Best Bait For Crappie Fishing – Expert Tips




There is no better feeling than running into a big mess of crappie. If you happen upon a large school of crappies, chances are you will be occupied by more than just one catch.


They tend to bite in bunches, making them an exciting find in any lake. Because it takes skill to prevent ripping the hook through their fragile mouths, catching them is a challenging adventure.


One of the most wonderful aspects of fishing for crappie is that it can be done at any time of year. You can have just as much success in the dog days of summer as you can on a near-frozen lake in the late winter. To have the most success, it is important to know about the best bait for crappie fishing.


Let’s dive in. We will start by talking about Jig Heads


jig heads



Plastic jigs are fishermen/women’s favorites based on their versatility. But before you focus on what jig is best for the situation, finding the appropriate jig head is important.


Jig heads have a weighted top with a hook attached, allowing you to switch both colors, varieties and sizes of the plastic lure you want to use.


While jig heads come in all different colors, the main purpose of the jig head is to provide the weight of the lure. Typically, the heads come in weights of 1/32, 1/16, and 1/8.


If you want a slower fall to the jig, use a jig weight of 1/32. At this weight, the jig will have a slower fall. If you want more control over the jig with the raising and lowering of your rod tip, you will want to use something heavier.


Learn more about crappie fishing jigs here!


Soft Plastic Crappie Lures


The jig itself can also affect the overall weight and the fall of the lure. While a jig head has a pretty typical design that won´t change much, the jig can have various designs that control the action.


Since crappie are known to swim up for a lure, rather than down, I like to use a tube jig to insure a slower descent.


Tube jigs have hollow bodies and rely more on the weight of the jig head for its action. Other jigs have solid bodies and can affect the descent of the lure, even if you´re using a lighter jig head.


The tail is another variation of the jig. Something like a Lindy´s Jig will have a tail of strands, rather than being one unified tail. The body of the jig itself will be smooth.


Plastic grubs will have a unified tail that has a wavy action on movement. These lures tend to be more heavy and solid with a ribbed body. They can also be mixed and matched with various jig heads or be used with a variation of hooks, depending on the size.



My Favorite! In my opinion minnows are the most successful type of live bait for crappie. They are one of the most popular live baits at bait shops, but can also be found stores that sell pet fish and other aquarium supplies.


The issue with live minnows is the life of the bait. Crappie can be caught in lakes and ponds with very cold temperatures, however, your live minnow will likely not have much of a lifespan in this environment.

insulated minnow bucket


When purchasing live bait, remember that unlike artificial lures, you are on a clock from the moment you buy them. Try to keep the bait in an insulated, aerated container in both hot and cold temperatures to extend the life of the bait.


Hook a Minnow Through the Upper Lip


When baiting the hook, hook the minnows through the upper lip or beneath the dorsal fin. This will keep them alive the longest and provide the most success. Try to avoid placing the hook through the center of the body. While you may get more erratic movement from your bait, it will only be in the short term.


I love minnows for crappie fishing! Check this article on crappie fishing minnows!


Don’t forget to read my other article about crappie hooks.



Spinner bait

To make your artificial lure even more attractive, you can purchase ones that include rattles or have a spinner attached. The sound produced underwater causes vibrations that make crappie take notice.


Another benefit of this setup is, like plastic jigs and grubs, the soft bodies can be taken off to change color while the spinner and jig head remain intact.


You can also just buy the spinner itself, which you can attach to the lead of a jig head. This can add a little flare to your favorite tube jig or grub.



Almost all artificial baits comes in a wide variety of colors. Those colors aren’t merely decorative – they serve a very important function. Fish, like many other things in nature, are creatures of habit.


They tend to be satisfied eating the same meal, as long as that meal is readily available. They also tend to stay away from eating something that appears unfamiliar … this is a built-in safety mechanism.


Because of this, it is important to try to match the color of the lure with the color of the water. In murky water, objects take a darker and hazy appearance.


Crappie Fishing Jigs


While it may be tempting to run something bright that stands out in murky water, this is going to raise that defense mechanism for the crappie. If the water is dark, it is best to use a lure dark in color.


In clearer water that receives a lot of sun, something more bright and flashy will be more suitable. Temperature can also dictate color. I like to use clear baits with a blueish or silver tint when fishing in cold water, while using something a lot darker in warmer waters.


It is also important to note that everything appears a little more clear in shallow water, so keep this in mind when trying to match up color with the environment.


Crappie early in the morning


All of these options and items may seem overwhelming, especially when you realize that this only represents a small portion of what is out there.


Part of the pleasure of pulling in papermouths is finding the right combination. It is a learning process, as each body of water and each season requires its own special formula. Experiment with different combinations. Never limit yourself to one type of bait, or color.


Once you figure out what the crappie are looking for, you will land a mess of them. This is what all of us fishermen/women dream of.


Please leave me a comment below with any insights you may have. If you want me to add anything to this post, leave the information in the comments section and I will respond as soon as possible.


Happy Fishing!


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