Tight Lining with The Kings of Slow Trolling
By Phillip Gentry
This time of year, casual observers may note an angler or two, sitting in the front of a boat with a multitude of long fishing rods sticking out in all directions. The appearance of these rods gives the boat a water bug-like appearance when viewed from above. What you are witnessing is a tactic known as slow trolling.
Slow trolling, also referred to as tight lining, emphasizes baits presented horizontally to the fish by pushing rods forward with the boat, using a ¼ - 1 oz. weight to keep lines vertical.
The fathers of modern slow trolling are 9- time National Crappie Championship winners Ronnie Capps and Steve Coleman. The pair are the best-known names in the crappie business and have made slow trolling the most popular crappie fishing tactic in the country.
At the heart of slow trolling for crappie is the best rod to hit the crappie market – the Buck’s Graphite Jig Pole.
“It’s actually pretty simple,” said Ronnie Capps. “From the fish’s perspective, he’s down there hanging out on a brush pile or a stake bed or hanging on the edge of a creek channel and suddenly here come 16 baits right in his face.”
The benefit of slow trolling is absolute depth control. Because the line is vertical in the water column with heavier weight used to keep the line at close to 90 degrees when moving, the angler can dial in the depth of the bait.
In order to keep the line and baits at precise depths, standard slow trollers typically don’t move much faster than about .5 mph to prevent the lines from whipping back underneath the boat.
One of the critical pieces to this style of fishing is the fishing rod itself. Early season crappie may bite so softly that the bite goes undetected on stiff rod with little sensitivity. The best rod for this application was initially intended for single pole fishing.
Charting your course via GPS and topographical maps will show you a crappie favorite travel routes.
B’n’M introduced the very first graphite jig pole to the market some 30 years ago - the Buck’s Graphite Jig Pole. When the graphite pole was introduced, it instantly stood above other models from other manufacturers for one simple reason – it’s sensitivity. It immediately became a hit with single pole anglers and later took over in the slow trolling market.
According to Steve Coleman, slow trolling works best when the boat is following a known crappie travel route, such as the edge of a creek or river channel, and the angler is targeting the drop-off and structure related to the drop-off. It’s well known that crappie use contour lines when traveling from place to place, so slow trolling along a contour line is a great way to intercept fish.
“When we first started using GPS, Ronnie and I would place a waypoint on the GPS whenever we would catch a big crappie,” said Coleman. “At the end of the day, whether we were trying to follow the creek channel or not, most of the biggest fish came off the drop. That changed a lot about the way we trolled. Now we almost always follow the contour line.”
Another one of the mainstays to the success of slow trolling is the rig that is used. Capps and Coleman employ a two- hook minnow rig that offers a live minnow at two different depths on each rod. By varying the depth of each rod, the pair can quickly figure out what depth the fish are biting best at, then concentrate their efforts at that level.
B’n’M offers the double hook minnow rig pre-tied in six different weights.
Back in the day, Ronnie Capps and Steve Coleman tied each rig by hand using different sized egg weights to match the depth of the water they fished--the deeper the water, the heavier the weight.
B’n’M Poles has taken away the tedious task of tying your own minnow rigs by offering the rigs pre-packed and shrink wrapped in packages of six rigs. Minnow rigs come equipped with light wire hooks and are designed for minnow fishing.
“The cool thing about this rig is if you hang up, the light wire hook can be pulled loose and re-straightened with a pair of pliers and you’re right back to fishing,” Capps. “They work well with straight live bait or you can tie a small jig head to the end of the line and tip that with a minnow. Either way will catch loads of slab crappie.”
Visit us on our website at www.bnmpoles.com or on Facebook at Facebook/bnmpoles. Better yet, go to your local B’n’M dealer and see for yourself why the BGJP is still the best crappie rod on the market.
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