• Longlining for Crappie Ė The Right Equipment By Bernard Williams

    Iím a longline trolling fanatic. Iíve been doing it for nearly 6 years and in those years Iíve developed my own style. I advise my readers early on to develop their own. Iíve found that what works for me may not work for other fishermen. It took hours and hours of on the water practice for me to become confident enough to skip the live bait.

    My belief is that if you present that soft plastic to enough active fish, sooner or later youíre going to get bit. I hunt schools of fish. I then try to figure out what will trigger the active fish. I feel and urgent need to mention the equipment I use in my presentation. In the next several paragraphs I will give you my spill on each.

    Like I said earlier, Iíve spent hundreds of hours on the water perfecting my trolling technique. Iíve caught fish in all seasons. I firmly believe if you buy the right equipment up front, it will increase you catch rate tremendously.


    I use BíníM Rods exclusively. They have the perfect match of soft tip and backbone needed for crappie to hook themselves. Longlining donít require much of a hook set. I tell my guide clients to not use a hard hook set. When you see the rod bending, the fish is already hooked. Putting a hard and long hook set generally pulls the bait out of the fishís mouth.

    I use a combination of BíníM Bucks Graphite Jig Poles and Roger Gant Different Poles in my setup. I generally pull 2 Ė 16í and 2 ‐ 12í BGJPís staggered on the side of my boat and 4 (8í or 9í) Roger Gant Difference Poles from the back. I like the 9í poles because it gives you a little more control over the fish while youíre reeling them in. Controlling how you swim the fish between the other lines is necessary to keep your lines free of tangles.

    The Difference Rods have an excellent soft tip. Itís the tip that allows the fish to hold the bait with very little resistance causing you to get a deeper hook set. The fish practically swallow the bait before they know theyíre hooked.

    The 16í and 12í rods on the side work wonders when you make the wide sweeping turns. Also, they work great when I make my ďWildcatĒ moves. For you that donít know about the Wildcat, itís what I call my slow left turn, then a slow right turn, then slow down and speed up combination. This technique triggers lots of strikes on the side poles as well as the poles on the back.

    Rod Holders

    I grew up fishing Driftmaster Rod Holders. Iíve used them for years. Iíve also grown to like the new SpyderLoc Rod holders. I use Driftmaster T‐500 Troll Master trolling bars on each side of the boat with the Pro Series rod holders. I have 3 holders on each side of the boat.

    At the back of the boat Iíve gone to the SypderLoc holders. Theyíre so easy to adjust and they donít require any wrenches. For all you guys with new boats and donít want all those holes drilled, these holders have small footprint and can be easily removed. Did I mention they donít need a single wrench?


    Some of longlining buddies pour their own soft plastics, been there and tried that just too messy for me.
    I prefer a Bobby Garland StrollíR on Roadrunners. If youíve read any of my earlier articles, I developed a depth chart. The StrollíR comes in 48 different color combinations. I suggest you get a bunch of colors and let the fish tell you what they want.

    I like the Original Road Runner Heads in sizes 1/32nd, 1/16th, 1/8th, and 1/4th. The head color can be white, chartreuse, pink, or red. I fish these in 1 or 2 jig setups. If I use two roadrunners, I generally space them between 4í to 5í apart. If I want to fish 2 different water columns, I put a heavier jig on the bottom. The front jig catches fish when theyíre active, when theyíre not it acts as a teaser.

    Trolling Motor

    MinnKota Trolling Motors have helped me perfect my trolling technique. With the introduction of their Terrova and i‐Pilot remote trolling, boat control is just too easy. The GPS powered AutoPilot navigation system controls my boat so I can focus on fishing. The Terrova has too many features to mention but two of my favorites are record / retrace routes and cruise control to keep my speed in windy conditions.

    I would be wrong not to mention Minn Kotaís latest addition to their line of electric steer motors, the Ulterra. This thing will stow and deploy itself in and out of the water automatically using the i‐Pilot remote. The pitch line for this motor says, ďNever touch your motor unless you want to high‐five it.Ē


    As a writer, I get to test lots of marine electronics. Some are way beyond the budget of my weekend fishing audience. However Humminbird came to the rescue with the introduction of the Helix Series. They incorporated CHIRP technology. CHIRP uses long transmit pulses that sweep across bandwidths of frequencies that are then processed using advanced Digital Signal Processing (DSP) to result in high resolution SONAR with increased target separation and reduced noise. Enhanced target separation allows anglers to clearly identify game fish and baitfish, while reduced noise offers clear, sharp SONAR images.

