Best 10 Crappie Lures [2021 Reviewed]
Crappie fishing is wildly popular in some parts of the United States. These panfish don’t grow to monumental sizes, but they are known for being fun to catch, as well as being among the best table fare that you’ll catch in American freshwater lakes. At certain times of the year, you can catch dozens or more crappie in a single spot on a lake if you happen to be using the right kind of tackle.
There are a wide variety of different strategies that anglers use when it comes to fishing for crappie. Like most other freshwater fish, there really is no wrong way to target crappie and some methods will prove to be much more effective than others.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most popular methods used for catching crappie and help provide some information related to their spawning routines and other behaviors. We’ve also selected the best 10 crappie lures that you can find to help beginners and anglers of any skill level step up their crappie-catching game.
Table of Contents
- 1 Crappie Lure Buying Guide
- 2 Best 10 Crappie Lures
- 2.1 1. Blakemore Road Runner Bleeding Crappie Bait
- 2.2 2. Bobby Garland Baby Shad
- 2.3 3. Johnson Beetle Mini Spinner Bait
- 2.4 4. Berkley Crappie Nibbles
- 2.5 5. Mepps Aglia Dressed Treble Fishing Lure
- 2.6 6. Strike King Mr. Crappie Slab Slasher Jig Heads
- 2.7 7. Berkley Gulp Alive Minnow Soft Crappie Baits
- 2.8 8. Mini-King Crappie Spinnerbait
- 2.9 9. Rapala Mini Fat Rap Crappie Lure
- 2.10 10. Strike King Mr. Crappie Slabalicious Bait
Crappie Lure Buying Guide
Crappie are said to be the most popular panfish species in North America. They are able to thrive in the warm, temperate climates of the southern United States and anglers in the northern portions of American typically catch them by ice fishing when the weather is frigid and the lakes are frozen over.
They are known by a number of different nicknames such as papermouths, speckled bass, specks, speckled perch, white perch, and many other terms. The various baits and lures you might use to catch crappie will also differ depending on the geographical region of the country you happen to be fishing in.
Depending on where you’re fishing in the United States, you might catch a bit of flak from locals if you don’t pronounce the word “crappie” in a way that they approve of. For instance, in western Alabama and Mississippi, the name for the species is pronounced in a way that sounds more like ‘croppie’ instead of ‘crappie.’ If you venture east just a few miles into the state of Georgia, the pronunciation among locals is agreed upon to be ‘crappie.’
There are two main crappie species that include white and black crappie. Both are virtually indistinguishable from one another except for the fact that black crappie will have a darker, black coloration and splotches while white crappie have a much lighter color with dark lines that appear to be small specks at first glance.
In most cases, crappie will stay in relatively deep water of about 15 feet or more throughout most of the year. Once the winter cold dissipates and the water starts to gradually warm, crappie will begin their annual spawning ritual in which they make their way into shallow water where they will congregate in large schools. Fishing for crappie during these times can be outstanding and it’s not unheard of for some anglers to catch hundreds of crappie in a single location in one day’s time.
Crappie are most active throughout the year in the early morning and late evening hours as they will hunt for their prey at times when lighting conditions allow them to remain mostly hidden. Compared to other freshwater fish, crappie have excellent eyesight. If you’re fishing in very clear water, it can be difficult to coax crappie into biting certain lures or rigs if they do not appear to be among the naturally-occurring bait fish and other creatures in that particular lake that crappie feed on.
Different Types of Crappie Lures
Crappie are known to prefer a wide variety of different prey depending on the time of year and opportunity. It’s no secret that natural baits are often an excellent choice for catching crappie at any time of the year in most southern portions of the United States, but this article will mainly focus on artificial lures that can be purchased online or in big box retail stores.
One of the most popular types of lures used to catch crappie are jigs. These are likely to be considered the most popular crappie lure of any on the market simply for the overall variety and versatility that they have. There are various types of jig tails that give the jig a certain action as it runs under the water. Some jigs are better for fishing vertically into underwater cover like brush piles while other types are better for being used in trolling or casting.
Jigs are fished with a metal head that helps provide ample balance and weight that often allows them to sink down to the desired depth that the angler expects to catch crappie. Anglers will need to gain an understanding of just how to twitch and jerk the jig as they retrieve it through the water in order to entice crappie to strike at it.
According to many avid crappie anglers, spinners are the top choice among the many different lure styles you can choose from. Spinners are a very simple type of lure to use as they mainly require that an angler only steadily retrieve the lure without having to make many other movements. These are a great choice of lure for beginner crappie anglers as the blade does most of the work.
