tips to help you hook and land more walleye.

  • When vertical jigging, use a shorter rod stroke. Walleye spend most of their time very close to the bottom, which is where you’ll get the majority of your strikes. If you use too big of a rod stroke when giving your jig or spoon action, you’ll likely pull it out of the strike zone. Similarly, walleye often take a jig off the bottom after it lands; if you use too big or powerful of a rod stroke, you can pull the jig out of the fish’s mouth and miss the hook set.
  • Try a stop-and-go retrieve with crankbaits. Sometimes a steady retrieve will get walleyes to bite, but in times when the fish are a bit more spooky, or just feeding more deliberately, a stop-and-go retrieve can be more effective. The erratic action imparted to a crankbait by stop-and-go may more closely represent an injured bait fish and the pause just might give a walleye an easier shot at meal.
  • Try a stop-and-go retrieve with crankbaits. Sometimes a steady retrieve will get walleyes to bite, but in times when the fish are a bit more spooky, or just feeding more deliberately, a stop-and-go retrieve can be more effective. The erratic action imparted to a crankbait by stop-and-go may more closely represent an injured bait fish and the pause just might give a walleye an easier shot at meal.

Image credits:

spro_europe via Instagram; scotaitken via Instagram; reelfishingmi via Instagram

Fishing in Maine: Best Places to Catch Fish

Maine is as famous for its blueberries as it is for lobsters and fishing. It doesn’t matter if you are hitting the lakes with a pontoon boat and your favorite fish finder, or if you are doing some fishing off one of the coast lines. Maine offers a variety of excellent fishing spots for both competitive and recreational anglers.

There are number of excellent fishing locations, no matter if you prefer to test your mettle in fresh or saltwater fishing.

Maine is one of the most scenic states in the entire United States and going to any one of the locations we’ve featured here will leave you aching to go back a lot sooner than you planned.

Maine has some of the purest (and largest) bodies of freshwater in the entire United States, and as a result it has some of the best freshwater fishing you can find.

Let’s look at some of the top locations and what you can expect to catch in each location on your next fishing trip.

Both Penobscot and Kennebec fishing areas are home to anadromous fish species, making them great areas for both saltwater fishing and freshwater fishing depending on the time of year.

Let’s jump in and take a look at our favorite 13 locations in more detail. All of the below locations are brimming with all different types of local fish with and will make for an excellent fishing excursion.


1. Cobbosseecontee Lake:

I,Lmichaud [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 OR CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0], Via Wikimedia Commons

Cobbosseecontee Lake offers a number of fishing opportunities for any serious or recreational angler.

It is located in the towns of Litchfield, Manchester, Monmouth, West Gardiner and Winthrop Maine. You can view the exact location via Google Maps by clicking this link here.

Cobbosseecontee Lake is home to a number of different fish species. Depending on the time of year, you can find the following species when heading out for an afternoon of fishing:

  • Cobbosseecontee Lake

    Brown Trout

  • Brook Trout
  • Rainbow Smelt
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Largemouth Bass
  • White Perch
  • Yellow Perch
  • Golden Shiners
  • Emerald Shiners
  • Bullheads
  • Readbreast Sunfish
  • Pumpkinseed Sunfish
  • Black Crappie

While you can catch any of the fish we have listed here, Cobbosseecontee Lake is known for being one of the best fishing lakes in Northeast for Bass fishing.

Anglers come here from all over the country to fish for bass and some of the larger bass caught in the state of Maine have come from this lake.

Typically the best time for bass fishing in Cobbosseecontee is post-spawn for Smallmouth Bass and pre-spawn for Largemouth Bass (typically around mid May to early June).

Some of the best locations on this lake to catch fish are the lily pond (Largemouth Bass) and Horseshoe island (Smallmouth Bass).


2. Megunticook Lake:

Megunticook Lake” (CC BY 2.0) by Fyn Kynd

Megunticook Lake is a unique lake that’s filled with a number of interesting smaller islands. The lake serves as the town’s public water supply for nearby towns.

The lake is located in Knox county and spreads through the towns of Camden, Hope and Lincolnville Maine. It’s the largest lake in Knox county. You can visit the exact location via Google maps by clicking here.

Megunticook Lake is also home to a number of different fish species. The spawn season has a range, but you can expect to find the following fish:

  • Megunticook Lake

    Largemouth Bass

  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Bullheads
  • Crappie
  • Yellow Perch
  • White Perch
  • Pickerel
  • Brown Trout
  • Brook Trout
  • Steelhead Trout
  • Walleye

While you can catch any of these fish on the lake, you are most likely to reel in Smallmouth Bass if you are fishing on Megunticook. They are quite common as are Brown Trout.

Some of the best times to hit Megunticook will be Pre and Post Spawn, towards the end of May. Crane Island is a great place to setup your fishing spot for the day on a kayak or a boat.


3. Sebago Lake:

Sebago Lake Maine

Roots of a tree on a beach in Sebago Lake, Maine

Sebago Lake offers some amazing fishing for people in southwest Maine. The lake is close to Naples and is just just an hour outside of Portland, Maine. You can see the exact location of Sebago lake via Google Maps by clicking here.

Sebago Lake is home to many different types of fish. Below are some of the most common fish you can expect to find after spending a day on the water:

  • Sebago Lake Maine

    Largemouth Bass

  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Landlocked Salmon
  • Yellow Perch
  • Brown Trout
  • Brook Trout
  • Lake Whitefish
  • American Eel
  • Northern Pike

Sebago Lake is the second deepest lake in the state, and the basin was formed by glacial movement. It’s also known as a one of the best places to catch landlocked salmon. The most popular time to catch salmon is usually in spring, right after the ice melts.

If you aren’t out to catch landlocked salmon, you’ll find Smallmouth bass and plenty of lake trout. Most lake trout ranges from the 7 to 10 pound range, but there have been trout known to have been taken that are in the 20 pound range on this lake.


4. Rangeley Lake:

Rangeley Lake Maine

Overhead Mountain View of Rangeley Lake, Maine

Rangeley Lake is in Northwest Maine, and only a couple hours from the New Hampshire border. You can see the exact location of Rangeley lake by clicking here for a location on Google Maps. Rangeley lake is one of the tributaries out of the Androscoggin River. There are plenty of access points around the entire lake for people to access and fish.

Rangeley lake is another lake that’s notorious for Landlocked Salmon. You can also find plenty of Brook Trout and Lake trout when fishing here. Here is a basic list of the fish you can expect to catch when spending an afternoon at Rangeley Lake:

  • Rangely Lake Maine

    Landlocked Salmon

  • Atlantic Salmon
  • Brook Trout
  • Lake Trout
  • Bullheads
  • Yellow Perch
  • Lake Whitefish

Rangeley lake also has great fishing opportunities for young anglers. You can check out the Haley Pond Outlet which is restricted to people under age 16. There are also live bait restrictions as well.

For the exact location of the Haley Pond outlet, you can also checkout this link here to get your directions via Google Maps.


5. Belgrade Lakes:

Belgrade Lake Maine

By Tichnor Brothers, Publisher [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Belgrade lakes area is actually a chain of lakes near Belgrade, Maine. The chain consists of East Pond, North Pond, Great Pond, Long Pond, and Messalonskee Lake. You can see the location here via Google Maps.

The Belgrade lakes chains are all famous fishing locations where you can find several different types of fish. The most common fish you’ll find here are:

  • Belgrade Lakes

    Northern Pike

  • Largemouth Bass
  • Walleye
  • Yellow Perch
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Brown Trout
  • Bullhead
  • Sunfish
  • Black Crappie
  • Landlocked Salmon

You’ll even be known to find a few landlocked salmon in a few of the lake chains. Some of the lakes are bigger, making for a more vast fishing experience.

For a complete guide of how to fish the Belgrade Lakes chain, SportingJournal has an excellent write up that showcases the best lakes for each type of fish. Because it’s a chain of lakes, this means you can typically travel from lake to lake with ease and it also means that you should have many different types of fish that you can fish for.


6. Androscoggin Lake:

Androscoggin River

Jon Platek [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Androscoggin Lake is a lake in between Leeds and Wayne in the state of Maine. There are a few campgrounds nearby, and it’s a popular camping and fishing location. You can view the exact location here via Google Maps.

Androscoggin lake is a decent sized lake with multiple fishing locations for many different types of fish.

Both Wayne and Leeds (nearby towns) are primarily farming and small residential areas. Both towns have populations of less than 2500 people. The only public access to the lake is the public boat landing off Route 133 near Wayne.

A robust fishing location, here are some of the fish you can expect to catch at Androscoggin Lake:

  • Androscoggin Lake

    Largemouth Bass

  • Pickerel
  • Brown Trout
  • Yellow Perch
  • White Perch
  • Sunfish
  • American Eel

Androscoggin lake is a relatively shallow lake with the deepest areas coming in right around 40 feet. It’s 3,826 Acres which lends itself well to plenty of different popular fishing spots.

You’ll need to get there by Kayak or a boat with an extremely low horsepower motor as 15 HP personal watercraft are the maximum allowed on the lake. It’s a popular location for tandem kayak fishing and for sun bathers alike.

Androscoggin also has plenty of sight-seeing areas with a few islands to check out, including Androscoggin island.


7. Moosehead Lake:

Moosehead Lake

By Dennis Redfield (originally posted to Flickr as Moosehead Lake) [CC by 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Moosehead lake is in the Maine Highlands and is the largest lake in the state. It’s a popular fishing location, and there are plenty of different types of fish you can catch here. You can check out the location of Moosehead lake on google maps here.

Because of the sheer size of Moosehead lake, there are a number of different fish species that you can catch here. Some of those species include:

  • Moosehead Lake Maine

    Landlocked Salmon (Wild and Stocked)

  • Lake Trout
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Brook Trout (Spring)
  • Northern Pike (Trophy)
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Yellow Perch
  • White Perch

It spans 75,451 acres and is 32 miles long. It’s 5 miles wide at it’s widest area and has a 350 mile shoreline.

There are few limitations to the type of boat you can use and because the lake is so huge, you’ll have plenty of room to roam.

Moosehead lake used to be an extremely popular place among celebrities looking to get away and have an unforgettable fishing excursion. During the 1980’s, fishing declined and tourism dropped.

Since then, many different conservation efforts have been undertaken to restore the fish population in the lake and it has once again become a hot spot for anglers across the country.

Outside of being an extremely fun lake to fish, the scenery at Moosehead is second to none and it’s truly one of Maine’s most beautiful and scenic locations.


8. West Grand Lake:

West Grand Lake

Beautiful afternoon on West Grand Lake in Maine

West Grand Lake is on the eastern side of Maine, closer to New Brunswick. It’s a popular fishing hot spot and there’s several different types of fish you can catch.