    Another game changer is the i‐Pilot Link

    Integrated GPS Trolling System enables your Humminbird fishfinder and Minn Kota trolling motor to communicate, delivering automatic boat control. From your Humminbird or the wireless Link remote (with full LCD screen), you have the power to find, store and revisit your most productive fishing spots and tracks. It's less time positioning your boat. More time catching fish.

    Humminbirdís 360 Imaging offers a detailed, 360‐degree view around your boat, enabling you to see areas virtually impossible to reach with other types of SONAR. Thanks to the rotating transducer, youíll see fish, before they see you.

    The Side and Down Imaging are amazing. 240 feet to the left and right allows you up to 480 feet of coverage with stunning detail. No wonder it was an ICAST 2015 New Product Showcase Winner.


    I constantly get asked what equipment is needed to get setup for longline trolling. Iíve been totally honest with you as a reader. As with technique, you can make concessions here and there. However, if you want to start out right, follow my instructions. Buy the right equipment up front and youíre set for the long haul. Leave that live bait at the store and practice longline trolling until you build yourconfidence. It might just be the technique that produces that 3 pound crappie, if you donít believe me, ask the boys from MCC what happened at Eagle Lake. Bernard, Magnolia Crappie Club
    Comments 18 Comments
    1. tenncrappie's Avatar
      tenncrappie -
      Another in a long line of articles pushing equipment. Most of the little people(non pros) want crumbs on how to fish. Write an article on putting equipment to work and you will sell your product. there is a huge amount of folks who don't have the budget to fork out 3,000 bucks for trolling motors, rods, electronics and baits and no instruction on how to use it.
    1. elkhunter's Avatar
      elkhunter -
      Good information as usual Bernard. I always look forward to your posts. Thank you.
    1. Boa3's Avatar
      Boa3 -
      I have a different take than tenncrappie. This gives a very good and precise look at the equipment that Mr. Williams uses. Tenn is right if you had to get all this at once it would be very expensive however spread it out over time and not so much. There are lots of articles on how to do a certain technique that you might be interested in. Now you can put the exact equipment to use with the chosen method. Just my .
    1. scrat's Avatar
      scrat -
      Wow! Thanks for sharing, it was a good read.
    1. Billbob's Avatar
      Billbob -
      good read
    1. brucec's Avatar
      brucec -
      Thanks Bernard, great info!
    1. Foncused's Avatar
      Foncused -
      I really enjoy reading all of your posts Mr. Bernard! Unlike Tenn, I appreciate any help I can get. Even if I can't afford all the items I can do the Wildcat!
    1. trypman1's Avatar
      trypman1 -
      My kind of guy, I appreciate the info. Great fishing message.
    1. Eagle 1's Avatar
      Eagle 1 -
      very informative .
    1. shane1980's Avatar
      shane1980 -
      Great information! Thanks for posting!
    1. Mikie's Avatar
      Mikie -
      Good read I always thought I was doing a zigzag but Wildcat will work the move catches many species of fish. The equipment used can be run what you got and try to upgrade if you can or even need to. Remember fishing is fun and finding a way to catch them with the tackle you have means it was money well spent and I think I have spent a lot.
    1. chulai1968's Avatar
      chulai1968 -
      Great information, my spyderlok has been installed and headed to lake Washington for a trial run. Thanks
    1. bigarm's Avatar
      bigarm -
      Great read Thanks for the info
    1. sharphook's Avatar
      sharphook -
      Great info!! Hey since you got new gear!!! You can give me hour old gear and get an income tax deduction!!!
    1. Inkdabber's Avatar
      Inkdabber -
      Go to the SC forum, we have a great thread that will practically guarentee you the knowledge to long line troll with the best of them. As with all fishing, you can pay as much, or as little as you feel comfortable with. You don't need the best rods, reels, trolling motors, or sonars. You need a little luck, some basic knowledge, patients, and a body of water that has crappie in it. Reading the many threads, and articles pertaining to long lining will quicken your learning process. Rod racks are optional. They make it better, but you can get by with lying rods down in the boat. Same for trolling motor, you don't need an auto pilot self steering model. Are they better, yes. But not needed as you are learning the technique. Side pulling in a jon boat is another option you may wish to read up on. The Crappie Masters Classic was won using this method this past year.