There are a variety of lures that utilize spinners in order to be effective when it comes to catching crappie. These can vary between lures like the classic Beetle Spin to a simple rooster tail design—both of which are very effective baits when it comes to crappie fishing. The spinner on any lure is meant to deliver a distinct vibration that crappie and other fish usually detect as coming from a small bait fish as it swims through the water. The blade on a spinner style lure is usually gold or silver in color, which helps give off the distinct flashing appearance that is common with small prey.
These types of lures are very similar to spinners in the way they run through the water. They feature a curved shape that gives off a specific fluttering or wobbling shape as it runs through the water. The aim of the spoon is for the lure itself to appear much like a wounded or injured bait fish making its way through the water. In many cases, fish will see this as a prime opportunity to take advantage of what could be an easy meal and strike at the lure, even when they are not necessarily hungry.
There are a wide variety of different types of spoon lures, but many that are made to appeal to crappie and other small game fish are going to be a bit smaller than some of the other models. Spoons might also have more of less details, or even be solid colors or bright silver or gold. Most anglers will have to study up on the best methods for fishing with a spoon because they are more effective when used in a sporadic, twitching motion than a steady retrieve.
For many anglers, soft plastic lures are generally associated with bass or other types of fish species. However, crappie have been known to strike at some of the smaller types of soft plastic lures at certain times of the year when their feeding patterns are more aggressive than others.
Some of the most effective soft plastic lures for crappie are small worm-like plastics that are rigged in a wacky style with a few small split-shot lures. Anglers have also reported having great success using small flukes or minnow-like plastic lures in a drop shot rig or other methods.
In addition to baits like soft plastics that are more commonly associated with largemouth bass fishing, crankbaits can also be highly effective for catching crappie in some circumstances. As you might expect, large crankbaits will rarely deliver a strike from even a trophy-sized crappie, but smaller versions of the lure such as rattle-traps, and miniature crankbaits can be extremely good choices for crappie fishing.
If you do want to experiment with crankbaits, be sure to stick to the common rule-of-thumb that most anglers recommend which is to “match the hatch.” In other words, pick out a crankbait that will appear to be a small bait fish or minnow that is common and naturally-occurring to the particular body of water you’re fishing in.
What Color Lure Should I Use for Crappie?
Regardless of the specific type of lure you want to use when crappie fishing, it’s essential that you select the right color in order to give yourself the best chance for a successful outing. Some anglers think that certain colors work better for crappie depending on a variety of environmental factors, but the truth is that many anglers and even biologists don’t fully understand why crappie are more inclined to bite lures of a specific color over others.
In any case, you can give yourself a much greater chance for catching crappie by sticking to the usual strategies that pertain to most other types of game fish. When fishing in murky or muddy water, it’s best to use a lure that is brighter in color in order to get the attention of crappie. Also, if you’re fishing in especially clear water, it’s a good idea to go with a more natural-looking lure design than something like bright pink or fluorescent yellow.
Compared to other types of game fish species, crappie have outstanding eyesight and are capable of distinguishing between real and artificial lures in most cases. They are also able to see the fishing line and hook as well, so it’s even more important that you take extra steps to make your lure and bait appear as natural as possible.
When is the Best Time to Catch Crappie?
According to avid crappie anglers and fishing guides who spend countless hours on the water each year, there is no question that the spring is the best time of year for catching crappie. During the early weeks of spring, the water begins to slowly warm, which brings the crappie out of the deep water that they have likely been residing in for the duration of the winter months.
Once the water temperature reaches roughly 55 or 58 degrees Fahrenheit, crappie will begin to spawn. Once the water stays at this level for a few days, you can usually expect to find them in large schools of a few dozen, or even hundreds of fish all in one single location that might be anywhere from 7 to 14 feet in depth.
If you can successfully locate one of these spawning schools of crappie you’ll quickly find that there are likely very few types of lures or even natural baits that they will turn their nose up at. Anglers who fish during this time of the year are familiar with the ease with which a single person can catch dozens of crappie within a short amount of time.
Tips for Catching Crappie
There are many different schools of thought pertaining to the best methods of fishing for crappie. Depending on the region of the country you are fishing, certain crappie fishing techniques and strategies will work better or worse. It’s very important that you study and become as familiar as you possibly can be with crappie behavior in the general region you’re planning to fish.
Crappie in the southeastern United States enjoy a much warmer climate, which means they experience a longer growing season and will generally spawn much earlier than fish in northern states like Wisconsin or Minnesota.
Crappie in the southern portion of the country are also expected to be larger in general than their northern counterparts. They can grow to be as large as 5 pounds and the largest crappie ever caught are recorded as being taken in states like Tennessee or others where they commonly grow to be a few pounds after multiple years of eating a healthy diet.
