Guide on How to Catch Crappies
Guide on How to Catch Crappies

Crappie Fishing 101 Tips

How To Catch Crappie Effectively?

Crappie Fishing 101 Tips – Crappie is a popular freshwater fish in America, and it’s not surprising.

These common panfish are tasty, fun to catch and easy to find anywhere in the country.

Fishing for them may seem simple, but it can be difficult to really master your technique and approach to ensure a successful fishing trip.

Although fishing is as simple as throwing a line and hoping for a catch, competitive anglers have developed many strategies and tactics to maximize their fishing experience.

This article will provide you with the inside scoop on how to buy equipment, what conditions to use, and what season to ensure you have a successful day of angling.

Crappie Fishing 101 Tips

Crappies are one the most savage fighting and best-eating panfish. Crappies are a great fish to target on lakes. These fish are not as difficult to catch than bass, which require multiple tackle. They can be caught with simple crappie lures and basic gear. For novice anglers or those who are more experienced, crappie fishing 101 is a great place to start or refresh your knowledge in order to catch more crappies.

Understanding the Crappie Species

There are two types of crappies: the black crappie and the white crappie. Although color isn’t always an accurate way to distinguish them, black crappies tend to be darker than white crappies. You can verify this by counting the spines of the dorsal fins. Black crappies have six, while white crappies have six.

Both white and black crappies share similar life experiences, but prefer different habitats. Black crappies live in water that is clearer and more temperate, preferring aquatic vegetation. White crappies, on the other side, prefer turbid and silted waters. They love to live in areas where there is brush or logs.

Crappies spawn when the water temperature is between 50- to 60 degrees. They then move down to the staging areas. Peak spawning activity usually occurs when the water temperature is between 68 and 72 degrees. This could happen in the south as early as February, while it is more common for crappies to spawn north.

The type of water bodies determine the crappie spawning. Crappies can spawn completely in two weeks on smaller lakes. Large reservoirs, however, may see crappie spawn last for more than a month. Spawning takes place in creek arms, backwaters, and coves in 2 to 6 feet of water. The water clarity is a major factor in the spawning site and depth. Clear water will allow crappies to spawn deeper, while shallow water will make them more likely to reproduce. For more crappie bites, it is important to pay attention to water clarity and fish depth.

Crappie fishing 101

Late spring is the best time of year to catch crappies. They move from shore to shore in search of food. To take advantage of this spring bite, fish shallow parts of lakes when the water temperature is warm. This time of year crappies are very aggressive and will often strike at anything they come across. Crappie fishing 101 covers your crappie fishing gear, fishing techniques, and how to catch them.

Fishing setups for Crappie Fishing

Don’t get too complicated with your crappie fishing gear. You can use any combination of rod and reel to get the job done. You want a rod that is ultralight or has a quick action. You can choose a 6-foot or 6-1/2-foot rod. Use a small reel to spool fluorocarbon fishing lines of 4–8 lb. When fishing for crappies in dense vegetation or cover, use lighter line.

Crappie fishing lures you always need

Similar to your fishing setup and tackle options, the choices for tackle are also quite basic. The best crappie fishing lure is live bait. Live worms and small minnows are best fished at designated depths. Live bait can be fished at defined depths, either at the spring spawning depths or offshore for schooling fish. Use a small piece worm to cover the hook completely. Hook a minnow through its back. To position the bait at the correct depth, use single hooks of size 10, 12 and slip bobbers. Good electronics like those from Lowrance help you target exactly the depth crappies are at. A crappie jighead setup can be used, such as a 1/32- to 1/64-ounce jighead combined with a minnow. This will give you extra action when fishing the shorelines or grass edges.

While some anglers fish only live bait for crappies, crappie fishing 101 includes a variety of artificial baits. When jigging for crappies, small lures such as plastic tubes and curl tail worms are used. The Bass Pro Shops Triple Ripple Grub is a good choice in smoke purple black fleck. Small spoons and crankbaits are also good for aggressive fish. Try the Strike King Slab Hammer Crappie Crankbait in bleeding sexy shad along weed edges or near rock outcrops as a crankbait choice. Silver spoons and spinners are best for natural colors in soft and crankbaits.

Crappie Fishing Tips to Try This Year

Crappie fishing 101 generally recommends that you sit down over a bobber, wait for the crappie to bite, and then move on. This is a tried-and-true crappie fishing tactic. However, you should be willing to step outside your comfort zone.

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You can use your crappie fishing lures (especially soft plastics) to swim through thick cover. This crappie fishing strategy exploits the aggressive nature large males who guard schools of fish along dense vegetation and brush piles. You can get big bites in heavily pressured lakes by swimming a lure through thick cover and slowly reeling it in.