      Quote Originally Posted by tenncrappie View Post
      Another in a long line of articles pushing equipment. Most of the little people(non pros) want crumbs on how to fish. Write an article on putting equipment to work and you will sell your product. there is a huge amount of folks who don't have the budget to fork out 3,000 bucks for trolling motors, rods, electronics and baits and no instruction on how to use it.
    1. kmastr1's Avatar
      kmastr1 -
      Great read and thanks for all the specifics and details.
    1. Joey Clark's Avatar
      Joey Clark -
      Good read
    1. herrinchoker's Avatar
      herrinchoker -
      Enjoyed the article. What I find interesting is the application of commercial electronics for recreational fishing, and the evolution of same. I first started fishing for crappie in 1945 on Cold Water Creek outside of St. Louis Missouri. Dad tied me to a tree with a shot of clothes line, a tobacco can of worms, and a 6 foot cane pole with a 7 foot shot of line and a bobber. I managed to catch fish, some of which were crappie. The last crappie I caught was in 1962 in Lumberton N.C. This winter I found out the pond near my house has Black Crappie, and once the water gets above 50 deg. I will try to catch some. The ice left just over two weeks ago.
      As a commercial fisherman, I fished on Georges Bank, Grand Bank, The Flemish Cap, and here in the Gulf of Maine--so using side scan sonar, chart plotters, radar, bottom sounding machines, auto-pilot, are something I am familiar with. I understand the sticker shock when said items are observed for purchase. I believe I read somewhere above that all of the items do not need to be purchased at the same time, that it can be a time investment. I will use myself, and what I had to do to acquire my Westmar 370 Side Scan Sonar. The purchase price at the time I bought the unit was $5300.00, that did not count the installation, or the monitor screen-I used a JVC monitor, same as used on a Cobra gun ship, it was electronically shrouded and would not interfere with the loran units in the wheel house. In the month of July I started working on tuna fish about 85 miles offshore. I made ten day trips, by myself and two Chessies. The Wendy and Jason was 52 feet by 14 feet, and was powered by a 6-71 diesel. My second trip of the year I caught three fish at the same time. Two I put out on bouys, and played the third one by hand while the other two worked against large pollyballs. Not quite ten hours later I had all three fish in the boat. The largest dressed 1100 pounds, and I was paid $18.00 a pound for it. That fish earned $19800.00, and the other two earned just over $15000.00. That bought my sonar, screen, a new Fruno Rastascan radar, and covered the yard bill. I invested time, effort, and being away from my wife for that. Can that be done crappie fishing,-- well, if you catch a crappie that dresses out at 1100 pounds chances are a new bass boat is in the picture. Many, perhaps not all, can work overtime, second part time job, or have a garage sale to generate the extra cash needed to acquire the extra for fishing. Get creative, I learned to weld, burn, and braze metal to build and repair the things I needed on the boat. When the 3 1/2 inch magnum shotguns first came out I wanted one. At the time I was working as a deputy sheriff, I signed up for extra shifts to earn the money to buy one.
      Today I fish for trout and salmon in deep water lakes. I use a led fish finder that has a transducer that I stick to the transom with a suction cup. It has an internal 12v. rechargeable battery. All I use it for is to locate structure, and the thermo cline where the fish lay in warm weather in August. What to use for lures, and how to fish them only came with time.
      The electronics are great, they can enhance the amount of fish that are caught, but knowing the basics are as equally important.
      To me it is amazing the size of the devices that are available to be used by recreational fishermen, when compared to what I worked with years ago, but don't use not having them as a crutch to not catching fish, any type of fish. While I am no where near as experienced at catching crappie as I'm sure all of you are, I have caught fish for almost 73 years.
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