Set up for crappie success

Set up your boat correctly and learn to use your technology to put fish in the boat.
Dan and Sue Dannenmueller, the Crappie Mates, depend on their front deck setup to keep them on fish.

Putting technology in its place puts fish in the boat

With today’s available fishing technology, setting up for success on the front end is a must. The front end of the boat, that is. But there’s more to it than that, said touring crappie pro Dan Dannenmueller, a frequent visitor to Louisiana waters from his home in Alabama.

Crappie anglers who fish for fun and in pro crappie tournaments all have an ever-changing amount of technology available to them to help catch more fish. That is key for the Crappie Mates, Dannenmueller and his wife Sue.

Dannenmueller is an Air Force veteran and it’s no surprise that the front end of his boat looks a lot like an open air cockpit on an airplane. But like a well-tuned aircraft, there’s more.

“When you set up your boat, either for bass fishing or crappie fishing, the first thing you have to do is know the techniques you are going to be using fishing and match your setup to that,” Dannenmueller said. “The more techniques you will use, the more versatile you have to make your setup. For instance, if you are going to crappie fish by trolling crankbaits, single-poling and spider rigging, you’ve got to have all that gear in the right place where it’s effective, easy to use and safe for you to get around on your deck.”

Dan Dannenmueller has remotes for his trolling motor and PowerPoles so he can operate them hands-free anywhere in the boat.

The next step, according to him, might surprise you. It’s not depth finders or trolling motors.

“Today’s electronics and motors and accessories have to have substantial, dependable power to run,” he said. “Whether you fish just for fun or in tournaments, you want everything to run all day and then your big motor crank to get you home. The old days of one cranking battery and one trolling motor battery are gone.”

Dannenmueller uses MTech Lithium batteries, the newest technology available. He also depends on a reliable onboard charger which you can plug in when the boat is not in use and know the batteries will stay charged. One tip he has is to make sure all your electronic equipment has an on-off switch on the boat. All this new gear comes with a GPS built in and even if it isn’t in use, there’s a slow battery drain.

That’s the bones of the setup, now for the meat.

“Make sure you match the size of your trolling motor to your boat,” he said. “If it’s a real small rig, you can use a 12 volt motor, but not if you have a lot of accessories. The minimum I would recommend is a 24 volt system and if you fish big lakes where wind is an issue or rivers that have current, look at the 36 volt motor.

“Next is your depth finders. I would go with a minimum of one unit on the console for mapping, basic depth and occasional side scanning on a split screen and one larger unit up front on the deck. I use two on the console and since Sue and I both fish up front, we have two with big screens. You need a 10-inch, preferably a 12-inch, to be able to see and target fish and structure.”

He also likes to use the hands-free remotes for most of his equipment, but that is a personal preference.

Whether its bass or crappie like these slabs you are after, setting up your boat correctly helps give you a leg up on your prey.

Critical to that setup is a good mount and bracket. Dannenmueller has his units set up high where he can see them easily while seated or standing. He also has them mounted on a reinforced plate. He uses a Procise bracket with a Beat Down adjustable mount that makes it easy to use, plus it folds down securely for those rough boat rides.

Two of the most popular techniques for crappie fishing are pulling crankbaits or spider rigging, so rod holders are needed. Dannenmueller uses Driftmaster individual Stalkers, but the most popuar model is the T-bar unit. He also uses Power Poles and paddles to anchor and slow drifting down in the boat.

Finally, there’s one more element to a proper setup and it’s the anglers comfort.

“We’ve got two great choices for adjustable, comfortable seats,” he said. “I use Millenium seats and Dub-L-Seat also makes a good setup.”

One thing is for sure, you can rig out your boat just about as plainly or as fancy as you want it, but Dannenmueller has one last piece of advice.

“Spend your money on things that fit your fishing style and nothing else,” he said. “Get the stuff you need, not just the pretty stuff that everybody else wants.”

About Kinny Haddox 529 Articles
Kinny Haddox has been writing magazine and newspaper articles about the outdoors in Louisiana for 45 years. He publishes a daily website, lakedarbonnelife.com and is a member of the Louisiana Chapter of the Outdoor Legends Hall of Fame. He and his wife, DiAnne, live in West Monroe.

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