How To Longline For Crappie
I got a post from social media that ask me if I had any tips for longlining for crappie. The post listed several questions and I tried to answer them best I could.
- What water temps are ideal for longlining? What temp do you start longlining, and when do you quit and switch over to something else?
- Do you have one lure on, or two? What’s the typical weight size used?
- What speed do you typically run?
- What do you do to account for wind? Do you go faster? Use heavier weights? Stay home on windy days?
When To Start Longlining For Crappie
I start longlining in spring when the water temps hit the 50’s. The crappie are on the move and beginning to eat more with the increase in water temperature. Longlining is ideal for suspended crappie and those crappie that are moving in schools in search of the baitfish. I don’t longline in the winter. So often the crappie are buried up in cover and need some persuasion to even eat your bait. I like to spider rig or single pole in the winter.
Size Lure To Use Longlining For Crappie
As for size lure to use there is so many variations. When longlining out the back of the boat you can run all the same weights. You can use varying lengths of rods to get the baits separated or you can use varying weights. This gets the baits riding in different parts of the water column preventing the lines from coming in contact and tangling. Different line size, amount of line let out, double jig, size jig and other variations are available to the angler to keep some spread on the baits. I’ve even used a crankbait on the front rod to get it deeper than the back 2 or 3.
I will also use a heavy egg sinker on the front rod. Always put the pole that runs shallowest in the back rod holder. Progressively set the deeper poles in the holders going forward. If you’re consistently getting bites at a certain depth, you can move the heavier baits up or down in the water column by the amount of line you let out. The difference in weight will still keep them separated. I only use one side on my spider rig holders but if you have both sides in you can use both sides to more separate the baits and spread them out. I usually fish alone so I just use the one side with 4 holders.
Longline From Front or Back Of Boat
You can longline for crappie from the front of the boat or back. Longlining from the front of the boat is really fast moving spider-rigging. Some call it tight-lining or pushing for crappie. Longlining from the front of the boat is a great way to cover water with several baits. While I have longlined or pushed from the front of the boat as well as the back when there is someone else fishing with me. The front rods are situated in a spread just like spider-rigging. Heavy egg sinkers are a great way to keep your front lines straight down.
The back rods are staggered. Different lengths of crappie rods keep the lines from tangling. It also allows you to cover a wider swath of the water column. Usually when longlining for crappie the fish are scattered and chasing baitfish. For this reason it is beneficial to cover as wide an area as possible to intercept those crappie that are spread out and not relating to any kind of cover.
What Speed When You Longline For Crappie
The speed is whatever the crappie tells you it is. Generally, .7 to 1.1 is the range but if the crappie aren’t biting at that speed I have trolled cranks as high as 2.2 mph and started catching crappie. Longlining works so well because you get those crappie that are eating and you can catch a lot that aren’t. This is by generating a reaction strike. When a bait goes whizzing by the crappie it will instinctively lash out at it. If you are catching crappie with the hook consistently outside the mouth, then you know it’s a reaction strike. The first instinct is to slow down because you think they can’t catch it or whatever then you stop getting bites because it was the speed that was making them strike.
HINT: When making a turn keep track of the pole you get a bite on. If it is the outside rods then you need to speed up a little. If you’re getting bites on the inside rods, they run slower in a turn, then you need to slow down a little.
Longlining For Crappie In The Wind
In the wind you have to watch your speed carefully increasing trolling motor speed against the wind and decreasing speed with the wind. Having a GPS unit with speed is important too. Most people do have GPS now but if you are using the old school wheel spinner then your speed will be off sometimes by a lot. The current and drift speed can alter the speed with these. With a GPS unit it doesn’t care about the current or if you’re on the water. This gives you the most accurate speed. As long as you are moving within the speed range it shouldn’t matter about the weight. It should be the same.
When there is some pretty good chop or boat traffic waves, I’ve added an egg sinker to my lines. Sometimes as much as 1 oz. The big weight will cause your rod tip to give with each up and down motion of the boat. This helps keep your bait from violently jerking up then falling down with the rocking of the boat. Never stay home on windy days. You might wish you had after you get out there, but I have had some great days fishing on some really windy days. One suggestion would be to find a couple good coves that are protected from the wind. Even if the fishing is marginal, you will have someplace to go and be more comfortable and safe out there.
I hope you got something out of these tips for longlining for crappie, enjoy the great video below of how to longline for crappie.
If you have more tips for longlining for crappie please feel free to share in the comments. I am by no means am an expert but I do it often throughout the year.