January 2020 Techniques

Double Rigs for Winter Crappie

Double Rigs for Winter Crappie

by Tim Huffman

Not all double-hook crappie rigs are created equally.

For many anglers, double-hook minnow rigs are the go-to choice for slow trolling and spider rigging. Sinker weight is adjusted for the situation while two minnows entice crappie at two different depths. The following three rigs are good choices.

 Double-Hook Kentucky Lake Rig

The double-hook Kentucky Lake rig is usually called a bottom-bouncer. It has the weight on bottom and two hooks above the sinker. Its original purpose was to bounce on bottom to find depths, contours, brush and to catch fish. The rig still works today but is more refined.

“If the lake is not frozen, winter is a good time to fish. The crappie are in deeper water. They are actively feeding even if the bite isn’t hard. I’m slow trolling and I mean really slow, barely moving. You have to give them time to bite.” says Grenada and Reelfoot guide, Jason Sandage

His rig is a 3/4- or 1-ounce sinker on bottom. A loop and minnow hook are 18 inches above the sinker. Another loop and hook is 18 inches above the first hook. Sandage says keeping loops to one inch is important because a long leader allows a fish to swim around with the bait without being felt. Line size varies with the type lake and cover, with a main line of 10- to 15-pound test.

Double-Hook Capps & Coleman Rig

This is the most popular double-hook rig. It was designed by Ronnie Capps and Steve Coleman, eight-time national champions on the professional circuit. The rig is versatile and works well in deep water or shallow.

The main line is usually 10- or 12-pound-test monofilament with leaders six- or eight-pound-test. Most fishermen use a hook size of two or one. Sinkers are often 1/4-ounce in shallow water, 1/2-ounce in mid-depths and 3/4- or 1-ounce in deep water. Depth, wind, current and boat speed determine the size sinker required.

The bottom hook and sinker of a double-minnow rig, doing their job. This rig is the workhorse for many slow-trollers.

Here’s how to tie the rig. Cut a three-foot long leader. On one end tie a hook. Place an egg sinker 12 inches above the hook and wrap the line through the sinker four times. On the opposite end, tie a three-way swivel. Tie a 12-inch leader and hook to the second leg of the swivel. The rig is complete with the main line tying to the remaining leg of the swivel.

Double-Hook Combo Rig

This is the Capps/Coleman rig but it has a jig on bottom instead of a minnow hook. Using a jig on bottom adds weight, color and by tipping the jig with a minnow, it maintains the advantages of a minnow.

Experts say they usually catch crappie with straight minnows, but often catch bigger fish on a jig tipped with a minnow. Their best advice is to try it and let the crappie show if they prefer a jig-minnow or a straight minnow. Winter is a good time to try smaller jigs and minnows.

 Double-Hook Tips & Facts

  • A fisherman can tie rigs or purchase pre-tied. Grizzly Jig Company, BnM Poles, Jenko Fishing and others offer different types and weights.
  • Sinker weight should be adjusted to keep lines vertical. Deep water, wind and current are a few elements requiring more weight. Sinkers for Capps/Coleman rigs are egg sinkers while Kentucky Lake rig uses bell sinkers.
  • Going against the wind offers the most boat control. Steve Coleman likes to push his baits into stumps and cover, then let the wind blow him back off.
  • The Eagle Claw 214EL are extra-light wire hooks that allows a fisherman to straighten a hung hook instead of breaking off.
  • Sandage says, ”I have more success with minnows in the winter. They are definitely the best bait for a weekend fisherman.”
  • Sandage’s best winter tip? “Pick calm days. The wind causes so much bouncing that you’ll have trouble seeing bites and you’ll be tying rigs all day when fishing around cover.” Double-hooks rigs are a great choice in the winter. They aren’t fun to tie and they hang up a lot, but having two baits gives an advantage that can put more fish in the livewell.


Learn more about guide Jason Sandage on his Facebook page.


(Tim Huffman has specialized in crappie fishing writing and photography since 1988. He is currently the Editor/Senior Writer for Crappie Masters Magazine, freelance contributor to four magazines, book author and Senior Writer for CrappieNow Digital Magazine.) 

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