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How To Troll For Crappie: The Ultimate Guide To Crappie Fishing

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Crappie fishing can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it also comes with a challenge: the crappie. So let us be your guide as we show you how to catch those pesky little fish that seem always to slip away from your hook.

Crappie is not an easy catch. For those of you less experienced, this may seem like a futile endeavor, but don’t put down your pole just yet! There are ways to troll for crappie that will give you an advantage over them. Follow these tips and tricks to become the master of catching these slippery fish!

Basics of Fishing a Crappie

To catch crappie, you must first understand more about their behavior. Crappie is schooling fish that will travel together in large groups during the day. They can also be found alone or in pairs, but these are less common. This is why it is important to locate schools before you begin fishing for them. Doing so will make your experience much easier.

The best way to find crappie is to look for the bigger fish in the area, like bass or bluegill, as an indicator that there are likely large numbers of smaller prey underneath them. The larger the school you find, the better off your chances will be at catching something.

Trolling for Crappie

Trolling is the process of moving your boat around an area while throwing out different lures to catch fish. Trolling can be used for fishing just about anything but is most commonly used for crappie and trout.

It works well because it is challenging to cover water with other types of fishing, so trolling allows you to efficiently fish different spots in one sitting instead of covering the same ground again and again.

This method does work best when you have more than one person in a boat, though it can also be helpful on your own by using multiple rods or casting reels.

Why is Crappie Trolling Difficult?

Crappie is difficult to troll for because they are so small. They are easy to lose on your hook, often slip off when you’re-baiting it or cut the line with their razor-sharp teeth. It’s also hard not to get discouraged when you go hours without catching one fish after another.

That’s why it’s essential to have several rods in each boat. You can always grab another one if you are getting no bites, making your chances of catching more fish much higher than with just one rod.

The Best Times to Catch Crappie

Crappie and big fish are most active during the day, so it is best to fish in the morning or afternoon. Be sure not to fish at night, as they tend to avoid lights and will be less likely to bite.

The best times to catch crappies are typical during the spawning season, which usually ranges from late February through April. During this time, crappie will congregate around deeper waters where their eggs can be safely laid.

Crappie Fishing Tips

Make sure your lure is moving along the surface of the water at all times so that it doesn’t sink too deep into predictable feeding territory. You can do this by keeping it close to shore or dragging it through submerged bushes or rocks where they are likely hiding out.

It’s also important to remember that you can’t always throw out one pole and be done with it. Instead, try throwing several of them out at once and moving on to different angles and speeds in order to make lures more enticing for the fish.

By using the proper techniques and equipment, including trolling gear and appropriate fishing rods, you will have higher success rates while bringing home some tasty meals!

Baits and Lures for Crappie Trolling

The best lures for trolling are spoons, crankbaits, and spinners. Jigs work well when trying to catch a specific type of fish in an area with crappie, but they are not very effective for actual fishing.

However, if you have fine-tuned your ability to troll the right way, jigs may be enough to catch some smaller specimens.

Spoons: Spoons can be any metal object that resembles food for crappies, such as bait fish for crawdads. They typically come in three varieties: Flat, round, or wide-angle. All spoons work on the same principle but vary slightly depending on the application intended by the manufacturer.

Whether you are looking to catch small or large crappie, you will set your line out accordingly. For small ones, keep it at least 50 yards away from your boat so that they have some room to grab it. In larger waters, you can have your line out even farther to try and attract some bigger specimens.

Crankbaits: Crankbaits are great for trolling because they tend to float in a specific area while they’re not being reeled in, allowing them to function as a sort of stationary bait. They work well with slow trolling speeds from 0-1 mph since crappie will have enough time to inspect the lure thoroughly before deciding whether or not it is something worth pursuing.

Spider rig:  You can also try using a spider rig, which basically has an empty hook with some weight attached that descends into the water. This will keep your line taut while you troll without spooking the crappie

Live Minnows:  When fishing for crappie, the best bait that you can use is a live minnow. It would help if you tried dragging it through areas where you see other fish swimming to attract predators and hopefully lure some in yourself.

Fishing Rod for Trolling

The rod you choose will depend on many factors, including the size of your hook, line strength, and what type of action you need from your rod. Here are a few examples:

Light Action Rod:  Usually used with smaller hooks because they offer less resistance when pulling out after getting a bite. They also give off softer vibrations due to how flexible their tips are. However, if you’re going after big crappies, then these can be invaluable since they allow lures to stay in the water longer while still feeling some resistance.

Heavy Action Rod: With these, you can go after bigger specimens without too much breakage or risk of lost hooks on the cast. While they do cut down on vibrations, they don’t tap out small bites, which might make your line come loose if you’re not careful.

Rod Tip: To prevent a line from fraying excessively and weakening your line, do not let the tip touch the floor of your boat.

Rod Holders:  The best rod holders for trolling are the adjustable ones that can clamp to just about anything. They allow you to position the rod off to the side so that it won’t hit your body or any part of your boat, which could scare off fish.

Rod Bends: Try to keep your rod bent at a 30-degree angle since this will make it behave more like a live minnow and make it easier for the fish to see.

Four Rods: It is recommended that you have at least four rods trolled out at once for best results. If you have a larger boat, then more is undoubtedly better. In most cases, you can have up to six rods per person.

Longer Rods:  The best rods for trolling are ones that measure at least 8″6′ to 10″6 feet in length. This will give you the leverage and power to get a bit more consistently by crappie. If you’re using lighter rods for smaller fish, it also gives the extra flex needed to deal with bigger hooks and stronger braided lines.

Trolling Motor for Catching a Crappie

The trolling motor is one of the most important items you need for trolling, as it allows you to stay in motion without having to keep your boat running.

