Do you want to know the best way to catch crappie?
There are some fishermen/women who think that general methods will work to catch just about
any type of fish. This is not necessarily the case!
If the goal is to catch more of a particular type of fish
though, then you need the absolute best strategies for that species.
Not to worry, because using some of the simple advice I am going to outline in this post, you’ll
be able to up your crappie catch count considerably.
I will show you what kind of equipment you’re going to require, what specific types of
baits to use as well as what techniques work best to catch that big slab. Let’s get started.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO CATCH CRAPPIE?
Depending on what type of fishing you plan on doing and where you plan on fishing, you will need the right kind of gear. I fish mostly from the banks or from barges, piers and docks. I always have 2 different types of poles available.
You’ll need the right rod and reel combination
Having the right rod and reel combination is important, because you need to be able to cast out to exactly where the crappies are located.
You will not always be able to get close to those sunken structures or brush piles. A good rod and reel combination is a must in order to be able to place the bait exactly where you want it.
A rod and reel combo is also a must if you want to jig vertically or to cast and retrieve.
You’ll need a cane pole – I like poles around 15 ft long
A cane pole is going to enable you to place bait in a very precise manner. The purpose with these is the sensitivity factor. When you get
bites it will be easier to feel it, which comes in handy depending on what time of the year you’re trying to catch crappies.
Why do you need to be precise? Casting and retrieving is absolutely great. But if there is a lot of structure around, you are going to get snagged retrieving the bait/lure. A cane pole allows you to place the bait straight down. It also allows you to pull it straight out of the water. This greatly reduces the chances of getting hung up.
Finally, cane poles are essential because they add stealth. If you are on a boat and maneuver it right over to where you think the crappies are, they will get spooked and run. With a long cane pole (15 foot minimum), you can anchor several feet away and reach the crappies without scaring them away.
I find that long cane poles also help when fishing from the banks in clear water. When the water is clear, the fish can see you! So sitting 1ft away and using a cane pole to reach the crappie is very helpful.
Check out this article I wrote about crappie fishing rods
You’ll need to have the right form of bait (live as well as plastics)
If you go with plastic bait, then make sure you have a good assortment. Get some minnow – like plastics, grubs, and tubes. Make sure you have a variety of colors because you never know what the crappie will like on any given day.
As far as live bait you’ll want to go with minnows, which are typically about $3 a dozen. Make sure they are lively. Either keep them in a minnow bucket that you can submerge in the lake, or make sure that you have an insulated bucket with an air bubble machine (my favorite).
You’ll need the right hooks, sinkers and bobbers
You can easily find all of these for a very good price at large discount stores such as Wal-Mart. While I think it is important to get high quality rods and reels, I feel that Wal-Mart has everything else, tackle wise, that you will need.
However, if you’re prefer higher quality (and price) fishing tackle, then going to a higher end sporting goods store is the way to go. The added benefit of going to a sporting store like Academy or Dick’s Sporting Goods is that there’s more likely
to be someone working there who can help answer questions better.
Back to the tackle! You will need some Aberdeen hooks. I suggest medium and large hook sizes. You will also need some split-shot. I suggest some X oz Gremlins. Lastly, you will need one or two slip bobbers. I prefer the Balsa wood type, but the foam ones work just as good. Get some bobber stoppers if you don’t know how to tie one on yourself.
Everything mentioned above should cost you less than $XX dollars and should last you for several trips!
Learn more about crappie hooks
CRAPPIE’S FAVORITE BAIT – LIVE BAIT!
Certain bait is going to greatly increase your chances of catching lots of crappies. You want to focus on these more than anything else.
As the saying goes, “if you want to catch a rabbit, then throw it a carrot”. Well it’s the same way with
crappies. If you have exactly what they like, then they are more likely to bite and bite aggressively.
Apparently, crappies love grubs, crickets as well as other forms of live
bait. I have had a hard time finding grubs, and never caught a single crappie using crickets – but that ‘s just me 🙂
What I definitely know is that minnows are their favorite type of food. In fact, using minnows is my favorite way to catch them. I jig quite a bit too, but my go-to method is using minnows.
Crappie love minnows but they are finicky. You want to make sure the minnows are very lively. The best way to do
this is to make sure you keep them properly insulated inside of a bucket that has an air bubble machine.
