Fishing the Spider Rig for Crappie
When the crappie spawn is over and the summer sun warms the water temps into the 70s crappie move out of the shallows and prowl the depths in search of cooler water and the baitfish that school there for the same reason. Most crappie anglers focus on early spring and spawning crappie, but crappie can be caught throughout the summer with a little work and patience. One of the best ways to catch summertime suspended crappie is with spider rigging. Spider rigging for crappie has been around for a long time, but this great technique is really gaining more and more attention because it works, and while spider rigging continues to evolve there are some common crappie rigging and techniques that I will explain here.
SPIDER-RIGGING TIPS FOR CRAPPIE FISHING
Spider-rigging looks like a difficult task and it can be for the beginner. With a little practice it can be mastered. With spider-rigging, several poles from 10 to 16 feet in length are placed in a series of rod holders fanned across the bow of the boat. The rod tips are positioned just above the water. It looks like a spider’s legs, hence the name. Crappie anglers will say they stroll, push, long line, tight line, slow troll and fast troll. You can also stay put hovering over a brush pile with the spider-rigging technique, but no matter what you do with this setup, it’s still spider-rigging as long as you fan the poles from the bow of the boat. In a course of a trip I might perform all of these different maneuvers depending on the situation.
WHAT’S WITH THE LONG POLES
People have asked me “what’s with the long rods in your rod holder when you spider rig”. If you’ve ever seen a boat that is spider-rigging you know that this is a legitimate question. It’s simple to answer. There are two reasons to use long poles when spider-rigging. The first and most important is to keep your line out of the trolling motor. This will be the first aha moment for a beginner that doesn’t think they need to use long poles.
The second is to get your baits as far away from the boat as possible so you’re not spooking fish, especially when slow trolling in shallow water. I prefer 10-foot rods. They’re easier to work with, especially when fishing alone. I’ve used 14-foot rods and did OK, but it gets awkward pulling up crappie through all the other rigs. I’ve never used 16-foot rods, but many crappie anglers do.
The reels are probably the least important part of the spider rigging setup. Usually, the reel gets little use unless you’re fishing deep. A net is very important when spider-rigging. You can pull most crappie up and swing them into the boat to unhook them, but when you hook into a slab you want a long-reach net so you can reach out to where the crappie is. The best rule of thumb for a net is at least as long as your longest pole. There are several companies producing spider rig nets. Some are fixed length while others telescope out to 12 or 13 feet.
This is another reason I like a shorter rod but 10-foot rods is as short as I go. I don’t need such a long net that can be hard to handle alone, especially if the day is long and the bite is good.
CAPPS & COLEMAN RIG
There are several different terminal crappie rigs for spider-rigging, but I will explain the most common crappie fishing rig for this technique. The Capps and Coleman rig was named after six-time national champions Ronnie Capps and Steve Coleman and is probably the most utilized crappie fishing rig in spider-rigging. The Capps and Coleman are very simple but super effective when spider-rigging for crappie. Starting with your main line attach a 3-way swivel.
The standard 3-way swivel will work, but a T-Turn 3-way swivel helps keep your leader from tangling with the main line. Off the bottom loop of your Thunder Mist T-Turn, attach a leader of the same type line used for your main line. This bottom leader should be at least 24 inches in length. You need to use at least 10-pound test line with this rig and I will explain later.
Once you have your bottom leader attached to the bottom of your 3-way swivel, run the end of the leader through an egg sinker and slide it up the leader to about 8 inches from the swivel. Now loop the end of the leader several times through the hole in the sinker to hold it in place. You can attach a straight swivel below the sinker with a bead. This allows the sinker to freely slide up and down the leader. It also adds a bit more protection from line twists. I prefer the extra swivel over looping the line myself. The sinker size can be varied from 1/4oz to 1oz depending on the depth and speed you’re fishing.
There are a couple of tricks to an effective Capps and Coleman rig. The first is the type of hooks you use. The best hook for this rig is a #2 Aberdeen hook. The Aberdeen hook is a light wire hook that is easy to bend when pulled. This is why a 10-pound test minimum is important and even heavier. Crappie isn’t as line shy as other species.
