Long-lining crankbaits isn’t a new technique. Far from new, however, crappie fishing guide like Brad Chappell keep refining this technique. Chappell has taken it to the next level where he depends on electronics along with specific fishing tackle to present a lure precisely where he can catch crappie. He refers to this technique as precision trolling.
Is Chappell a precisionist? When it comes to long-line trolling crankbaits even he would admit it, however, it’s that characteristic that puts crappie in the livewell for this guide’s clients.
Now and through the summer months, Chappell will long-line crankbaits on Ross Barnett in Mississippi. Typically, the water has a little stain to it making it perfect for trolling crankbaits. He is targeting stumps and brushpiles in 12- to 16-feet of water.
His obsession to detail starts with fishing tackle. “I use certain length rods in certain Driftmaster (www.driftmaster.com) rod holders with Shakespeare line-counter reels rigged with braided fishing line having 8 pound test diameter with the breaking strength of 20 pound test line. I put on monofilament backing then spool each reel up with 400 feet of the braided line. The strength of braid and longevity makes braided fishing line perfect for precision long-line trolling,” said Ross Barnett, Lake Washington and Eagle Lake fishing guide Brad Chappell (601-317-6681).
A couple things Chappell doesn’t use are planer boards or his outboard engine. “Because I need to be exactly on the ledge trolling over the stumps and brushpiles, I don’t want my crankbaits out away from the boat and that’s what would happen with planer boards. I also don’t use my outboard, however, if the wind comes up I will us my kicker engine to assist with keeping the boat at the right speed,” said Chappell.
He ties a snap to the braided fishing line and attached crankbaits. His favorite one right now is the PICO Lures (www.picolures.com) INT series crankbaits in Grenada Green, Blue Boogie and Geezer Clown. PICO Lures INT series crankbaits are noted for trolling straight and true out of the package along with diving around 12- to 13-feet deep.
Chappell will use eight rods when precision long-line trolling. The first ones he puts out are the two 9 foot rods which happens to be the shortest rod in length one on each side. He continues with two 12 foot rods then two 16 foot rods and finally two 18 foot rods.
The 9 foot rods have gray braided fishing line on them, 12 foot rods have orange braided line on, 16 foot rods have yellow braided line on and 18 foot rods have gray braided line on. Chappell does that so if the braided fishing line gets tangled it’s easy to get unraveled.
“Ross Barnett reservoir is a shallow lake and the water level doesn’t fluctuate much so once you find cover like stumps or brushpiles they will pretty much be at the same depth all summer long. So an angler going to fish Ross Barnett should do some pre-fish scouting with their electronics before actually trolling to catch more crappie. I have been on the lake so many times, I have numerous waypoints of stumps and favorite areas to fish,” said Chappell.
For electronics, Chappell utilizes a 12-inch Lowrance HDS Carbon sonar/GPS unit. “The Lowrance unit makes it easy to mark a different color trail each day out on the water. The colored trail makes it easy to get back on the trail he was catching them on that day,” said Chappell.
Baitfish doesn’t play a major part in Chappell’s approach to precision long-line trolling. He is targeting the main lake river ledge where crappie are relating to stumps. On sunny days, Chappell noted crappie will really be tight to the stumps.