At 14,000 acres, it’s a large lake and is in a picturesque setting amongst the beautiful forest. You can see the location here on Google maps.

Grand Lake Stream is one of the most popular fishing locations at West Grand Lake. You’ll need to bring your Ice Auger in the winter because it’s also a popular ice fishing location. Here are some of the fish you can expect to catch in an expedition to West Grand Lake:

  • West Grand Lake

    Landlocked Salmon

  • Lake Trout
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Lake Whitefish
  • Black Crappie (Spring)
  • Walleye

West Grand Lake Stream offers some of the better fishing in the state and there’s plenty of lodging accommodations for longer fishing excursions.

It’s one of the few major areas in Maine that has held landlocked salmon, especially in Grand Lake Stream.

The lake has a depth of 120+ feet and limited shoreline access. The lake can be rocky in many locations so if you are using a boat to hit the lake, you’ll want to use one of the two available public boat launches to hit the lake.


9. Kezar Lake:

Beautiful evening on Kezar Lake, Maine

Kezar Lake is a lake the New Hampshire border. It’s broken up into sections called Lower Bay, Northwest Cove, Middle Bay, Fox Cove and Upper Bay. It has a few islands and is a great lake for fishing. You can find the exact location via Google Maps here.

Kezar lake is a popular fishing location for many different types of fish. Here are some of the types of fish you can expect to catch on your next Kezar Lake fishing trip:

  • Kezar Lake

    Smallmouth Bass

  • Largemouth Bass
  • Spotted Bass
  • Striped Bass
  • White Perch
  • Chain Pickerel
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Lake Trout
  • Landlocked Salmon
  • Crappie
  • Walleye

Kezar lake has a small town feel and is a popular location in the summertime. It’s also an extremely popular camping location for families. It’s quite a popular place with kayak fisherman and has several places that are well known for longer term fishing trips.

You’ll want to stick with boats that have motors of 10 horsepower or less as anything higher than that is banned on the Five Kezar ponds. This makes Kayak fishing an excellent choice.


10. China Lake:

China Lake Maine

China Lake Sunset in Maine ” (CC by 2.0) BY Anna McDermott

China lake is a lake that’s considered a “well kept secret” among Maine fisherman. China lake is located in the Mid-Southwestern area of Maine, in between Augusta and Waterville. You can check out the exact location by visiting Google Maps here.

China lake is becoming a little more well known, and the primary fish you can expect to catch here are both Large and Smallmouth bass. Here are some of the additional types of fish that China Lake hosts on a regular basis:

  • China Lake

    Largemouth Bass

  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Brook Trout
  • Lake Trout
  • Brown Trout
  • Landlocked Salmon
  • White & Yellow Perch
  • Sunfish
  • Golden Shiners

China lake has a maximum depth of 85 feet, giving a wide range of depths to go after when fishing. China lake is also host to many different fishing tournaments in the region.

China lake has a couple of different boat launches and both are easily accessible. It’s also home to other outdoor recreation besides fishing. It’s popular for swimming, hiking, biking and sightseeing along some of Maine’s most beautiful countryside.


11. Allagash River & Waterway:

Allagash River Maine

By Blueeyedgabriel (own work) [CC by-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

If you are going to head out on an Allagash River/Waterway fishing trip, you’d better plan your trip well in advance. The Allagash River is a tributary of the Saint John River, which is an absolutely remote area of Northern Maine.

Unlike other lakes in Maine, Allagash isn’t brimming with dozens of species of fish. Those that head to Allagash should expect to catch Brown Trout, Lake trout and Whitefish (in the winter).

With that being said, Allagash is one of the most prolific trout catching areas in all of Maine. It’s not uncommon to head in for a trip and end up with a dozen trout after just one day.

To get to Allagash, there are only a few routes you can take, so proper research is needed. It’s even recommended that you look at charter services or a full on fishing guide if you can afford the services as the regular tour guides are familiar with the additional perils of an Allagash fishing trip.

In the spring/summer, the black flies are especially bad which can deter any dedicated fisherman without the proper preparation.

You can check out how to get to the Allagash waterway by checking out Google Maps here.


12. Kennebec River:

Kennebec River Maine

By Thomsonmg2000 (own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Kennebec Estuary is an extremely important geographical area for the state of Maine as this is where many several fresh water rivers and run offs empty from the uplands down into the sea. Many of these fish migrate from saltwater to spawn in freshwater, and these fish are known as anadromous.

Essentially this is where saltwater and freshwater meet, making for some interesting fishing conditions where you can find both saltwater fish and freshwater fish depending on the type of year.

As a result, there are a number of fish you can catch in the Kennebec river, so let’s look at some of the primary freshwater and saltwater species that call this area home.

  • Kennebec River

    Atlantic Sturgeon

  • Shortnose Sturgeon
  • Atlantic Salmon
  • American Shad
  • American Eel
  • River Herring
  • Alewife
  • Tomcod
  • Rainbow Smelt
  • Brook Trout
  • Striped Bass
  • Landlocked Salmon
  • Carp

As you can see, there are many different types of fish you can potentially land fishing in the Kennebec Estuary depending on the time of year. It’s best to do a little research and make sure you are effectively planning your fishing trip around the types of fish you intend to try and fish for.

There are a few solid resources that can help you effectively plan your next Kennebec fishing trip and we’ve listed those for you below.

If you need directions on how to get to the Kennebec Estuary, you can check out the location via Google maps here.


13. Penobscot River & Bay:

Penobscot River Maine

By Centpacrr [Centpacrr (The Uploader)][CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Like the Kennebec River, Penobscot also plays host to several types of anadromous fish. These are saltwater fish that make the Penobscot their home during spawning season in freshwater. They then return back to saltwater where they live once spawning season is finished.

The Penobscot river runs 109 miles long and it’s the second longest river system in the state when including it’s west and south branches. The west branches of the river are best from May through September.

There are many different types of fish that call the Penobscot home, so let’s look at the different species you may be able to snag when fishing here.

  • Atlantic Salmon
  • Alewife
  • Striped Bass
  • Herring
  • Rainbow Smelt
  • Atlantic Sturgeon
  • American Shad
  • Atlantic Tomcod
  • Shortnose Sturgeon

Penobscot is actually considered one of the best smallmouth bass fishing areas in the entire United States. There are many different laws and fishing regulations depending on what type of fish you plan to fish for, so it’s important to do your research and plan your fishing trip well in advance.

For the exact location of the Penobscot river, you can check out the link via Google Maps here. Please note that there are several different sections of fishing on the Penobscot, so do your research as to which part of the river will suit your next excursion.


Wrapping It Up:

Maine is a very diverse place that offers many different types of fishing opportunities, no matter what fish you like to catch. Maine is also home to some of the most beautiful outdoor locations in the entire United States.

If you are a serious angler and haven’t made a trip out to Maine for fresh or saltwater fishing, you are truly missing out.

Not only can you indulge in some of the best lobster in the country, you’ll have the potential to catch some of the most diverse types of fish in the entire US.

Crappie Fishing Tips: How to Catch White & Black Crappie with Lures, Bait, Rigs, and Jigs

All throughout North America, crappie provide year-round fishing opportunities for anglers who love to catch as much as they love to eat. Lakes, reservoirs, rivers, and ponds are home to these slabby sunfish, and the good news is that where you find one, you often find many. We’ve put a bow on our top crappie fishing tips outlining how to catch crappie so you can catch your limit every season.

Let us start off by saying that this is a monster article. It was designed to be a complete guide to Crappie fishing all in one location. Please read on below for all the Crappie Fishing Tips you need and please share the infographic we’ve put together with all your fellow crappie anglers!

An InfoGraphic on Crappie Fishing

Crappie Fishing Tips - How to Catch White & Black Crappie Infographic
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Meet the Crappie Species: Black vs. White

Crappie are a native species to North America, existing in healthy numbers throughout nearly all of the lower 48 states. They also reside in parts of southern Canada. They are known in different parts of the country by different names.

Here are some of the names you may hear them go by: Black/White Crappie, Speckeled/Bachelor perch, calico/strawberry/oswego bass, papermouth, dirty sunfish, sacalait (sa-ca-lay from your friends in Louisiana), Moonfish, Barfish.

Fisherman with a Black Crappie
A Fisherman on a Lake With a Black Crappie.

There are two typical varieties of crappie: white crappie and black crappie. Both can be found living in the same waters, often schooled up together. They can both be caught using the same lures, bait, and tactics. Black and white crappie share the same general body shape, but differ slightly in coloration and markings:

  • Black Crappie: Primarily silver/slightly gold with black speckled markings all over, and they have 7 or 8 spines on their dorsal fin.
  • White Crappie: Mostly silver, but have only faint vertical bar markings on their sides, and only 6 spines on their dorsal fin.

Crappie can grow up to 20″ long and weigh 5 pounds, but the average size is around 1/4 – 1/2 pound and 8 to 12 inches long. Crappie over 1 pound are considered a prized catch.

Mature crappie feed primarily on aquatic insects, baitfish, worms, and small crayfish.

Looking for Crappie: Where can you find them?

One of the most critical steps in catching crappie is finding them. Crappie move around throughout the year as the spawning season comes and goes and as water temperatures fluctuate. They also have some key habitat requirements that remain constant.

Crappie Tend to Love Structures: Underwater structures like weed beds, rock piles, fallen sunken trees, and dock pilings are places where crappie spend most of their time. They either hovering above, around, or under their favorite areas. For crappie, structure provides safety from predatory birds and larger fish like northern pike. It also offers a reliable source of food such as smaller bait fish that seek out structure for similar reasons.

Crappie also like Deeper Waters: Unless it’s spawning season, crappie favor deeper water making them harder to find, generally 10 to 15 feet deep. Deep water maintains a more consistent temperature than shallow water, which in turn means more stable living conditions.

While crappie prefer deeper water, they don’t go straight to the bottom, which can make locating a school of fish somewhat challenging. Rather, they hang suspended at various depths in the water column. Fishing tactics and strategy come into play here, and most anglers use electronic fish finders to make finding schools of crappie easier.

The Different Types of Rod Choices for Catching Crappie

You don’t need fancy or expensive gear to catch crappie. Since crappie aren’t the largest or toughest fighting fish, like a carp, you’ll encounter, just about any fishing rod setup will work. You’ll want to avoid fly fishing rods and stick to Carbon Fiber or bamboo, and usually keep the weight on the lighter side. Here’s an overview of the rods best suited for crappie fishing.

Telescopic Crappie Poles: If you like the idea of the classic cane pole, but want the advantage of modern materials, a graphite or fiberglass telescopic crappie pole may be just what you need.

