If crappie were restaurant diners, they’d be the ones sending food back to the kitchen constantly until it was exactly right. Yup, that’s right, crappie are about as picky as it comes when it comes to which lures they’ll eat.
But here is the good news. By being selective and choosing tried and tested solutions, you can save a lot of time and effort.
Choosing the best crappie lures isn’t challenging, provided you know what to look for, and I’m going to teach you this today, along with a few great suggestions to get you catching in no time!
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The Best Lures for Crappie Fishing – The General Idea
Crappie lures tend to imitate, at least loosely, smaller baitfish and underwater creatures that crappie love to tear into. You’ll find crappie are most active when there is an abundance of underwater activity.
Unlike bass or trout, who make isolated attacks, crappie love to tuck into huge shoals of smaller creatures.
Nymphs and grubs
To encourage this natural behavior, you are going to want something similar, such as:
Soft plastics come in all shapes and sizes, but crappie tends to go mad for things like shad and minnows. Paddle tails work well, but generally, you’ll want to choose smaller lures that imitate pin fry and tadpoles more than bigger fish.
One thing particular to crappie fishing is that they will readily gobble up grub and worm imitations, too, so be sure to take a few of these if you want all bases covered.
Crappie lures can be quite simple. All-in-one micro jigs work really well. These are little more than plumes of feathers, permanently mounted on a fixed beaded hook with a chenille body.
The big brother of the above, jigheads, gives you plenty of range and options. You can change the head size for better casting and vary the color.
The body of jighead lures can be changed very quickly and easily. You’ll also tend to find that this is a cheap solution.
Occasionally you will see lures that look almost like the real thing. If you can match your lure to what is naturally swimming around, you stand an excellent chance of success.
Generating a bit of interest can’t hurt. Some of the best crappie lures will also include a spinning blade that gleams and flashes in the water, triggering an instinctive response.
Want to see the kind of things I mean with all of the above.
Here’s a list of some of the best crappie lures of 2024, all of these feature in my own tackle box, and I’ve had success with the vast majority.
Remember how I talked about soft plastics and jigheads? This is precisely the kind of thing I was talking about.
In each (very handy) pack, you get 96 soft plastic grub-style bodies. You also get 15 jig heads, meaning in total around 180 lure combinations, not bad for the price, right?
You’ll find most of the soft plastic bodies, which are grub-shaped, feature chartreuse. This is a proven crappie catcher. At around an inch and a half long, they are perfect for catching big old slabs, but not so bad as to discourage panfish either!
One really nice touch is the additional dayglo floats. Rig them up, cast them out and get catching. It is that simple!
Comes with a handy case.
Excellent range of color combos.
If the crappie are off grubs, you’ve got 96 lures there, all doing nothing. The same if they aren’t a fan of chartreuse that characterizes the majority of this kit.
Listen, nothing in life is guaranteed, and you could easily spend half a day working your way through this kit. When it comes to choosing good lures for crappie fishing, you need to have options, which is exactly what these crappie magnets provide.
Bigger crappie will go for smaller lures, but for those real specimens, you will need something fairly sizeable to tempt them.
I love these crappie lures because they look super realistic. The body is made with imported Japanese foil, twinned with a tapering, realistic tail, and a 3d eye, and you’ve got a winning combo.
Want to know how to fish them?
It’s up to you whether you rig them on a jig head or freeline them. If you’ve got a really fast action rod, you’ll get a semi-decent cast, even without the weight. I love to fish these all the way down on the bottom, twitching them up and down, so it creates little puffs of sand and muck.
A 3″ long, they might be a little large for panfish but are simply ideal for targeting specimen-sized slabs.
Very realistic finish.
Simple and easy to rig.
Good for the money.
I wish they had included a variety of colors in each pack instead of making them uniform. Even a 50/50 split would have been good.
While more variety would have been nice, these are still a really good crappie jig. If you can spare a little cash, get a few sets in different colors so you can closely match what’s in the water.
Go for the bright yellow if you are only buying one pack. That is the color I’ve had the most success with overall.
This is most certainly #1 on my list as budget options go. These are some of the best crappie jigs out there.
Fancy, they ain’t.
But that’s a good thing. It means there is less to go wrong.
Each jig head is a solid soldered lead bead with a black eye painted on it. The body is tightly woven chenille, finishing with a bright and highly mobile marabou tail. Underwater, these things create quite a lot of movement and visual interest.
These are just heavy enough to cast, but I’d say they were better suited jigged off a boat or kayak.
You’ll have plenty of choices when it comes to color, and for a relatively low cost, you’ll get 20 in a pack, which I think is amazing value.
5 different color options per pack.
Easy to rig and use.
Excellent for bottom fishing.
They do get a little ‘dog eared’ after you’ve caught a few.
One or two of the hook eyes were full of paint, making threading difficult.
Listen, you get what you pay for. Will these catch crappie? Yes. Are they the highest quality? Probably not. These would be an affordable addition for a cheap solution or to supplement your existing crappie lure set.
They are also worthwhile for beginners new to the sport who are looking to pad out their tackle box a bit.
No body included (but that said, soft plastic bodies aren’t expensive).
The blade can cause the occasional tangle if jigging up and down.
You will need jig heads, and these are some of the best crappie jigs around. Bright, heavy, and perfect for crappie. Ok, they get tangled now and again, but that can happen even with simpler lures. Overall these are a worthy addition to your tackle bag.
The color combination here is simply perfect for catching crappie. They love bright yellow and black as a combo. I think the red-eye also triggers something primal in them, as they absolutely smash into this with alarming frequency.
