Known as white perch, speckled perch, papermouth, strawberry bass, and many other names, crappie is one of the top game fish in the continental US.
This hard-hitting aggressive fish species demands the most out of your fishing expertise. Therefore, landing them in large numbers is no easy feat.
Anglers that enjoy the challenge of crappie fishing or partake in crappie tournaments realize the importance of practice, technique, and having the right equipment to get the best results.
To ensure you catch more crappie this season we have compiled a list of some of the most important crappie fishing tips and techniques.
Use these methods to land your next elusive big crappie!
Here's What's In Store For You...
- How To Fish For Crappie: The Easy Way
- Understanding The Basics
- What Equipment Do You Need To Catch Crappie?
- The Best Hooks For Crappie Fishing
- Jigging – Vertical Jigging, Yellow Jigs, Two Jigs & More
- How To Rig Jigs Professionally
- Slow Fall Jig Fishing
- Using A Smaller Jig
- Choosing The Right Jig
- Use A Monofilament Line
- Crappie Fishing Techniques
How To Fish For Crappie: The Easy Way
Understanding The Basics
Anglers that are new to crappie fishing, must first learn the basics of this fish species to better understand how to hunt and catch them.
Learning about what crappie fishing equipment works best along with some of the techniques and tricks can help you land both black crappie and white crappie at will.
What Equipment Do You Need To Catch Crappie?
Crappie is considered small fish and as such you will not need the most robust equipment to catch them as compared to other hard-hitting fish such as bass.
One of the biggest papermouths ever caught was about five pounds. However, most of your catches will fall within the 1-1.5 pounds range.
You won’t be needing high-strength fishing rods, instead, you will want something that makes catching crappie fun and exciting without harming the fish.
Crappie has the most delicate mouths and they can easily tear if you use too much force or heavy-duty fishing gear.
Most anglers fishing for bass use a braided line because it offers great sensitivity and lack of stretch but this is not needed when crappie fishing.
One should always use an ultra-light or light-medium rod for hunting white perch. All the rods you choose should ideally be in the mid-priced rod range options and have fluorocarbon or a monofilament line.
The Best Hooks For Crappie Fishing
Remember, crappie have very tender mouths that are easily damaged and torn by unforgiving hooksets.
Therefore, in order to secure your catch in one piece, you should always use gear that is more forgiving.
Another important thing new crappie anglers must have knowledge about is the type of hook they should use.
As compared to other fish species, crappie has bigger mouths, but they are very delicate.
Therefore, you should use a larger size of hook, to have better control once the fish is hooked.
You can use a hook as small as a #6 and go up to as large as #1.
If you plan to use a setup with a minnow attached to the hook its size should be 2/0.
Your best bet would be to use an Aberdeen hook, but you can also go for other options depending on your likes and dislikes.
Jigging – Vertical Jigging, Yellow Jigs, Two Jigs & More
In order to help you catch crappie, you will need to get some jig fishing practice as this helps improve your odds of landing more crappie significantly.
Jigs are the most productive fishing lures because they have the most versatile profile allowing anglers to fish in all kinds of water conditions.
These jigs allow you to match and choose the size, color, and action of your lure according to the prey fish found in the water body you are fishing in.
When casting in waters with deep cover, retrieving pilings, overhanging tree limbs, or when running a slip bobber or spider rigging to find fish, your best bet would be to use a jig.
The Best Jigs For Crappie Fishing
Many anglers tend to use tubes or minnows and even yellow jigs to two jigs combinations but you should choose the style of your jig according to the conditions.
In clear water, we recommend natural colors, in order to have a more natural presentation.
On the other hand, when crappie fishing in stained or muddy water, or when night fishing, it is better to use bright-colored, Day-Glo crappie jigs.
Since most of the time you will be fishing in waters that have limited visibility, you should opt for jigs that have the above-mentioned features.
How To Rig Jigs Professionally
Jig fishing is not a difficult thing to do but in order to master its art, you must know certain tips and tricks to catch more crappie.
If you are using a minnow it will not look like prey to the fish without proper rigging, because its tail will be down and its head will be up.
Therefore, in order to make your jig sit horizontally in the water, you should make sure that the position of your knot is correct.
Many anglers tend to make the mistake that they slip the knot in front of the eye.
This leads the jig to rest in an artificial-looking vertical position that is not able to attract predatory fish.
You will not want this to happen so you should be careful when tying the knot.
The correct position is right at the top of the eye.
This will tilt the jig forward, lifting the tail and making it look and act a lot more like a real minnow.
You can also use jigs with soft plastics or soft plastic body baits to catch more fish.
Slow Fall Jig Fishing
Although crappie is a schooling fish, they are also an ambush predator that is always looking to prey on small fish.
