As great as all panfish may be, once you’ve caught some nice crappie, it’s hard not to focus on them almost exclusively. Here’s why crappie are so great to catch, exactly what to use, and how to catch them.
If you’re an experienced angler, or catch them as a byproduct of fishing for bluegills or bass, you may think that catching crappie is simple. As a larger, selective yet aggressive member of the panfish family, when you figure out how to entice one out of the school hanging out deep in underwater structure, you’re likely to pull out a bunch more.
On light tackle, they are a blast, and you’ll pull out plenty of other panfish and bass even if you focus on crappie. Not to mention, it’s hard to not be impressed by their silvery mottled scales, big mouths, strong takes, and light savory taste.
Not so fast though. Once you focus on crappie, you’ll quickly learn they require distinctive strategies, lures, and techniques to catch routinely. Here you go – the best crappie fishing tips, lures, baits and rigs.
During the spring, crappie usually gather in schools, sometimes large schools, which makes jigging especially effective. Once Onceyou location the school, you can cast your best crappie jig in the center for a virtually guaranteed catch. In most cases, going simple can promise you an excellent bite. In this case, the Eagle Claw Crappie Jig,which weighs 1/32 or 1/16 ounces is the perfect lure. You can use it to fish in various ways, including twitching below a bobber and vertical jigging.
This jig’s alluring motion comes from a combination of the chenille body and maribou tail, creating a very subtle action in the water. With this jig, you can create adequate motionthat will attract crappie.
In addition, the head has a dot that resembles a baitfish’s eye. On sunny days, you’ll havehigher chances of success with lighter colors like white, pink or chartreuse. On the other hand, if you’re fishing in murky water, we recommend getting the Eagle Claw Crappie Jig in darker colors like yellow-black or black.
Available in six jig-packets, giving you ample backups
Offered in three different sizes
Made from high-quality materials
Durable metal head and shaft
Natural-looking body and feather composition
Not the least expensive option
The smallest size may not help you catch many crappie
If you’re going for a bottom-bouncing rig or a spinner, you can use the Berkley PowerBait Power Minnow as a jig trailer. The split on its tail allows it to mimic the realistic motions of a baitfish that is wounded. If you’re fishing in pressured lakes, this is the best crappie bait for achieving finesse presentation. You’ll love how incredibly realistic it is with its holographic inserts of three-dimensional eyes. Of course, you can expect Berkley’s iconic PowerBaitflavor and scent formula. Consistently improved for 25 years, this formula has been designed to attract crappie to hang on up so much longer. So, you can have enough leeway to properly place your hook and leisurely reel in fish.
The Berkley PowerBait Power Minnow is two inches long, making it the perfect crappie rig size. That said, it can also be used as a jig bait for freshwater fish like trout, bass, and perch. Usually, a pack comes with ten minnows. Two of them are already attached to the hook for easy fishing.
Strike King’s Mr. Crappie Thunder Bait is a collaborative product of Strike King and professional angler Wally Marshall. This bait is can easily be one of the best panfish lures in the market. You can attach it
to a jig head for trolling, casting, or moving along the bottom. On the other hand, you can use it with a vertical drop shot rig. Containing premium quality silicone, this lure is 1 ¾ inches long. It has a ripple body that resembles a delicious grub, making it attractive to crappie.
Strike King’s Mr. Crappie Thunder Bait vibrates effectively, thanks to its tail that can flare out at 90 degrees. The lateral line of the fish can pick up its vibrations easily. What’s more, it has glitter specks that mimic the shimmering scales of baitfish. All these features come together to start a feeding party. It is also available in a wide selection of hues, including chartreuse, black sparkle, and blue grass.
Packets come with 15 lures, offering excellent value for money
Strike King’sShadalicious Swimbait is the ideal lure when you prefer cast and retrieve fishing or trolling. You can rig it with a weighted hook or on a jig head that’s open. Don’t forget to try it with a steady and slow retrieve to see its wonders! It is irresistible to feeding crappies, especially because of its life-like swimming action. The Strike King Shadalicious Swimbait can achieve this because of its paddle tail and soft. Hollow body. This swimbait’s movement works well with its realistic designs and colors. To grab more attention, choose sexy shad. A great option is pearl chartreuse, just like the one we featured in this article.