For many crappie fishing techniques, very long rods are required to fish effectively. The idea is that the further you get your bait or lure away from the boat, the better your chances are of hooking a fish before scaring the entire school away. Modern crappie poles come in lengths from 8 feet all the way up to 20 feet. Telescopic crappie poles, like the B’n’M Black Widow, collapse to a relatively small size, making them easy to transport and store when not in use.

Telescopic crappie poles are a good option if you plan on doing a lot of bank fishing, especially in heavy brush. They can also be used effectively from a boat for spider rigging, which we’ll cover later. One of the main advantages of a long crappie pole is that they often have a very sensitive tip that helps you detect the most subtle crappie bites.

Here are 2 of our top telescopic crappie pole picks:

PLUSINNO Fishing Rod & Reel Combo

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Plussino Rod & Reel

Best Beginner Setup

OUR RATING

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  •  

DETAILS

  • Great set up for crappie fishermen just starting out
  • Very compact – easily fits in backpack
  • SS hooded reel seat, instant anti-reverse, deep aluminium spool
  • Great value for the price

 


If you already have a reel you can save a few bucks and check out the Shimano FXS 2 Piece Spinning Rod. This is also a great choice if you are looking for an ultralight option that comes in a variety of different lengths.

Shimano FXS 2 Spinning Rod

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Shimano FXS 2

Best Budget Pick

OUR RATING

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DETAILS

  • Great rod for beginners or crappie fishermen on a budget
  • Built to last and ultra-lightweight
  • It folds up into two even pieces
  • Sensitive, tough but flexible
  • Impressive value

 

2. BEST WEATHERPROOF TWO WAY

Ultralight Spinning Rods: Of all the rod types for crappie fishing, you’ll have the most options in terms of selection and configuration when you go with an ultralight spinning rod.

Ultralight spinning rods for crappie come in a wide range of lengths from less than 5 feet to over 16 feet. The length of the rod should be determined based on the fishing tactics and methods you plan on using.

Shorter rods in the 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 foot range are best suited for vertical jigging from a boat. Vertical jigging is usually done with the aid of a fish finder, with the fish you see on the screen located within a small circumference under and around your boat. Using a shorter rod allows you to keep your lure where the fish are without question.

Mid-length rods in the 6 to 7 1/2 foot range are perfect for cast and retrieve fishing with jigs and other lures. The longer rod length helps you make longer, more accurate casts. This is helpful when you want to skip your bait under a dock or an overhanging tree.

Longer spinning rods in the 10 to 16-foot range are the go-to choice for trolling baits and lures when spider rigging. The long length keeps the bait and lures away from the boat and propellers, and helps you cover a broader sweep of water when trolling. Long rods can also pull double duty for fishing slip-float rigs and dipping jigs into places with tight cover.

Most crappie anglers prefer rods with highly sensitive, soft action tips and sturdy butt sections. The soft tip helps you detect the delicate bites crappie are known for, and the sturdy butt section gives you adequate power if you need to horse a crappie out of heavy cover.

Some crappie anglers prefer rods with faster action tips, especially when vertically jigging in deep water. The faster (stiffer) tip helps you impart action to your jig when it’s down 20 feet or more.

For more details on Rod Length, check out the great video below:

Three of the Best Reels for Fishing Crappie

Most ultralight or lightweight spinning reels intended for freshwater use will work just fine for crappie fishing. Since you’ll be using lighter line that’s prone to annoying coiling, choosing a reel with a larger diameter spool is beneficial. It will reduce line memory and help you cast further.

To cover a wide range of crappie fishing scenarios and techniques, a good starting place is to select the smallest or second to smallest reel size of a given model.

1. For Shorter Rods:

KastKing Summer 500 UL

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Kastking Summer 500

Best for Short Rods

OUR RATING

 

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DETAILS

  • Great ultralight reel for panfish
  • Small enough for ice fishing, too
  • Anodized aluminum spool, corrosion-proof high tensile strength graphite frame
  • 9 + 1 MaxiDur ball bearings (anti-reverse)

 


2. For Mid Length Rods:

Pflueger President XT

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Pflueger President XT

Best for Mid Length Rods

OUR RATING

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DETAILS

  • Great all-around spinning reel
  • Can reel in large crappies (around 2 lbs)
  • Has silky smooth drag
  • Nice cork knob and sturdy carbon steel handle

 


3. For Long, Trolling & Slip Float Rods:

KastKing Sharky III

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KastKing Sharky III

Best for Longer Rods

OUR RATING

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DETAILS

  • Excellent reel for medium fish fighting and trolling
  • Smooth drag system with tons of cranking power
  • Closely matches the quality of many higher end reels
  • Outstanding value for the price

 


Choosing the Right Line: Line Selection for Crappie

Most crappie fishing is done with very lightweight line, between 2-6 pound test. However, some crappie anglers who primarily use cane poles and telescopic rods prefer using heavier line. Some anglers choose up to 20-pound test, especially when fishing in heavy brush along the bank.

The standard line type for crappie fishing has always been monofilament, but lately, anglers have started using braided line. Braided line has little or no stretch, which helps when vertical jigging in deep water. Braided line also has less memory than monofilament, and has a smaller diameter; both of which help achieve greater casting distance.

There is one problem you may encounter when using braided line for crappie is that since it has little or no stretch. That problem is that you have to be very gentle when setting the hook so it doesn’t break the line. Monofilament is much more forgiving and shock absorbent, which works in your favor when setting the hook in a crappie’s soft mouth. Monofilament is also easier to break when you get hung up on structure, keeping you from losing your entire rig when you get snagged.

The Best Lures and Bait for Catching Crappie

Crappie can be caught using both bait and artificial lures. What you use largely depends on the time of year and conditions, but also depends on your personal preference for how you like to fish.

Lures can be highly effective in catching crappie but you shouldn’t ever completely pass on live bait either. Both are extremely effective and have their benefits over the other.

Bait is usually cheaper than picking a top dollar lure but lures will be something you can use over and over, year after year. We will dive into the best lures and types of bait in further detail below.

1. Jigs: The Best Lures for Crappie Fishing

Black Crappie Caught Using a Jig
A Black Crappie Caught using a Jig.

By far the most popular and effective lures used to catch crappie are jigs. Jigs are very
versatile, highly adaptable to any fishing condition, and crappie are usually eager to take them when fished properly.

Some jigs are sold as pre-made lures, but for the most part, jigs are more of an interchangeable lure system than a specific lure. The base of every jig is a jig head hook, which is simply a hook with a weighted head. Typically the eye of the hook is positioned 90 degrees to the hook shank. On the jig head, you fix a plastic jig body of your choosing. You can mix and match jig heads and jig bodies until you find the right combination that the crappie want to eat.

Here are our favorite Jigs:

Spinnerbait: These little guys are essentially a jig with a spinner blade attached. Spinnerbaits for crappie are similar to those used for bass fishing, just a lot smaller. The spinner’s small metal blade, either gold or silver, flashes and vibrates in the water attracting crappie wherever you cast.

If you’re not sure which spinner bait to use, grab a Yakima Bait Wordens Rooster Tail. The brown body and golden spinner will definitely get the attention of a nearby slab.

Self Made Jigs: If you like to customize, making your own jig will appeal to you because there are endless choices and matchmaking you can choose from. This will help test what works best for crappie in your area. There are two parts you need to buy when you make your own. The Jig head and the Jig Body.

Part #1 – The Jig Head: Jig heads come in a wide range of sizes/colors and are used to catch a multitude of fish species. For crappie fishing, you’ll want to use some of the smallest sizes available: 1/8 oz, 1/16 oz, 1/32 oz, and 1/64 oz. The Strike King Mr. Crappie jig heads are very high quality and are the perfect size and colors for catching crappie.

CLICK TO VIEW ON AMAZON.COM

Part #2 – The Jig Body: Jig bodies come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. They are usually plastic and fixed on a jig head hook. The primary choices for body grubs are curly-tails and tubes. Sometimes spinnerbaits are used as well, but they are generally their own complete lure.

Curly-Tail Grubs are a popular jig body style made of soft plastic and fixed on a jig head hook. With a ribbed body and a curved or corkscrew tail, curly-tail grubs swim through the water with incredible action. They provide an excellent imitation of minnows and other bait fish.

You’ll want to have a good selection of curly-tail jigs, and the Mister Twister brand makes some of the best. Check out this 20 pack to jump start your collection.

CLICK TO VIEW ON AMAZON.COM

Tubes are another style of jig body that you fix to a jig head hook. They have a smooth body and a skirted rubber tail that pulsates when pulled through the water.

The Southern Pro Crappie Tube kit that gives you a huge variety of color combinations along with some lead head jig hooks to get you started.

CLICK TO VIEW ON AMAZON.COM

2. The Best Live Bait Choices for Crappie

While crappie can often be caught with lures, sometimes you need a little more “meat” to get the bites you seek.

Using bait is great if you’re just getting started and aren’t yet versed in the ways of lure fishing.

Live Minnows: Live minnows are by far the most widely used bait for many species of fish including pike, crappie, and bass. At most bait and tackle shops, you’ll find live minnows in multiple sizes. To catch crappie, you want the smallest minnows they have, ideally between 1 to 1 1/2 inches long. If you’re up for it, minnows can be caught in the lake you’re fishing using either a minnow trap or a cast net.

Grubs: Although not as widely available as live minnows, larval insects — mealworms, wax worms, and other grub-like creatures — can be used to catch crappie. These baits are commonly used when ice fishing for crappie.

Man Made Soft Baits: If you don’t want to go through the trouble of either catching or buying live minnows or grubs, there are a broad selection of soft baits available for purchase. These smelly little pellets and dough are shelf-stable, sold in jars, and come in many different colors and scents. Berkeley’s Powerbait Crappie Nibbles are readily available and great if you don’t want to fuss with live bait.

 

CLICK TO VIEW ON AMAZON.COM

Five Crappie Fishing Tactics: How to Fish For Crappie

Now that we’ve covered the tackle, lures, and bait you’ll need to catch crappie, it’s time to dig into the tactics and methods that will actually get crappie on your line!

The majority of crappie anglers fish from boats or other watercraft. But, if you don’t have a boat, don’t worry: most of these tactics can be used on a dock, from the bank or while wading.

1. Vertical Jigging: What is it and how can I do it?

When crappie are holding tight to cover like brush piles and stumps, vertical jigging can be very effective no matter how deep the crappie are.

Setting Up a Vertical Jig Rig: The basic vertical jig rig consists of your jig of choice tied to the end of your line. Simple as that. Some crappie anglers tie two or more jigs to their line, one below the other. Others use “umbrella rigs” that hold anywhere from two to six jigs. But there’s no need to over complicate things when you’re just starting out; stick with one jig so you can focus on fishing.

Vertical jigging can be done with nearly all rod lengths. Some anglers like short rods in the 5 to 6-foot range, some like long rods in the 10 to 12-foot range. Use what you have to start and you’ll do just fine.

