It’s all about speed control

Dragging chains behind the boat is a good option for speed control.
Dragging chains behind the boat is a good option for speed control.

Spider-rigging requires a super-slow pace to slowly and methodically hang those baits in front of persnickety crappie.

Tennessee tournament pro Whitey Outlaw says there’s one way to be sure a boat is going slow enough.

“Remember you do not want your lines running up under the boat,” Outlaw said. “To keep your lines in front of the boat, you must slow down to keep them where they need to be.”

Working into the wind with low trolling motor speed is preferable, but when too much wind bounces the bow, anglers struggle to maintain proper rod positioning with the tips just inches off the surface.

Rather than fight this untenable scenario, savvy crappie anglers put the wind at their back and drift across the target zone. This can create another problem, if the wind is strong enough to push the best too fast for the necessary vertical presentation.

The solution – dragging chains on lead ropes.

Chain size

Depending on the scenario, anglers may get by with one chain centered off the back of the boat for straight tracking. In relatively shallow water and moderate winds with a small/light boat, you can get by with a single chain. However, for larger fiberglass boats, deeper water, strong winds, or river current, doubling up is the way to go.

Chain size affects the drag, but depth plus rope length determines how much chain actually touches bottom. Essentially, the more chain that contacts the bottom, the more drag you create. Adjust this variable by deploying more or less rope.

Tweaking rope length is kind of like feathering a baitcaster spool. Gloved hands and grip knots tied in the lead rope help, but you’ll greatly facilitate this process with motorized chain systems like the Minn Kota DeckHand Electric Anchor Lift or the Trac Electric Anchor Winch.

Tennessee crappie pro Mark Williams likes the simplicity and precision of his DeckHand.

“With just the flip of a switch, I can adjust my rope length,” he said. “It’s faster and less work.”

For manual deals, attach your chain rope for optimal reach and adjustment. Some fishermen use a swivel clip to connect a single rope to the rear seat pedestal (seat removed). For two chains, use a karabiner clip to latch chains to the boat’s rear tie-down rings.

About David A. Brown 142 Articles
A full-time freelance writer specializing in sport fishing, David A. Brown splits his time between journalism and marketing communications.

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