Crappie spider rigs are great, but side pulling does the trick cheaper

Bramwell catches a few and explains a pair of specialized crappie fishing techniques.

Me being put to shame by Spider riggers fishing for crappie is nothing new, but it hurts a little more when they do it right in front of you. This happened to Steve Jett and me at Salamonie Reservoir last Thursday.

Wind and rain were a problem but not an excuse. We found a bay that was protected. There we caught about 10-crappie and kept six. We were fishing shoreline wood in very shallow water. I was tightlining and Steve was fishing a jig under a bobber.

There were two guys in another boat Spider rigging with six poles. Their baits were set at five feet. These guys were pushing these baits super slow in the muddy water. They were busy, often catching two at a time.

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The fish were suspended all over the bay. My tight line retrieve must have been too fast for them or it moved too quickly through the stained water. Whatever the case they waxed us pretty well.

A Spider rig is a bracket attached to the front of the boat. It is designed to hold multiple rods, normally of different lengths. Indiana allows three lines in the water per angler. Two anglers with six lines are akin to a minesweeper.

To Spider rig takes an investment of the rig and special rods of differing lengths to keep lines from tangling.

There is another effective way to have multiple lines in the water without the aforementioned investment. It is called “Side Pulling.” This method was developed on Pickwick Lake and involves mounting a trolling motor in the center of the boat.

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As the name suggests, two anglers can pull the number of lines legal fishing off the side of the boat. Most rig two jigs or minnows two feet apart with a heavy split shot in-between.

Finding the depth the crappies are holding and then setting your baits at that level is essential. B & M Poles make an 8’3” rod with a line counter on it or you can measure one foot from your reel and mark that spot.

This is more a deep water method of catching fish which will work for pre and post-spawn fish.

On YouTube find some instructional videos on “Side Pulling.”

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In an Indiana Slab Masters tournament last Saturday, James Lasswell and Clay Stanley fished the same bay to catch about 70 crappies. They Spider rigged minnows all day.

Big Diddy Baits sponsored the event where you could fish Salamonie or Mississinewa.

The winning team was Joe Rosinski and Luther McDonald with seven fish (tournament limit) weighing 8.62 lbs. Just barely off that mark was Anderson anglers Patrick Stone and Patrick Vowel with 8.60 lbs.

The big fish of the tournament weighed 1.82 lbs. Fifty teams fished the one-day tournament.

Our two local anglers began the day using Big Diddy pink/green pintail grubs fished on Grenada Lake Tackle 1/32 oz. spinner jigs. When the wind increased, the team went to pushing minnows on a Spider rig using Ozark rods.

The 1/32nd oz. jig is needed to slow the fall in heavily stained water. Using a bobber slows them down even more but hurts my casting accuracy. Steve Jett caught one using a bobber that measured 14 inches.

The next evening, I was fishing the passing of a cold front. The sky was cloudless and the wind strong out of the west. I was on the hunt for large redear at a local pond.

It seemed the shallow end would be the warmest, but my little Muey jig only produced one small bass.

My normal retrieve, with a weighted bobber above the jig, is a shivering cadence with a steady retrieve. That was not working on this day.

About 60 casts later, I tried the dam end of the pond. While sitting in a tri-legged hunting chair, the lid blew off my wax worms and was headed for the water. Once I caught up with the fleeting plastic, I noticed my bobber gone.

The rest of the evening, I twitched the bobber in place and then let it set. I did not set the world on fire but did catch some big sunfish. I guess a super slow retrieve is good on species other than crappie.

I have little to report on morel mushrooms. Folks are finding a few small blacks. We need some 70-degree temperatures by April 18 or this season might be a bust.


Rick L. Bramwell began writing for the Anderson Herald Bulletin in 1972. He likes to hunt small game, deer, turkey and morel mushrooms. Bramwell’s 174-7/8 typical whitetail is the largest ever taken in Madison County. He used to compete in Red Man and BASS Federation tournaments, but is now content to fish ponds and small lakes for bass and panfish. For most of 43 years Bramwell has coached Baseball and softball. He has three grown children and resides in Madison County, near Pendleton.

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Rick Bramwell
Rick L. Bramwell is 74 years old and began writing for the Anderson Herald Bulletin in 1972. He likes to hunt small game, deer, turkey and morel mushrooms. Bramwell’s 174-7/8 typical whitetail is the largest ever taken in Madison County. He used to compete in Red Man and BASS Federation tournaments, but is now content to fish ponds and small lakes for bass and panfish. For most of 43 years Bramwell has coached Baseball and softball. He has three grown children and resides in Madison County, near Pendleton.

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