Rigging to long-line for crappie

Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Rod holders are not required, but they make fishing much easier when working four rods simultaneously.
Photo by Troy Basso

Seems like every time I go to the lake I hear someone say they wish they knew how to troll for crappie.

Trolling, be that with jigs or crankbaits, is the most effective way to catch crappie for most of the year. The exception is when they are on the beds in very shallow water, otherwise it is a deadly technique.

First thing you need is a boat that will track in the wind. Any good V-bottom will work just fine. Flat bottoms and kayaks will work, but are very difficult to control in a good wind. Boat control is going to be your best friend when trolling.

A GPS to record your path on a trackless lake and a Sonar unit to mark suspended fish are the two most important tools for anglers trolling for crappie.
Photo by Troy Basso

A quality GPS/Sonar unit is paramount, since you will need to see the depth and contour lines so that your lures stay in the strike zone for the maximum amount of time. At minimum you need GPS and Sonar, but having down- and side-imaging helps you stay in productive areas. A good GPS unit won’t make you a better angler, but it will make you much more efficient by telling you if an area is productive or a waste of time in real short order.

Rod holders are not required, but they really make life much simpler when trolling. There are many options out there, but the Driftmaster brand is top of the line in that regard.

Lastly, you will need a trolling motor with very good batteries. Trolling speeds for jigs are generally less than one mile per hour and crankbaits require you to blaze along about 1.5 miles per hour. You’re going to be moving slow but still covering a lot of water at the end of the day.

Twister-tail grubs on a jig pulled behind a boat is deadly for putting limits of crappie in the cooler.
Photo by Troy Basso

If you know an area has crappies then you are on your way. Use your boat and your sonar to find the fish and note the depth. Once you locate them mark the spots and drop your trolling motor down and cast your rods out. We generally put two baits about 50 feet behind us and two more about 80 feet behind the boat. Keep your boat in consistent water depth using your GPS and troll your jigs right through the fish.

A solid tip here is to not “horse” the fish back to the boat. Remember your moving one mile per hour and your reel will pull the fish another two miles per hour. Take it easy reeling them in or you will pop the jig right out of their mouths. Once you get bit re-mark the fish and repeat until you have a pattern or trail you can follow every time.

Troy Basso is a freelance writer and fishing guide from Chapel Hill, Tenn. He can be reached through his website and blog at www.troybassooutdoors.com.