By John Neporadny Jr.
My wife has seen a lot of fishing gear during our 32 years of marriage but she was stumped recently when she saw those long contraptions on the back of some bass boats.
When I told her they were a new anchoring system she said they made the boats look like giant crickets. Those “cricket legs” are becoming more common sights on bass boats these days and crappie anglers are starting to take advantage of the shallow water anchoring systems as well as the bass fishing crowd. “It seems like every year I see a larger percentage of crappie anglers (with the anchoring systems) kind of like you saw with bass fishermen,” says Crappiemasters pro Travis Bunting.
Charles Bunting uses Power Poles to anchor near shallow brush.The pole anchoring system market is dominated by Power-Pole models and the MinnKota Talon. The Power-Pole models feature a hydraulic system that drives the pole into bottom to hold the boat in position while the Minn Kota Talon is an electric-powered pole anchoring system.
Crappie Masters father-and-son team Charles and Travis Bunting rely on the Power Pole Blade for a variety of crappie fishing applications. “We use it any time there is wind,” Travis Bunting says. “Crappie fishing has a lot to do with boat control so we lock in the Power-Pole if we get over the top of a brush pile while spider rigging. With 16 hooks in a lot of brush if there is any kind of movement you are going to get hung up to some degree so the Power-Pole helps out with that.
Bunting believes the pole system is a lot quieter and more efficient than throwing out an anchor. “It is so much more convenient,” he says. “You never have to leave the front of your boat.” With a traditional anchor, he would have to toss it off the bow of the boat whereas with the Power Pole he can lower the poles with a flip of the switch.
The poles also come in handy for the Buntings when they are shooting docks. “If we want to get into a dock and the wind is blowing in the wrong direction to where it is going to blow the rear end of the boat up on the bank, we will drop the poles down there about a foot below the motor and let the boat circle into the bank,” Travis says. “That keeps the boat off the bank and we can still fish our targets.”
Bunting recommends the Pro Series 2 and Blade models for crappie anglers looking for a pole anchoring system for their boats. The Pro Series is available in 6- and 8-foot models while the Blade comes in 8- and 10-foot models. Bunting suggests the 8- and 10-footers are best for most crappie fishing tactics.
A Power-Pole feature gaining popularity among crappie anglers is the Drift Paddle. Bunting believes the Drift Paddles eliminate the need for drift socks or chains to control your boat’s drift speed and angle. The Drifts Paddles can be adjusted to seven positions covering 180 degrees. “If you are at Grenada or somewhere like that where you are open water fishing and using the wind to propel you, you can go with the wind (with the drift paddles),” says Bunting. He notes that the boat speed and angle can be adjusted at the touch of a button rather than running to the back of the boat to constantly adjust a drift sock.
The Power-Pole Micro Angler on the stern of this Hobie Pro Angler kayak can serve as an electronic anchoring system for smaller aluminum boats and kayaks. John Neporadny Jr. photo.
“So in the springtime when you are wanting to get all your rods up close to the bank or even if fishing down the bank with a single pole you can turn those (drift paddles) at an angle,” Bunting says. “As you are going down the bank it steers your rear end (and keeps it off the bank).” Drift speed adjustments can be made by lowering the paddles to slow the boat down or raising the paddles to speed up the drift.
Power-Pole has also introduced the new Micro Anchor for crappie anglers with lighter and smaller boats that need less holding power. Power-Pole Advertising Manager Curt Hill suggests the new electric powered system is easy to install on aluminum crappie boats with three available mounting options: (1) a clamp mount; (2) an adapter plate similar to the bolt pattern of the hydraulic models: (3) a bracket that can be mounted on the transom or on top of the boat’s deck. Hill says the Micro Anchor comes with an 8 1/2-foot spike, but will work with longer spikes that have a 3/4-inch diameter.
The Minn Kota Talon is the shallow anchoring choice of the pro crappie team of Matt Morgan and Kent Watson. Morgan prefers the Talon for its durability, quickness, quietness and holding power. “When we were down at the St. John’s River we were in 11 feet of water with current moving and I hit the down button and those things extended out so quickly and quietly that I didn’t even know it had happened yet,” he says.
Key features on the Talon include selectable anchoring modes (a Rough Water Mode for holding better in waves and a Soft Bottom Mode for anchoring and easily extracting in muddy or silted bottoms), an LED Depth Indicator to show how deep the unit is deployed and an alarm that sounds if the Talon is still deployed when the outboard engine is started. Morgan notes the 12-foot model they use also has a tilt bracket that allows them to tilt the Talon down on the back deck whenever they need to pass under standing timber or a low causeway.
Whether you’re trying to hold your boat steady and dip jigs in brush piles or slow troll in open water, adding some “cricket legs” to the back of your boat will make it a lot easier to deal with the wind this spring.