Three Crappie Fishing Tips

Crappie fishing isn’t the most difficult of fishing. However, there are some crappie fishing tips that will help you hook them.

  1. Find the pattern The key to successful crappie fishing is figuring out the patterns. It is important to determine early in the day what crappie depths are, what type of cover they are in, and what food they are eating. Once you have a pattern down, you can fish it and catch tons of fish.
  2. Go bobberless Crappie fishing 101: Everyone uses a bobber technique to catch crappies. You can ditch the bobber and go outside the box. It is difficult to catch suspended crappies without a bobber. Instead, fish for larger ones close to weed edges or man-made structures. Your weight should be positioned a few feet above the hook to allow your bait to naturally move with water. This bait is best for minnows, which swim naturally under water.
  3. Artificial lures for fish Everybody uses live bait, just like bobbers. Switch to soft plastics or spoons as lures. This crappie fishing trick is extremely productive in lakes that have a lot of fishing pressure. You need something different to catch pressured fish.

Crappie fishing 101 is a guide that explains the basics of crappie fishing. To land more crappies this season, stick to simple crappie fishing techniques and lures.

There are many types of crappie

There are seven types of crappie. Knowing how to identify them will ensure that you’re ready for whatever comes your way.

Here is a quick guide for recognizing each species.

Crappie in Black and White

You can tell the difference between black and white crappie by looking at them.

The males of both the black and white species can become very dark during the spawning period, which can be confusing. Additionally, the mudiness of the water can also affect their color.

Observe their markings to distinguish between white and black species.

The vertical lines of white crappies run the length of their bodies, while black crappies don’t have any visible patterns and have a speckled appearance to their scales.

Black crappies prefer clearer water and more cover, while white crappies prefer murkier water. White crappies tend to be more interested in minnows than black crappies.

Colored Crappie

The season and water type can also have an effect on the crappie’s color.

  • Black-nose crappies, a type of black crappie, have a black stripe running along their bodies. It runs from the dorsal fin down to the lips. It is believed to have the evolutionary advantage of better camouflage in pursuit of prey.
  • According to some, golden crappies are rarer than gold and have hardly been photographed. They are still visible in the water. If you can find one, you will be very lucky!
  • My Steve Volkman caught the legendary “golden crappie”, in Fox River, Wisconsin

Hybrid Crappie

Anglers are often confused by hybrid crappies.

It’s almost impossible to distinguish between species without being a biologist and having specific knowledge about the water.

Although natural hybrid crappies can be found in the US, it is still very rare to find them in water bodies. Kincaid Lake in Illinois has a large, diverse population of hybrid crappies, but as I mentioned, this is still a rare occurrence.

Because hybrid crappies have all of the characteristics mentioned above, they are easy to identify.

Kinkaid Lake is home to the majority of hybrid crappies. They have the body shape and vertical lines of white crappies. However, they fade into speckled patterns near their tails.

Hybrid stock crappies can be genetically engineered in the laboratory by artificially mixing eggs and milt from different crappie species to create new types.

A mix of black-nosed crappie and white crappie is the most popular stock hybrid combination. The eggs of the Magnolia crappie and triploid are identical, but the shock treatment is used to sterilize the fish.

Crappie fishing is best in the spring

The time of year can make a huge difference in crappie yield.

Every season is different, but it’s possible to catch crappie throughout the year.


The crappie will begin to spawn and feed once the snow melts and the temperatures rise again.

Crappies spawn in March, just like other fish. Crappie spawn in shallower waters, making this a great time for fishing.

This makes it quick and easy for them to be caught!


Clear water lakes tend to have more crappies after the spawning season.

In summer they are more unpredictable.

Try to find water near structures such as bridges, brush piles or piers for the best chance of success. In summer, crappies won’t go very deep but they will find shaded areas in clear waters that are slightly cooler.

Similar to the previous point, if it is hotter, go out in the evening or night. These are the times when the crappies are most active in shallow water.

Crappies gravitate to areas where cold and warm water meet, like near the bottom of a dam or waterfall.


The plummeting temperature, just like in spring makes it easy for you to predict where the crappie will be. They’ll generally be found around 10 to 20 feet below the surface of the water.

Fishing for crappie in fall can be very enjoyable.

Because crappies are easier targets than other seasons and because they have been feeding all summer, it’s more likely that you will catch larger crappies than you would earlier in year.


Winter can be the most difficult season for crappie but there are still good chances of catching one if you know how to find them.

Patience is the most important aspect of winter fishing!

The winter is, as with all species, a great time for a trophy catch because there is less competition.

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You’re more likely than not to have a successful fishing trip if you live in a warmer region, such as one where the temperatures don’t drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, if the water is colder than usual, fish will move slower and bite less often. The crappie will be found deeper if the water is colder.