You can get the lure in various sizes, including 3.5, 4.5, 5.5 and 6.5 inches. Remember to match your hook size to the lure so that you can target various sizes of crappie. Once you learn how to fish for crappie, you will be able to tailor the right combination.
You can rig it in various ways
Designed to attract more crappie
Ideal for umbrella-style rigs
Tears up easily
Poor hook up performance
Spins easily in the water if not paired with the proper terminal tackle.
Once you’ve located a school of crappie, your most effective strategy is to use crappie jigs. However, if you’re exploring unfamiliar waters with a limited amount of time, or trying to located the school that may have moved within waters you are very familiar with, then a lure will be your best bet.
Rapala’s Jointed Shad Rap 04 Fishing Lure is just 1.5 inches long, making it the ideal size for fishing for crappie. It runs about four to six feet deep, thanks to its quick-diving lip design. Yet due to its lightweight plastic body, it can stay suspended and hanging in the water when you’re not retrieving it.With this vulnerable presentation, you can easily attract unsuspecting crappie.
Keep on reeling and this jig’s jointed design will allow its body to generatean extensive swimming movement, mimicking the action of a distressed baitfish. The cherry on top is the vibrations that the rhythmic rattle of the lure can emit. You can find it in various colors, including bleeding chartreuse shad and olive flash that can create the illusion of wounded baitfish. On the other hand, for more realistic options, choose red crawdad and baby bass.
When the crappie go deep, especially in the summer, you need to go deep too. This crappie lure can quickly dive between 9 to 12 feet, thanks to its rounded, angled lip. During the fall season, crappies usually run deeper into the water. So, Norman’s Deep Little N is the perfect deep-diving choice. It is 2.5 inches long, making it ideal for catching larger crappie. What’s more, it can perform well when you’re after other types of game fish. In many ways, it is the best multi-species lure for your tackle box. Weighing 3/8 ounces, this lure comes with multiple treble hooks that sure are sharp!
Norman’s Deep Little N has a plump shape, allowing it to wobble extensively. It is perfect for triggering aggressive bites. If that is your cup of tea, then you should buy several crappie rigs in various shades. You can choose from a wide range of colors, including rainbow trout, spring craw, and lavender shad. There are patterns with glitter that mimic the iridescent shimmer of baitfish.
Highly durable because of its strong gel coat finish
Old-time anglers are probably familiar with Wordens Original Rooster Tail Spinner. It has been around for freshwater fishing since the 50s. Despite being a classic option, it can still compete with the best crappie fishing lures in the market today. While it is available in various weights, we recommend that you choose a 1/24- or 1/32-ounce lure for crappie fishing rigging. It can generate a unique spinning action because of its in-line weighted body. You can easily convert strikes into catches, thanks to the hidden sharp treble hook in the pulsating hackle tail.Its blade is one of its best features, especially since it can send out enticing vibrations. It is available in brass, silver, and copper for optimum flash.
You’ll have a blast choosing your lure because the Yakima Bait’sWordens Original Rooster Tail Spinner is available in over a hundred colors! Every bait is designed for specific crappie fishing conditions. So, you can select based on the water clarity, location, and the time of the year. Attract crappie and encourage bites with bright colors like glitter chartreuse and metallic flame tiger. You can also choose from various UV finishes.
Are you fishing for crappie during the winter season in northern United States or anywhere in Canada? If so, then Rapala’s VMC Tumbler Spoon is the perfect lure for you. Specifically designed for ice fishing, this bait has a distinct knuckle bend design that allows it to generate a slow, tumbling movement. It’s just the perfect jig for attracting finicky biters! It goes without saying that it perfectly mimics a fish’s sluggish behavior in cold water. Expect added flash and vibration as the blade rubs against the hook and spoon.
