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Ice Fishing for Crappie – What It’s All About
Crappie are on the smaller size when it comes to ice fishing, but they make up for in quantity what they lack in size. They tend to find a spot and settle in a nice shoal. How do you know where the shoal is?
There’s a couple of ways.
The first is to take an ice auger and drill multiple holes and fish each until you happen to find a decent swarm. It takes a lot of effort, and to do it effectively, you’ll need a really great ice auger.
And the second way?
Well, I would suggest this is easier. A fish flasher makes crappie fishing that much easier. You can drill one hole and see if you can identify a shoal. The best ice fishing flashers are that accurate that you can even track single fish coming up to attack your lure.
In fact, let me show you.
Here’s a great (and short) video about what ice fishing for Crappie is all about.
Fishing for Crappie is all about tiny movements, unlike trout, who will pursue a fast-moving lure to the ends of the earth. Crappie are altogether more refined. They have to be teased and tempted. They have short attention spans. Leave your lure sitting still, and Crappie will immediately turn off. And once you lose their attention, that’s it. You’ll be left holding a rod with cold hands.
Here’s the answer.
You need a lure that is vividly entertaining. And able to display a lot of life without requiring a mass of effort. Finding the right depth and trembling your rod, and therefore your lure is all it takes.
As for the cold hands… Well, I’ve got a solution for that too… Swing by my article on the best winter fishing gloves and never have cold hands again.
To get this life, most crappie lures feature a highly mobile tail. You’ll generally find that this tail’s construction is made of thin pieces of rubber, which flutter enticingly, or alternatively, a material such as maribou, a kind of fluffy feather. When it is moved in liquid, it looks almost alive.
Any lure that features a highly mobile tail should be good for Crappie.
What Size Jig for Ice Fishing Crappie?
Crappie is not the biggest fish. Although they are famously carnivorous, they don’t display the same behavior as, say, bass, that will take on even larger prey. A crappie’s natural diet is tiny minnows and baitfish, and generally, the smaller, the better. The same is true of your lures.
So what size should you go for?
Choose tiny lures with a lot of action. Look out for features such as tungsten heads and bodies. These are very heavy and will allow you to easily sink your lure down to the required depth and give you lots of control when moving your lure.
What Colors do Crappie See Best?
Crappie love all sorts of colors. If the water is particularly murky, then you might be better going with a really visible color, either in your jig body or head. I like to start with a bright white jig head, changing the body through several colors. I find that pinks, oranges, and the occasional bright green all will catch fish.
If you want to get the best of both worlds, you can consider using two-tone jigs and lure bodies.
There is no ‘magic’ formula to catching Crappie. Your best bet is to take a selection that allows you to experiment and gives you lots of options.
Here are some great suggestions for good ice fishing lures for Crappie:
Crappie love eating little fish, so it makes sense to present them with something that looks just like the real thing.
When dropped through the depths, these tiny little lures have a handmade tail that will buzz and flutter. When moved in tiny little movements, the jig will dart in a really convincing way, just like little pin fry under the surface of the lake.
They are a real visual lure. The body is made of glittering mylar, an interwoven silver thread that looks just like the tiny scales you’d find on baitfish.
A really realistic looking lure.
The small size makes them perfect for Crappie.
I wish there was just a little more movement in the tail.
For the money, you get 12 jigs in a pack. They are in mixed colors too, giving you plenty of options. The best lifelike crappie ice fishing lure.
For the price point, I think these are great. You get 100 lures in a pack. Impressive. And it isn’t just the price. Crappie will love them too.
These split tail jerkbaits have little rubber ‘tentacles’ that will swim subtly when you twitch them. The tail aside, the body of the lure is designed to ensure maximum interest and visibility. The glittery effect will reflect any available light, ensuring that your bait is seen even in murky water.
If that wasn’t enough, the baits are impregnated with a scent too, allowing fish to find them even at night time.
Amazing value considering how many lures you get.
Great for all conditions.
While you get a lot of lures, you only get 5 actual different colors. I would have liked to have seen more variety.
