While vertical jigging with jigs and live bait are the preferred methods for catching crappie, trolling crankbaits can be a productive method for locating fish and catching some bigger slab crappie.
Trolling is typically better when crappie are located in depths from 8 to 15 feet deep. It can be tricky getting your small crankbaits down to these depths, but adding a weight 2 to 3 feet in front of your lure (carolina rig style) will help you get down deep enough.
Trolling crankbaits for crappie usually pays off when fish are scattered on large flats, along drop-offs or when you just can’t find a school of fish on your graph. Trolling can be a good way to put some fish in the boat while trying to locate the bigger schools. Mark the spots where you catch a crappie so you can make more passes in those areas.
Combining trolling with vertically jigging can definitely put more fish in the boat. Use trolling to help locate the active fish, then come back and drop a jig down on the school of crappies.
Trolling crankbaits usually attracts more big fish bites than jigs or live bait, but don’t expect to catch as many fish. This isn’t the case every time, but there are better techniques for putting more crappies in the boat on a consistent basis.