There is almost nothing more fun to a Crappie fisherman than filling up an entire boat or stringer with a daily limit of slabs, ready for the hot grease, cornmeal, and frying pan. While we would all prefer to be successful every single day we try, sometimes the fish just do not want to be caught. This is actually much more common than one would originally think.
It can even prevent anglers from trying again the next time. In these situations, tying on and using some of the best Crappie jigs ever are the key to putting more fish in the boat. Day by day as well as hour by hour, the preferences of these fish can change drastically depending on many factors. Sometimes, they can even change multiple times during a certain time period. You need versatility. Black, White, and even hybrids will start to pick and choose when they feel like they want to eat.
They tend to be very picky at times. Even so, throwing the right lures at the right times will greatly increase your catch rate both inshore as well as offshore. We have compiled a list of what we believe to be the best Crappie jigs ever to be used in the sport of fishing. These choices are generally ordered in terms of effectiveness, yet they may work better or worse depending on the preferences of fish in your area at any given time. One thing is for sure though. The effectiveness of certain lures will greatly increase your catch rate, once you find the fish. Locating them is the hardest part of catching them.
For the most part, the lure bodies look like minnows or other forage fish. You can rely on any of the ones in this list to perform well for you every single time you target Black, White or even hybrids. They will also work on every size of fish you are after. You can count on it. All lures have been tested.
How To Choose A Crappie Jig The Right Way
- Shape – A very important thing to consider before purchasing any jig is the shape of it. The shape of the bait has a very heavy influence on a few very important factors.The first is the profile it gives off in the water. Crappie tends to be very selective in the shapes they decide to bite and choosing a lure correctly is key. They are normally after minnows, which is why you should try imitating those first, especially if you cannot keep minnows alive. Minnows are probably the best live bait out there.
Many fish are caught on live as well as artificial minnows. The shape is also important because it dictates how the lure will behave and perform it’s intended action. Lures such as the Shadpole is unique while ones like the Baby Shad are more traditional. Always try to let the fish tell you what they want and try not to second guess yourself about it. Many anglers have the preconceived idea that another bait may work better than the one they are already getting bites on. It is only true a little bit of the time.
Most of the time, you won’t even get hit if the shape is off. If you are getting hit with it, it is the one to stick with. The next thing is to consider changing the action or color instead. Going from a light color to a dark color or vice versa usually works. Common baits included straight tails, split tails, and tubes.
- Action – The action of the lure is extremely important. The action is what makes the fish notice and chase down your bait. A very soft and subtle action makes it easier to target fish without an appetite while very aggressive actions such as spinners will invoke very aggressive blowups from territorial fish. Many lures are designed with their own action and generally have their own preferred method of it. You will have to consider the temperature of the water and a few other factors before deciding on what action of lure to use. For many, it is a vital trait to have. Sometimes, they want it without any.
In those scenarios, give them what they want. Drop it down and let it sit, completely devoid of anything slightly enticing. Most of the time also, less action is more. Try fishing slower first before you start getting more aggressive with your retrieval cadence. Bait options with straight or soft tails do better with less manual action. Usually, the water current gives all the action needed.
- Color – Anybody that has ever fished for and caught these fish often will tell you that the color of the lure means everything in the world.Anybody who ever tells you that color doesn’t make a difference needs to fish for them more or go on trips with people who do. The color not only helps you attract fish, but it also allows the baits to be seen in dirty water and a few other scenarios. The old adage of, “if it ain’t chartreuse, it ain’t no use” comes directly from this principle as observed by many people who catch them regularly. Chartreuse is not the end all be all, but it is still a very nice color to have on hand.
You always want many different colors on hand. Fish change depending on conditions such as weather, water clarity, their natural diet, their energy, and the list goes on and on. Always be careful when selecting a color and do not ever be afraid to try the same lure you are already using in a different hue, shade, tint, or another completely different one altogether. You need to have enough on hand to experiment to let the fish tell you what they want.
1. Berkley Powerbait Power Minnow – Top Pick
Berkley really has the edge in this sport. They are one of the top brands in the angling industry already. They pretty much have the art of attracting fish down to a Science. They try their hardest to manufacture what certainly works before handing it out to the consumers also. They love producing quality.
