Whether the target is salmon, walleye, or muskie, trolling has been an effective method of catching fish for many years. There are many who would never associate it with panfish, however. While some may not be familiar with it, spider rigging is a method of trolling that has been utilized by crappie fishermen throughout the years as a means of pulling in slab after slab nearly year-round, especially in the South.
Spider rigging involves trolling jigs from several rods that reach out over the water in a pattern reminiscent of a spider’s legs; hence the name. Commonly used with six to eight poles, the tactic has proven itself as a great way of locating scattered groups of crappie. Though, the number of poles used should coincide with your experience with the tactic, as the more you rig, the more difficult it becomes to prevent tangles. The poles used are standard lengths and actions for crappie—long with a soft action—and rest within T-Bar rod holders that allow the bait to drift in as you troll.
The real beauty of the spider rig is that it allows you to implement a variety of baits at different depths, enabling you to locate crappie quickly. For example, if the crappie are hitting a rigged minnow on a rod set to 10 feet, then you can rig several more to that depth. Jigs and live minnows are oft-used baits for the rig, but anglers have also used crankbaits, spinners, and even spoons when trolling with a spider rig.
Setting up your baits on a spider rig isn’t difficult at all. All it entails is your bait of choice, a few well-placed weights, and a swivel or two. Ambitious anglers can also try to put more fish in the boat with the use of crappie rigs, or simply using a three-way swivel to attach another length of rigged line to a main line, in hopes of hooking two fish on one rod. As far as trolling speed goes, there isn’t really a magic number. Weather, temperature, lure choice, and water depth will all play a role in the speed at which your bait becomes enticing to crappie. Some days you can simply float with the wind or the current, while on others, you may need to troll at a steady pace to provide an effective presentation. Ultimately, like most aspects of fishing, it requires a bit of trial and error until you find the formula that works.
If you’re the type of angler who enjoys the experimentation aspect of fishing, then spider rigging for slab crappie is something worth checking out. Not only does it afford its user a wide array of options, but it also allows the opportunity to pull in massive numbers of crappie throughout the year. If you’re looking for a new way to catch more fish, then I suggest picking up a few rod holders, some crappie poles, and bucket of minnows, and heading out to your local fishery to try your hand at this effective rig. Worst case scenario: you’ll look really cool with all those rods sticking out over the water!