As the ice firms in the early winter and the gear comes out of storage, one of the first rods we get ready to go is our dead sticks. By definition, a dead stick is a rod you rig with a lure and bait it but leave it in a holder without jigging or moving it much, if at all.
Our preference for rigging is 10# super line, thin enough so the crappies won’t shy away, and strong enough to land a 30” walleye. The hook is a Vexan Fishing Crystal Reaper Treble and no split shot. We don’t use jigs for this presentation, as that will limit bait movement. It is the constant swimming of the bait that draws in fish. Use a Crystal Reaper Treble hook matching the size of the bait. Tie it to a 15 to 20# leader directly, no snap, and a small swivel on the other end.
ROD AND REEL
Choose a multi-species rod like a Vexan VI-28ML-S Multi-species rod with a high-quality in-line reel. The Vexan 1:1 ratio in line reel is a perfect match. Make sure the rod is in a holder or placed so a big fish strike won’t send it down the hole.
Set the depth about a foot above your jigging rods. That will draw in fish that are higher in the water column and also help large predator fish see the presentation from a distance. The immediate benefit is ALL fish are drawn into the dead stick, especially big bluegills, crappies, and perch. We use a MarCum Pursuit underwater camera to monitor the lines and are constantly surprised at the opportunities to draw big crappie of bull bluegill off the dead stick to a T-VEX jig and grub presentation. And then, of course, there are the walleye, bass, and pike that fall to the presentation! That’s why the Crystal Reaper Treble, that hook sticks fast and holds well throughout even the toughest battle with a big pike.
Small to medium suckers or shiners are the best. We have found the large and even medium-sized minnows to be a bit less effective drawing in panfish and have seen no difference at all on predator strikes. When gamefish season closes in many states in late winter, the largest crappie minnow in the bucket will get you reliable results. Make sure the holes are close enough so you can draw the panfish to your T-VEX jig.
Check your state regulations for the number of lines permitted, and don’t be afraid to use the dead stick instead of an extra tip-up. Your overall success will increase!
Your Friends at Vexan Fishing