When you hang up, this setup allows you to straighten the hook. It keeps your crappie fishing rig intact saving you money and time. The Aberdeen hook is easy to bend back into shape and gets you back to crappie fishing quickly and is just part of becoming super-efficient which is paramount when spider-rigging. At the end of the leader, attach a #2 Aberdeen hook.
The second trick to this crappie rig is to use a heavy line for your side leader. I’ve seen guys use a cheap heavy mono for their side leader. They told me the cheap stuff is stiffer and helps keep the line from tangling. I’m planning to try this to see if it helps. With the Thunder Mist T-Turn swivel, tangles are rare. Attach a #2 Aberdeen hook to the side leader as well.
Spider-rigging for crappie is a great way to catch a lot of crappies and the technique can be modified in many ways to fit the situation like replacing the hooks and minnows with jigs or jigs with minnows or even crankbaits. Spider rigging for crappie is a very versatile way to fish for crappie. It might take a while to master spider rigging for crappie, but I hope these few tips can get you started and help you catch more crappie.
3 PROVEN METHODS TO SPIDER RIG FOR CRAPPIE
The Double Minnow Rig
The Double Jig Rig
Use Bobbers When Spider Rigging for Crappie
There are many ways to rig your spider rigging setup to catch crappie. Your spider-rig setup will be determined by water temperature, water clarity, water depth and personal preference. Personal preference usually comes down to the spider rigging setup you have the most confidence in to catch crappie. Here is a list of 3 spider rigging setups for you to try on your next spider rigging crappie adventure.
DOUBLE MINNOW RIG FOR SPIDER RIGGING
The double minnow rig is my favorite when the water is cold, but this crappie rigging works great all season. It’s simple yet very effective. It performs best when the water is cold or when the crappie just is not biting very well. The double minnow rig can usually get you a few bites because it’s live bait. For more information on when to use and how to tie the double rig check out our article Double Jigging for Crappie
DOUBLE JIG RIG
The double jig rig is the same as the double minnow rig but uses jigs. Crappie will hit a jig very well and many anglers only use jigs. Many crappie anglers claim they catch more crappie with a jig than with a minnow. Jigs offer the crappie color. Color is important to crappie and will trigger bites. Crappie will bite when not hungry if presented with the right trigger. This is called a reaction strike and good anglers know how to trigger these bites. Jigs offer a multitude of profiles, actions and visuals. All of which can get you a reaction strike.
SPIDER RIGGING WITH BOBBERS
When crappie moves up shallow a bobber can keep your minnow or jig at a certain depth. This will keep you from hanging up in the brush and stumps where the crappie lives. You can fish in 6 feet of water when spider-rigging. Use a setup with a bobber set at 4 feet deep. It will help you slowly troll through the shallows without hanging up. Crappie always looks up to feed and will come out of the brush to take your bait. Oftentimes a single hook rig is best in shallow water because the top hook might be out of the water. The double rig setup works best in deeper water with scattered fish. Use it over brush piles in 10-20 feet of water, or deeper.
Whether you use jigs or minnows, long rods or short give these spider rigging setups a try this season and have fun out there catching more crappie
HOMEMADE SPIDER RIGGING ROD HOLDERS
Crappie fishing has come a long way. One of the most popular techniques is spider rigging for crappie. Spider rigging involves several crappie poles spread out in front or sometimes the back of the boat. These crappie poles need rod holders and since most good spider rigging crappie anglers use up to 8 rods and I’m guessing more in some places, they need a lot of rod holders for their spider rigging technique. Here is a video of making some very affordable homemade spider rigging rod holders that look like they will work great. I have not used these types of rod holders for crappie fishing but I had a few come with a boat that I bought one time and they worked great and were adjustable as well. So check out this video for some great crappie spider rig rod holders.
HOW TO MAKE SPIDER RIGGING ROD HOLDERS VIDEO
Check Out How To Catch March Crappie