However, they will never go after fast-moving prey, because this will cause them to lose essential energy, moreover, there is a higher chance of being unsuccessful.
They will never go after lures that are fast-moving or have a continuously changing direction.
Therefore, when fishing for crappie you must be very slow and calm.
Moreover, if you want to landfall crappie, you must let your jig fall down slowly into deeper water and wait for the crappie to get enticed and come out.
This will dramatically increase your rate of catching fish.
If you are not able to catch, it must be because you are jigging too fast.
Using A Smaller Jig
Another reason why people are unable to catch crappie is that their jigs are too heavy.
The mistake anglers make is that in order to get their jigs to the bottom they use heavier jigs.
The most common setup in this situation is a heavy jig with a fluorocarbon line, although this might work in certain conditions, most of the time it is unable to catch crappie.
We understand that a heavy jig is less buoyant and it will not float around in the water, but it is important to note that the lighter jig will eventually sink down.
It will take a little longer because it is not dense.
Moreover, fluorocarbon has a sink rate that is comparable to other lines and there is not much difference.
But during all this debate, we tend to overlook the most important thing – crappies are very lazy just like bass.
They will never go after quick sinking bait, they tend to overlook fast-moving objects.
Therefore, we will recommend you to use a down-sized jig, with a lighter weight.
You can start with 1/32 and 1/16 ounce heads.
If you are going against the wind or if you need to have a more precise feel or want better rod control you can use a bigger jig.
But normally you should try to use the smallest jigs in order to catch crappie.
Choosing The Right Jig
When using soft plastics, you should use a bait that is streamlined and cuts easily through the water.
This will provide you with a bait that sinks at a moderate rate without compromising on its ability to attract crappie.
You can use artificial lures ranging from soft plastics to minnows when catching black/white crappie.
To slow down your jigs sinking, you can use a wide-bodied one that has a wider surface area.
The slower the fall the more enticed the crappie will be.
A light-headed jig will give them a chance to strike and more strikes mean more fish.
When you head out for ice fishing to catch winter crappie, these slow lures will make them go crazy and they will keep on biting.
Use A Monofilament Line
As we all know that crappie tends to have enormous mouths, we must avoid using small hook sizes for them.
Since smaller hooks can tear apart their mouth tissues that are paper-thin and highly delicate.
Moreover, using a smaller hook will require you to use more force, which then of course will rip off their mouth.
Therefore, when you are doing crappie spawn, use a nylon monofilament line.
These monofilament lines have a tendency to stretch.
The material used to make mono is very elastic, allowing it to stretch without deformation under load.
This not only provides you with strength but another advantage is that the monofilament provides a cushion to your hookset.
If for some reason you are unable to catch crappie, you must stop using the line you have equipped your rod with.
Use a mono with a sensitive crappie rod tip in order to perfectly set your hook.
Crappie Fishing Techniques
1) Catching Crappie Using Maribou Jigs
Many fish tend to enjoy the cover provided by trees and brush.
Moreover, these trees and brushes are found in estuaries that provide an excellent breeding ground for these fish.
Crappie is no different, they love the cover provided by stumps and submerged trees.
These estuaries and ponds are great for them to school and therefore experienced anglers tend to take full advantage of these areas.
Most of the fishing community waits for the winter season to end and then heads out to fish crappie with maribou jigs.
These jigs have a furry body that lures large schools of crappie.
You can find these jigs in a variety of colors including white red, chartreuse, or black.
The key to fishing maribou jigs is to avoid scaring the fish, therefore we recommend using a longer rod.
It is also important to have a calm composure.
You will need to find feeding fish, then you can stop your trolling motor and fish there until you land your prized crappie.
You must have sufficient line length and using the reach of your rod, you can gently drop your jig into the cover.
Then you can start moving your jig slowly to lure in crappie.
If you are at the right spot and making the right moves, you will instantly land crappie.
2) Fishing For Crappie At The Docks
The love that crappie have for tall standing trees and stumps has no match.
Therefore, you can find them near any structure that rises above the water surface.
Crappie schools can be found near the pilings that support low-hanging docks.
In order to catch crappie in large numbers, you can fish the corners of these structures.
But how do you target pilings that are way back?
Worry not because we will teach you how to do so.
The easiest way is to use ultralight spinning outfits and bulky baits that can glide over the water for long distances without any worries.
Here is a step-by-step method:
- Hold your fishing line with your index finger and grab your lure without disturbing the hook.
- Pull the lure back, load your rod and remove your finger and hand simultaneously.
- The potential energy stored in the rod blank will send your lure across the water allowing you to cover a considerable amount of distance.
- Once your soft bait lands in the water you can dance it around to catch crappie.
3) Fishing In Heavy Cover
As we have discussed above crappie are crazy for cover, therefore for this technique, we will be discussing how we can fish crappie in the unapproachable brush.