There are more than ten color patterns to choose from. The UV bright finish options are iridescent, making them more visible even in overcast conditions. You can even take your angling experience to a higher notch by choosing Ultra Glow models that glow for several minutes. It’s almost impossible for ravenous crappie to ignore the illuminating lure!Expect all models to have a sharp treble hook and a holographic eye.
Specifically designed for ice fishing but offers effective performance all year round
Deadly jigging spoons with subtle action
Ultra Glow models can hold a charge for up to 15 minutes
There are many good reasons why anglers have Johnson’s Original Beetle Spins in their tackle boxes. Its soft bait and spinning blade design add a special flash and motion to the lure. What’s more, it comes in a wide selection of sizes and colors. For crappie, we recommend that you get 1/32, 1/16, ⅛, or possibly as large as ¼ ounces.
What you’ll love about Johnson’s beetle spins is they are quite versatile. This lure will allow you to cover a bigger area of water quickly. You can easily locate active crappie by letting the lure sink, running it after a twitch and pause, or allowing it to cruise below the surface. Make sure you choose contrasting soft bait colors to get a lethal arsenal for your crappie!.
Proven success all year long
Wide range of colors and sizes
Catches many types of fish too (panfish, bass, pickerel, etc)
The soft feel and fringe of the Marabou Crappie Jig from Bass Pro Shops drive crappie wild. What’s great about this lure is it is a hybrid of a jig head and a fly. So, it provides the ideal weight for applying a good jigging technique that features an irresistible life-like action.
various sizes. However, for crappie’s tender and large mouths, you should choose #4 over #6. After all, slightly larger hooks can snag crappie more efficiently. Another thing you will love about this lure is it weighs ⅛ ounces, allowing you to use it with an ultralight tackle.
The Berkley Gulp! Crappie Nibbles features an extreme scent dispersion, allowing you to cover a bigger strike zone for more chances of catching crappie. What’s more, these nibbles are not solely designed for crappie. You can also use it for catfish, bass, shellcrackers, and beam.
Natural live bait taste, making it irresistible for crappie
Nibbles disperse a scent cloud that attracts fish easily
If you prefer drop shotting for crappie, then the Berkley Gulp! Minnow is the ideal lure for you. What you’ll love about it is its realistic action that mimics injured bait fish. It will quiver and dart in the water like the real thing! What’s more, its scent dispersion is highly effective, especially during the winter season when crappie tends to be lethargic. For an added edge, hook the lure on a drop shot rig. We promise that you won’t be disappointed
Perfect for fishing drop-shot rings or rigging
Realistic and highly durable
Tends to be soft, allowing crappie to steal it off the hook
Below par packaging
How to Choose the Best Crappie Lures
While it doesn’t take rocket science to choose the right crappie lure, sometimes they can be picky kind of like trout, more so than other panfish. Often, choice of color makes a huge difference, and testing out a variety of lures and retrieves key to enticing hits. Here’s what will help you catch more crappie consistently.
Whether you’re casting from plastic fishing boats or running your bait through a hole on a frozen lake, choosing the right lure color is critical to your success. Not to mention, it is one of the biggest challenges in crappie fishing. It is not uncommon for anglers to get into a long discussion – even debate – over what the ideal lure color should be.
In any case, color choice is the fine line that differentiates casual fishing from repeat success. In general, you need to remember the following:
Look at the color of the water – Crappie can see very well in clear water. If so, you need to choose more subdued and natural colors. It is true that you can still attract crappie with bright hues. However, natural and subdued tones are your best bet. After all, they closely resemble common prey items. However, if the water is stained or murky. Int his case, you will trigger a predatory response with brighter colors.
Observe the light – If you’re fishing under the bright sun, any metallic, reflective lure is the ideal choice. The shimmer will make it look like a small minnow, which will attract crappie even from a distance.
Color disappears as the lure goes deeper – Even the clearest water can absorb light quickly. As a result, the perception of color changes as the lure goes deeper. Red will be the first to disappear, followed by orange, yellow, green, and finally, blue.