How to Vertical Jig for Crappie: There’s no real casting in vertical jigging. Simply hang your rod over the side of the boat or bank, and let your jig drop down into the water. When you first start, you can let it sink all the way to the bottom. If you’re using a fish finder and you know the depth of the fish or at least the structure, let your jig sink to that depth.

With your jig hanging in the water directly below your rod tip, animate the jig by lightly bouncing the rod tip up and down a few times, then let it sit. Reel in some line, bounce the jig, and let it sit. Continue until you get a bite, and if you don’t, drop your jig down and try again. There’s no right way to do vertical jigging; the key is to experiment with different actions, bounce patterns, retrieve rates, and depths until you get a bite. Once you get a bite, try to repeat the routine that got you the bite. Keep fishing in that manner until the fish stop biting, at which point you should start experimenting again until you get more bites, or move to a different location.

Below is a great video by “TexasFishingOnline” that walks through how to propely jig for crappie.

2. Sticking with Traditional Bobber Fishing

The most iconic method of fishing for any species is by use of the humble bobber. Bobber fishing can be incredibly effective on crappie, and is a tactic every angler should be well familiar with. Bobbers can be used with both jigs and lures as well as bait. The basic rig is the same for both.

Setting Up a Bobber Rig: The basic bobber rig can be used on any type of rod, and setting it up is easy.

Take the end of your fishing line and slide a cork up or fix a plastic bobber to your line anywhere from 1 foot to 3 feet from the end. If using a weighted jig, tie it onto the end of your line with your favorite fishing knot, and you’re good to go.

If using a live minnow, attach a small split shot about 8 to 12 inches from the end of your line. Then tie on a small, light-wire crappie hook. Hook the minnow through the lips or just behind the top dorsal fin.

One of the nice things about fishing with a bobber is that it’s very easy to adjust the depth of your lure or bait. This helps to know exactly how deep you’re fishing. That said, bobber fishing is best used in water that isn’t too deep. When your bobber get’s too high up your line it can be quite cumbersome to cast and your rig will be prone to frequent tangles.

Below is another great video by “The Fishin Pastor” that walks through Bobber fishing from a fishing kayak. This same technique can be done from a tandem kayak with a partner as well.

3. Fishing Deeper: The Slip Float

For those times when you want to fish deep, and want to know exactly how deep you’re fishing, the slip float rig saves the day. The slip float rig is just like bobber fishing, except instead of the bobber being fixed to one point of your line, it slides up your line until it hits a stopper. Adjusting your lure depth is as simple as moving the stopper up or down your line.

How To Set Up the Slip Float Rig: To build a slip float rig you’ll need:

  • Slip float
  • Tube bobber stopper
  • Plastic bead
  • Small barrel swivel
  • Leader material – monofilament or fluorocarbon
  • Light wire crappie hook or jig head

Slide the tube bobber stopper up the line to the approximate depth you’d like to fish. Slip the yarn off the tube and tighten it to the line.

Slide the plastic bead on the line followed by the slip float. Next, tie the barrel swivel onto the end of the line.

Tie a 2 to 2 1/2 foot length of leader onto the other end of the barrel swivel. Tie your hook or jig head to the end of the leader and you’re all set.

Fishing a Slip Float Rig: The main benefit of a slip float rig is that it allows you to accurately fish any depth and change it on the fly. The key to effective slip float fishing is to constantly change depths until you find crappie. Once you find crappie, keep fishing that depth until you stop getting bites, at which point you should move spots or try other depths.

Crappie tend to hold at similar depths across an entire lake, so if you find fish at 15 feet in one spot, chances are they’ll be close to 15 feet in all other spots.

4. The Cast and Retrieve Technique

The cast and retrieve technique is probably the most active and involved method for catching crappie. It’s fairly simple in essence: cast your lure near structure, let it sink, then slowly retrieve.

Black Crappie Fishing with Cast & Retreive

Getting Set Up for Cast and Retrieve Fishing: Casting is best done with a mid-length rod, in the 6 1/2 to 7-foot range. For cast and retrieve, many crappie anglers prefer rods with highly sensitive tips to feel the lure pulsing through the water as well as the full impact of the “thud” when a crappie hits the lure.

Jigs and spinners are the most common lures used for cast and retrieve fishing, but plugs and small crank baits can be used when the conditions are right.

Rigging up for cast and retrieve fishing is easy: just tie on your lure of choice and you’re ready to cast.

Fishing Cast and Retrieve: When deciding where to cast, look for structure. The trick is to cast close to the structure without getting snagged, because, with cast and retrieve, you don’t have a float to protect you from hang-ups.

Once you’ve found structure, your next goal is to discover how deep the crappie are suspended. This will take a bit of trial and error.

Start by casting your lure and letting it sink all the way to the bottom. Try to get a count (one Mississippi, two Mississippi) to find out how long it takes your lure to reach the bottom. Slowly reel in your lure, feeling for any bites. Then, start casting and letting your lure sink to different depths before retrieving until you get a bite. When you get a bite, cast to that same depth and keep catching fish.

5. The Spider Rigging Technique

This special setup is something you might only see crappie anglers do. And when it comes to finding crappie, especially on big bodies of water, spider rigging is by far the most efficient, effective, and productive tactic out there.

What is Spider Rigging? Spider rigging is a slow trolling method, where a number of long rods (usually 8) are splayed out 180 degrees. Usually you fix the rods to the front of a boat using rod holders. The boat looks like a spider with all the rods sticking out, hence the name.

Crappie anglers set each rod at a different depth and with different baits and lures. They troll along, thoroughly covering the water in search of schools of fish. Then, when they get a hit on a rod, they take note of the depth and bait or lure used, and start switching the other rods to match that setup.

How to Set Up Spider Rigging: First of all, you need a boat with a trolling motor, a bunch of rods, and a bunch of rod holders at the front of the boat.

Serious spider rig fishermen gravitate towards the longer spectrum of lightweight spinning rods, from 14 to 16 feet in length. Longer rods keep the baits and lures out away from the boat so that the fish find the lures before they see the boat. Long rods also keep the lines out of the boat propellers and help the anglers cover a much broader swath of water.

All manner of baits and lures are used when spider rigging. Using eight rods means you have the opportunity to try eight different lures all at once if you’d like. Most fishermen, however, limit their lure selection to 2 or 3 different varieties and instead focus their efforts on experimenting with depth.

When spider rigging, your boat setup and the control you have over your boat is often more of a factor than the rods and lures you use. A variable speed trolling motor is practically mandatory when spider rigging as the speed of your drift is one of the most important factors.

Fishing with Spider Rigging: Once you have your boat under control, your rods rigged up with different lures dropped at various depths, it’s time to troll. Most spider riggers use fish finders and other electronics to help them find fish quicker.

While trolling along, you’ll be watching your rod tips, looking for any signs of a bite. When you see a tip twitch, grab it and set the hook! Once you key into to where the crappie are and what they want to eat, you can change the rigs on your rod to what’s working and start filling up your live well.

Below is a great video from Fle-Fly Lures on how to properly spider rig.

How to Catch Crappie in All Four Seasons

Crappie are a year-round fish, but their behavior and patterns vary throughout the year. To catch crappie all year long, you need to change and adapt your tactics just as the crappie change their behavior.

Below we’ve laid out a guide based on the different times of year and the best options to crappie fish in our opinion. Your mileage may vary depending on the environment around where you plan to fish.

1. Spring Crappie Fishing: The Best Time of Year

Spring time is perhaps the best time of year to fish for crappie. The main event of spring is the spawn, with the pre-spawn, spawn, and post-spawn periods all bringing about different crappie behavior as well as fishing tactics.

As soon as the water starts to warm up, crappie start moving into shallow water for pre-spawn staging. These fish can be caught using vertical jigging near shallow water cover in bays and mouths of creeks. Since crappie prefer deeper water, try bouncing your jig off the bottom, as crappie will likely head to the deepest water, even in the shallows.

Once the spawn is in full swing, crappie will be in very shallow water guarding their nests, snapping at anything that comes close. Try casting small curly tail grubs on light jigheads or small spinnerbaits to the bank, then slowly retrieving over the nests.

After the spawn is over, crappie will be worn out from reproducing and are often tough to catch. Give the fish a chance to rest and head back out in a few weeks for better action.

2. Summer Crappie Tips: Not Quite Spring or Fall

The heat of summer sends crappie swimming for deeper waters, generally 8 to 20 feet deep. In larger lakes, crappie tend to spread out, making them hard to locate, but with a good fish finder and spider rigging set up, you’d be surprised by how many fish you can catch.

In the summer months, look for crappie near submerged structures like fallen trees and brush piles in deeper water. Many man-made lakes and reservoirs often feature artificial fish structures, which can also be very productive fish holding spots in the summer. Once you locate a school of fish with your spider rigging, anchor up and still fish or do some cast and retrieve fishing.

3. Fall Crappie Fishing: Our Second Favorite Time of Year

In the fall, baitfish move into shallow water, with crappie close behind. Cooler water temperatures boost crappie appetite, making fall perhaps the second best time to fish after spring.

Find crappie holding over structure in shallower water. You can catch them with spider rigging, or by cast and retrieve fishing with small curly-tail grubs, tubes, and spinners. Live minnows under bobbers are also particularly effective in fall.

4. Winter Crappie Fishing: Less Popular But still an Option

Crappie tend to stay deep during the winter months, but bouts of warm days may bring them into the shallows. The best strategy for catching quality crappie in the winter is to use your fishfinder and focus on the deepest waters in the lake. In the winter, fish will often be tightly huddled together, so even though it might take a bit more effort to find them, the rewards will be worth it.

When you do find those schools of deep water winter crappie, the best advice is to fish slowly and pay close attention to the bite. The bites in winter can be very subtle, and if you look away you might miss it. Slip float rigs are great for winter as they present your lure at a consistent depth with relatively slow action. When you finally connect with a fish, send your lure straight back to the same spot as there are likely many other crappie willing to bite.

Crappie Fishing Tips: Parting Thoughts & Insider Advice to Catch More Crappie

To help you make the most of your time out on the lake tracking down crappie, here are a few insider tips to help you be more successful in your crappie fishing pursuits.

  • Be careful with your hook set. Crappie are known as “papermouths” because the tissue in their mouth and lips is very thin. A strong, bass-style hook set will easily rip the hook out of the crabbie’s mouth. Try to set the hook firm but soft. Crappie are not like other fish with thicker skin that require you cut the hook out with a knife.
  • Keep a tight line. After you hook a crappie, keep the line tight and reel in steadily. A loose line will give the fish the advantage and it can easily shake the hook.
  • Change depth before changing lures. Crappie are very depth sensitive, so before you go and tie on ten different lures, make sure you’re thoroughly covering every possible depth within an area.
  • Check local regulations before using multiple rods. Some areas prohibit the use of multiple rods. You don’t want to get busted for fishing eight rods off the bow of your boat when only one is allowed!
  • Use light wire hooks and light line when fishing heavy structure. This may seem counter-intuitive, but using light hooks and line in structure has advantages. If you get hung up, you can easily straighten the hook to get it free, or worst case, break the line. This can save you from losing lot’s of gear over the course of a season!