To control the speed on a trolling motor, there are usually two levers. One will adjust how quickly or slowly you go, while another adjusts whether you want to go forward or backward. You may also have some options to go left and right if your boat is equipped with such capabilities.

To prevent spooking fish, make sure that your crankbaits float at least 50 yards away from the side of your boat before extending them all at once. Smaller boats can get closer since there’s less noise and vibration. If using spider rigs, make sure they’re lowered at least 20-30 yards behind your boat so they can drift naturally.

I typically like the Minn Kota Endura C2 30 as my trolling motor when it comes to fishing for crappie. It’s great for those like myself that have a small boat. Meaning, that this motor is extremely efficient and inexpensive as well. Make sure that you know how to choose the right trolling motor before buying one.

How to be a Crappie Fishermen?

Being a crappie fisherman isn’t that much different from being any other type of angler. However, there are some helpful tips to remember when you’re targeting these fish specifically since they can be picky eaters in some cases.

When fishing for crappies, it’s best to have 4-6 rods trolled out in an area about 70 feet in diameter. You can do this by hanging your rods off the side or stern of your boat and trolling them over the water column slowly.

If you want the best results, then keep your crankbaits 50 yards away from your boat before extending them all at once so they have time to sink into the water column without being scared off by vibrations or sounds from your engine.

Trolling Speed for Crappie?

The trolling speed is completely dependent on your preferences and the area of water you are fishing in. If you are looking for bigger crappies, then trolling at a slower trolling speeds is always ideal. On the other hand, you can increase your speed to about 3-4 mph for more active fish, making them harder to catch and ensuring they’re biting more often.

The boat speed can also affect how deep your hooks are when trolling. The wider the boat, then the more drag it creates, thus slowing down your speed and pulling your line further down into the water column.

What Depth Does Crappie Fish?

Crappies usually swim along at depths of about 7 feet below the surface which is why it’s recommended that you troll a shallower area if they aren’t biting near the top. You’ll know you’re trolling at the perfect depth because your line will start to bounce, and you’ll feel a clicking or rattling noise after it’s fallen for about 15-20 seconds.

You can catch crappies in different depths of water, but the most popular depth is about 7 feet below the surface.

Things to Consider When Trolling for Crappie

Water Quality

Crappie like clear water with a high visibility range because they use their eyesight to find food hidden in the weeds.

If there’s a storm coming through and there’s been lots of debris kicked up into the water, then you should wait until it settles down before heading out on your fishing because all of that dirt can cloud up the water and make it difficult for them to see.

Water Temperatures

Crappies are cold-blooded fish, so their body temperature changes with the water temperatures around them, which means crappies will be inactive during the winter months but actively feeding during the spring and summer months.

You’ll know that they’ve entered into their hibernation phase when the water temperature falls below 56 degrees Fahrenheit; otherwise, they’re on the prowl for food all of year long.

Boating Weather

Crappies can handle most weather conditions but tend to leave heavily populated areas if the weather starts to turn ugly.

If you know that there’s a storm coming through, then wait for it to pass before heading out on your boating adventure because strong winds and heavy rains might drive them into hiding.

Spider Rigging for Crappie?

Spider Rigging is not something that must be done when trying to catch crappies, but it is a tactic used by some anglers because they get better results than just using single rod setups.

Spider rigging is when you add a dropper line to your main fishing line and use 2 rods with lures at the end. The best way to do this is by using a spider rig that looks like a pyramid or an X-shape.

What Sound Do Crappie Fishes Make?

Crappies usually bite when they come across a group of baitfish that has been disturbed by something like a crankbait.

When fishing for them near weed beds, you can increase your chances of catching them by using cranks with rattles built into the bodies as those mimic injured baitfish and trigger their feeding instincts perfectly.

Is There Such a Thing as Crappie Bite?

There are two different types of crappie bite: slow and fast. If you want to maximize your odds of landing these fishes, then you should try and identify which type of bite is happening so you can reel in at the right speed.

Slow bites are most common when fishing with live bait, such as nightcrawlers or minnows. If you feel a rhythmical pulling on your line that feels like your crank is bouncing off something, then chances are it’s a slow bite.

Where to Go When Trolling for Crappie?

Pickwick Lake

The best trolling locations for crappies are weed beds, drop-offs, old river channels, and points. Cast your lures out around these areas to increase the odds of catching more fishes faster.

Kentucky Lake

Crappie can be found in most parts of this lake, but you should focus on fishing the creeks and small bays where they like to hide because that’s where they’ll be easier to find.

You can also set up lamp posts with lights attached over deeper structures to attract them during nighttime hours.

Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Crappies can be caught along any part of this huge reservoir, making it an ideal place to troll if you want a little more variety.

The best method is to set up humps with lights directly overhead because the fishes will hang around these areas during the night time hours.

Feeding Crappie


Crappies are predators that feed on small minnows, shad, crayfish, and leeches.

They move around a lot during the day but bite most often in the evenings when they’re actively feeding to build up their energy reserves before going into their winter hibernation period.

String Leeches

Many anglers consider string leeches to be the best bait for catching crappies because they’re easy to attach to a hook, don’t wiggle around too much in the water, and stay alive for about 5 minutes after being removed from the water.

In addition, they can be found anywhere that contains lots of vegetation or weed beds to provide them with camouflage.

Final Thoughts on How to Troll for Crappie

Crappies are great fishes to troll if you want something more exciting than staying in one spot and waiting for a bite. They can be found worldwide under different names, but they’ll always have the same slender, cylindrical body with dark vertical stripes on their sides.

If you’re new to these fishes, try them out in one of the many famous lakes on this list and see if they can be added to your next fishing trip!