The term tightlining simply means fishing as vertically as possible to minimize snags. You can tightline with a plain jig, a jig and minnow or a jigging spoon. But the most effective setup is a dropper rig baited with one or more minnows.
A dropper rig with the sinker at the end of the line and the hooks attached farther up the line is less likely to snag than a slip-sinker rig or any other rig with the hook at the end of the line. With the sinker at the end, you can easily feel the cover and stay just above it. The tandem-hook arrangement also makes it possible to cover a wider depth range.
A tandem-hook dropper rig gives you good vertical coverage.
How to Make a Dropper Loop for a Tandem-Hook Dropper Rig
To make a dropper loop, (1) form a loop in the line, (2) insert a toothpick between the lines, (3) twist the toothpick 4-5 times, (4) remove the toothpick and push the loop through the opening where the toothpick was and (5) snug up the knot by pulling the line on each side of it. Complete the rig by tying a second dropper loop, attaching leaders and light-wire hook using loop-to-loop connections and then adding a 1/2- to 1-ounce bell sinker to the end of the line.
Tips for Fishing Woody Cover
Use a brushguard jig to minimize hang-ups when fishing woody cover. You can buy jigs with plastic, bristle or wire brushguards.
Make a “crappie stick” by flattening the ends of a welding rod, drilling holes in the flattened portions and adding small clips to each end. Attach a long-shank light-wire hook to the lower clip. The rod prevents the minnow (or a hooked fish) from tangling your line in the brush. Should you get snagged, just let the crappie stick drop freely; the downward force is usually enough to free the hook.
Work a jigging spoon in woody cover by lifting it and then letting it drop on a free line so it flutters erratically. If the lure hangs up, lower your rod tip rapidly; the lure usually pulls itself free when it drops.
When fishing in shallow water, unsnag your jig by reeling all the way down to it and pushing it off with your rod tip. You can unsnag a split-shot or slip-bobber rig in the same manner if you crimp the split-shot on lightly so it will slide down the line.
To unsnag your jig in deep water, attach a clip-on sinker to your line and drop the weight vertically. The impact of the weight hitting the jig usually frees the hook. If desired, attach a line to the sinker so you can drop it again if it doesn’t work the first time.