I will share my experiences as they pertain to Lake Weiss. I am sure that they can be used elsewhere.
For me, during their spawning runs, which most reserviors and other bodies of water, there are two: spring and fall, you can catch them with just about anything. Usually this is when the minnows and small jigs work the best. You can troll in any depth of water that the fish are in, and you regulate the depth by the jighead that you use (weight) and how much line you let out. Normally, on Weiss, we use 1/4 oz. jigheads, and depending on the depth that the crappies are at, we let out 10-35 ft. of line.
When you do like I have learned to do on Weiss, and actually fish on a dock, you must size down on the jigs...............the crappies under docks, while fairly easy to catch, are very finicky. I have proven this to myself over and over, and I will never use any jigs over 1/32 oz.
One of the most effective ways to fish docks is to "shoot" them. In order to accomplish this, you take the jig in your hand, with the hook pointing AWAY from your hand, make a bow with your rod, and send it flying. This takes a bit of practice, but once you have gotten better at it, you can send jigs 15-20 ft. under docks, where crappies never see lures.
For me, I use Bass Assassin Tiny Shads for the bodies. There are several colors that you can use, but Alewife and the grey shad color produced best for me over the years of fishing on Weiss.
I normally use a 5 ft. spinning outfit, and never use line over 6 lbs.
The whole trick to shooting docks is not only to present the lure to the crappies in places that they never see jigs, but to also fish it slowly! The ole timer that taught me how to fish the docks would literally spend 5-7 minutes in one "session" allowing the jig to free fall and swing through the water column.
The strike is the best part of fishing this way, cause the line will jump back at you when a crappie hits. Crappies can feed to their sides and above themselves, and therefore, most of the time when a crappie hits a jig that you shoot under the dock, they are coming up, causing the line to go slack.
As for the trolling part of the equation, using a "spider" setup covers the most amount of water. All that it encompasses is rods of varying lengths, setup in rod holders, which are mounted to your boat. You can modify the mounting to be removable, which is great. Most crappie anglers on Weiss use an 8 ft., 10 ft., and 12 ft. rod setup, putting the smaller rod in the holder that will be closest to the boat, and so forth and so on.
One thing about crappies is that they are smart little buggers. If they stop hitting a certain color jig, change colors and more times than not, you will start catching fish again. The same holds true for small crappies.............if you are catching crappies that are smaller than what you care to keep, switch colors until you consistently catch crappies that you are wanting to keep.
On Weiss, there is a 10" length limit, which I feel all bodies of water that have high boat traffic and high fishing pressure should adopt. There are more big crappies pulled out of Weiss on a yearly basis, than any lake around. Allowing the crappie to reach 10" ensures that they are able to spawn at least once, more often twice, and it ensures that the smaller crappies have the chance to get bigger.
Lake Weiss is known as the "Crappie Capital of the World", and deservedly so. NAFC magazine has Lake Weiss as one of the top destinations for big crappies. I have fished Lake Weiss for the last 8 years, and each year, I pull out crappies that are 1 lbs., 2 lbs., and 3 lbs. There have been two years where I have caught crappies 4 lbs.
Another little trick that you can try for big slab crappies is to fish with goldfish. I know, sounds strange, but I got turned onto fishing goldfish in 2001. They are just as hearty as a shiner, and their gold hue makes them a target in the water. Watch out, cause bass, catfish, and even some turtles will hit them. LOL
Another very effective way of fishing for crappies is to use a slip-float rig. Affix the bobber stop on the line, thread the beat on, which stops the bobber from sliding over the knot, and slide the bobber on. After that, affix enough split shot to keep the float upright when fished. Some anglers affix so much weight that the bobber rides lower in the water, which is said to make it more sensitive...........I have not tried it personally, but I know that a lot of angler sure do swear by it. I usually use an Eagle Claw Aberdeen hook.
Most of the time, with ANY crappie fishing, I use 6 lbs. test mono. There are times where 4 lbs. is needed, but once you leave the relative safety of the 6 lbs. line class, HAVE A NET! You will not be able to flip a big crappie in the boat with 2-4 lbs. test. It took one time for me to learn this lesson, when I had a 3 lbs. crappie on and tried to lift it with 2 lbs. test. Not a good situation.
Jared, you are going to have to come over here and let me show you how fine the crappie fishing is on Lake Weiss.
If you all have any more questions about a certain rigging method, I will do my best to answer them to the best of my knowledge. I will also spend some time this weekend getting a few pics together of the various things that I have mentioned.