If you want to have the best advantage of catching crappie—especially larger ones—you’ll want to incorporate stealth into your gameplan. Most avid anglers are aware that crappie fishermen of decades past were usually very keen to stay as quiet as they could while crappie fishing. This is because crappie are actually able to hear or feel sound waves and vibrations much more easily than most other types of game fish species.
If you’re preparing to go crappie fishing, be sure to remain as quiet as you can for the most part. Speak quietly and make sure that you don’t make any loud, sudden noises on your boat as this is a surefire way of scaring off some of the older, bigger crappie who are not likely to stick around after they suspect a large predator is nearby.
Best 10 Crappie Lures
1. Blakemore Road Runner Bleeding Crappie Bait
- Color is Fluorescent Red
- Features Barbed Heads
- Weight is 1/16 Ounce
There are few crappie lures on the market that are capable of blending together the right combination of visual attractiveness and action, but the Blakemore Road Runner Bleeding Crappie Bait is certainly one that does it well. We selected this lure as our No. 1 because it can be used in a massive variety of different styles, as well as with different jigs and trailers.
The Blakemore Road Runner Bleeding Crappie Bait comes in a few different weight and size selections, but the best one for crappie is undoubtedly the ⅛-ounce version. This lure can be ordered in a variety of different jig head colors, but the main advantage you’ll have in using the Blakemore Road Runner Bleeding Crappie Bait is the ability to combine it with any style jig, as well as virtually endless amounts of color combinations.
It can be used as a standard jig, which can be casted with a standard retrieve, or anglers can rig it in a way that allows for trolling behind their boat. It’s also been known to catch crappie when fished in a somewhat vertical fashion in and around brush piles or other underwater structures where crappie are known to congregate in large numbers.
The hooks on the Blakemore Road Runner Bleeding Crappie Bait are red, which is the reason why Blakemore TTI Fishing Company decided to add the “bleeding” portion to the name of this classic lure. It’s been around for decades and can be tipped with anything from crappie nibbles to worms or even live minnows.
The blade on the Blakemore Road Runner Bleeding Crappie Bait gives this lure outstanding ability to create the telltale fluttering vibration that drives crappie crazy and entices them to strike out of sheer instinct.
2. Bobby Garland Baby Shad
- A solid body
- A thin spear-tail
- Designed for enticing crappie
Bobby Garland lures are among the most popular in the world of crappie fishing for a number of reasons. The Bobby Garland Baby Shad are some of the most well-made plastic jigs and minnows you’ll find and they come in a wide variety of great colors that are often highly effective when it comes to targeting crappie with specific colors at certain times of the year.
These small, minnow-like plastic lures are just 2 inches in length and can be ordered in up to a whopping 50 different color selections. Each pack of 18 minnows is sealed and will stay fresh for years if it is not opened. They can be used with any variety of jig heads or weights to create a very customized lure experience for your specific crappie fishing needs.
Many avid crappie anglers prefer to tip these lures with anything from garlic scent to Crappie Nibbles or a variety of different other baits. Bobby Garland Baby Shad is an outstanding choice of lure when crappie are looking to target small bait fish during or shortly before their annual spawning period.
3. Johnson Beetle Mini Spinner Bait
- Many have tried to imitate it, but there's only one original Beetle Spin
- A mainstay lure for pond anglers since the 1950's
- Loud, hard vibration caused by cupped blade calls in fish from farther away
Many seasoned crappie anglers would put the Johnson Beetle Mini Spinner Bait at the top of their list for a number of reasons. It would be hard to argue with having as the top lure selection and that’s why we chose to place them in our No. 3 spot among this list of the best 10 crappie lures.
The Johnson Beetle Mini Spinner Bait is much like the Road Runner’s unique combination of a spinner and a jig that runs remarkably well in the water. It comes with a standard rubber jig that typically works fine, but most anglers prefer to remove this and replace it with their own choice of plastic jig depending on the specific color combination that the crappie are interested in for that day.
This lure comes in a variety of size and weight options that include a ¼, ⅛, 1/16, and 1/32 ounce jig. The most popular choice among crappie anglers is likely to be the 1/16 as it is small enough for most crappie to fit inside their mouths, but large enough to get their attention.
4. Berkley Crappie Nibbles
- Dissolve slowly in water
- Disperse scent cloud crappies and panfish can’t resist
- PowerBait original chrome glow crappie nibbles are a glowing formula for visual attraction from a greater distance
Many experienced crappie anglers might place the Berkley Crappie Nibbles in their top choice for the overall best crappie lures. There are plenty of reasons for crappie fishing experts to love these little bait balls as they are extremely effective and can be used in a huge variety of methods. Berkley Crappie Nibbles come in a variety of different scented color options and this particular lure item is a must-have for anyone who plans to go crappie fishing.
