How To Set Up For Multi-Rig Crappie Trolling

Mess Of Crappie On Jon Boat Seat
2006 Ronnie Garrison licensed to About.com

Trolling with numerous jigs has become a popular way to fish for crappies. It's a tactic that will work anywhere when the water starts warming in early spring. Then, crappie are beginning to move to the mouths of creeks getting ready to find shallow areas to spawn. They congregate in huge schools and you can catch a pile of fish if you locate them. Finding them the fall will allow you to follow them all the way to the bank in the spring.

The best way to locate the schools is to troll several jigs in different colors and at different depths until you start catching fish. Then you can change all your rods to that depth and color. Some anglers have rigged their boats with rod holders to enable them to troll up to fourteen lines at once. If you use a double jig rig on each line/rod, that gives you twenty-eight baits in the water for the fish to choose from.

Boats with all of these trolling rigs are called "spider rigs" because of all the rod "legs." A board across the back of the boat keeps up to six rods spaced apart evenly. Three or four more up each side, with longer and longer rods as you move toward the front of the boat, spread jigs over a wide path. Crappie don't have a chance!

A good way to mount a board across the back of your boat is to attach it to the cleats. You can remove it when not needed. Rod holders attach to the board and do not mar the boat.

A 2X4 with a pad on each end to protect the boat finish works well. A hook through the board to hold the cleat, with a washer and wing nut to tighten it down, makes a secure rig. This is the basic approach, but there are many different ways to rig up. Make one that works for you or copy one that you see.

You should troll for crappie with light line. Two- to 6-pound line works well. Light line allows your jig to sink to the depth you want to fish. It also allows you to break off a big fish that could tangle your line. That is hard to do, but most trollers break them off fast rather than tangle lines from many rods, which can ruin a whole fishing day.

With all the lines in the water, you would think that when you catch one it would tangle the others up. This hardly ever happens. Keeping the boat moving as you reel in the fish helps.

If you use this rig, remember to vary your speed. That can control the depth as well as offer different speeds of jig movement. When you catch several fish at once, mark that spot and circle back - at the same speed.

You can also troll with live minnows if you hook them through the lips. Like the jigs, they can be dropped under a cork for extremely slow trolling, or can be trolled on a flat line with a split shot in front of them. You can also hook a bait through the lips on a jighead and troll it.

At times you can quickly catch a limit of crappie when trolling spider rigs. Stop when you've got your limit, and go home. You'll have plenty of fish cleaning to do.

This article was edited and revised by our Freshwater Fishing expert, Ken Schultz.