This lure is actually Crappie ‘thunder’ bait rigged with a swimming tail. It’s a deadly combo.
I like to fish this one semi-static, giving it the occasional pull and twitch. You’ll often find crappy take this one on the drop.
The sausage head allows for extra weight to be hidden on the hook shank. This means that this lure sinks pretty quick, perfect for punching through the panfish that normally sit in the upper reaches of the water.
A perfect color combination.
Highly mobile rubber skirt.
Great weight for getting down deep quickly.
Again, I wish there was a little more variety in each pack of 3.
The shape and color of this lure make it a real ‘classic’ crappie lure. You can fish it in a few styles, and I’m certain you will catch using it. There are a few other colors available too.
Look, it’s a rubber tadpole. What can I say that’s bad about it?
Remember what I said above? It’s about having the right color and matching what the crappie are already eating. This ticks both boxes. Pair up with a jig head or rigged over a bullet. This is one lethal little lure.
One of a crappie’s favorite food is baby frogs. Now, if there are baby frogs out and about, you have pretty much got two choices.
Option one. Pack your bags and go home because the crappie simply won’t be interested in any other lure.
Option two. Invest in a pack of these little critters and have a day out to remember.
What’s it to be, hotshot?
This lure has a grub’s body and two tiny articulated legs that swim just like a frog when twitched in the water. My favorite technique is to set this up on a light jig head and throw it next to some lilypads.
I rarely get a full cast in before a crappie decides it will spoil Kermit’s day.
For my money, the best color is either “John Deere”, or “purple rain.”
Realistic frog-like action.
Plenty of colors available.
The rubber legs look great, but I find as soon as a crappie gets hold of one, you are going to need a new lure, as they break off pretty easily.
Both frogs and tadpoles feature high up on the crappie menu, so it stands to reason that lures that look similar would have great success. These aren’t the most effective outside of the warmer months, but if you time it right, you are pretty much guaranteed a bumper catch.
Fishing Lures for Crappie – Complete Buying Guide
Now you’ve seen the kind of thing you should be going for, it is time to make a few decisions. Like I said above, I’ve had success with all of the above at one time or another. But it was very much the result of trial and error until I found out what worked.
Want the good news?
You aren’t going to need to go through this process, as I’m about to tell you precisely what you need to be looking for when choosing the best lures for crappie fishing…
The first thing you’ll see when looking for crappie lures is that there is a smorgasbord of colors to choose from.
But, which is the right one?
The truth? When crappie fishing, no two days are the same, so you can’t really go wrong as long as you take the following advice onboard…
Pick a range of colors.
Sure, you might get one guy saying, “such and such is a guaranteed crappie catcher”, but in all honesty, even the best colors work… Until they don’t.
Crappie are fickle and will suddenly switch it up when you least expect.
All that said…
There are one or two combos that they ‘switch off’ from less often. Make sure you’ve got these in your arsenal:
Black and chartreuse
Pink and yellow
Ok, we aren’t fishing for bass here, so you won’t need anything huge. Crappy tend to be the fish equivalent of ‘bullies’ instead of heavyweights (unlike pike).
What I mean is that they’ll happily spend an afternoon gobbling smaller morsels than making one big attack every so often. So your lure should aim to represent and match this style of behavior.
Anything from about two inches down is the perfect size to catch crappie (and yes, that does include the big ones).
You’ll have noticed something in my above list.
Many of the bodies on crappie lures are shaped like a sort of barrel, similar to a nightcrawler. This shape is a tried and tested way to catch crappie. If you’ve got the option, get a pack or two.
Also, try and choose lures that look relatively natural in body shape. Anything shaped like a minnow, tadpole, or frog will yield good results.
Some crappie lures have tails, and some don’t. How to choose between them depends on how you want to fish.
Lures without tails are generally designed to be fished static (in fact, you’ll see them used in slow conditions when ice fishing for crappie quite a lot).
Lures with tails are designed for movement. If you are fishing them static, you aren’t getting the most out of your lure.
Think about how you intend to fish and buy a lure that matches this style.
How to Fish Crappie Lures
There are a few ways to fish crappie lures. Let’s take a quick look at the various styles so you can make the best possible choice:
Under a float – This method is ideal for when conditions are a little slow. Slow it down if you haven’t caught by being mobile with your lure. A cigar float is an ideal way to do this.
Think the lure is going to sit static? Think again.
A float often bobs up and down in the ripples on the water. This causes the lure to ‘pulse’ under the water. This can be a deadly technique, especially in the colder months.
Freelining – With certain lures, you don’t need additional weight. Often referred to as “LRF” fishing, you will cast close in, perhaps only 5 – 10 yards. This is perfect for fishing around structure. It is also a great method if you don’t need to cast far, like when you are in a kayak.
Jigged – This is what I’d refer to as the ‘standard’ technique for catching crappie. Jigging is basically letting the lure sink then pulling it up quickly, so it swims in a zigzag pattern. The advantage of this method is that you can cover several depths and a lot of water quickly.
A great method is to ‘bump’ your lure off the bottom. The tiny puffs of silt and sand seem to really get the crappie going.
Here’s a quick video showing you a sub-surface view of what happens. If you watch closely, you’ll see how the fish only responds to certain movements and how picky they are!
I’ll be honest: crappie fishing isn’t always as fast and furious as bass fishing. They can be really fussy, and it takes something special to tempt them.
But, armed with the above knowledge and a box of the best crappie lures, you’ll be in a really good place the next time you are planning an outing.
Want to make it even more challenging? Why not have a go at fly fishing for crappie? Catch using this technique, and you can call yourself a true angling master. Tight lines!