Story and photos by Tim Huffman
PVC beds are nothing new. Plastic buckets have been used for imitations stumps for decades. Eight to ten inches of gravel in the bottom, lowered by a rope to the lake bottom and you have a plastic stump.
PVC can be easy-to-assemble like shown here or you can create your own type of configuration and setup. Add weight to fit the size of the bed and the area it is located.
PVC, generically called plastic by most people, gained momentum about fifteen years ago with the popularity of the Porcupine Fish Attractor. The center ball was a smartly engineered nucleus that allowed pieces of pipe to be pushed into its holes.
The advantage of the Porcupine, or any other of the “kit” type bed, is they are easy to transport and put together. For fishermen who have built and wrestled with pallet beds, large prebuilt pipe beds with concrete bases and small trees, it’s common knowledge that large, heavy objects are difficult to handle. It’s hard work and dangerous.
A fisherman has two primary choices when working with PVC. Buy the kits that are ready to put together, easy to carry in a boat and easy to assemble. Or, create your own. Kits are expensive so there is a lot of money to save by building your own.
Build & Placing
Charles Bunting uses Porcupines. He primarily uses the spheres and provides his own PVC, a principle for ease of use and a big cost savings. “We duct the bottom center leg shorter than the others,” says Bunting. “This allows more legs to touch the lake bottom helping hold it steady. We use yellow pipe a lot just because we have access to it, so we are lucky. The cheapest we buy is the gray electrical pipe. Once the algae builds up it doesn’t matter what color the pipe. We’ve caught them on all of them.”
“Our depth will be 4 to 12 feet deep for jigging, 4 to 16 for slow trolling. We often put the trolling beds in a line from shallow to deep water. No matter where we put beds, we prefer to put them where there is no cover. We will put them 50 yards from where we are catching fish from another spot.”
Charles Bunting is dropping a PVC bed after scanning the area with his electronics, dropping a marker buoy, and punching in a GPS waypoint. Cover has to be placed in the right spot to produce crappie.
Other suggesting include placing them anywhere there is a drop-off. Cover is usually placed on top near the break. Drops are commonly thought of as a creek or river channel, but also can be part of a hump, point or other structure. There is no wrong place to put them as long as you keep them where they won’t be a hazard to other sportsmen.
Contrary to what some people say, modern electronics can show PVC beds. Here’s one showing the PVC Porcupine that was dropped into the water in a previous photo.
Another place Bunting likes is a big flat. “We will place them on flats that are 100 to 150 feet wide. It makes them easy to fish and the fish will definitely find and use them.”
Note that not all of them will produce fish. That’s the way beds work. Some will produce slabs while others will produce numbers. They each have their own personality.
“PVC is odd because one time a bed will hold fish and the next time it won’t,” says Bunting. “But it’s unreal how they can hold fish. We sink them with just two bricks. The pipe fills up with water and helps hold them down.”
Want to make your own. Pipes placed into concrete is a way to make a stable bed of any size, small or large.
Fishing PVC beds, no matter what type they are, are nice because they don’t grab hooks like wood beds. So they are easier to fish. Slow trollers can ease baits into the plastic and they seldom hang. Fish like the baits laying right next to the pipe.
Casting is easier too. A fisherman can let the bait drag through the pipes to get deeper into the cover than possible in a wooden bed. A jig and float can bring the jig over the top. Any depth can be fished.
Just because hang-ups aren’t as much of a problem, it doesn’t mean to just blast in with your baits. It’s best to fish the top and sides first, pulling boarder fish without disturbing those inside. Finish by letting baits work the inside of the bed.
Building a Homemade Bed
There are no limits to the type and size a PVC can be built. Small beds are easier to transport and place than a large bed. A larger bed will hold more fish. Each fisherman can decide how to build them.
A plastic bucket is the base. A wider pan, like a hospital wash pan, is good for providing a wider base. Lightly oil the plastic bucket or pan. Pour concrete in and then stick the pipe into it. The concrete is allowed to cure and the pan removed to be re-used.
Height average is 4 feet but can be shorter or much longer. Transport and depth of water are two consideration when figuring height.
Summary of PVC Beds
>Fewer hook hang-ups.
>Easy to build.
>Kits are easy to transport.
>Can be built to any shape or size.
>Should last forever is not dislodged.
>Safer to place.
>Moderate to expensive.
>May not draw crappie like wood will.
>May not be legal in some waters.