One of the most unusual fishing setups being used for crappie fishing today is the umbrella rig. As anglers search for the best way to present multiple baits to fish, new innovations in sport fishing equipment become available. Originally used by bass fishermen, the umbrella rig is now being modified to meet the needs of other anglers. The crappie umbrella rig is a system that lets you put many jigs in the same spot, multiplying your chance of catching fish without using more rods. I am going to explain how a crappie umbrella works, the best baits to use, and where to get these unique rigs.
What are umbrella rigs?
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The crappie umbrella rig is a fishing system created by joining several steel wires, cut to 6″ lengths, to a single jig head or weighted point. Each of these steel wires has a snap swivel on the end. Anglers can attach any bait they choose to the rig.
Imagine removing the fabric from an umbrella and only having the steel frame remaining. That best describes the umbrella rig. The advantage of using the umbrella rig is the ability to throw out multiple hooks with different baits with only one cast, as opposed to the old way of casting one jig per line. This puts several baited hooks in front of the fish, meant to suggest a school of minnows.
Why do crappie love umbrella rigs?
Crappie are opportunistic feeders. They will feed on schools of small fish, getting their full meal in just a few bites. Traditional fishing puts one jig or live bait on a line, or two if you are using a double rig. This makes fishing a long slow process and can create a disturbance that will frighten the fish away, if you continually send your bait to the same spot repeatedly.
The crappie umbrella rig puts five to fifteen jigs in the same spot at the same time. With this much bait available, the crappie is sure to bite. Many times you will hook several at a time on the umbrella rig.
When to use umbrella rigs
The crappie umbrella rig is designed to get many baits into the water at the same time. This can be done by scouting out fish locations and casting into that area, or by long lining and trolling in deeper water. This is especially true in the early spring and fall.
September is often the month that the weather begins to cool. Fish cross into deeper water, searching for schools of baitfish. Birds diving into the water are a good sign of where to find baitfish.
Also, learn to use your fish finder. Often, it will suggest schools of tiny fish and anglers will ignore the alert because they only want to catch keepers. Follow the minnows. As you get closer, you will find the big fish.
How to use umbrella rigs for crappie
The crappie umbrella rig is a great product for serious fishers. You can load it up with your preference of baits and let the rig do the work. One thing to remember-you don’t want to use ultra-light line with this item. You might end up with three or four good sized fish on the line, and that creates a lot of weight. Most anglers join the apparatus to braided line.
The following suggestions will give you an overview of how to use the crappie umbrella rig, but there are plenty of videos online that not only demonstrate these rigs, but also offer reviews.
Stock your crappie umbrella with a combination of weights. Place a heavier 3/8-1/2 oz jig head on the center hook and use 1/8-1/4 oz heads on the outer arms of the umbrella. In clear water, you can use brightly colored bodies or skirts. In brackish water, use silver or chartreuse bodies and attach a silver spoon to the center snap swivel. Locate the fish and drop the crappie umbrella rig just above where they are hiding. Twitch it up and down a bit then retrieve it with a slow roll.
Trolling with the crappie umbrella rig is a lot of fun. These rigs mimic the behavior of a school of minnows, and crappie and bass are likely to follow your line to the boat. For best results, use light-colored worms or artificial shad. Hang the crappie umbrella rig with a strong leader and a moderately heavy bullet weight. Let out a long line, and troll slowly, allowing the unit to sink to the right depth. This is where your fish finder is very useful.
Casting crappie umbrella rigs requires knowledge of your location and paying attention to your surroundings. Look for diving birds to let you know where the minnows are schooling. Use a sparkly silver plastic shad or twist tail worm. Don’t add additional weight, as the crappie umbrella rigs are heavy enough to carry a cast, and the addition of bass lures adds more weight. Use a slow retrieve to keep the plastics lifelike.
Final Thoughts on Umbrella Rigs for Crappie
This great product, first introduced in the bass fishing world, is a fun option for crappie anglers. The snap swivels on the ends of the steel rods make it easy to place hooks and lures. Because it presents so many hooks to the fish at once, it is a controversial item. Before you add one to your cart, ensure that it is legal in your state. Where I live in Tennessee, I cannot use a crappie umbrella containing more than three hooks. Some states, such as New Hampshire, have made all crappie umbrella rigs illegal. Other states, like South Carolina, have no limit on these items and you may use as many hooks as you want. To ensure that you are legal to the laws of your state, consult your local regulations department, join the state fishing regulations Facebook group, or send a message with a comment or a question. While these things are great for catching fish, you don’t want to buy and use one and end up in court.