You might also like – The best fishing locations by state:

Find Your Best Fish Finder: Reviews of the Top Depth Finders For The Money

Blind casting all day without a single bite is one of the most frustrating and exhausting experiences an angler can have. If you want to consistently catch fish, a quality fish finder is an absolute necessity.

The problem is that wading through all the brands, models, confusing specifications, and marketing jargon can be just as frustrating as not catching any fish! To make the task of choosing a fish finder a little easier, we’ve reviewed the top fish finders on the market to help you find the right one to get more fish in the boat.

The fish finders on this list cover a range of prices and functionality but are generally best suited for small- to medium-sized boats. Whether you fish lakes, reservoirs, rivers, bays or inshore saltwater, the following fish finders will help you achieve more fishing success the next time you head out on the water.  If you don’t like a lengthy read, we’ve listed two of our favorites below – otherwise, we’ve covered our favorite in much more detail and we hope you enjoy the read.

Our Top 2 Picks:

  1. For the tech savvy fisherman:  Deeper Chirp Smart Sonar Fish Finder
  2. A great stand alone unit: Garmin Striker

Table of Contents:

The Best Fish Finder Reviews for the Money:

We’ve broken our nine favorite fish finders below into more detail.  We’ve taken our favorites and analyzed user feedback to come up with the proper fish finders that will help you on your next outdoor fishing trip.

Keep in mind that some of the models are newer and have more technological features, making them more expensive.  Higher priced or not, they should all make landing your next catch a lot easier.

1. Deeper Chirp Smart Sonar Fish Finder:


Deeper Chirp Smart Sonar – Castable, Portable Fish Finder…

  • Take it Anywhere: Portable,…
  • Save Time: Locate fish,…
  • Highest Specs: Casts out to…
  • User-Friendly App: Displays…
  • Create Your Own Bathymetric…

Type: Portable sonar fish finder for smartphone or tablet
GPS: Uses GPS from smartphone
Imaging: Down view
Sonar coverage: 47°, 16°, 7°
Sonar frequency:290 kHz medium; 100 kHz wide; 675kHz narrow
Power output: Charges to 100% in 75 minutes
Depth capability: 330 feet
Transducer: Portable floating wireless transducer
Display size: Smartphone/tablet display
Color or black and white: N/A
Screen resolution (pixels): N/A
Unit size: Transducer weighs 3.5 oz

Product Summary & Fish Finder Reviews:

The Deeper Chirp Sonar Fishfinder is a new breed of a fish finder that’s only been available for the last few years. Unlike traditional depth and fish finders that use a transducer mounted on a boat, Deeper uses a castable, wireless transducer paired with the smartphone or tablet you already have to create a highly portable fish finding system. Before, fish finders could only be used on boats, but now with the Deeper, bank anglers get to enjoy the same benefits that boat anglers have been reaping for years.

Deeper can be used by anyone fishing from banks, shorelines, piers, docks, jetties, and can also be used when fishing from a kayak, canoe, float tube, or pontoon boat. Deeper is highly portable, with the transducer being small enough to fit in most tackle boxes, and even comes with a neoprene belt pouch. Since you do have to use your smartphone or tablet with Deeper, you may find it beneficial to invest in a waterproof case or bag to keep your device safe and dry.

2. iBobber Wireless Bluetooth Smart Fish Finder for iOS and Android Devices:

 


ReelSonar CGG-MY-IBOBBER iBobber Wireless Bluetooth Smart…

  • Patented sonar fish identifier…
  • LED beacon
  • Rechargeable battery and…
  • 10+ hrs battery life.Syncs…
  • Accurate sonar readings down…

Type: Portable fish finder for smartphone or tablet
GPS: Uses GPS from smartphone
Imaging: Down view
Sonar coverage: 42°
Sonar frequency: Not specified by manufacturer
Power output: N/A
Depth capability: 135 feet
Transducer: Portable floating wireless transducer
Display size: Smartphone/tablet display
Color or black and white: N/A
Screen resolution: N/A
Unit size: 3″ x 3″ x 3″; 1.6 oz

Other features: Transducer communicates sonar data to smartphone via Bluetooth and pairs with the free iBobber app for iOS and Android; app displays raw sonar and fish tagging views, bottom structure, water temperatures, and weather conditions; app includes GPS spot tagging with interactive map, trip logging, and social media sharing functions; device is compatible with Google Watch and Apple Watch

Product Summary & Fish Finder Reviews:

The iBobber is another ingenious wireless portable fish finder that pairs with a smartphone or tablet. Like the Deeper Smart Fish Finder, iBobber uses Bluetooth technology to sync with your smartphone, and the free iBobber App gives all the sonar images you need right in your hand. Tie the iBobber onto your fishing line, cast it out, and get a live view of bottom structure and fish below.

The iBobber and Deeper are very comparable which can make choosing between them a difficult task. The iBobber does have some drawbacks compared to Deeper such as shorter casting range and only a single sonar frequency with a 42° coverage compared to Deeper’s dual frequencies with 15° and 55° coverage. But, differences aside, the iBobber is a very handy fishing tool for those who fish from banks or piers and want to know what’s going on below the surface. Anglers in kayaks, canoes, and other small watercraft can also make good use of the iBobber, and won’t have to worry about installing a fish finder that will take up valuable space.

The iBobber App gives you sonar imaging of bottom structure and fish directly on the screen of your smartphone as well as additional information about water temperature, weather forecasts, and moon cycles. Using the GPS of your smartphone, you can mark spots on a map within the app, just like you can on a traditional GPS-enabled fish finder. Social media sharing is built into the iBobber app making it easy to share your trip logs and other data with your friends. Unlike the Deeper Smart Fish Finder, the iBobber is compatible with both Apple Watch and Google Watch, making your on-the-water fish finding even more accessible.

3. Garmin Echomap Chirp 74Cv with Transducer


Garmin Echomap Chirp 74Cv with transducer, 010-01801-01

  • Clearer scanning sonar shows…
  • Chirp sonar Chirp sends a…
  • Preloaded Blue Chart g2 charts…
  • Clear scanning sonar the CV…
  • Best in class Internal 5 Hertz…

Type: Combination
GPS: Yes, with waypoint map
Imaging: Down imaging
Sonar coverage: Not specified by manufacturer
Sonar frequency: 50/77/200 kHz and CHIRP (mid and high)
Power output: 200 watts RMS
Depth capability: 1,600 ft freshwater; 750 ft saltwater
Transducer: Dual beam transducer
Display size: 3.5″ diagonal
Color or black and white: HVGA Color
Screen resolution: 480 x 320 pixels
Unit size: 3.6″ W x 5.9″ H x 1.6″ D

Other features: Uses CHIRP sonar technology; built-in GPS with waypoint map; displays boat speed on screen; built-in flasher mode shows real-time view of fish passing through transducer beam

Product Summary & Fish Finder Reviews:

The Striker 4 packs tons of power and functionality into a well-designed, compact unit. With a 3.5-inch full-color display, the Striker 4 is perfect for smaller motor boats and is a popular choice among kayak anglers where space is at a premium. It’s a combination unit featuring both powerful sonar imaging as well as a robust GPS system that includes a waypoint map allowing you to mark your favorite fishing spots for easy navigation in the future.

The defining factor of the Striker 4 is CHIRP sonar technology. While standard fish finders send a single signal at a time, CHIRP sonar sends a continuous string of signals across a broad range of frequencies. Through these CHIRP signals, more sonar information is relayed, resulting in clearer and more detailed images on the screen.

4. Venterior VT Portable Depth Finder With Sonar:

 


Venterior VT-FF001 Portable Fish Finder, Handheld…

  • Detects and displays water…
  • Applies to lake, river, sea…
  • Comes with round transducer…
  • Various features settings: 5…
  • Warranty: This Venterior…

Type: Standalone
GPS: No
Imaging: Broadband Sounder
Sonar coverage: 20° (@ 200 kHz), 60° (@ 83 kHz)
Sonar frequency: Dual-frequency operation, 83 kHz or 200 kHz
Power output: Unknown
Depth capability: 328 ft
Transducer: Skimmer transducer with water temperature sensor
Display size: 4″ diagonal
Color or black and white: Grayscale
Screen resolution: Unknown
Unit size: 9.6″ W x 2.2″ H x 5.9″ D

Other features: Product will show you where fish are, sensitivity controls picking up smaller fish sizes

Product Summary & Fish Finder Reviews:

Another powerful compact unit, the Venterior VT gives you dual-frequency sonar readings on a space-efficient 4 inch Grayscale display.

With dual-frequency functionality, you can switch between 83 kHz sonar which gives a 60° coverage range, and 200 kHz sonar which gives a 20° coverage range, allowing you to adapt to different water depths and conditions for maximum fish-finding potential.

The Venterior VTFF001 is not equipped with a GPS, making it ideal for anglers that already have a GPS device or those who just need a simple-yet-powerful fish finder. A compact design makes it a perfect chocie ideal for smaller motor boats and an excellent unit for fishing kayaks.

5. Lowrance Elite 5X CHIRP with 83/200+455/800:


Lowrance 000-11657-001 Elite-5X Chirp with 83/200+455/800…

  • 5″ color LCD
  • Broadband CHIRP Fish finder
  • Structure Scan Fish finder
  • Transom mount transducer…

Type: Combination
GPS: Yes
Imaging: Hybrid dual imaging with DownScan imaging and Broadband Sounder
Sonar coverage: Not specified by manufacturer
Sonar frequency: 83/200/455/800 kHz
Power output: 500 watts RMS; 4000 PTP
Depth capability: 1000 ft @ 83/200 kHz; 2500 ft @ 50/200 kHz
Transducer: Transom mounted Lowrance transducer
Display size: 5″ diagonal
Color or black and white: Color, 256 colors
Screen resolution: 480 x 480 pixels
Unit size: 6.9″ W x 5.4″ H x 2.5″ D

Other features: Built-in GPS with base map, waypoints, and chart plotter, stores 3,000 waypoints, 100 routes with 100 waypoints per route, 100 retraceable plot trails with 10,000 points per trail; waterproof microSD card slot compatible with Navionics Gold chart cards, Fishing Hot Spots, and Lake Master micro SD cards

Product Summary & Fish Finder Reviews:

Another powerful combination unit, the Lowrance 5X CHIRP gives anglers a clear view of bottom structure and fish using both DownScan imaging and traditional broadband sounding sonar. The built-in GPS with integrated base map displays your real-time location on the water, and with chart plotting functionality, you can mark productive fish-catching spots and routes for future reference.

