Fishing with the Finny Tribe

Discussion in 'LUKE CLAYTON' started by Luke Clayton, Nov 21, 2009.

  1. Luke Clayton

    Luke Clayton New Member

    "Fishing with the Finny Tribe"
    by Luke Clayton

    Luke Clayton

    Gun Barrel City- As Jay Don Reeve eased the throttle back on the big 250 hp engine, he buried his face in his side imaging sonar. “There is very little structure in the form of submerged timber in the lower portion of Cedar Creek Lake but that lone tree with one horizontal limb showing up on the graph attracts crappie like a magnet.” says Reeve. Phil Zimmerman and I studied the Hummingbird graph that, with the magic of GPS, had enabled Reeve to navigate the featureless open water and pin point the bit of structure below. Sure enough, the tree below, setting in water around 20 feet deep, was covered with a cloud of crappie.

    Zimmerman is a serious crappie fisherman and like most of us, grew up fishing for crappie using conventional methods. We were invited by Reeve to learn a very effective method of catching crappie know as ‘Spider Rigging”. We could not have had a better instructor. Reeve and his wife Rhonda own and operate a tackle shop in Gun Barrel City called “The Finny Tribe”. The shelves are well stocked with handmade baits designed to catch everything from crappie to white bass. The name, Finny Tribe, is near and dear to Reeve’s heart. Reeve grew up in the Texas Panhandle and learned how to fish with his grandfather Raymond Fleming. When he and his Granddad went fishing they went ‘looking for the finny tribe’; they didn’t cast lures, they ‘shot them to the finny tribe.’ After over 40 years of spending time on the water fishing with his Grandfather, it’s easy to see why Reeve chose ‘Finny Tribe’ as the name for his tackle company. Reeve’s late Grandfather was obviously ‘old school’ and it probably would be a shocker for him to see his grandson’s high performance boat rigged with state of the art electronics. “Granddad would definitely have though fishing like this would be cheating, laughed Reeve and he positioned the boat for our first introduction to ‘Spider Rigging.’

    Photo by Luke Clayton

    HOW IT’S DONE- The concept of spider rigging for crappie is pretty simple: several rods are set in rod holders in the bow of the boat and the boat is very slowly moved along with the trolling motor. The technique can be used in deep water or shallow and employed to fish isolated bits of structure or as a means of locating fish that are scattered. I soon learned that, although the concept is simple, the application of the technique is highly refined. Reeve positioned a total of 8 rods in the bow of his boat in rod holders; four on either side. We were in water 20 feet deep and he varied the depths. The distance from the reel to the first line guide on the rod is approximately 3 feet and we used this as a yardstick to determine the depth for the baits. Five ‘pulls’ equated to 15 feet, six pulls placed the bait at 18 feet.

    Photo by Luke Clayton

    The submerged structure is marked with one or more marker buoys and the boat positioned downwind. Reeve slowly moved the boat into the strike zone and, each time the boat’s bow was positioned over the tree below, one or more of the rods would bow heavily toward the surface. We moved the baits into the fish, and usually caught a fish or two or at least got a bite. Once Reeve determined at which depth the active fish were holding, we adjusted the depth of every rod to match. Reeve used the wind to his advantage. When our baits reached the crappie attracting tree, we would be busy landing fish or at least re-baiting hooks. The wind, which was relatively light, would push the boat back to the leeward side of the structure, giving us time to prepare for the next pass over our hotspot.

    Reeve is an officer in Crappie Anglers of Texas (CAT) He says spider rigging is used my many of the club members year around. “Many folks are surprised to learn that spider rigging is just as effective in shallow water. We often fish water as shallow as four feet during the spring. When fishing in water this shallow, it’s best to use longer crappie rods and make sure the trolling motor is always on low speed to avoid spooking the fish.

    Crappie, like all predator species, are often triggered to feed by a ‘school’ of baitfish. When food passes within their strike zone, the impulse to grab an easy meal often triggers strikes. Reeve thinks that using multiple baits (8 or sometime 10 while spider rigging) is one of the reasons the technique is so effective. “I’ve seen fishermen setting over what I knew was good crappie holding structure, fishing vertically under the boat with one or two minnows or crappie jigs and catch an occasional crappie. When a multitude of baits were presented to the fish via the spider rigging method, the fish are often triggered to bite. There’s just something about a slowly moving minnow or jig moving out of their reach that a crappie cannot resist.” Reeve added.

    JOIN CATS- For more information on CATS (Crappie Anglers of Texas), go online to Check out all the handmade lures at


    Outdoor Tip of the Week- Deer season has been open for several weeks and many hunters have plenty of fresh venison in their freezers. Venison jerky is excellent when prepared properly. I use my Smokin Tex electric smoker to prepare several pounds each fall. There are as many jerky seasonings on the market but through the years I’ve found what I consider to be the perfect blend. Here’s how I make my jerky: First, I trim all the fat from choice cuts of venison, either the ham or backstrap. Next, I sprinkle on a liberal amount of McCormick’s Grill Mates Spicy Montreal Steak seasoning to my jerky strips. If you wish your jerky with a little less ‘heat’, use the regular Grill Mates. Place the seasoned jerky strips in a gallon freezer bag and douce with Worchester Sauce until the meat is moist. Place in refrigerator overnight to allow seasoning to permeate the meat.

    Then, I set the thermostat on my Smokin Tex smoker at 150 degrees, place one ounce of Pecan or cherry wood pellets in the wood box, place the meat strips on the racks and allow to slow cook for about three hours. It’s important to rotate the position of the racks to allow even cooking (drying) of the meat.

    This is proved to be the blend of spices/smoke that my family prefers best and it’s a good place to start but chances are good you will develop your favorite blend of spices. For more outdoor cooking tips, check the recipes and forum at LC

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