Spider Rigging is actually pretty simple. It’s really just trolling real slow while your rods are in rod holders hanging out in front of and to the side of your boat. You troll/move your boat as slow as you can around structure and brush piles using jigs, jigs tipped with minnows, or just minnows on unweighted hooks. This is definitely a case where a “picture is worth a thousand words”. Look closely at the pictures below, and you can visually see what spider rigging is all about.
This is how the pro’s do it, at least many of the pro’s and guides I’ve fished with. They use 14 to 16 ft rods, fanned out front of the boat. No floats, just jigs with minnows, or double rigs with minnows. They use a half ounce weight when double rigging, and will adjust the weight they use based on wind conditions and the speed which they are trolling. Spider riggers generally like to keep their lines vertical in the water. This technique allows them to move slowly through the water, and target structure (humps, drop offs, brush piles or stumps).
Now that I’ve presented the simple concept of Spider Rigging, there are many specifics that can be applied. What I am about to tell you are general rules, which can all be broken, depending on your specific circumstances, and conditions. Always remember this, the best rule of thumb is to adjust your technique based on what is actually catching fish. Change things up often. Change up individual rods. Change jig colors and/or lure depth. Change boat speed or your fishing location. Don’t be afraid to fish shallow in deep water. Take note of your changes to determine which of them are working.
Using floats on your lines to maintain the depth you’re targeting, and to prevent a rocking or shifting boat from bouncing your lines.
Using combinations of jigs and plain minnows, or double rigs (two baits on one line).
Using individual/single rod holders. This allows you to more easily identify which specific rod got the hit.
Which reel type you use is generally a personal preference. What I see most often used is spinning reels, but spin cast or bait cast reels work good too. Remember, the length of line you are using is very short. It’s essentially the rod length plus the depth of water you are fishing. There is not a lot of reeling involved. In fact, more often than not, you’ll be spider rigging in water less deep than the length of your rod. So for this reason, you need to realize something very important. You may not be reeling at all, you may have to release some line so that you can raise your rod tip and swing the fish into the boat. I’ve often seen newbies (and yes me once while fishing with fishing pro Paul Alpers, he’ll never let me forget it) catch a fish, set the hook, and raise the rod tip up high, while the fish ends up a foot out of reach. There’s two options, one being you can pull line out of the reel to provide slack to swing the boat in, and the other is to throw the butt of the reel back behind you so you can get to the fish. I’ve seen many pro’s even throw the back of the rod into the water behind them (reel and all) to get to their fish. I have a story where I was dipping pads with Whitey Outlaw, and I hear the splash of his reel hitting the water behind us, while he catches and removes a crappie he just caught. He is so quick that I never would have noticed him catch a fish unless I heard that reel splash into the water behind us.