The unit has a waterproof SD memory card slot that’s compatible with additional navigation software such as Navionics Gold, Fish Hot Spots, and Lake Master in micro SD card format.

The Lowerance 5X CHIRP works well in both fresh and saltwater in depths of up to 1000 feet when using down view imagery, and depths of up to 2500 feet when using the broadband sounder. Unfortunately, the Lowrance 5X CHIRP is an excellent unit, although higher in both price point and quality.

6. Humminbird 409640-1 HELIX 5 SI Fish Finder with Side-Imaging and GPS:


Humminbird 409640-1 Helix 5 SI Fish Finder with Side-Imaging…

  • Uses the most innovative and…
  • Get the most out of your day…
  • The leader in fish finders,…

Type: Combination
GPS: Yes
Imaging: Side imaging, Down Imaging, DualBeam PLUS
Sonar coverage: 20°, 60°, (2) 85° (180° total)
Sonar frequency: 200/83/455 kHz
Power output: 500 watts RMS; 4000 watts PTP
Depth capability: 100 ft SI; 1500 ft 2D
Transducer: Transom, XNT 9 SI 180T
Display size: 5″ diagonal
Color or black and white: Color, 256 colors
Screen resolution: 800 X 480 Pixels
Unit size: W/ gimbal mount – 7.55″ W x 4.64″ H x 3.3 D

Other features: GPS tracking and chart plotting included with 2,500 waypoints, 45 routes, 20,000 points; built-in UniMap cartography; microSD card slot; side imaging sonar gives an 180-degree side view below the boat

Product Summary & Fish Finder Reviews:

If you’re looking for a fish finder that does it all, the Humminbird Helix 5 SI is for you. It’s a combination unit, meaning it has both sonar imaging (depth and fish finding) as well as integrated GPS. This is by far the most powerful and versatile fish finder on our list, featuring DualBeam Plus sonar as well as down imaging and side imaging sonar.

While many fish finders feature dual imaging and down imaging, it’s the side imaging capabilities of the Helix 5 SI that set this unit apart, giving anglers an 180° side-to-side view of the water below. Side imaging sonar is ideal for lake and inshore saltwater fishing in water depths of 100 feet or less when you want to see a broader swath of water and bottom structure. Down imaging and DualBeam sonar can be used in depths of up to 1500 feet and gives you a narrower scope, displaying what’s directly below the boat.

The integrated GPS of the Helix 5 SI is very powerful and features built-in UniMap cartography with GPS chart plotting, giving you the power to mark 2,500 waypoints, create 45 different routes, and map 50 tracks, each with 20,000 points. It’s safe to say that most anglers won’t use all the mapping and chart plotting points the Helix 5 SI has to offer, but it sure is nice to have the option.

Both the sonar imaging and the GPS chart plotting are shown in vivid color on the 5-inch high-resolution screen. The control buttons are easy to use and you can switch between several different screen views to see exactly what you need to at any given time.

7. Humminbird 409600-1 HELIX DI Fish Finder with Down Imaging:


Humminbird 409600-1 Helix 5 DI Fish Finder with Down Imaging

  • 5-inch color display
  • Down Imaging Sonar
  • Dual Beam PLUS Sonar
  • Temperature
  • International languages

Type: Standalone
GPS: No
Imaging: Down Imaging, DualBeam PLUS
Sonar coverage: 16°, 28°, 45°, 75°
Sonar frequency: 455/800/200/455 kHz
Power output: 500 watts RMS; 4000 watts PTP
Depth capability: 350 ft DI; 600 ft 2D
Transducer: Transom, XNT 9 DI T
Display size: 5″ diagonal
Color or black and white: Color, 256 colors
Screen resolution: 800H X 480V
Unit size: W/ gimbal mount – 7.55″ W x 4.64″ H x 3.3 D

Other features: Includes transducer with transom mount; water temperature sensor built into transducer

Product Summary & Fish Finder Reviews:

The Humminbird Helix DI is like a stripped-down version of the Helix 5 SI, but still powerful in its own right. Compared to the Helix 5 SI, it’s cheaper, it doesn’t have GPS, and it lacks side imaging. With those differences in mind, the Helix DI is a great option for anglers that simply want a solid and reliable fish finder without all the bells and whistles, or for those who already own a standalone GPS device.

With the Helix DI, you get a high-resolution full color 5-inch display and easy-to-use control buttons. Down imaging can be used in depths of up to 350 feet, and DualBeam sonar can be used in depths of 600 feet. The unit is easy to install with the included gimbal mount or directly into the dash of your boat.

8. Signstek FF-003 Portable Fish Finder:


Signstek FF-003 Portable Fish Finder Outdoor Fishing Tool…

  • sonar technology
  • portable
  • water detective
  • fishing
  • water resistant

Type: Portable, standalone fish finder
GPS: No
Imaging: Down imaging
Sonar coverage: Not specified by manufacturer
Sonar frequency: 83/200 kHz
Power output: Not specified by manufacturer
Depth capability: 240 ft
Transducer: Portable with a float and 20-foot cable
Display size: 2.8″ diagonal
Color or black and white: Color, 512 colors
Screen resolution: 240 x 160 pixels
Unit size: 4.7″ x 3.2″ x 1.2″

Other features: Bottom contour and water temperature indicator; multi levels depth range; ideal for kayaks, canoes, and other small watercraft; no mounting options, comes with a neck strap

Product Summary & Fish Finder Reviews:

One of the best entry-level fish finders on the market is the Signstek FF-003 Portable Fish Finder. The display unit is lightweight and compact and comes with a detachable neck strap to keep the fish finder close by all times. The transducer is designed to be portable, giving anglers the option to either mount the transducer on a boat or kayak, to drift it alongside using the built-in float, or to cast it out up to 20 feet when fishing from shore.

The 2.8 inch, 512 color screen shows bottom features and fish images in great detail, along with water temperature readings. The FF-003 also has a fish identification feature that distinguishes between small and large fish as well as a fish depth indicator so you know how far down to get your lure or bait.

The Signstek FF-003 may not be powerful enough for anglers that need to cover a lot of water, or fish depths greater than 240 feet, but for those who fish small lakes and rivers, it’s a great entry-level fish finder that will no doubt help you catch more fish.

9. Garmin Striker 7SV with Transducer


Garmin Striker 7SV with transducer, 010-01809-00

  • Clearer scanning sonar – shows…
  • The power of simple – offers a…
  • Way point map – use the way…
  • Chirp sonar – Chirp sends a…
  • Built-in flasher – view your…

Type: Standalone
GPS: Yes
Imaging: Down view
Sonar coverage: Not specified by manufacturer
Sonar frequency: 77/200 kHz
Power output: 500 watts RMS
Depth capability: 2,300 feet
Transducer: ClearVu and SideVu
Display size: 7″ diagonal
Color or black and white: Color
Screen resolution: 800 x 480 pixels
Unit size: 9.25″ x 5.5″ x 2.25″

Other features: Smooth Scaling feature creates smooth transitions across depth changes; Fish I.D. feature helps identify fish targets; water temperature sensor included; water speed sensor included

Product Summary & Fish Finder Reviews:

The Garmin Striker 7sv is a standalone fish finder in the same class as the Humminbird HELIX DI and the Lowrance Elite-5 HDI. Featuring ClearVu and SideVu sonar scanning — Garmin’s version of down view imaging — along with HD-ID 77/200 kHz scanning, the Striker 7sv delivers crisp, clear sonar images of bottom structure in depths of up to 2,300 feet on a vivid high-resolution 7-inch color display.

The Garmin Striker 7sv features “smooth scaling” which creates smooth transitions between different depths and bottom structure giving you a screen view that’s easier to follow and read. Fish I.D. functionality displays fish as fish icons instead of standard arches to help you identify fish more easily and with more certainty.

Included with the unit is the standard transom mount as well as a trolling motor mount, giving you options for mounting depending on your specific boat setup.

How Fish Finders Work:

A fish finder or depth finder works by using sonar underwater to detect pulses of sound energy.  It locates the fish by emitting a sonar wave that will register solid mass and can detect schools of fish or the bottom of a body of water if there are no obstructions.

Fish finders are used today by sport fisherman, commercial fisherman and recreational fisherman alike.  They can be used for pike, bass, black or white crappie or just about any other type of fish.

Fish finders are usually mounted to the boat and are run while the vessel is moving at a slower or stopped speed to properly recognize the area and the depth.  Fish finders can be mounted to just about any boat, including fishing kayaks and larger boats or watercraft.  You can even use fish finders when you are ice fishing, provided the hole you dug with your auger is big enough.

Fish finders can be beneficial for many reasons.  They can be used to locate larger and smaller schools of fish and to assist in finding the appropriate depth that schools typically like to dwell at during the different times of year.

Fish finders are becoming widely used by many fisherman across the industry and they are looked at as a “must have” for recreational fishermen looking for an extra edge when out scouting for their next fishing location.

Many modern fish finders are coming equipped today with a GPS.  This is highly beneficial in case you get lost (don’t laugh, it’s happened) and also to help track your locations of your favorite fishing spots.

Wrapping Up:

A fish finder might seem like just another expense on top of everything else you need on the water, but when it comes to actually catching fish, nothing on your boat or in your tackle box will be as beneficial as a quality fish finder.

Whether you’re a new boat owner or a fish finder veteran looking to upgrade, we hope our review of the top fish finders on the market helped you find the one that’s right for you.

Benefits of Fish Finder and GPS Combos

Fish finders are a necessity for any fisherman who wants to go on the hunt for the best catch. If you are looking to stay in your local area and take out a little boat or even fish from the shore, you can likely go without a GPS. If you are an adventurer, the pro fish finder, or the courageous fisherman always looking for a catch that tops the last one, a GPS is really the only way to do that thoroughly.

Plotting Your Course

So what are some things having a GPS paired with your fish finder will do? For starters, it will set the course for your trip. If you like to have a plan to follow, the GPS is able to give you a map going through the prime fishing grounds. Without a GPS, this organized way of traveling by water is not possible. Many of these combos come with maps already loaded, but you will want to look into getting a device that allows you to customize charts and get back to your departure location easily.

Pinning Your Location

There is nothing better than being able to pin down your exact location so you can return. Once you find that ideal spot, your dream spot, going back to it every single time is possible with a GPS on your fish finder. You can make it down as your fishing hole and get pinpointing accuracy.

Finding Depth

Getting the lay of the land is not possible with a regular fish finder. The reason this is important is because seeing the bottom of the waters makes your depth readings easy to figure out, and this will make fishing better in the long run.