Crappie will almost never strike a dead minnow. An almost-dead minnow is not attractive to them either.
So in addition to keeping them alive in your minnow bucket, make sure you hook them the right way. Hook them through the upper lip or behind the dorsal fin. This will make sure they stay alive and that they swim aggressively once they are in the water.
HAVE PLASTIC LURES READY
Even though, in my opinion, live minnows are the best way to go with catching crappies, I always make sure I have a bunch of plastic lures handy. There is absolutely nothing more annoying than sitting there catching nothing but a suntan (or a cold), while the person next to you is pulling in slab after slab using lures.
There are also many fishermen who only use jigs.
Well here are some tips for lures and plastics.
You’ll want to have jig heads that are about 1/16, 1/32 and 1/8. On top of this you’ll want to have tubes, shadpoles, marabou as well as
Don’t be generic with the color schemes you use. Get these in different color variations. The reason for this is that crappies can be a weird lot. On some days they’ll like certain colors and on other days not so much. So you must be prepared to test out different ones.
If you don’t remember anything else about colors when it comes to jigs, be sure to get pink and chartreuse colored options. A lot of fishermen/women have had success with these colors on a consistent basis.
Check out this article if you want to learn more about crappie jigs and jigging in general
FIND YOUR DEPTH
Before getting into how you can do this, let me explain why depth is important. The barge I go to has a lot of “regulars”.
The first question you are sure to get asked is “Any luck”. If you indicate that you have caught even one single crappie, chances are the next question will be a variation of “how deep?
Depth is important because crappies are a schooling fish. They usually hang out in groups. The interesting thing is that they usually hold at the same depth. They will not go very far from that depth. The challenge is that the depth will vary from day to day and season to season.
Generally, crappies are deep during summer and winter. In spring, they are in the shallows. During fall, they could be anywhere.
So finding the depth at which the crappie are hanging at the time you are fishing is important. You could be at the exact perfect location on a given day. If you are dropping your bait too deep or keeping it way above the crappie, you will not get a single nibble.
So how do you find the appropriate depth? The first thing you need to do in this case is have a means to keep track of how deep you’re fishing.
One way to do this is to drop your bait to the bottom of the water and count how many times you have to reel up to get it out.
So I will drop my bait until the line goes slack and reel up 2 or 3 cranks. I hold there for 5 minutes. If I don’t get any bites I repeat the process until I either get a bite or retrieve the bait out.
If I don’t get any bites, I move to a different location. Please note that moving to a different location does not mean packing your gear and going somewhere else. On a barge or dock it means moving to another section (even just a few feet away). If you have a boat then navigate to the next promising brush pile or structure.
The next method is to simply place some electrical tape a foot from your reel. Start from the top and let out line one foot at a time. Keep track of the depth so that when you get a bite, you will know exactly where they are. I usually start at 4 ft down and hold there for 5 minutes. I then drop 2 ft at a time every 3 to 5 minutes until I get a bite or hit the bottom.
Remember that crappies are schooling fish. If you find one, chances are good you will find more at the same depth.
The fancy way to do this is to buy a wireless fishfinder like the iBobber or Deeper. These are cool electronic fish finders shaped like a bobber. They are completely portable and wireless. You just drop them in the water and look at the app on your phone. It will tell you the depth, temp and show you exactly where the fish are!
I don’t own one myself (yet) but I have seen plenty of people use it on the barge. It saves a lot of time because you get a good starting point as to what depth the fish are.
So to sum everything up, the best way to catch crappies starts with you having the right rod and reel combination for versatility with casting and flexibility with jig movement. A cane pole of about 15 feet will be an added tool for your arsenal.
Having the right live and plastic baits is important. Make sure you have lively minnows and plenty of color choices for your jigs.
Having the right hooks, sinkers and bobbers is also essential.
Once you have the necessary gear, all you need to do is find the right depth. It really is as simple as that! Sure there are fancy jigging techniques, and fancy equipment you could buy. Do they help? Absolutely! But they are not essential. The only “fancy” fishing things I have are my fishing poles, a fishing backpack and a Frog Togg. Heck, I don’t even own a boat!
I still catch tons of crappie! The reason I do this is that I focus relentlessly on finding where they are!
I hope you found this article helpful!
If you have any comments or questions, please do not hesitate to leave them in the comments section below. I will try to get to you as soon as I can.
Good fishin’ to you,