They also try to stay true to the formula of the coined term,” match the hatch”. Berkley is the brand with some of the best tackle out there. Take the Power Minnow. This one only adds to that reputation. The Berkley Powerbait Power Minnow features what many would consider being the perfect lure for any size of papermouth anywhere. It is perfect.
This particular jig has many features that I know you will love. Minnows are the primary bait of choice and you should take advantage of this. It features a highly detailed and realistic baitfish body, which is perfect for even for coldest waters and finicky fish as well as warmer water bodies, which helps you catch fish much easier. It is even right down to the coloring and eyeballs, that it looks almost exactly like the real thing. The almost perfect resemblance to a real minnow is certainly the eye-catcher in this bait and it will certainly catch the attention of hungry mouths in the area. It is almost unfair.
It features a split tail design which is what the fish normally prefer to bite when given the choice. Having the split tail design provides a profile that the fish prefer over anything else. It comes with a single pre-rigged jig head that is painted to match it, which means you will understand which other ones to use with it. Catching Crappie with jigs is easier with the very sharp, sticky, hook that will stick a catch quite easily without setting the hook hard enough to rip it out. You can use it for everything too.
You can jig it, cast it, drop shot it, hug the bottom, and even fish it dead still, all with one lure. If you could choose only one to catch everything, make it this one. It does not cost a ton and this lure is by far the most versatile in its class. It gets a massive bite from slabs as well as smaller individuals with a hot-headed temper. We consider it the best jig the world has to offer. It just catches fish and it will for many more years to come, as long as they are being manufactured.
2. Gulp! Alive! Minnow – Great Scent And Flavor
Yet another bait from our trusted friends at Berkley, we have the Gulp Alive Minnow or simply called “minnow” on the bait’s packaging label. It is a soft plastic baitfish body infused with the exclusive fish-attracting elixir that Berkley is known for in their Gulp lure lineup.
While somewhat similar at first glance to the Power Minnow, there are some notable differences that might lead you to one over the other. The first difference is, of course, the eyes. This one does not have a single eyeball or even a slot meant for it. That may be of marginal importance to you or it may not be. Whether that makes a difference to the fish is extremely controversial.
My experience has been that it doesn’t make much of a difference if any. Next, is that the plastic is a little softer. The lure by itself has a lot more action especially when you are jigging it. That tail likes to kick around and is very attractive even at slow paces. That makes it very easy for you to jig it as well as impart great action to the lure on the retrieve should you decide to do take that route.
You also get a pack of 10+ bodies inside which is helpful if fish for daily limits often. They are also fairly cheap. Very easy to budget. Many like to use these instead of real minnows. They still work. The compounds that Berkley has used are almost as good as the real thing. The formula that these are packaged in makes the soft plastic feel, taste and smell alive. Accompany that with the fact that they will last a very long time in the water and you have a mixture of effectiveness that is unmatched, especially to spooky fish that like being stubborn. You will still need to purchase some jig heads.
3. Bobby Garland Baby Shad (and Variants)
Regarded as the golden standard of Crappie jig bodies, the Bobby Garland Baby Shad from Bobby Garland Baits is one of the most tried, true, and effective soft plastic bodies of all time. It has a soft body with a very soft and subtle straight tail for great action in the water.
With extremely soft plastic, it is very easy to rig a number of different ways. You can always rig it on a classic head and vertical fish it on top of the brush or you can drop shot it, retrieve it, and even use it under a bobber for when fish are feeding suspended. It is effective in all water temperatures as well as water clarities.
The Bobby Garland Baby Shad also features many great colors (over 50!) even including glow in the dark variants for night fishing. This gives you the option to catch fish in absolutely any water clarity regardless of how dark or dirty it may be at the time. It features awesome colors such as blue thunder, pearl, bleeding shad, baby crawdad, and cajun cricket just to name a few. The body by default is two inches long. The perfect size for rigging a jig. The lure body also comes in a few variants that many anglers would find helpful. There is the Baby Shad Swim’r, the Itty Bit Swim’r, and the Scent Wiggl’r.
