How to Jig for Crappie: Basics, Tips, and Techniques
How to Jig for Crappie – Crappie fishing with a jig can be one of the best and most effective ways to catch these delicious fish. A hook that is weighted at or near the line’s ‘head’. Jigs can be paired with soft baits such as a swimbait, grub, or tube. There are many options for how to fish a jig.
The most versatile tool in the crappie angler’s arsenal is the jig. From casting to tightlining, trolling to slip floating, they can be used in a variety of situations with a range of techniques that are virtually unrivaled.
In fact, if I were to choose only one lure option for crappie, it would probably be a jig. There are so many bodies, that a jig isn’t just for saca-lait.
Keep reading if you are just starting to learn about jigging, if you’re new to crappie fishing or a seasoned fisherman. Before we get into the details of jigging techniques, we’ll start with the basics.
What Jig Basics You Need To Know
Our advice on how to choose the best crappie line, rod and reel has been written in articles. These articles will answer any questions you may have about crappie jigs.
You can’t use the best technique and jigs if you don’t have the right equipment.
What is a Jig?
A jig is made up of two parts. The first part is the jighead, which is simply an oversized hook with a section that is weighted and shaped. It also has an offset eye. They can be painted or made of plain lead and are available in many sizes and styles.
We generally prefer painted heads, but plenty of folks pour their own or prefer to save a few bucks by buying raw lead heads.
A body is the second component. A jighead can accept any type of soft bait, such as a curly-tailed Grub (pictured below), or minnow parts.
These choices will be discussed in detail here. But what gives jigs such incredible versatility? They are essentially blank slates that can be rigged with whatever you want!
A few jigs have a blade or spinner attached on the head. They can move more like crankbaits. The blade also creates vibrations that attract bites.
Crappie Fishing: Jig Size
We recommend jigs weighing between 1/32 and 1/8 ounces for crappie. Most anglers will choose jigs within this range. However, some fish heavier weights when fishing deep or in murky waters.
How can you choose the right weight? It all depends on what you do and how you choose to do it. Let’s take a look at the techniques that we are about to discuss.
To sink your jig quickly, the deeper you fish, the heavier your weight should be. Also, consider the distance you will need to cast. Wind can also be a factor. You should choose heavier jigs for those who need more distance and wind-buckling.
This is only true when casting the jig. Trolling and tightlining will often require additional weight, so you won’t need to use a heavier jig.
Casting a jig by itself is not difficult, but it is important to have good “feel” and to make sure you don’t miss a strike. Your jig head will feel too light and you won’t be able to sense structure. If the wind blows your line, it can cause you to miss bites that you should have felt.
In such situations, we recommend that you increase your size to about 1/8.
A heavier jig may not be the best option. A smaller jig is better if you are fishing in heavy cover.
Most anglers will tell ya that the best thing to do is use as little jig as possible, especially in clear waters.
However, not everyone is on the same page. Kevin Rogers, crappie pro, likes to fish in dark or stained waters. Bobby Garland Mo’Glo jig head, 3/16 ounce Rigged with a Bobby Garland Slab Slay 3 Inches. He prefers to use pink and black lures. He will start his day with this big rig and move up and down. Although his reasons are obvious, he believes that a deeper understanding of the subject is more important than a superficial one. However, he acknowledges that this approach is unconventional.
He has won many tournaments with it!
You can find his reasons here
Crappie Fishing: Jig Body Styles
Crappie fishing is done with four jig bodies. There are four types of jig bodies for crappie fishing: the grub, the tube and the Maribou.
- Grubs – They have a large body with a long tail and are designed to move in the water. The following are some common types of grubs:Bobby Garland Slab Slay’r The Zoom Fat Albert Grub
- Tubes – They are exactly what their name implies: a soft, bullet-shaped cylinder with fringe tail. The is a great example.Z-Man TRD Tube. Some tubes have a solid, grub-styled head and a fringed trail. You’ll also find the Johnson Crappie Buster The Strike King Mr. Crappie Joker.
- Maribou jigs –These jigs are pre-tied and come with a jig and a fly. They are “hairy” and have a long skirt. When jigged gently, they can create lots of movement. The most famous example is the Eagle Claw.
- Minnows –You guessed it! They are made to look like a live minnow in size, shape and action, but in a variety of colors that nature didn’t intend. The ever-popular “Favorite” is one of our favorites.Gulp! Gulp! Minnow The Bobby Garland Baby Shad Crappie Baits.
These designs have one thing in common: movement. Movement and action are the key to these designs, whether it’s the wriggling tails of the grub or the dancing tube tentacles, the fluffy Maribou hair, or the fluke of a minnow.