Getting Water Temperature

Any expert fisher will know the difference between cold water or warm water species. But knowing the difference doesn’t help you find the fish in the cold or warm areas! Using a fish finder will help you to know where is warm, where is cold, and where both meet. This is surely a handy feature to have in a fish finder!

Tips and Tricks for Results with GPS

Though you can be the most expert fisherman and could have used a fishfinder many times before, getting one with a GPS will change the game. You will have a new level of information about fishing to steward. These new features can be hard to decipher, so it’s good to know some tips and tricks before you start using one!

Buoys

This feature marks various depths in the ocean as well as shipping lanes. When you get on the water, buoys will plot these for you which is a great help.

Wrecks

It is common for fish to surround a shipwrecked area. A feature of these maps that are plotted with a GPS+fish finder is letting you know where the wrecks are as to be more prepared.

Contour Lines

Did you know hills and valleys exist in the ocean depths? With contour lines, you will be able to see these so you can plan accordingly as you fish.

Seafloor Hardness

Fish finders will help you to determine if the floor you are hovering over gravel, rock, mud, or sand. This happens using colors in shades of red.

Weather Predictor

As this is a GPS, it knows exactly where your vessel is at all times. This means it can get a perfectly accurate prediction of what the weather is like and what it is going to be like later one. You will get basic things like rain, snow, cloudy, and more in-depth things like fast-flowing lakes, aggressive rivers, and ice fishing. Being on the water is an unpredictable thing. Sometimes your smartphones loses signal very quickly and you are stuck out at sea unaware. Being able to check your fish finder’s GPS to predict weather patterns is a blessing.

Bucketlist Worthy Catches

Now that you’ll be able to become an expert fisher with a large advantage seeing as you have the best fish finder on the market, you need to know which fish to make your prey. We want to tell you all about which fish to catch at least once in your lifetime.

Sailfish

In both tropical and subtropical waters you will find the sailfish. This breed is gorgeous, sporting a variety of blue shades. You will need your fish finder to catch this one because they only swim in waters deeper than 30 feet! The reason this kind of fish is a challenge to catch is because they are able to swim up to EIGHTY miles an hour! They are the fastest amongst the aquatic organisms, and as fast as your car!

Yellowfish Tuna

These fish are some of the most beloved catches in the world. They are extremely sought after by fishermen. The reason for this is because of their strength and ability to put up a fight. Only those fishermen determined to fight till the bitter end with their prey will win here. The reason your GPS fish finder works wonders in catching Yellowfish is because they are found in warm waters.

Dorado

Another name for this type of fish is Dolphinfish or Mahi Mahi. These are very expensive fish, and the reward for catching them is large. But as a fisherman, we know you’re all about the hunt. These gorgeous fish are good at hiding and escaping because they duck under objects such as seaweed, logs, and buoys. It will be a game of hide and seek for you both; are you up for the chase? On top of having to chase and find them, they are also known to leap up out of the water in order to escape your hook. Having these fish to aspire to is a worthy goal!

Having a bucket list for the fish you want to catch in your lifetime is such a fun exercise. With a fish finder, especially one with a GPS, you will be an expert fisher in no time; reaching your goals every step of the way!

Daiwa Tatula CT Review

Compiling fishing reel reviews can either be a pleasure or a royal pain. In the case of any Daiwa Tatula CT review, it’s definitely the former. In fact, reviewing any of Daiwa’s products is almost guaranteed to be a blast.

So, why is the Daiwa Tatula CT review such a pleasant experience? It’s simple really, and best described in these terms. If you are in the market for a low profile baitcaster with industry-leading features at an affordable price, the Daiwa Tatula CT is your reel.

vector icon of a fishing reel

Daiwa Tatula CT Review: Reinventing the Wheel


Daiwa Tatula CT 100XS 8.1:1 Hyper Speed Right Hand Baitcast…

  • Rugged, lightweight aluminum…
  • Ultimate Tournament carbon…
  • Corrosion resistant clutch…
  • Ultimate Tournament carbon…
  • MagForce-z cast Control

Among Diawa’s new products that debuted at the 2011 ICAST expo were several new low profile bait casters. So what, you may say, there’s nothing out of the ordinary about that?

Well, those bait casters featured a revolutionary new technology. A system that was, in our minds at least, one of the most significant advancements in reel technology to date. Enter Daiwa’s T Wing level wind system.

Check out the video below:

The level wind dilemma

Level winds have been around almost as long as the casting reels they grace. And if there ever was a necessary evil in the realm of fishing reel technology, the level wind was. And we use the word “was” purposely because those new baitcasting faces in 2011 changed that status quo forever.

Let’s face it, level wind reels are great. You can crank away all day and never have to bother about laying line evenly on your spool. However, that convenience comes at a high price.

As cool as they are, conventional level winds are thieves. They rob you of casting distance no matter how they are configured. And right there is where Daiwa’s T Wing system turned the level wind dilemma on its head.

T Wing to the rescue

Daiwa’s unique stirrup shaped level wind guide ensures that when in the free-spool position, it’s essentially not there at all.

Watch:

During a cast, the wide “T” shaped upper profile offers almost no resistance to your line as it peels off the spool.

Re-engage the spool to retrieve line and the “wing” flips down to trap the line in a narrow, conventional level wind style guide.

See for yourself:


vector icon of a fishing reel

The Daiwa Tatula CT 100XS: All the Bells and Whistles

OK, so the T Wing system is awesome. Is that all the Tatula CT is about though? Absolutely not!

Obviously, there is much more to the Tatula CT 100XS than the ground-breaking T Wing system. In fact, the Tatula CT 100XS is loaded with several of Daiwa’s game-winning technologies making it a truly well-rounded package.

So, let’s see what makes this reel so special.


Daiwa Tatula CT 100XS 8.1:1 Hyper Speed Right Hand Baitcast…

  • Rugged, lightweight aluminum…
  • Ultimate Tournament carbon…
  • Corrosion resistant clutch…
  • Ultimate Tournament carbon…
  • MagForce-z cast Control

U.T Drag system

The UT Drag, or Ultimate Tournament Carbon Drag, sports oversized drag washers that allow for higher maximum ratings in a smaller frame package. The proprietary carbon fiber washer composition delivers smooth and predictable performance throughout the entire drag range.

Magforce Z cast control system

The Magforce Z system offers progressive cast control that eliminates infuriating backlash over winds without robbing you of cast distance.

Essentially, the Magforce Z is a hybrid system that uses centrifugal force to increase or decrease magnetic braking action. In other words, the system increases the magnetic braking at peak spool speed and decreases it as the spool slows down.

Swept handle design

The Tatula CT 100XS’s handle is a traditional dual grip design with a performance-enhancing twist. If you view the reel from above, the handle grips are swept back towards the reel body.

This places the rotational input force closer to the rod’s centerline which reduces wobbling and instability when cranking the reel.

Air rotation

Daiwa has gone to great lengths to ensure their reels are butter smooth when casting and retrieving. And that applies to all their reels across the board.

The reason for this philosophy is simple. The smoother the operation of the reel, the less stress and wear it is subjected to. Not to mention the enhancement of the angler’s experience. In the case of the Tatula CT 100XS, this is particularly evident in Diawa’s Air Rotation spool drive system.

Gearing configurations

The Tatula CT family of reels features four gear ratio options. The reels are available in standard, high and ultra-speed gearing configurations as well as one low ratio, high power model.

Specifications

Here are the Daiwa Tatula CT 100XS’s credentials

  • Monofilament line capacity: 14/120, 16/100
  • earing count: seven ball bearings, one roller bearing
  • Gear ratio: 8.1:1
  • Maximum drag — all models: 13.2 pounds
  • Handle orientation: right hand only
  • Retrieve rate (inches per handle turn): 34.5
  • Weight: 7.4 ounces

Pros and cons

Let’s look at a summary of all the Tatula CT 100XS’s good and not so good points:

Pros

  • Excellent cast distance and control

  • Powerful and smooth drag

  • Wide range of gear ratio options

  • Exceptionally smooth operation

  • High build quality

  • Good line capacity

  • Smaller overall size compared to its predecessors

Cons

  • The bearings used throughout the reel are not corrosion resistant


vector icon of a fishing reel

Our Review Process

In an environment where high-quality bait casters abound, we always try to structure product reviews to be as honest and valuable as possible. We’ll consider two competitor products of similar specifications which would be applicable to the same angling environments.

So, here are the other runners in this Daiwa Tatula CT review.

Abu Garcia Revo4 SX-HS



Abu Garcia 1430429 Revo SX Low Profile Baitcasting Reel,…

  • 9 stainless steel ball…
  • C6 carbon sideplates provide…
  • Duragear brass gear for…

Little fanfare is needed to introduce Abu Garcia as a supplier of high-quality fishing tackle. Abu reels have been a standard in a great many anglers tackle arsenals for decades. And that legacy of trust lives on in current offerings such as the Revo 4 family of reels.

The Abu Garcia Revo4 SX-HS is one of four offerings in the Revo 4 SX stable. This lineup consists of two gear ratio options each available in left or right-handed handle configurations. In addition, all of the family members sport a similarly impressive set of features that we’ll examine in detail now.

DuraClutch and Infini brake systems

Abu’s trademarked DuraClutch and Infini brake cast control technologies deliver exceptionally smooth and effortless casting and positive spool engagement.

Duragear and D2 main gear systems

The Revo4’s gear train features Abu’s proprietary D2 gear technology and a solid brass main gear. Consequently, this arrangement results in smooth, effortlessly power retrieves and enhanced reel service life.

Power Stack carbon matrix drag system

Here are the core specifications of the Abu Garcia Revo4 SX-HS

  • Monofilament line capacity — all models (pounds test/yards): 10/175, 12/145, 15/100
  • Bearing count — all models: 10
  • Gear ratio: standard speed — 6.6:1, high speed — 7.3:1
  • Maximum drag — all models: 24 pounds
  • Handle orientation: right and left-handed in each gearing option
  • Retrieve rate (inches per handle turn): standard speed — 27 inches, high speed — 30 inches
  • Weight — all models: 7.83 ounces

Pros and cons

These are the best and worst features of the Revo4 SX bait caster.

Pros

  • Excellent gear strength

  • Smooth and reliable retrieve action

  • A consistent and powerful drag system

  • Stable, wobble-free retrieve

  • Outstanding cast control

  • Excellent maximum drag rating

Cons

  • The side plate release lever is not well placed

  • High price point by comparison

Where to buy

Shimano Curado K



Shimano Curado 200K XG Lowprofile Freshwater Fishing Reel

  • Built tournament tough; this…
  • Featuring shimano’s latest…
  • Employs svs infinity braking…
  • Utilizes x-ship technology to…
  • Max drag: 11 lbs. / gear…

Our second and final competitor reel in this Daiwa Tatula CT review is the Shimano Curado K. Much like Abu Garcia, Shimano needs no introduction as they have a stellar reputation as an angling gear manufacturer. The Curado baitcaster is a great example of this legacy of quality and innovation and sports an impressive list of features.