The best time of year to fish for crappie is in the afternoon, when temperatures are at their highest. You’ll have more luck fishing near structures like bridge piers, brush piles and knocked down trees, as with all seasons.

How to Fish for Crappie To Get Maximum Results

There are many tips and tricks to ensure you get the best fishing results when you fish for this delicious species by the numbers.

Find out where to fish

We’ve already mentioned that crappie can move about, but they prefer to be near shelter in deeper, clearer water. This could be under brush piles, or even broken, knocked-down tree limbs.

Spring is a great time to search for fallen trees and vegetation. These areas can be difficult to fish, but you will likely get great results if your bait is placed near or under the brush pile.


Finding crappie can be difficult, but once you have them you are almost certain to catch some amazing fish.

Your search for any fish species can be slow, just as when you first target them. Be patient.


It is important to know where you are when you go fishing. Not only for safety, but also to learn about the terrain and lakes you will be fishing.

A detailed map or GPS device of the lake will allow you to better understand the water. This will allow you to search for these fish more efficiently.


Depending on the location you are fishing for this species, you have options.

A light line is a good choice, typically a 4 to 6 pound test with some small sinkers or a splitshot.

Typically, you’ll see anglers using anywhere between a 4 point test up to a 10 pound test fluorocarbon line. However, the strength of your line will vary and you should match it with the size of the fish that you are trying to catch.

Bonus: Spider Rigging

Spider rigging, another popular tactic, allows crappie fishermen to use multiple rod holders and present multiple baits.

Spider rigging is basically the use of 5-10 rods evenly spaced across the bow, with each rod rigged differently.

You might, for example, use a 1/16 ounce slip bobber and 1/8-ounce jig one rod and a 1/32 or 2/32 ounce the next. Or a 1/4 ounce and another. You can use as many products, baits and presentations as you like, depending on how many rods you have and the size and type of your boat.

This spider rigging setup, which can be used with as many rod holders as you want, will allow you to find the best settings for you specific areas. Then you’ll have the ability to concentrate on those locations to catch as many fish possible.

Check the Temperature

It is important to remember that crappie fishing is best when the water temperature is between 41 and 54 degrees.

These temperature parameters will make it easier to find crappie.

Too hot can make their behavior unpredictable. Too cold will make them less likely to bite.

The Perfect Crappie Rig: Rod and Reel Selection

Fishing rod

A cane pole has been a favorite of panfish anglers for many years. This species can be hooked with virtually any rod.

When targeting this species, it is important to consider the length of your fishing line. Longer rods are generally recommended.

You can approach their hiding places with longer rods without being caught. They have a greater reach, which means they won’t scare the fish. You are less likely to catch a fishing line with a long rod because you don’t have to cast. Simply drop your bait where you want it to be caught using a few sinkers.

When it comes to the success of your crappie fishing trips, power is an important factor. Since crappie is generally a smaller fish, a lightweight or ultra-lightweight rod is the better choice when it comes to crappie fishing.

Additionally, ultra-light and light rods are less fatigued than heavy and bulky ones and can be bent much more easily, making them even more sensitive. This will enable you to spot slight bites instantly, which makes the catch easier.

Sensitivity is the ability of your rod tip to pick up the smallest bites from the fish that you are targeting, so you can quickly set your line.

Graphite rods tend to have the most sensitive tip because the material allows for you to feel any movement or vibration down below. It is also very lightweight, which makes it an excellent choice for fishing all day.

Sensitivity is determined by the design of your rod. When choosing your rod, be sure to look for models that have high sensitivity.

Fishing Reel

The rod and its different characteristics are crucial for crappie fishing. However, it is equally important to remember the role of the reel.

Most anglers opt for a spinning reel when it comes to crappie fishing, as they tend to offer more efficient results.

Medium-sized spinning reels are recommended because you can use them for many different species of fish, such as crappie, pike and trout.

This size spinning reel will allow you to fish freshwater with light tackle. They’re also suitable for fishing with heavier equipment.

A smaller reel will often suffice for crappie, which is a smaller fish.

A reel size of 3,500 is suitable for catching smaller fish like trout and crappie.

Here are the Best Baits, Lures and Jigs

Fishing success depends on the season, location, rods and reels you use. Your success can also be affected by the type of bait you choose.

Live Bait

Many anglers agree that live bait is the best choice for crappie fishing. Crappies will be attracted to jig fishing with minnows and worms as well as insects.

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Many anglers love minnows, particularly fathead minnows. They are the most common fish to be caught at crappie tournaments and other fishing competitions. Learn how to hook a minnow.

Crappies love jigs and grubs as long as their hooks are sharp.


There are many sizes and colors of jigs, but I prefer a 1/8 ounce or 1/16 ounce jig.