It’s simple to set these devils up if you don’t know how. Just watch the videos below and check out our article on crappie rigs:
Crappie Color Options
It can be difficult to choose the right color, and crappie can sometimes be very picky.
It doesn’t matter what conditions or depth are, that’s an obvious fact.
Check your water’s color
Clear water is ideal for crappie vision. It’s important to choose the colors you will find in nature. Bright colors are still attractive to crappie, but natural tones and subdued colors are better. Brighter colors can be used to trigger strikes when the water is stained or murky.
The deeper you go, the more color disappears
Water absorbs light, regardless of how transparent it is. You can lose more color the deeper you go. However, they disappear differently.
Red is the most popular, followed by yellow, orange, green and blue.
The chart below shows that color is very important when fishing in shallow water. Crappie are caught in shallow water, so color selection is very important.
What do you recommend? The following combinations would make up my four-color selection for lures:
Clear water is clear, so black is easily visible in the depths. It also works well in all light conditions in shallow water. It gives off an attractive silhouette, so I prefer to use jigs that have some black on them in all conditions.
Chartreuse is magical and many anglers know this. It has high visibility and high contrast like white. You can fish it deep without losing its vividness.
Most of my jigs have some chartreuse in them, whether it’s the body, head, tail, or skirt.
Red, pink, white, and purple
Popular combo colors include red, pink, white and purple. Look for combinations such as black and chartreuse or white and red, etc. that include at least one of these colors.
How to tie a Jig
Jigs should be hung horizontally from the line even if you are jigging vertically. To ensure they work properly, tie your knot at the correct part of the eye.
We recommend three types of knots to attach the jig. The Palomar knot, the Trilene knot and a simple loop knot. These are tied in the video. Note where Richard Gene attaches the knots to his eye to make sure they move and hang properly.
Use Jig Techniques to Catch More Crappie
There are many methods for crappie fishing with jigs. We’ll be covering four of the most effective.
Vertical Jigging in High-Summer and Early Fall
Vertical jigging, which is often overlooked for fall and summer crappie, is a great technique. Crappie will seek out cooler water in lakes during warm summer days. As fall approaches, crappie will migrate to the shallows.
Both situations will result in them clustering in about 10 feet of water. If you are able to find them with your fishfinder you can park your boat above their heads and gently jig into your cooler.
You need to choose the right combination of body and head, and use gentle wrist motions. A good jig can do all the work.
These anglers will show you how it is done.
Spring and summer trolling with a Spider Rig
Crappie will move to the shallows in early spring to spawn. They congregate first in creeks or backwaters. As the water temperatures rise, the crappie will move back to the bottom. They’ll then disperse across the available habitat, schooling at various points in the water column. To find them, you will need to cover a large area of the lake.
These are the most popular times to trolling. Spider rigging is perhaps the best method.
Where it is legal Spider rigging can be a great way to cover a lot water at different depths and in a variety of colors. You can make your boat look like a spider by placing long rods into multiple rod holders. This will allow you to run countless jigs at different depths and give crappie a variety of lures. You can also cover large areas of water quickly by using a variety of rods to creep across the lake.
Ideally, you want to use identical long rods like 12 foot BnM Jig Poles. “All the rods should be the same length, power, and action,” Barry Morrow, an Oklahoma crappie guide, explains, “and they should be adjusted to the same height in the rod holders, so that you are able to decipher the motion of the rod tips to detect bites. Different rod types can make it difficult to understand the line movement and rod-tip bends of different rods.
You’ll also need rock-solid rod holders, of course!
These long rods can also prevent tangles when you turn. However, they can still be tied up if a crappie starts fighting with a jig.
This video will give you a better idea of what it takes to do it.
Casting the Shallows during the Spawn
Jigs can be used for vertical presentations as well. Casting a jig can be a great option, whether you need to quickly cover large areas of water or are looking for inaccessible coverage.
It can be extremely productive to keep your boat still and cast into the shallows, especially in spring when papermouths are spawning.
Some anglers prefer braid to cast the longest distance. However, braid is not recommended for setting the hook on papermouths. We use mono high-quality for the cushion it provides on hooksets.
We enjoy casting over submerged covers in the shallows, next to stumps and downed trees, then slowly retrieving.
Slip Float near Cover
Slip floats make it easy to jig. A slip float can be used to cast away from stumps, pilings or other crappie habitats. It is a great addition to any tackle box.
