That’s exactly what Hall produced. A Road Runner slowly retrieved on
light line will draw strikes from black bass, white bass, crappie, bluegills, sauger, walleyes, trout, stripers—you
name it. Anything that eats minnows or insects is likely to nab it. It’s my guess, however, that the Blakemore Road
Runner is more popular with crappie anglers than other types of fishermen because it can be used so many ways to catch America’s
The Road Runner is unique among spinner-type
lures because the spinner is beneath a horsehead-type lead where it’s more easily seen by fish striking from the side
or below. The blade rarely tangles with your fishing line like “safety pin” spinners, nor does it interfere with
Several body styles are available (Bubble Belly, Marabou,
Curly Tail, Turbo Tail, Buck Tail and Crappie Thunder) and two blade styles (Colorado and willow) in sizes from 1/32 to 1
ounce and every color of the rainbow.
Bert Hall, the Missouri Ozarks
stream fisherman who invented the little spinner, also crafted the wise slogan that, “You can’t fish a Road Runner
wrong as long as you fish it slow.” In many cases, slow is best, but crappie anglers shouldn’t be buttonholed
into fishing the Road Runner just one way. Depending on water conditions and the mood of the fish, this fabulous, famous,
fishing-catching lure can be fished slow or fast, deep or shallow, vertically or horizontally. The simplest method, perhaps,
is just casting the lure and reeling it in at a snail’s pace—just fast enough so the blade turns. You also can
drop a Road Runner beneath your boat and fish different depths with little hops and twitches that will get a big slab’s
For some of the best action, however, you might want
to add some variations to your Road Runner repertoire. The techniques described in the following paragraphs are tried and
proven. They’re sure to give you an edge next time you want a mess of crappie for the deep fryer.
Team Sipes Transition
Fishing with his brother and angling partner Coy Sipes, pro crappie angler Gilford “Sonny” Sipes
of Moody, Alabama, has won just about every national and regional crappie tournament there is. He says when Team Sipes fishes
for crappie during the summer-to-fall transition period, they usually start by finding baitfish.
“This time of year, crappie usually will be with baitfish such as small shad,” he says. “As
nights get cooler, baitfish move shallower, often into water just 8 to 10 feet deep. To find them, be on a lake at dawn and
look for shad flickering and schooling on top of the water. When you find baitfish, you can troll in that area to catch crappie
that are with them.”
The Sipes brothers troll with eight
B’n’M Pro Staff trolling rods, each with a tandem rig using both live bait and a Road Runner. On top is tied a
No. 1, Blood-Red Tru-Turn Aberdeen hook baited with a live minnow. Two feet below this is tied a Road Runner spinner.
“When we find the shad, we troll through the area with these rigs, adjusting the
depth of the lures as the sun rises,” Sipes says. “Before the sun is up, we keep the rigs shallower because feeding
crappie will be right under the baitfish, which are at the surface. When the sun rises above the horizon, both the baitfish
and crappie leave the surface and move deeper, so we adjust the depth of the rigs so they’re deeper, too. This way,
we can stay on crappie throughout early morning and enjoy good fishing even during this tough time of year.”
Jim Duckworth’s Trolling Rig
When crappie are suspending
in open water over channel dropoffs and humps, or relating loosely to deep, submerged brushpiles, this rig, developed by Tennessee
multi-species guide Jim Duckworth, is a good one for nabbing them. Duckworth ties on a Bandit 200 crankbait, then adds a 1/16-
or 1/8-ounce Road Runner to the trailing crankbait hook via a leader line. The crankbait works like a depth planer to get
the jig down to the level of the fish and then keeps it at a constant level. Duckworth locates a school of crappie or baitfish
on his graph, then slow-trolls through it with his outboard or trolling motor.
When crappie are actively feeding, it’s not unusual to hang fish on both lures at the same time, Duckworth
says. “But the Road Runner part of the rig really shines when the bite is slow. The flash of the spinning blade attracts
even sluggish crappie.” Crappie may not hit the crankbait, but the lure serves as an attractor, getting their attention
until the Road Runner buzzes by.
When crappie are holding on deep cover and structure in summer and winter, you need an enticement that will
get down to them quick. That’s when the Road Runner/jig rig can be very effective.
Begin by tying your main line to one eye of a three-way swivel. To a second eye of the swivel, tie an 18-inch
leader. Run a 1-ounce egg sinker on this leader, and on the bottom of the leader, tie a barrel swivel to keep the sinker in
place on the line. To the bottom eye of the barrel swivel, add your favorite Road Runner spinner, which is tied on an 18-inch
leader. And to the final eye of the three-way swivel, add a 1/32- to 1/16-ounce crappie jig, which is tied on a 12-inch leader.
When you deploy this rig, the sinker carries it quickly to the bottom. As you troll or
move slowly from one location to another, the jig stretches out behind on the 12-inch leader, and the Road Runner spins behind
the sinker, closer to the bottom. Tipping the jig with a lip-hooked minnow increases the crappie-enticing value even more.
A hot new double-lure technique used by increasing
numbers of savvy crappie anglers is called “stacking.” To make a stacking rig, begin with a size 2 Walleye Finesse
Hook from StandOUT Hooks and your favorite Blakemore Road Runner. (I like the new Road Runners with Bleeding Bait hooks and
a Turbo Tail body.) Tie the StandOUT hook on your main line according to package directions, leaving 24 to 36 inches of line
below the hook. Tie the Road Runner spinner to the end of the line. Now add your favorite dressing to the StandOUT hook. Another
Turbo Tail body works well, or you might want to try a Berkley Gulp 2.5-inch Minnow or one of FoodSource Lure’s 3-inch
Swirl Tail Grubs. Cast the rig and bring it back with a slow, straight retrieve, or work it with an undulating “lift,
drop” motion. Both methods are dynamite on crappie year-round.
These are just a few of the many Road Runner techniques you can use to catch crappie wherever you
fish. The variations are endless, and half the fun of using these wonderful little spinners is experimenting with different
tactics until you find a method those big slabs just can’t resist. Try some Road Runners this season and see.
(Editor’s Note: Keith Sutton is the author of “The Crappie Book: Basics and
Beyond.” To order an autographed copy, send a check or money order for $19.45 to C & C Outdoor Productions, 15601
Mountain Dr., Alexander, AR 72002. For credit card and PayPal orders, visit www.catfishsutton.com.)
Road Runner Fishing Tips
Whenever you fish a Road
Runner, remember these tips straight from the Road Runner website (www.ttiblakemore.com):
• Road Runners can’t
be fished wrong; as long as they are fished s-l-o-w!
• Contrast is important. Try mixing the head color with the
• Choose light colors for bright days, dark colors for cloudy days.
• Switch to the Willow
Blade (Pro Series) for deeper or swifter waters
• Lighter line and Real Magic will increase casting distance.
• For deep water; rig the curly tail with the curl “up”. Rig the curl “down” for shallow water
or a slower descent.
• When jigging deep water; use a “drop” instead of a “lift” for more
bites. The slower, the better.
• Light action rods cast further and compensate for the head shakes of fighting fish.
• The Road Runner Bubble-Belly is a good choice for skipping under docks.
• The #1 fishing tip: take a kid
fishing; the memories you make will last a lifetime.