The Curado K series of reels are available in three gear ratio options in either left or right-handed configuration. Each of the six offerings features a host of industry-leading technologies that we’ll look at in detail here.

Micro Module gear system

The Micro Module gear system features an increased number of smaller gear teeth. This increases the contact area between the drive and pinion gears making for a smoother and more efficient gear train.

X-Ship pinion system

Shimano’s X-Ship system supports the pinion assembly on either end with precision bearings. The result is enhanced casting distance with light lures and a more stable cranking mechanism overall.

Hagane body

The Hagane body is a high rigidity reel body technology that lends the reel advanced strength and eliminates flexing.

SVS Infinity braking system

Shimano’s proprietary SVS Infinity braking system delivers one of the most consistent and predictable braking actions of any reel. As a result, this enhanced control makes casting a breeze even with very light lures.

A-RB bearings

The A-RB bearings used in the Curado baitcaster are specially treated to give at least 10 times as much corrosion resistance as conventional bearings.

Cross Carbon drag

The Curado K features Shimano’s well known and respected Cross Carbon drag system. This specially formulated drag material produces a wider range of drag settings and is exceptionally smooth and heat resistant.

Specifications

These are the technical specifications of the Curado K baitcaster.

  • Monofilament line capacity — all models (pounds test/yards): 8/180, 10/155, 14/100
  • Bearing count — all models: six plus one
  • Gear ratio: standard speed — 6.2:1, high speed — 7.4:1, extra high speed — 8.5:1
  • Maximum drag — all models: 11 pounds
  • Handle orientation: right and left-handed in each gearing option
  • Retrieve rate (inches per handle turn): standard speed — 26 inches, high speed — 31
  • nches, extra high speed — 36 inches
  • Weight — all models: 7.6 ounces

Pros and cons

Let’s look at the good and bad points of the Curado K baitcaster.

Pros

  • Excellent build quality

  • Very smooth and strong spool and gear train

  • Outstanding frame rigidity

  • Excellent corrosion resistance on all gears

  • Improved casting controlImproved casting control

  • Smooth drag system

Cons

  • A relatively high price pointA relatively high price point

  • The smallest maximum drag of the reels on review

Where to buy


vector icon of a fishing reel

The Daiwa Tatula CT 100XS: All the Bells and Whistles

Daiwa Tatula CT 100XS 8.1:1 Hyper Speed Right Hand Baitcast...

It might not be fair to say that the outcome of the Daiwa Tatula CT review was predictable. However, it wouldn’t be a lie either. The Tatula simply has too much going for it in terms of features and bang for your buck to be ousted.

The Abu and Shimano reels are very good products with outstanding characteristics. However, they just don’t quite have what it takes to unseat the Tatula 100XS. And, as expected this Daiwa Tatula CT review was a blast!

Tight lines!

Please use the comments section below to share any thoughts or experiences that could enhance this Daiwa Tatula CT review.

Featured Image Source: Amazon.com
Fishing Reel Icon: Icon made by Eucalyp from www.flaticon.com


Abu Garcia Pro Max Review

If someone says fishing is in the lure you use, tell them they’re wrong. It’s all about your reel, and if you’ve been searching for an Abu Garcia Pro Max review, you’re likely in the market for a high-quality spinning reel.

There are many important factors to keep in mind when choosing the right reel. Depending on your fishing style, location, and experience, you’ll want to get the proper reel for your next fishing adventure.

graphic illustration of a fishing rod

Abu Garcia Pro Max Review: Is It Worth It?


Abu Garcia Pro Max Spinning Reel with 30 5.2:1 Gear Ratio 7…

  • 6 ball bearings + 1 roller…
  • Lightweight graphite body and…
  • Machined aluminum spool…
  • Everlast bail system for…
  • Slow Oscillation provides even…

Let’s take an in-depth look in this Abu Garcia Pro Max review. We want to make sure you make the right choice with your reel.

First, if you’re looking for a reel that boasts some impressive features at an affordable price range, you’ll want to keep reading.

The Abu Garcia Pro Max has a lightweight graphite frame and rotor. The reel boasts a machined aluminum spool with the Rocket Spool Lip Design. This design is great because it promotes even line lay on the spool without causing the line to bunch o
r become loose.

Let’s take an in-depth look in this Abu Garcia Pro Max review. We want to make sure you make the right choice with your reel.

First, if you’re looking for a reel that boasts some impressive features at an affordable price range, you’ll want to keep reading.

Fishing with the Abu Garcia Pro Max


You want a reel that doesn’t restrict you, right? If that’s the case, you want the Rocket Line Management system. This setup allows you to cast longer and control your cast better regardless of where you’re fishing and what type of line you’re using.

The line management system works by slowing down your cast towards the end. It helps increase accuracy and prevents your line from becoming tangled. It also helps limit the likelihood of nesting in the line, which causes as a result of backlash during casts on windy days.

The slow oscillation system of the Abu Garcia Pro Max helps the line lay properly on the spool, and the Everlast bail is both durable and comfortable.

We also notice the overall size of this reel is small in comparison to some other models. Some of their midsize models weigh less than 10 ounces, which is ideal for preventing fatigue after a long day of fishing. The reels are lightweight, but they still offer around 14 pounds of drag and a 27-inch retrieval rate.


How We Reviewed


We understand that a fishing reel is an investment. This is not something you want to buy today and throw away tomorrow. You expect to get years of use out of your fishing reel, so it has to be something that lasts.

As a result, we bring in only the best information in our reviews. We take advice and points from experienced anglers with years of experience fishing and writing about fishing.

In addition to actual word of mouth, we use reviews from real anglers who have already purchased this reel. Who better to learn from than the people who are currently out there, on the water, fishing with the reel you want to buy?

Finally, we take our own experience and knowledge and put it into play. We’re anglers too, and we understand what separates a good reel from a bad one.


graphic illustration of a fishing rod

The Abu Garcia Pro Max: Stack It Up

One of the best ways to understand a fishing reel is to compare it to another. In this Abu Garcia Pro Max review, we’re taking a look at some other reels a well to see if they’re better or worse than this one.

All of these reels pass our extensive inspection, and although we’re comparing them, they are all great reels that we would recommend to anyone.

KastKing Crixus



KastKing Crixus Spinning Fishing Reel,Size3000

  • CRIXUS SERIES – Fish li
    ke a…
  • PREMIUM COMPONENTS – Crixus…
  • MAXIDUR BALL BEARINGS – For…
  • SMOOTH CARBON FIBER DRAG –…
  • SUPERPOLYMER HANDLE KNOB –…

First, let’s take a look at this spinning reel from KastKing. This comes in four different models ranging from 2000 to 5000. The reel uses a zinc alloy and machined pinion gear made from brass. The spool and handle are both aluminum, so right off the bat, you get the feeling that you’re dealing with a durable reel.

This reel uses a five-plus-one bearing system. It contains five stainless steel ball bearings plus a zero lock anti-reverse to help set the hook. This setup is similar to the Abu Garcia Pro Max minus one bearing.

You get a carbon fiber drag system that helps you keep the larger fish in check. The amount of drag you get varies depending on how high you go in the model. The 2000 and 3000 offer 17.5 pounds of drag. The 4000 and 5000 offer 20 pounds of drag.

Comparing that to the Abu Garcia Pro Max, you’re getting a bit more drag for a lighter weight reel in the KastKing Crixus.

Overall, this reel is smooth, light, and durable, so it would be a great alternative to the Abu Garcia Pro Max.

Pflueger President



Pflueger PRESSP30X President Spinning Fishing Reel

  • 10 bearing System : corrosion…
  • Graphite body and rotor :…
  • Sealed Drag System : Sealed…
  • The “B” at the end of the…

Next in our Abu Garcia Pro Max review, let’s take a look at the Pflueger President. This reel comes in several different models with a 10 anti-corrosion bearing system. These bearings are stainless steel, and they do a great job of keeping the reel smooth while preventing corrosion from dirt or saltwater.

The reel itself is graphite with a lightweight reel construction and spool designed for braid. You can attach the braid directly to the spool.

The President also comes with a sealed drag system with lubricated and sealed washers. You get the feeling that the company really designed this spinning reel for saltwater applications. Based on its size and drag ratings, we would choose this over the Abu Garcia Pro Max for many inshore saltwater fishing situations.

This reel also comes with a slow oscillation gearing system to help improve line lay and prevent tangling.

Many people say that this reel is a bit slow, but it’s nice for keeping lighter baits suspended in the water for longer periods of time.

Overall, it’s one of the best fishing reels. If you’re looking for a lightweight reel geared more towards inshore saltwater, you’ll want to check out the Pflueger President.

Okuma Ceymar



Okuma Ceymar Lightweight Spinning Reel- C-30

  • Gear Ratio: 5.0:1, Precision…
  • 7BB + 1RB bearing system,…
  • Multi-disc, oiled felt drag…

If you’ve fished for a few years, you’ve likely heard of Okuma. For a long time, this brand was known for producing “less than desirable” reels that most people didn’t want. Over the years, they’ve progressed, and people are starting to see some star potential in these reels.

The Okuma Ceymar features an eight bearing system with seven stainless ball bearings and an anti-reverse bearing as well. You’ll get a multi-disc oiled felt drag system as well.

The reel comes in six different models ranging from 4-pound drag to 20-pound drag systems. I like the design of the reel, and I think it looks very attractive from a cosmetic perspective. If we dive a little deeper, the body is corrosion-resistant, which makes this one more ideal for saltwater fishing as well.

It doesn’t have the same type of sealing like the Pflueger President, though.

Finally, anglers get the Okuma RESII computer balancing system in the rotor. It helps ensure you don’t feel any friction on your casts. This will help you get the most accurate and distant cast each time.


graphic illustration of a fishing rod

Fishing Is Serious Business

By this point in our Abu Garcia Pro Max review, you should have a solid understanding of whether or not the Abu Garcia Pro Max is for you or not. The reel has a lot to offer, and it’s a great reel at this price range.
That said, it doesn’t have a lot of saltwater corrosion protection like some of the other reels we looked at. It also has a lower drag rating for the extra weight you’re carrying.

Overall, it’s still a popular reel that is durable, comfortable to handle, and long-lasting.

If you have some experience with any of the reels we’ve reviewed in this article, be sure to drop us a comment and let us know what you think.

Featured Image Source: Unsplash.com

Fishing Rod Icon Source: Icons made by Eucalyp from www.flaticon.com

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