You’ll also have to buy the jig head hooks separately.
If you already have jigheads and are looking for some cheap tubes, for the money, these would make a great choice.
This feathery tail will only need the slightest movement to tremble in the water. The key feature of this lure is where the hook eye is located. It is actually above the head. You may not think this makes a difference, but the lure is encouraged to quickly change direction with each twitch of the rod by having an off-center eye.
My favorite color in this lure is gold. The Crappie seems to go mad for it.
There’s nothing fancy about this crappie lure. It just works!
Simple construction and available in many colors.
Small size and quick sinking, ideal for twitching at depth.
Marabou is great, but as you’ll be catching a lot of fish, it can tend to get pulled out and straggly over time.
It isn’t the cheapest lure on my list.
You know I love simple solutions. This is a great lure and one of the best ice fishing baits for Crappie on my list.
These lures glow in the dark and are great for charging up with your headtorch before dropping them to the depths and twitching them along the bottom. They are particularly effective along the edge of weed beds and other places that you’d find crawfish.
Fish over weeds? No problem.
Due to the soft body of these lures, you can actually shroud the hook point. This means that you won’t hit any snags and can avoid tangles while bottom fishing.
Did I mention they look super realistic too?
Weed-free rigging capability.
Super realistic body.
If you find the Crappie are mid-water, these might not be as useful as some other lures.
When fishing for wary fish, sometimes natural patterns can work best. The fact that these glow in the dark should stimulate some interest.
Small and subtle movements win the day when crappie fishing. Ok, so you don’t want to use a full-sized spinner.
I get it.
Let me offer you an alternative. These little jig heads have a tiny blade attached that will impart even more movement to your soft baits and jelly tails. Even if you are holding them still in the water, the current will make the blade flutter and move, ensuring a strike.
These jig heads are available in 5 different colors, and all come with a large realistic eye, a proven feature in the best fishing lures.
When paired with a tube combo, you’ll be able to create quite a few color variations.
Anti-slip barb prevents your jelly tubes from becoming dislodged.
1/16oz weight ensure that your lure will be quick sinking.
There is minor potential for the blade to tangle in your mainline.
I love using jigheads as it gives me lots of options. These lures are ideal when you arrive and are trying to work out the correct color combination.
If you want something that looks like a worm or maggot with a fair bit of movement and is easily visible, these could be right up your street.
Don’t be fooled by the black color. Often in daylight conditions, black creates a really hard visible silhouette that Crappie can’t fail to miss. In cloudy conditions, they are also great due to the bright yellow tail.
The clue is in the name. Crappie’ magnet’.
They work really well with jig heads. Due to the streamlined shape, they sink through the water easily and without twisting the line.
Low profile shape, great for avoiding line twists and tangles.
Highly visible in both light and dark conditions.
Remember how I talked about action? These jelly worms don’t have much, so if the fish are reluctant, then you’ll need to change your ideas.
Brand names aside, these actually do work. Unfortunately, they don’t move quite as much as I’d like… that said, they are pretty effective for a static and subtle bait.
And as if by magic, a bait appears that is the answer to all of my cons above. The strike king is a part jelly worm, part ‘feathery’ lure that is great to twitch and make ‘alive’. They are pretty much the same color as the crappie magnet, so that’s a big tick in the box.
This lure is available in many different colors. My favorite is chartreuse. If you haven’t seen this color before, you really should, as it is lethal for catching Crappie. There’s something about that yellow-green that they just seem to love.
Pair these up with a bright jig head and watch the Crappie come flying in.
The chartreuse tail is an all-time favorite amongst crappie anglers.
I really like the range of colors available. Perfect for pairing with a big-eyed jig head.
There isn’t much to dislike, the only minor criticism is that the rubber tail gets damaged over time, but that’s because you’ll have caught a lot of fish.
One of my all-time best ice fishing jigs for Crappie. I always make sure I’ve got a handful in my box.
Ice fishing for Crappie is a little more delicate than some other techniques I’ve discussed in previous articles.
The best ice fishing lures for Crappie tend to be small and mobile as a good starting point.