While trolling may be considered to be one of the more “boring” ways of fishing for Crappie, it really has a set of advantages all its own.
During the right time of the season, trolling may be one of the easiest ways of finding where the crappie are currently frequenting. At the beginning of spring, when the water is warming up, Crappie are beginning to move closer in shore, typically in waters ranging from 1 to 5 feet deep. The Crappie congregate in large schools and you should be able to catch as many Crappie as you can hold once you find them.
Start your boat upwind about 50 feet from the shore (this may vary depending on the area you are in) and allow your boat to drift downwind. Use you trolling motor to keep your boat headed in the same direction.
The best way to find these schools of Crappie is to try different things. Experiment with different types, sizes, and colors of jigs until you find the combination that works for you. This is a hit and quit approach, if you are not catching fish with one type of rig, then change it. Good colors to start with include chartreuse, green, black/green/blue, and yellow.
You may also try using live bait, as long as you hook then well enough that the motion will not pull them off the hook. If you are trolling slow, you may also want to use a bobber as well. If you are trolling somewhat faster, you may try tight lining or hooking the bait through a jig head, and using them use like a regular jig.
Quite a number of fisherman rig up their boats so that they can troll using a large number of poles. This is where trolling for Crappie can go from a “boring” way, to overloading and overwhelming you. Some even troll with 14 at once. Once you find the combination the Crappie are biting on, be prepared, as several of those poles may get hit at once. I would recommend starting with 3 or 4 poles as a beginner. No matter the number of poles in the water, there is no need to get worried about the Crappie tangling up the lines as this rarely happens. As long as you keep your boat moving, and take your time with each fish you reel in, you will be fine.
Dan Eggertsen is a fishing researcher and enthusiast who is commited to providing the best crappie fishing information possible. Get more information on trolling for crappie here: http://www.askcrappiefishing.com