As the temperature slowly warms up, crappie schools move to deeper water. Vertical presentations are ideal for pulling suspended slabs from their cool-water feeding zones and when the schools of baitfish become impossible to net, the savvy angler breaks out their squishy arsenal. Soft plastics can be tipped with meat (grubs, minnow heads, worms, etc.) or fished as-is, relying on color, size and presentation to trigger strikes. Some soft plastics can be effective when cast and retrieved slowly, while the most effective presentations are typically straight down from the rod tip or under a float.
Below, we have four of the best soft plastics you should make room for in your tackle bags – if they aren’t there already.
Strike King Mr. Crappie Shadpoles
These soft baits imitate shad fry and can double as a tadpole imitation. They are best fished plain with no added bait, offering a realistic wiggle and darting action. Strike King Mr. Crappie Shadpoles are two inches in length, come in 18 colors, with 15 baits per pack, and are made in the USA.
Berkley Gulp! Alive! Minnows
This is another soft plastic best fished as-is. Berkley Gulp! Alive! Minnows are one of the most effective soft baits on the market because they mimic the look and movement of many minnow species. Offered in six colors, these slimy little baits hooked to a small tube jig head can be set under a float, cast or vertically jigged, triggering violent strikes. The jarred baits come floating in their own “Magic Gravy,” keeping them flexible and tasty. There are approximately two dozen baits per jar.
Southern Pro Hot Grubs
These are versatile in that they work very well jigged vertically with or without added bait, but really shine on the cast-retrieve-pause-retrieve method. The classic swimming action of the Southern Pro Hot Grubs, along with an incredible selection of over 20 colors, makes this a must-add lure. These are made in the USA and come eight in a pack.
Charlie Brewer’s Crappie Slider Grubs
Another soft bait made in the USA, the Charlie Brewer’s Crappie Slider Grubs, are one inch in length and have a slower dive through the water column due to the wide vibratail, giving the baits a predator-attracting flutter when retrieved or on the free-fall. 21 color options means there’s a color for every crappie in the lake. 18 baits per pack provides ample supply for epic bites.
Some of these soft baits imitate Mother Nature’s food sources, while others rival them. “Match the hatch” with similar colors to your region’s baitfish or choose bright, eye-catching colors to put fish in the frying pan.