Vertical jigging tactics are deadly on crappies in a number of situations, but sometimes a more horizontal approach can help you swing more slabs over the rail. In fact, slow-trolling jigs is a great option just about anytime except during the spawn, when crappies are tucked tight to their beds.

One-sixteenth to 1/8-ounce round leadheads like the Lindy Jig are top options. You can tip them with a variety of live or artificial baits, but pre-rigged jigs like the Fuzz-E-Grub and Watsit Jig are solid choices, as is a 1/16-ounce feathery Little Nipper. For added flash and vibration to attract fish from a distance, try jigs featuring spinner blades, like the ever-deadly Lindy Watsit Spin.

Fish location varies depending on the conditions and the progression of the prespawn migration. Early in the spring, it’s not uncommon to find fish suspended 12 to 15 feet down over 20 or more feet of water on a creek channel or shoreline drop-off, especially if the structure is adjacent to shallow, fast-warming bays.

In deep water, sonar is a great tool for spotting baitfish and crappie schools. In the shallow-water hotspots such as lily pad beds, woody cover and old bulrush beds, you’ll have to strain water to find the fish.

Where the law allows, rigging multiple jigs on one line and fishing more than one rod per person boosts your odds of connecting with crappies. Long rods varying in length from eight to 16 feet help get the jigs away from the boat and help prevent the lines from tangling up with each other. In general, 6-pound monofilament is a great all-round performer for jig trolling.

To deploy a jig, make a long cast behind the boat while you’re moving at trolling speeds of .8 to 1.2 mph. If you cast while the boat is stationary, the jig may fall to bottom. Speed helps dictate the jig’s running depth, so experiment with different paces until you find the right one. Making S-turns can help simplify the process, since the outside lines speed up on a turn, while inside lines slow down.

It’s worth noting that if the crappies are riding low in the water column, you might need to add a little weight to get your jigs in the strike zone. Pinching a small split shot 18 inches up the line usually does the trick.

While many anglers focus on vertical techniques for prespawn crappies, adopting a more horizontal approach can be a better option, especially when the fish are scattered over a large area. Give it a try this spring, and again all summer once the fish have left their spawning beds.