We really like the popular Thill Crappie Cork, as it allows you to cast flawlessly while still controlling the depth of your terminal tackle. This float is easy to use, and you don’t need beaded stops. A simple knot will suffice. It’s easy to use, and it is quick to adjust to different depths.
These two gentlemen use tube jigs and slip floats to terrorize crappie near stumps.
Crankbaits and Crappie Fishing
This is a great way to catch large crappie in open water. After finding schools of crappie with your electronics, select a 2-inch medium-diving crankbait to troll through the schooling fish. To make your crankbait dive to between 10 and 12 feet, choose 4- to 6-pound fluorocarbon lines.
Casting and retrieving Technique
Casting and retrieving is the most popular method to fish a crappie-jig. The casting and retrieve method is as simple as it sounds. You simply cast the jig out and then retrieve it. This is a great way to find crappie or determine their depth.
Your jig will sink faster if you reel quickly. It will remain closer to the surface. Reeling slowly will cause your jig to sink, and it will stay closer to the surface. To find fish, you can vary your retrieve speed. After you have landed a bite, cast and retrieve at the same speed.
This technique works well whether you are fishing from a bank, a boat or a dock. If you are able to locate a brush pile that might be holding crappie and cast your jig, retrieve it quickly enough so it floats above the pile. You can also cast it parallel to the brush pile.
To give your jig more action, you can use techniques like stop-and-reel or bounce your rod tip. My experience is that less is more. The jig will do all the work. Do not bounce the lure around or force it down. Your jig will be triggered by water, wind, waves, and structures.
Vertical jigging is best for crappie when you are directly above a school. You can do this from a boat or a dock, or even from ice.
Most people use fish finders and electronics such as Livescope to scan the bottom of the lake to find deep schools of crappie. They position their boat to find the school and then drop a jig just below it. Crappie feed upwards, which is why it’s crucial that your jig is not lower than their position.
Vertical jigging can be done using the Yo-Yo method. This is where you raise and lower the rod tip to create a “yoyo” effect. If you don’t know how deep crappie are standing, this method can work. Crappie will often eat the ‘falling’ of the jig when it descends toward the bottom.
Vertical jigging can also be used to keep the line stationary at the depth where the crappie are. If you believe the crappie are 20 feet deep, then open your bail and let loose 20 feet of line. Close your bail, and keep it there. I know it’s tempting to bounce your rod tip but it is not necessary.
Your jig will move under the water. Sometimes, too much erratic action can scare fish. If fish are stubborn, I prefer a vertical stationary approach. Just cast it out and let the jig rest. Patience is the key to success!
Trolling Jigs are very effective for fishing for scattered crappie or large bodies of water that have a lot of water. There are many ways to trolly jigs. To troll jigs with a spider-rig, you can either use a complex setup or just one rod.
The key to trolling crappie is choosing the right jig head style, weight and length to keep your lure at the appropriate depth. Let’s say that you’re fishing in a 15-foot deep lake and the crappie are swimming in 8-12 feet of water. A jig that is sufficiently heavy to allow it to sink to 8-12 feet while you are moving will be the best.
It takes some practice and trial and error to find the right jig weight for trolling. Trolling for Crappie takes place very slowly, often at a speed between.5-1 mph. Trolling motors on the low setting work well. You can also use the wind to drift the boat.
Large reservoirs, rivers, or large lakes are ideal for trolling for crappie. Trolling channels, ledges and points, as well as submerged timber, is a great way to find crappie. After you have taken a bite, return to the same spot and continue to troll. You will eventually find a pattern that shows you where the crappie are hiding and how deep they are digging.
Which Jig Is Best for Crappie?
Crappie fishing is best when you choose the style, color and weight that will trigger the most bites. The Blakemore Road Runner and Marabou style jigs are popular choices. A Crappie Magnet is my personal favorite because of its unique presentation.
Try different jigs when you’re just starting out. Try a natural color like lead with green. Try a brighter color like yellow and pink if you don’t get bites. Experimenting with different colors and styles is half the fun.
There are no shortage of Crappie jigs, baits and lures available on the market. Experimenting and discovering what works best for you is half the fun!
Which Size Jig Head is Best for Crappie?
The size ranges from 1/64th to 1/2 ounce for crappie jig head sizes. The best jigs for crappie fishing are 1/8th, 1/32th, and 1/32 ounces. The most popular colors are chartreuse, red and white. These jig heads can be used with either a soft bait or a live minnow to maximize your chances of success.
How to Rig a Jig for Crappie
Single jig rigWhen tying a jig, it is important to use a knot that allows the jig freedom of movement in the water. The Trilene knot and loop knot are two popular knots. Attach your jig to your fishing line directly. In most cases, a leader is unnecessary.
