Long-line trolling with Kalin’s plastics is the favorite technique of North Carolina crappie expert Monk Wilson. Follow these guidelines, and it may be yours too!
“Push” or “pull?” That is the question when it comes to choosing between the two most effective techniques of crappie experts.
The “push” technique of the pros is “tight-line trolling,” a vertical technique executed with multiple rods on a “spider rig” arrangement.
The “pull” technique is called “long-line trolling,” and it presents crappie jigs on multiple lines pulled horizontally behind the boat.
Monk Wilson, crappie expert from Liberty, North Carolina, acknowledges that tight-line trolling produces more consistent catches day-in and day-out. But, when conditions are right, it’s tough to beat the fun and effectiveness of properly “pulled” jigs tipped with Kalin’s plastics.
“I like long-line trolling, especially in spring,” says Wilson, who also sells specialty crappie tackle and accessories through Monk’s Crappie, a mobile and Internet retail crappie store. “Long-lining provides more action than catching a fish on a 16-foot pole with three feet of line below the surface. And we seem to catch a lot more fish – and bigger fish, too!”
State regulations often restrict the number of rods anglers may fish with simultaneously. (Check your state regulations before you head to your lake or stream!)
North Carolina has a daily crappie bag limit of 20, but the state does not restrict the number of rods an angler may use to catch them. That liberality has enabled Monk Wilson to develop multi-rod crappie trolling to a fine art.
Wilson employs up to 22 rods, from eight to 20 feet long. Strategically staggered and positioned in rod holders, the arrangement enables him to cover a wide swath of water quickly and deliver a variety of lure and color combinations to the fish.
“You set up with different length rods and the rod holders adjusted so you have good separation between your baits,” explains Wilson. “Just cast each bait from the back of the boat, put the rod in the rod holder, and note your trolling motor speed.”
“It’s all in the spread!”
Rod length and positioning help Wilson maintain spacing between his baits when he is long-line trolling with jig and Kalin’s plastic combinations.
He runs 16 to 22 lines from his Triton 196TA, a discontinued boat model designed specifically for crappie trolling. For long-line trolling, he prefers to run all 22 rods when possible.
From the back, he runs 20-, 18-, 16-, 14-, 12-, and 10-foot rods from outside in – the 10-foot or shortest rod closest to the motor — on both port and starboard sides.
At the front of the boat, he runs rods of 16-, 14-, 12-, 10-, and 8-foot lengths from rod holders positioned at the side.
He makes standard casts with all his baits.
Staggered rod lengths and rod holder positioning maintain the right-to-left spread of the jigs and keep them from tangling. The length of the boat separates baits trolled from the front from those trolled from the back.
Wilson uses several models of “Rear Drag” Shimano spinning reels, and he emphasizes the importance of the rear drag.
“Invariably, you will go over the tops of brush, and you will hang up – sometimes three or four rods at a time,” he explains. “With rods and reels in one area of your rod holder spread, you can easily reach over and loosen the rear drag adjustment real quickly, hitting all three in seconds. That loosens the line and takes pressure of the rods to give you time to get ‘un-hung’ or break off.
“But you can’t stop the boat. If you do, all your lines will fall to the bottom and, possibly, get hung, too!”
Monk adds one last piece of trolling advice: “Don’t make sharp turns! Sharp turns turn to tangles, and tangles mean frustration!”
Monk Wilson’s Favorite Kalin’s Crappie Baits
Several variables related to fish activity and their position in the water column enter into the trolling equation throughout the day.
Speed is critically important, Wilson emphasizes, particularly as it relates to jig size. A 1/16-ounce jig with Kalin’s plastic trailer will run shallower at a fast speed, deeper at a slower speed.
Line density and diameter matter, too. Fluorocarbon is a dense line that sinks, and it will take a jig deeper than a monofilament line of comparable diameter. A four-pound monofilament line will deliver a jig considerably deeper than a comparable length of 10-pound line because it provides less resistance.
Wilson prefers Vicious Panfish, a high-visibility monofilament line that he believes holds its golden color better than other hi-vis lines on the market. Trolling exposes line to the sun, and the sun take its toll.
“I use eight-pound line for most of my trolling because the light wire hooks on my jigs will straighten out rather than break off,” says Wilson. “I’m tying on new jigs less often than I would with four- or six-pound line.”
Using a range of lures and color combinations enables him to dial in quickly on crappie preferences. On most days, his strategy converts to fast fishing — and fast limits!