The Baby Shad original design is two inches in length. The swimming variant is two and a half inches. The Itty Bit Swim’r is one point twenty-five inches. The scent Wiggl’r is two and a half inches. The original comes in a count of 18, the Baby Swim’r comes in a 12 count, the Itty Bit comes with 25, and the Scent Wiggl’r comes with 18. This is often more than enough baits than you need to get the job done. As with many soft plastic Crappie bodies, jig heads are needed before you can use them.
4. Strike King Shadpole – Mr. Crappie Approved
The Shadpole from Strike King was designed by Wally Marshall himself. Wally Marshall is the best of the best at it. Many of us call him grandfather or Mr. Crappie for a reason. Why is that so important? He catches these fish for a living! The design of the lure is actually very unique and Wally made sure of that himself when he designed it.
To Wally, it is supposed to have the body of a shad with the tail of a tadpole. The lure has a little ball on the end of the tail that adds unique swimming and pulsating action even in small currents. This is extremely appealing and it lets you catch more finicky and spooky biters or if the water is freezing. In contrary to many other styles of jig bodies, the body of this one is fat, stubby and slightly rounded in appearance which gives you a unique profile in the water which the fish rarely if ever see.
The Shadpole is two inches in length which is a great versatile size to target almost every size of catch out there. It is best retrieved or trolled as it mimics a baitfish and the tail kicks around. The ball 0n the end of the tail means that you can actually cast it and reel it in, unlike some baits that do not work for this purpose. They come in a pack of fifteen and uses a soft yet durable plastic. Because of this, it takes much longer to lose bodies due to ripping or otherwise.
5. Johnson BeetleSpin – A True Classic
The Johnson Beetle Spin from the makers of Johnson Fishing is a jig equipped with a wire arm and a spinning blade. With its unique design and variety of colors, it makes it an awesome choice for any species of panfish. This lure is very different from the way you would normally fish your lures.
A cast and retrieve method is preferred two to one over everything else. You can get the bodies in one, two, or three-inch models. The lure itself is set up similar to a spinnerbait, in that you must reel to keep the blade turning and producing. Unlike many baits, you can actually reel this one in. This is fun because you actually get to feel fish explode on it, very similar to bass fishing. This is quite a thrill.
This is ideal for targeting the Papermouth a well as many other species such as Bluegill, Yellow Perch, and small bass. This one took a different approach. Instead of imitating minnows, this one went more towards imitating beetles or other insects, which can really turn them on when they want to start eating. The company that invented this design still owns the trademarks to it and have produced a product that is very effective. The price is actually quite good too. Believe it or not, you actually get four pieces in a pack. Four baits complete with jig heads and one wire arm with a rotating blade.
Some Food For Thought
With all the different shapes, colors, actions, and styles of baits out there, it can be hard to tell what the best ones are for catching Crappie. The best Crappie jigs are the ones that will catch them in just about anywhere in the world and any time of year. The ones we often rely on to get us some catches are often the ones we use the most and keep going back to time and time again because they work. We often like to call these our confidence lures. Despite this huge variety, one thing remains true regardless. Catching Crappie is fun and exciting especially when you are successful. You can always achieve more full livewells and stringers if you use the best of the best lures that the world has to offer.
What is your way of catching these great fish? Minnows, jigs, or something else? Have something else to share? Leave a comment below so we can hear what you have to say.
David. I am new to using plastic to catch Crappie. I have caught many on minnows but I want to use plastic. I have a nice assortment of Bobby Garland Baby Shad in about 6-8 different colors. Planning to cast and slow retrieve and vertical jig with a bobber.
Hello John. Using plastic jigs to catch Crappie is certainly a learning curve but once you DO get the hang of it, you will never EVER need to use minnows again! In saying that, it is great that you have Bobby Garland Baby Shad bodies at the ready. These are some of the best Crappie jigs on the planet. Make sure to use a very fast action rod if you are going to be casting them. Sometimes, you will get bites and not even know it. Still, they are excellent for that too if you can feel the hits. Vertical jigging is where those lures really shine. Under a bobber (as you said), can be absolutely positively your best bet on a lot of days. It keeps that lure at the right depth. Let us know how you do on the water. We wish you the very best of luck out there! Stay hooked and keep us informed!