Double jig rigA double crappie rig allows two jigs can be fished simultaneously from one fishing line. This increases your chances of being bit, and you can use two different styles or colors of jigs in order to determine which fish are biting. This video shows you how to tie a double crappie-rig using your mainline, and a Palomar.
How do you catch a crappie with a jig and bobber?
Crappie can be caught using a bobber and jig. The bobber provides visual indicators of bites below the surface and keeps your jig suspended in the water column, above any vegetation or structures it might otherwise be snagged on.
This works particularly well when crappie are in shallow water during spring spawning season.
Drop your bobber rig and jig into the small spaces around trees and structures where crappie are spawning. You can let the jig rest and then watch your bobber. Every few minutes, give your tod tip a gentle twitch.
This method is great for open water and in vegetation like lily pads. Try it on on an ultralight rig, or a cane pole such as the B&M Black Widow Crappie Pole.
How to Jig for Crappie from the Bank
Cast and retrieve is the best method to Crappie jig at a bank. This will enable you to reach deeper depths to find crappie, or to stay close to shoreline vegetation. To help with casting and to prevent snags, you can also add a bobber.
Slowly reel your jig in at a steady speed to keep it suspended above the water column. Fishing in deep water? Allow the jig’s natural fall to occur before you reel it in. However, keep the tension on the line until you feel the slight ‘tinkle’ of a bite.
Is Jig Head Color Important for Crappie?
Crappie fishing is a different experience with jig heads. The right color can make the difference between no bites and a cooler full fish. Crappie are very picky and have great eyesight so choosing the right color can make a big difference when they fish.
Both Black and White Crappie are equipped with rods and cones that allow them to see under water. They are able to see well and have one of the highest eye-to-body ratios of any freshwater fish. They can see in dark environments, low light conditions and even in muddy waters.
Knowing the underwater light and color spectrum will help you choose which colors to use. It is a good rule of thumb that brighter colors, such as pink, chartreuse and yellow, will be well-suited for dark or stained water, while natural colors like brown, clear and green will do well in clear water.
It doesn’t matter how deep you fish, certain colors will lose their visibility as the water drops.
If I’m vertically jigging Crappie with 40 feet of water in deep reservoir, I won’t use red or orange because they are the first colors to go. Instead, I will try green, blue, or black.
Clear water – Best color crappie Jig
Clear water: Choose a combination of a soft bait and a jig that is natural in color. This applies to colors such as green, brown and silver. Match your jig colors to minnows and shad in the area where you fish. Try brown-toned Jigs if there are a lot of Crawfish.
Best color crappie Jig for stained Water
A jig in a bold color is best for stained water. There are many options for colors, including red, yellow, chartreuse and pink. It is important to choose a color that stands out from the stained water without making it look unnatural. You can experiment with different colors, patterns, and flakes to see what gets the best reactions.
Night crappie jig: Best color
Crappie can be found fishing at night and it is possible to catch them even after the sun sets. Choose jigs that are in harmony with the water clarity. If the lake is clear, I will use natural colors with very little flaking. If the lake is very murky, I will use bright colors with contrasting patterns like red/yellow or black/lime.
TIP FOR CRAPPIE FISHING AT NIGHT: Use a green underwater LED light to take your night fishing to the next level. Bright green light attracts baitfish and zooplankton. Crappie can also be attracted by this light, which can prove to be very effective.
Best Fishing Line for Crappie Jigging
Crappie fishing line comes in many styles and colors. Each type has its own pros and cons. Monofilament or braided fishing line is my preference. The water clarity and the technique used will affect your choice. Let’s look at three main types of Crappie fishing lines:
|Very affordable||Not as sensitive|
|Casting is easy||Absorbs UV light (weakens over time)|
|There are many color options (high-visibility)||Memory is retained|
|Abrasion-resistant||Low density, high stretch|
Using Braided line
|Casting ability is excellent||Not abrasion resistant|
|High sensitivity||There are no low visibility options|
|Color options available||Poor knot strength|
|Zero stretch||It is easy to tangle (wind knots etc).|
|Low stretch; high density||Expensive|
|Excellent sensitivity||There are no color options|
|Almost invisible underwater||Poor abrasion resistance|
|Amazing knot strength||High memory|
Jigs can be used to catch crappie and are versatile, simple, and effective. Even though spinners and Rooster Tails are proven to be effective, nothing beats a jig.
Give a jig the chance to shine next time you go out on the water to catch crappie. We are sure that you will be impressed.
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