|Spider Rigging aka, tight-lining, vertical trolling, fishing with a lot of rods, etc.
Putting more rods in the water is no guarantee that you will catch more fish. But, if you are already catching fish then why not increase
your odds by 8 times or more?? Before spider rigging 8 rods on your boat make sure you are in compliance with local and state laws
(some states limit fishermen to 1 or 2 poles each).
If you're using the right bait and fishing at the proper depth, spider rigging will definitely help increase your catches.
Spider rig set up
Before setting up your boat make sure that your rod holders will not interfere with the boat operation, trolling motor, seats, lights, etc.
Also, make sure rods can be easily reached and your line will not wrap up in the trolling motor propellor. Many crappie anglers use long
rods (10-18 ft) to keep lines out of the trolling motor and keep from spooking fish with the boat, especially if the fish are shallow.
You can vary the method depending on how you are fishing. If you're slow trolling you may want to "push" jigs or minnows in front of your
boat. If you're anchored or fishing on a point (brushpile, stakebed, etc.) you may prefer to "fan" the rods to cover a larger area.
Easing into the spider rig
The question I get asked most on the lake is, “How do you fish with all those long poles?” A question many of us have heard before. At
first glance I guess it does look complicated to an angler that hasn’t spider rigged and trolled for crappie. It does take a little practice to
be really efficient at it---just like it does to learn any other fishing technique. It also helps to remember Rule # 1: Crappie fishing is
supposed to be a fun and leisurely activity. Learning to fish a spider rig can increase the stress level if it’s not done properly.
The spider rig is simply just the set up of multiple rods out the front and not necessarily what you’re doing with it. What you do with that
set up can vary and depends more on how you are controlling or maneuvering the boat. Most crappie anglers will say they stroll, slow
troll, or slow vertical troll, which I think is an accurate description of what most of us do. I would say that I slow troll a spider rig. But if you
hover or anchor over a brush pile you’re still using a spider rig, right? The boat’s just stationary and you are not actively trolling. Of
course that’s my definition and I’m sure anglers in different parts of the country would define it as differently as we do the correct way to
Spider rigging and trolling for crappie at times can look like a complex task to the beginner and can appear intimidating. Using 8 rods is
in fact, usually 8 times more difficult than fishing with a single rod. Especially if you are trolling, hooking fish, netting fish, baiting hooks,
retying hooks, etc, etc. Crappie anglers that effectively fish a spider rig are Master’s of Multitasking. Humans only have two hands so that’
s one of the reasons that rod holders are almost mandatory. You can fish multiple rods successfully and have them just laying in the
boat but eventually you’re going to take a loss and regret it. A loss either by losing a nice fish or losing a rod over the side of the boat or
by accidentally stepping on one and breaking it---I’ve learned that lesson the hard way. Rod holders get them up off the floor and also
keep them within sight and easy reach which improves your efficiency.
The biggest tip I could give an angler interested in learning to spider rig for crappie is to take it slow at first—ease into it. If you jump
immediately to trying to fish 8 rods that are 14+ foot long then you are probably going to get discouraged at first. Those tournament
professionals on TV or in the magazines make it look easy. Nobody started fishing a spider rig and used that many long rods on their
first outing. Just because you installed two new T-bars with four rod holders on each doesn't mean you have to use them all at the
same time on your first trip. Start off with a couple of rods that are longer than you are accustomed to using—8’ or 10’ with maybe a
couple of 6’ rods that you are used too. After a couple of trips you’ll get used to the 10’ rods and be ready to move up to 12’ or try a 14’ rod
or maybe increase the number of rods you’re using. This technique of gradually increasing the number of rods and the length also
keeps the cost down and you can gain some experience before committing to purchasing $400 in crappie rods. Also, it helps if you
remember Rule #1. Tight lines!
Ky Afield with
Pro Staff angler
Tim Marple spider
rigging on Green
River Lake and
showing you how