By Ron Presley
Crappies sometimes like to hide under shady overhangs and hard to get to places. Presenting a lure or bait back under overhanging branches in crappie infested waters is a sure way to hook up with a feisty spec. Two Georgia anglers have perfected a method for doing just that. They call it rollin’.
“Some people might call it flyfishing,” says Scott Williams, teammate and son of Billy Williams. “We don’t use flies, so we just call it rollin’.” Billy and Scott are frequent competitors in the Bass Pro Shops Crappie Masters All American Tournament Trail. They are the 2013 Florida State champs and finished 4th in the 2013 Crappie Masters National Championship on Lake Grenada.
Scott explains that the father-son duo especially likes to use the rollin’ technique in the spring when the fish are up in the stumps and trees with overhanging limbs. “You can take and roll a minnow, a cricket, worm or any bait for that matter, back deep in the cover. You can roll it on top of the water to get under low hanging limbs that are otherwise hard to cast to.”
Basic flyfishing equipment is all that is needed to apply the Williams’ technique. They prefer a shorter flyrod because it is easier to handle in tight places. “A 10 foot rod is a great length,” says Scott. “It will let you fish in areas where a longer rod won’t work.”
Scott mentioned and old Pflueger fly reel he has with an automatic line retrieve. “All I have to do is pull the trigger to take up line. I just like the convenience of it.” Nevertheless, just about any flyrod and reel combination will work. “We use a straight floating fly line, not tapered, with a 7- to 8- foot mono leader,” says Scott. Then add a #6 bream hook, a bb weight and a small fly cork as a strike indicator. “It is a simple setup, but it works great for crappie, shell crackers and bream.”
Scott describes the process of rolling the line on top of the water by using a garden hose analogy. “If you take a water hose in your yard and kinda’ whip it, you can form a loop and it will roll all the way to the end of the hose. If you do that with a fly rod and roll the line on top of the water that rolling loop will go all the way out to the end of the line and put the bait up under the overhangs.”
The pole is held in front, facing the intended target. “I lift my wrist and when the line gets almost back slack I will flick my wrist forward.” The line starts rolling, carrying the bait with it until it delivers the offering to the intended target. The roll starts out large and gets smaller as friction from the water’s surface tightens the loop.
Scott says you can even throw a curve with this technique. “If you become really proficient with it you can roll past a stump and land behind it. You throw a little curl to get that result. You learn to flick it to the left or flick it to the right and it will roll to the left or roll to the right so it tails off at the end and lands on the back side of the stump.”
It is a technique that takes a little practice, but the results are worth the effort. “It takes a little time to develop,” says Scott, “but like anything else, once you learn how it becomes second nature to you. It is a great technique to use when you want to get under low hanging limbs and real tight places.” The method is also a fun way to catch spawning crappie when they are roaming the edges of lily pads or standing grass.
It’s not necessary for the angler to provide any action to the presentation. The bait is rolled to the target and the natural action and scent of the minnow or cricket takes it from there. The small cork lets you know when you get a strike and the rest is up to you.