If you are fishing for crappie in shallow water, the color of the lure plays a critical role. On the other hand, if you’re jigging the fish on the bottom, you may want to avoid using red and orange. Generally, colors matter more the shallower the water is. When choosing lure colors for crappie, we recommend that you follow these guidelines:
Chartreuse – A lot of anglers love this color because it offers high contrast and visibility. It works well in both clear and cloudy water. You can bring the lure deeper without losing its vividness.
Black – This color is still visible at depth, but it can work well in shallow water regardless of the light condition. From below, it can offer an attractive silhouette.
White – This is the perfect contrast for stained, dark, or murky water. You can increase its efficiency when you combine it with a metallic spinner in clear water under the bright light.
Metallic flash – Any angler will agree that they should have this color among their crappie lures. Combined with the right spinner, this can help you catch crappie quite easily.
If you want to get more tips on choosing the right color for your crappie bait, check out the instructional video below:
There is a good reason why anglers refer to crappie as ‘papermouths’. Even the gentlest hookset can be critical for this fish. So, when selecting lures and hooks, you need to consider various factors. The mouths of crappie are relative to their size. Consequently, they usually take big hooks. In general, #2 and #4 hooks can work well, depending on what lure you use. On the other hand, you should avoid #6 hooks or anything smaller because the crappie can easily tear its mouth free from the hook.
How to Catch Crappie at Different Times of the Year
Of course, your success does not solely depend on having the best crappie baits and lures. You should also know the perfect techniques for catching this panfish depending on the season. Here are some crappie fishing tips you can follow for the summer, spring, autumn, and winter:
It’s exhilarating to go fishing for crappie in the spring from late February towards the end of May. After all, this is the spawning season for this panfish. Usually, they spawn in shallow waters, especially when the temperatures of the water play around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. They also spawn at different depths, depending on the clarity of the water.
When the waters are clear, crappies tend to go deeper. You may even find them at a depth of 20 feet! Meanwhile, they move closer to the surface when the water is murky or stained. Usually, they can get as shallow as 1 foot below the surface. To attract more bites, opt for a trolling motor. Make sure you move close to the shoreline and target vegetation, rocks, or any woody debris. Oh, and remember to move slowly and quietly.
What you need to remember when fishing for crappie during summer is to try various depths of water. Crappie tends to move to vegetation in 15 to 20 feet of water. You can test and try varying depths in a specific area for some time. If you do not attract any bites, then move to a different spot.
When you fish around abundant vegetation, you should try vertical jigging. This technique will help you get as many bites as possible. Once the days become hotter, try to fish at night. The lights you bring will attract small baitfish and insects. Consequently, you can draw the attention of crappie.
You should know that despite the temperature of the water, crappie will continue to bite. You may hear several anglers that offshore schools of crappie tendto face a single direction. So, it will be a wise strategy to approach them in the right direction.
If you’ve been fishing for crappie without any luck, you can try using various jigs. Try slowing down and start using heavier lures. You may find that this is what will attract bites from crappie.
You’ll be happier when the fall season kicks in because crappie tend to become aggressive and predictable. The magic months for catching this panfish is from October to November. During this time, it will be easy for you to catch the fish in shallow waters and up to 10 feet deep. At this stage, we recommend that you fish around the docks. Make sure you cast your lure at the edges and let it sink for a couple of seconds. Once you’ve done that, you can begin to retrieve slowly.
You need to run deeper in the winter because crappie are usually found 24 to 40 feet from the surface. If you want to attract bites, you must use a slow retrieve technique. When we say slow, we mean you should‘go very slow’. When the days become warmer, you will also find that crappie move into shallow water. You may find this season to be among the best times to fish for crappie. During the winter, they tend to gather in large schools. You simply need to find the ideal spot and you’ll almost be guaranteed a catch.
It’s worth noting that you can catch crappie all year round. The key to success is to know where they are located. As we’ve mentioned, they tend to live in schools. So, if you happen to get a single bite, it is likely that you’ll get another from the same area
Best Rigs for Crappie Fishing
Of course, if you are fishing with bait, or trolling, or jigging in weeds then you’ll want to consider a rig setup with the right type of hooks. As such, here are several products that will increase your success catching your favorite panfish.