The 3 best crappie lures for your fishing trip
Freshwater anglers across the country love to fish for white and black crappie (pronounced “craw-pee” and not the unflattering alternative). None of the species grows very large; I’ve seen 16-inch specimens on walls. And crappie are thin, relatively weak fighters. If you catch one, however, you can likely catch a bunch, and the flake fillets rank extremely high as a table fare.
In general, a bucket of minnows (usually Fathead Minnows or Golden Shiners) is standard crappie fishing gear, but they also hit bait. Here are three of the best crappie lures.
1. Crappie Jigs
These popular crappie fishing lures are simply small hooks that are weighted near the eye, often 1/16 ounce. They are often provided with a few colored feathers or with a small, soft plastic maggot tail. Yellow, white, chartreuse, or green are good starting colors. Early in spring when crappies spawn, these common crappie fishing lures can be hung under a small bobber and tossed firmly into a flat brush. Rewind slowly or give the rig a few small twitches, then pause briefly, changing the depth with the bobber until the fish are in place. Vertical jigs with the aptly named “jigging” over submerged piles of brushes or wood standing nearby attract these structure-loving fish all year round, even through a hole in the ice.
2. Small crank baits for crappie
This diverse category of “search lures” is used to cover large amounts of water in order to find fish. Again, the best crappie lures are the smaller sizes. They can be lipped or lipless designs. Lip crank baits are retrieved to make the bait dive. Lipless crank baits are usually already sinking and anglers vary the timing of the drop and then pick it up to stay in the “zone” for as long as possible. Effective models often resemble a type of bait fish.
3. Crappie Spinner
These crappie fishing lures generate a lot of vibration and lightning that can resemble the erratic behavior of a fleeing minnow. For inline spinners, throw and sink to the desired depth, then retrieve slowly and evenly. There are some other really good crappie fishing lures that have a blade attached to them. “Underspin” lures are usually slightly larger jigs with a small, single spoon that dangles under the front of the lure. I threw these baits in the winter and slowly came back to keep in contact with the ground. “Tailspin” lures are small but very heavy and have a blade that flutters on the back of the lure. Trolling fairly quickly, this lure can help locate deep, floating crappies during the heat of late summer.
There are of course other baits that can catch crappie. I’ve even caught them on the surface fly fishing in reservoirs during the evening mayfly hatches. But when I put together a little tackle box of my best crappie lures, I end up with lots of little jigs, a couple of petite, minnow-like crank lures, and a spinner or two. Check the regulations when renewing your fishing license. Harvest sizes and quantities can even vary within bodies of water in the same state.