Crappie have quickly become my favorite species of fish to target pretty much every time I hit the ice or the open water. The challenge of chasing down a school of crappie is a thrill to me. There’s a real feel of accomplishment when you track them down resulting in a successful outing. Don’t let me fool you. You don’t always have to work hard to find them. Sometimes they are exactly where you expected to find them.
This type of panfish can be caught throughout the country in good numbers. Believe it or not there are 7 types of crappie – the most common obviously the black and white crappie. My crew and I have had plenty of successful days where we could have easily limited out if we kept everything we caught and have had really bad days searching all over a 1,900-acre lake catching nothing. Crappie love to eat a variety of different bait and are attracted to numerous different lures.
Below are 5 simple lures and methods that I personally have had success using. Just about all of these lures take up minimal space in your tackle box and are cheap enough to stock up on each of them. Adding each of these lures to your arsenal should help you catch more crappie no matter the type of water you are fishing.
Tiny Shad Assassin (Pan Fish Assassin)
A smaller version of the shad assassin family, typically 1 ½” long. These Tiny Shads from Bass Assassin come in about 25 different colors from your popular chartreuse pepper shad and tomato seed to rainbow trout and albino shad. They have taper tails and stout little torpedo type bodies that are perfect for jigging. I have personally limited out using these jigging a double rig with a minnow on one jig head and a tiny shad on the other jig head, with the crappie favoring the jig with the tiny chartreuse shad. Try jigging this off the bottom, or over a set of weed beds for best results. Just stick with it and be patient.
The Flu Flu jig from Custom Jigs, Inc. is another must have. These are hand tied feather jigs and very inexpensive, so I keep a fair amount in my tackle box. You can choose from 1/64 #10 hook, 1/32 #8 hook and 1/16 oz #6 hook. They also come in 15-20 different color combos. I typically prefer a natural color like chartreuse/chartreuse lime or a flashy color like pink and white. They even come with the option of glitter strings hand tied into the feather portion of the jig. You can have huge success with this style jig ice fishing and open water fishing. A good friend turned me onto these years back. Ever since then I have had a rod ready to go rigged with a Flu Flu. When the crappies start moving into shallow water right after ice and then again in the summer once the water gets to about 64-65 degrees to spawn, this is a jig you want to have rigged up with a slip bobber and a minnow or wax worm. Reel in slowly with a jig every so often, let it sit, jig it again and so forth. You should catch fish if you’re in the right spot.
The Gulp minnow is a great substitute when you don’t have any live minnow bait. Sometimes I almost prefer the plastic bait over the real stuff given the situation. These 1″-1 ½” minnows have great action for jigging with the bonus of being scented to attract more fish. They have a very natural presentation and are more durable than the real stuff “as most plastic minnows are”. These come in a variety of colors and sizes. They are perfect if you’re getting off work late, trying to hit the lake before sunset and don’t have time to run to the bait shop for live minnows. You can also use the Gulp minnows jigging during ice season and find some success.
This is a lure that pretty much everyone has in their tackle box no matter how often they fish. It might have been the first lure you ever purchased or were given. I know it was for me. Curly tail grubs are great for casting or jigging for crappie and bluegill. It has great action and attracts a lot of fish with the spinning tail. They come in a combination of colors, sizes and can be rigged up with multiple types of lures. A slow jigging action off the bottom is going to be your most productive way catching panfish on this lure. Don’t be surprised if you hook into a northern pike or a largemouth bass from time to time with this lure.
This is another great lure Rapala has made. This is 1 ½” in length and weighs in at 1/16 oz with two #12 treble hooks and a flash foil teaser tail. The suspended slash bait has realistic features and was designed for panfish in mind. Best to use when fishing in shallow water over weed beds or for suspended panfish. The running depth on this X-Rap is 2-3 ft. This particular lure is a little on the expensive side. Usually averaging out at to $10.50-$11.00. This is easily my favorite lure on the market to date. The versatility of action with this lure is key to catching many fish. This is a nice lure to have in your tackle box when the panfish are spawning as they tend to be a little more aggressive. Pull this lure out at the end of May and early June when the water temps are up in the mid 60’s.