What To Use To Catch Crappie – The 7 Best Crappie Baits

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Wondering what to use to catch crappie?

Hi, my name is Reuben and I’ve been fishing since I was 9. While I prefer bass and trout over crappies, over the past 20 years, I’ve done my fair share of crappie fishing.  

Crappies are one of the most popular fish, and for good reason. Crappies are beautiful, easy to catch, and delicious. 

Today, I’ll be sharing 7 of the best baits for crappie so you can get your hands on this beautiful fish:

Jig

Grub Lure

Crankbait

Spinner

Tube Lure

Live Minnow

Live Bait

Jig

A jig is a lure with a lead sinker attached. The jig will be your default setup when crappie fishing. You can use them in almost any situation. The 3 types of crappie jigs are solid, tube, and feather.

Solid jigs come in a variety of colours and styles. For solid jigs, jigs with lead jig heads or minnow-shaped jigs work best. 

Tube jigs are for when you want your jig to smell attractive. The hollowness is ideal for holding fish attractants like crappie nibbles. The tube jig will be explained more in detail later on.

Lastly, feather jigs are best suited to be used in conjunction with live bait, as they let the fish move naturally. 

Grub Lure

A grub lure is, as the name suggests, a lure that looks like a grub. Grubs are insect larvae. 

Personally, I find creepy-crawlies pretty disgusting. Crappies love grub though and will eat any kind of grub. This means whatever size, shape, or colour your grub lure is, if it looks like a grub, it’ll work. This makes choosing the lure a lot easier.

Now you might be wondering whether you can use real grubs. The answer is yes, but real grubs are harder to attach. They’re also more expensive (unless you catch them yourself), and your choice of colours will be very limited.

When choosing the colour of your grub lures, you’ll need to consider a few factors.

In clear waters, use natural colours (natural greens, browns, reds) for your grub lures. On cloudy or darker days, you’ll need brighter coloured lures, or crappies will have a hard time spotting them. On a sunny day though, feel free to use your favourite colour, because any colour will do fine.

P.S. I did not include a picture with this because some people find grubs revolting. If you want pictures of it, just google “Grub Lure”.

Crankbait

A crankbait is a lure made of hard plastic or wood. There are two types, lipless and billed/lipped crankbaits. A billed crankbait is the one in the picture above. A lipless crankbait is the same thing, but without the long translucent beak. 

Often, crankbaits are associated with troll fishing. The crankbait wiggles and wobbles in the water, which makes it appear as if it’s swimming, like baitfish.

Crankbaits, in particular minnow-shaped crankbait, are irresistible to crappie. It’s extremely rare that crappies would refuse a minnow. 

If you’re feeling ambitious and want to target big crappie, you should try troll fishing. Attach the crankbait to your rod, or rods, if you’re using a few rods at once. Then all you have to do is troll through whichever waters you’re in.

For regular-sized crappies, any crankbait will suffice.

Spinner

A spinner, aka spinnerbait, is a lure shaped in a way that makes it spin and vibrate, earning it the name “spinner”. The metal blades on them give off flashes and strong vibrations and make them spin.

The flashes and strong vibrations ensure that, unlike any other lure, there’s no way crappies won’t see your lure.

Being seen by the crappie is the first step to getting it to take the bait. With all crappie eyes on your lure, there’s no way you won’t get at least one of them biting on it.

Over the years, many different types of spinners have appeared. For crappies, the 2 best spinners are the beetle spinner and the in-line spinner. 

Remember how earlier we said crappie love grub? The beetle spinner’s shape and colour are help it to mimic beetles. These, coupled with its flashes and vibrations make it hard for any crappie to resist it.

In-line spinners serve a different purpose. They’re not as showy as normal spinners, but it doesn’t matter. The in-line spinner serves to scout shallow waters in the shortest amount of time. It’s the most suitable for scouting shallow waters because of its shape. Its shape helps it avoid being stuck in vegetation like weeds as much as other spinners do. 

That said, this doesn’t mean you can freely use your in-line spinner in the thickest vegetation. It can and will still get stuck in thick vegetation.

Tube Lure

A tube lure is a hollow, soft plastic lure, that looks like a tube and is enclosed on only one end (think chemistry test tubes).

As mentioned above, tube lures are for when you want your jig to smell attractive. The hollowness is ideal for holding fish attractants like crappie nibbles.

Tube lures are a must-have when fishing crappie. This is the only lure whose smell you can change at will by controlling what you put in it. 

On top of that, trout tend to stay in vegetation or brushes. This means that your lures have to be able to move through vegetation without being stuck. Tube lures, as you can see from the picture, are pretty streamlined. This means unlike other fishing lures, it’s much less likely to be stuck in brushes, even in heavier vegetation. It doesn’t matter whether it’s fishing weeds or fallen trees, tube lures just won’t get caught up.

Also, tube lures are great for spawning crappies.

Small, lightweight tube lures are just the right size for crappie. For some reason, pink is the recommended colour, so get a pink one.

Live Minnow

Live minnows, for centuries now, have been the most popular crappie fishing bait.

To crappies, a minnow is the tastiest thing in the world. Crappies simply can’t stop themselves from going after a minnow. No matter how sluggish or full a crappie may be, you can bet it’ll still go after your minnow.

While all the baits and lures on this list will appeal to crappies, there’s just nothing that can compare with a live minnow when it comes to crappies.

If you find that on a particular day, you’ve tried the tube lure, you’ve tried the grub lure, and just about every lure in your tackle box, but the crappie just won’t bite, bring out the live minnow. I’ll bet every last penny I have that the crappie will snap it up immediately.

You should be able to get minnows from your local fishing store. If they don’t have live ones, dead ones are fine too, as long as they’re still fresh. Alternatively, you can catch them yourself. All you’ll need is a fishing net.

Live Bait

Most of the time, no matter how good your lure is, live bait will still perform better. Your lure may look exactly like live bait, but can it behave like live bait does? Can it smell like live bait does?

It doesn’t matter whether it’s crappie, or bass, or trout. All fish will prefer live bait over artificial baits (just like how original coke always beats artificially sweetened coke).

Unlike lures, live bait will work all the time. The reason is simple. Crappies, by default, eat live bait. If you have live bait on your hook, it’s literally what they eat everyday. It’s only natural that they’ll take the bait.

Obviously, you’ll need to give them what they usually eat, and it varies from place to place. No matter which state you’re from though, crappies will always go for minnows. If you’re not sure what the local fish eat, use minnows. 

If you really can’t get your hands on minnows, look around in the nearest patch of grass for grub. They’ll work perfectly too.

How To Catch More Crappie

Great! Now you know exactly what’ll get the crappies biting. If you want to catch even more crappie, check out our top 10 tips for fishing.

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AUTHOR

Reuben went on his first fishing trip when he was 9. That's when he fell in love with fishing. When he's not fishing, he's searching for new gear and ways to fish better.

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