If you can find water bodies with stumps and heavy vegetative cover or regions where it is impossible to reach, then you have struck gold.
These are the goldilocks regions where you will find the most crappie.
However, you must be ready to find many obstacles when fishing in such areas.
Many anglers tend to avoid such areas because they do not have any experience with them.
But we will definitely recommend you to go in there because you will be rewarded equally.
To make it easy for you to fish in such spots, we will recommend you opt for the dipping technique.
The dipping technique requires you to dip your lure in a tight spot using a longer rod ranging from 11 feet to 14/15 feet long rod.
Or you can use a cane pole to dip your lure.
In this technique, you are not supposed to cast your rod because then there will be a chance that you might land on the vegetation.
You must remember that you are going to slowly approach the fish without startling them.
If you are on a boat you can stop it and anchor it to remain steady.
Now you will have to use the length of your rod to reach the spot that will allow your lure to sink in.
You can drop your lure in pockets between branches and other vegetation.
Gently motion your lure to entice papermouths to take a bite, once you feel a twitch or two on the rod tip, you can take a sigh of relief!
4) Slip Floating Technique
The slip floating technique is performed using jigs or minnows.
Slip floats are a great way to cast near stumps, pilings, and shallow water.
You can try to use a slip float with a jig or a minnow, under vertical cover.
This technique is used to cast flawlessly while allowing to have full control even in deeper waters.
You can use a four-pound test on your float while using an Aberdeen hook.
An Aberdeen hook will keep the live bait, alive for a longer time, therefore increasing the chances of catching crappie.
We recommend that you match the size of your hook to your minnow, going no smaller than #6 and generally no larger than #1 for real slabs.
For better casting, you can add some split shots to this rig, and that will let you keep your distance and avoid spooking dinner.
If you are not into fishing minnows or live bait, you can use soft bait.
5) Tightlining Crappie
With this technique, we will learn how we can fish crappie in spots that have no cover.
Most of the time you will find their school near the bottom in brush piles.
You can also find them at different depths in the water.
Hence, in such cases, we can use the tightlining method to catch crappie.
Tightlining is an awesome crappie technique that takes advantage of a weighted line to position two hooks near or on the bottom.
This technique is not like trolling or spider rigging, instead here while you are tightlining, your boat will not move.
There will be no horizontal movements, the only movements will be vertical presentations.
You will be bouncing your rig off the bottom or letting your lure sit with the line taught and your rod tip high to detect a bite.
A pencil weight can be used while employing this technique to avoid snags.
There are a variety of different rigs you can use for tightlining, but they generally have a few things in common.
First, they’ll use a lead weight at some point on the main line, and second, they’ll use two hooks separated by 18 inches or so.
Some anglers prefer minnows; others don’t like the risk of tangles. Still, others prefer to vary the hook size, as in the diagram below.
It is recommended to try both of these and then choose the one you find better.
If the spot you are fishing legally allows you to practice chumming you can use this technique as well.
You can drop pretty much anything near the bait and it will disappear in an instant.
This is mostly used while fishing at night.
Another way to do so is to freeze fish scales into ice cubes and drop them every once in a while.
You can also use other methods such as using the scent of live baits while chumming.
7) Casting Shallow Flats
One of the finest crappie fishing techniques is the casting method.
It can be used to quickly cover water and gain access to spots that are inaccessible through a trolling boat.
You can use this method during the spring season when the water temperature starts to rise and crappie come towards shallow water.
It is recommended to use high-quality mono on ultralight spinning gear.
You can cast your rod over the underwater cover into the shallow spots and retrieve your line with the rod tips held high.
8) Trolling with a spider rig
With the end of winter, the water temperature starts to rise.
This leads the crappie out of the deep trenches into shallower regions.
But as the water gets warmer they tend to disperse around different columns of the water body.
This will require you to cover more area in order to catch crappie.
This is where spider rigging comes in, you must give it a try in order to get the most out of your crappie fishing expedition.
Where legal, spider rigging is an excellent option to make the most of your boat’s motor.
You will have to install rod holders on the deck of your boat and turn it into a spider.
Now you can drop countless jigs and other baits at varying depths to secure the catch.
Moreover, this is the most versatile technique because you can do all kinds of presentations and colors.
Although this is not a cheap way to fish this will surely land you the most crappie.
The recommended approach is to use identical rods, moreover, they should be placed at the same heights so it will be easier for you to detect bites from the fish.
In order to make the most when fishing for crappie, you should know the basics.
You must also be willing to adapt to different situations depending on your fishing spot.
This will not only increase your chances of landing crappie but will also help you to improve your overall technique.
We hope these helpful yet simple tips and techniques will help you catch a lot more crappie on your next fishing escapade!