It doesn’t matter if you are trolling crankbaits or jigs for crappie. You have to know how deep your lure or lures are running or diving too. Too deep or too shallow and you’re not going to catch them. Then once you find what depth the crappie are holding you have to set your other poles out at that depth to catch more. 

Ways to make sure you have the right depth

There are three ways of knowing how deep your crankbait or jig is at below the surface. One is to drop or pull the lure to the bottom and let it continue to keep in contact acknowledging the bottom enough to know it’s near the bottom. The second way is utilizing the lure manufacture depth chart with lure swimming depths; however, these charts are limited in the amount of data available like line size, type of fishing line or lead length. 

There is a third way of knowing how deep your crankbait or jig is diving. In the past anglers would get the written copy of Precision Trolling Data aka “The Troller’s Bible”. The publication would come out periodically as new data was compiled. Now Precision Trolling Data is available online at an app for Google Play or App Store with new data updates being added as it is collected. 

Counting fishing line

Having the data is one thing, but an angler has to be able to count out their fishing line to really benefit from this information. That’s why reels with line counters built-in are so popular. There are several reel manufactures that offer a variety of models to select from including ones with digital counters to select from. 

Beaver Lake crappie fishing guide Greg Robinson knows the advantages of trolling using reels with the built-in line counters when trolling PICO ( Crankbaits. “Reels with built-in counters allow me to know exactly how much fishing line I have out from my rod to the crankbait. It doesn’t matter if I put out the crankbait or they do, I still know by looking at the counter on the reel,” said Robinson. 

During the summer months, Robinson will normally let out 50-, 60- or 70-feet of fishing line on one side of the boat rigged with PICO crankbaits on B’n’M Poles ( trolling rods in rod lengths from 18- to 10-feet. The other side of the boat, Robinson will let off more line 60-, 70- or 80-feet of fishing line to explore what depth the crappie are biting at. Depending on the bite, Robinson will let more line out or less line out. 

Boat Speed

One question that Mark Romanack one of the owners of Precision Trolling Data Inc ( is often asked is will a crankbait run deeper if the retrieval rate or speed of the boat is increased without letting out anymore line? “The simple answer to that question is no, however, here’s the reason why. The friction of the line will keep it from diving any deeper. More importantly when you have a speed change either slow or faster the action of the lure will change. Speeding up will result in an increase of action in the lure while decreasing speed will slow up the action of the lure,” said Romanack. 

Fishing line

Another interesting fact Romanack noted was monofilament fishing line was extremely buoyant. That’s important because when an angler is trolling with monofilament fishing line some of the line will float on the surface while the last part is diving down with the crankbait. This results in a bow in the line so an angler has to actually pull out the bow to set the hook. 
An example of how an angler would use the Precision Trolling Data app is to find a lure they want to troll and then locate that lure on the list of lures. Click on the brand of lure then the model number of the lure. A photo of the lure will appear with the option to select braid line or monofilament line type. From there you simply select how deep you want it to run or how many feet back you will be trolling it. Some lures will also let you select speed (mph) traveling. 

Popular crankbaits PICO Lures INT or marabou Blakemore Road Runners ( in several sizes can be found. Also available is trolling data on round ball head jigs with a soft plastic trailer. 

Other data included in the Precision Trolling Data app that crappie anglers are likely to use are sinking diving planers and sinking/trolling weights. Off ShoreTackle ( Snap Weight come in several sizes and are on the list along with the Off Shore Tackle Tadpole resettable diving weight in the popular sizes. Again the angler can select, feet down, feet back, MPH or line style. 

Being successful at fishing for crappie with artificial lures comes down to knowing how deep your lure is and how deep the crappie are biting. How deep is your lure diving?

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