Crappie anglers are most familiar with the Marabou jig. These jigs feature furry bodies, and their tails are made from bird feathers. These jigs look like a hair jig, but are usually smaller.

Remember that crappies can have decent-sized mouths so if you feel you might encounter a larger fish, you should use a slightly larger jig. A split shot or a jig of 1/8 or 1/16 ounce can help you get your bait to where you want it.

Marabou jigs are vertically possible to be jigged on top of structures. To jig over an active crappie school, particularly near vegetation, you can use an 8-10 foot rod.

Many crappie anglers believe that a longer rod or cane pole allows you to keep your distance and not scare the big ones.

You can use either a plastic or wax worm as a jighead. Remember that crappie will prefer live baits over plastic ones.

Bullet head jigs have the advantage of changing the color of the grub, without having to tie a new jig. You can experiment with different colors to find the best one for you.

Spinning Lures

For spinners, tube bait, curly-tailed beetles or grubs are best. To reflect light, a rotating blade is placed on the opposite side.

Spinning lures are a great way to attract crappie. They reflect light and create a vibration in water which is a good thing.


There are many sizes and colors available for grubs. You can use them to vertically jigg across a structure using a jighead. They can also be used with a cast-and-retrieve technique. This is one of the greatest advantages of grubs.


It can also be important to consider the color of the crappie bait you choose.

  • Use natural colored bait that resembles crappie food in clear water.
  • Bright colors will look better in light water on sunny days. Choose yellow, pink, or something similar.
  • You can still opt for bright colors in darker water. This will make the light reflect off of it.
  • You can opt for darker colors that have a little flash on cloudy days like maroon.

5 Tips To Improve Your Crappie Catch Rates

Keep reading to learn more about how to catch crappie efficiently.

1. Head for the thermocline

A thermocline is a water column containing cold, un-oxygenated, and hot water.

A thermocline is a temperature line that forms in summer. These lakes are the most natural. There will be a lot crappie in these areas, which can be called the strike zone. The thermocline’s depth will depend on the topography of the lake.

To find it, you need to pay attention to your sonar as you move around the lake. If you see any suspended fish, you will be able to locate it. The thermocline is likely to be found if you notice multiple fish suspended in the same area.

2. Attract Minnows to Attract Crappie

Try to mimic the success of crappie nightly if you aren’t having much success in the daytime.

Breadcrumbs and dry pet food are great lures for minnows. Spreading crumbs in shallow areas can help you catch more crappie.

3. Storm fishing

You can go crappie fishing in any season, but the summer storms are great.

You should try to go out on the water just before a storm strikes, as the wind is getting stronger and the clouds are thicker. This is often the best time to catch crappie.

Keep safe and stay away from lightning or other extreme winds. This can prove to be dangerous. It’s also a great time to get on the water after a storm.

4. Get a fish-finder

Every serious angler who uses a boat or kayak should get a sonar fish-finder.

This equipment will improve your underwater vision, allowing you to find crappie clusters and other types of fish. A fish finder can help you refine your techniques.

5. Find a great lake

The best way to catch crappie is to find a lake that has a lot of crappie (hopefully large crappie), and to get to know the water.

You’ll soon learn the best places to fish at your lake. You’ll soon be able to fish crappie no matter what season.

Crappie Fishing: Frequently Asked Questions

Okay, now that you know most of what it takes to catch crappie successfully, let’s look at some of the most frequently asked questions I get.

Which month is best to catch crappie?

Crappie fishing is best in spring, either March, April, or Mai, because of their spawning season. Crappies will often be attracted to areas that are covered under structures at any time, regardless of month.

The best advice is to fish in shallower waters during spring and fall, and deeper during summer and winter.

What size hook is best for crappie fishing?

You should use sharp hooks with long shanks, regardless of the type of lure or bait you are using. Lures with #6 or #4 hooks work best. The Aberdeen-style hook is a favorite of crappie anglers.

If you are getting lots of bites but can’t hook crappie, either increase your size or open the hook a little.

How deep can you fish for crappie in the ocean?

The season will determine the best time to catch crappie. Crappie can be caught in water depths between 2-6 feet. You’ll find them hiding in the weed beds or under the brush piles in deeper water during summer and winter. Sometimes, they can be found as low as 6 inches in the water during spawning season.

Which time of the day is best to crappie fish?

Although you can catch them anytime of the day, it is best to go after their feeding hours which are usually between midnight and two in the morning. For those who prefer to not fish in the middle of the night or at dawn, however, this species can be caught at both dawn and dusk.

Lewis Mark is a vastly experienced fly fisher. His encyclopedic knowledge of fly tying has led to start blog on fishing. He also review Fishing equipment based on his knowledge and experience.