Finding success in long-line trolling takes dedication in order to get a system that works. Once you’re comfortable with your system, these tips will help you become a better long-liner.
• Don’t stop. Unlike tight-lining, long-lining requires trolling speed to adjust depth. Stopping momentarily when baits are over cover is an advanced tactic. But stopping too long will cause you to lose your religion when every line hangs up at once.
• Work from the rod holder. Multiple hookups, snags and crossed lines will often occur at once. Rods on deck will get broken or pulled out of the boat. Work each rod individually, then put it back in the holder. You can set the hook, replace the rod and reel the fish in later on a big percentage of hookups.
• Avoid straight lines. Trolling in straight lines will catch super-aggressive fish, but a better approach is to zig-zag. During a turn, inside baits will drop and outside baits will rise, often helping you zero in on the depth fish are holding.
• Stay in your lane. Crappie rarely cut angles when hooked. When reeling in a fish, get it to the surface and bring it into the appropriate “lane” to prevents crossing lines to avoid tangles.
• Look for bait, not fish. Crappie may suspend just below the surface and not show up on sonar. The presence of small pods or schools of bait, will indicate that predators are stirring things up.
• Keep track of colors. Start with eight to 10 different colors and keep track of which rod carries which by placing a duplicate jig/trailer on the corresponding rod holder. As the day progresses, a pattern will emerge, showing the “color of the day”.
• Use a net. Crappie frequently short-strike lures being long-lined. The pressure of being towed behind the boat will also wallow out hook holes in the fish’s mouth. Slide a long-handled net under the fish, especially bigger ones, to prevent the one that got away.