By Jeff Samsel

Folks in some places are still fishing through holes in the ice or sitting restless in their dens, awaiting spring thawing. In other areas, anglers have begun enjoying legitimate hints of spring. Either way, most folks have at least rounded the bend from the deepest part of winter and are looking toward warmer days and active crappie. With such thoughts in mind, it seemed like a good time to explore some of the coolest new stuff that has hit the market for crappie fishermen.

Johnson Crappie Buster Shad Crank
Whether viewed from the side, above, below or straight on, the Crappie Buster Shad Crank has a shape that perfectly matches a shad, which is the primary food for adult crappie in many rivers and lakes. The swimming action likewise mimics a shad’s normal movements. Most crappie specialists will troll these new crankbaits, but the same lures lend themselves well to being cast over brushpiles or beside docks. Shad Cranks come in two sizes, 2 1/8 inches and 2 ½ inches, and 10 colors, and have high-pitched rattles and red hooks.

Gamma Panfish Line
Many crappie anglers have long liked the qualities of Gamma Polyflex, a molecularly altered copolymer line that boasts tremendous strength, but the newest Gammas was line was designed specifically for panfishermen. Gamma Panfish, described as optic yellow, is highly visible in a huge range of conditions, and is super supple for managing tiny jigs and lightweight rigs. Gamma Panfish comes in five sizes, from 2- to 12-pound-test, and four spool sizes.

Aqua-Vu Bio-Lume
First there were lanterns, with foil hoods used to reflect light down on the water. Next came floating lights that shined straight down. The Bio-Lume, new from Aqua-Vu, is a submersible light that you can you can put below the surface to illuminate an entire section of the water column. The light draws plankton, which in turn brings in minnows and then crappie, allowing you to attract big numbers of fish to a specific spot. Having the light beneath the surface keeps it from messing with your vision, along with reducing the number of bugs attracted. The Bi-Lume uses 180 high-intensity, SMD LEDS to spread 360 degrees of light. The Bi-Lume comes with 16 feet of cable and runs off a 12-volt battery.

Lindy Perch Talker
For starters, I know, this one has “perch” in the name. However, the ice-fishing crowd immediately proved that the Perch Talker’s innovative design is extremely useful for catching various game fish species. Also, while it is an ice lure first, this lure will work well for any vertical presentation that is not into extra snaggy cover. Through the ice or from a boat, a Perch Talker can be rigged with a small live minnow or a minnow head and fished with alternating jiggles and pauses. Disks and beads spin and clack, attracting fish with sound, vibration and flash, and when the crappie move close, they find fresh bait separated from the flashy part and looking like a very easy meal.

Bobby Garland Itty Bit Swim’R
You know the Baby Shad Swim’R, a variation of the classic Bobby Garland Baby Shad with a tiny paddle at the end of a spear tail that causes the bait to shimmy. The Itty Bit Swim’R, as the name suggests, is a micro-sized version of the Swim’R and is ideal for time when the fish are feeding on extra small forage or conditions create a challenging bite. Like the larger Swim’R, the Itty Bit version has a scent chamber in its belly so you can pack it full of your favorite crappie attracting scent. The Itty Bit Swim’R comes in 20 color patterns.

Berkley IronSilk
If the name IronSilk rings familiar, there’s good reason. IronSilk is a re-release or sorts. It’s not the same product, though. The original version was discontinued because of UV tolerance issues, which have been fully resolved, and the concept and basic formula were simply too good to keep stowed away. The name says a lot. Iron speaks of tremendous toughness (33 percent more abrasion resistant than other lines of the same diameter), which of course is important for targeting fish that prefer to hang in brushpiles, beside bridge supports, beneath docks, etc. Silk in the name speaks of a softness or manageability, which is important for casting light jigs and managing line on reels. Available in 6- to 20-pound test.

Strike King Mr. Crappie Slabalicious
The name Mr. Crappie Slabalicious reveals quite a bit about Strike King’ newest crappie bait. “Mr. Crappie” tells you that it was designed by Wally Marshall and is part of Strike King’s growing line-up of crappie-specific products. Slabalicious suggests that it was designed for big crappie and that like Strike King’s popular Shadalicious bass lure, it is a swimbait. The Slabalicious has a grub-like front section and narrow tail section with a paddle at the end that causes it to kick hard when it comes through the water. It is 2 inches long and comes in 17 crappie-specific colors.

B’n’M Pro Staff Spinning Reel
Crappie fishermen commonly view their reels simply as line holders, but too little regard for reels can create problems when fish that test drags grab baits or when casting becomes important. At the same time, most crappie fishermen don’t want spend triple digits for every reel in a trolling spread. B’n’M’s new PRO STAFF Spinning Reel is smooth operating and was designed to withstand the rigors of daily use by guides and tournament pros. It features a smooth drag and five ball bearings and can hold 220 yards of 4-pound test or 100 yards of 8-pound test, and retails for less than $40.

Lew’s Mr. Crappie Custom Graphite 16-Footer
Lew’s extended the reach of its Mr. Crappie Custom Graphite series of rods with a 3-piece 16-footer. Distinctive by their bright yellow blanks and black handles and created from high modulus graphite, the Custom Graphite rods have all been designed specifically for crappie fishing applications. The rods have EVA foam handles, which are comfortable to grip and slide easily into rod holders.

Road Runner Glow Heads
For stained water, after-hours fishing and dark conditions, a jighead that glows can make a major difference in the fish’s ability to find your offering. To give you an idea much stock the folks at Road Runner put in a glow finish that really does what it is advertised, they are now using N-Tense paint, which costs $186 per gallon, to paint original Glow Road Runner heads. Plus they have created two totally new series of glow-in-the-dark jigheads that use the same paint. The new Barbed Glow Road Runner and No Bling Glow Road Runner heads both come with a barb that will hold a tube well but is easily removed for solid plastics. The No Bling version has no blade to allow for deeper, faster presentations.