The bait is made of a specialized type of dough that is designed to sink and will disperse a small cloud of scent into the water that’s sure to get the attention of hungry fish nearby. These were developed by Berkley many years ago and have become a mainstay in the world of crappie fishing.
They are incredibly soft and can be used to tip the hook of just about any kind of crappie fishing lure, as well as mashed together to create a larger ball of dough that can be formed around a treble or standard hook. The Crappie Nibbles work best when visibility is low and crappie are relying more on their sense of smell than their sharp eyesight.
5. Mepps Aglia Dressed Treble Fishing Lure
- Lure size is important
- Keep in mind plain spinners present a smaller profile than dressed spinners, so they will appear smaller to the fish
- This makes them perfect for pan fish and small stream trout
The Mepps Aglia Dressed Treble Fishing Lure is known by most crappie fishing enthusiasts as a “rooster tail” or “spinner” type of lure. It has a reputation for being highly effective and will catch just about any type of game fish species in the water since it has a very tight, distinct action that very much looks like a small bait fish swimming through the water.
This lure can be ordered in four different size options that range anywhere from a 1/12 ounce option to a ¼ ounce model. The Mepps Aglia Dressed Treble Fishing Lure can be effectively used in a number of different methods that include a standard retrieve or a methodic cycle of letting the lure rise and fall as you’re reeling it in.
Mepps manufactures a number of different color options that allow anglers to get the right kind of look they’re after since many lakes have certain color combination that are the real moneymakers when it comes to crappie fishing.
6. Strike King Mr. Crappie Slab Slasher Jig Heads
- #2 black nickel Eagle Claw hook
- 45 degree hook
- Bright eye
Among our list of the best 10 crappie lures are some true classics. The Strike King Mr. Crappie Slab Slasher Jig Heads is easily one of the most popular styles of crappie fishing lures and has been for decades now. It is one of the most simple and easy to use lures and can be applied to a number of different scenarios throughout the year for catching crappie.
This lure, with its straightforward and simple design, comes in a few different colors that are all highly effective at getting crappie to take notice and strike in murky water or during low-light hours at dawn or dusk. Anglers can purchase the Strike King Mr. Crappie Slab Slasher Jig Heads in sizes of ⅛, 1/16, and 1/32 ounce weights depending on their specific strategy when it comes to going after some slabs.
The jigs feature large painted eyes that make them ideal choices for anglers who want to pair this lure with a plastic minnow or small fluke. Each pack features eight jig heads that are made with durable hooks that are capable of landing just about any type of fish you manage to catch on these.
- Replaces The Real Thing
- Water-Based Formula Has Lifelike Taste And Texture
- Outfishes Live Bait!
When it comes to a lure that is ideal for enticing slow and sluggish crappie to bite, there are few choices that can truly top the Berkley Gulp Alive Minnow Soft Crappie Baits. This lure has been popular for many years and should be a staple among the tackle box of any serious angler who wants to catch crappie on a year-round basis.
It features a highly realistic body design that Berkely has modeled to appear nearly identical to actual minnows and the color scheme is also an added visual effect that helps anglers get the edge on hungry crappie looking for an easy meal. These soft plastic minnows are only an inch long and weigh just over 2 ounces, making them perfect for creating a very natural presentation which crappie usually can’t resist.
These lures are scented, which means they are incredibly effective when it comes to fishing in murky water as the smell is very close to what a crappie usually detects in the water from a small bait fish. These are a favorite among serious crappie anglers who like to use a deepwater drop shot rig during cold weather months to target slow-moving slabs.
8. Mini-King Crappie Spinnerbait
- 2.1 size Tennessee diamond blade
- Durable Diamond Dust head
- Seductive silicone skirt
If you’re on the hunt for monster slabs, it’s usually a good idea to use a lure that’s a bit larger than your average crappie setup. The Mini-King Crappie Spinnerbait is ideal for going after bigger crappie, but is also very capable of landing keeper-sized catches as well. With up to 12 different color options, you can select a combination that’s just right for the pattern you’re going after.
This spinnerbait is only 1/16 ounces in weight and features a diamond-plated Colorado style blade that does most of the work in attracting fish. This lure is an excellent choice for pitching around downed trees or submerged brush piles in attempts to get big crappie to chase it down and bite.
The same basic rules apply for the Mini-King Crappie Spinnerbait when it comes to deciding on which color to use based on the weather conditions. White or chartreuse for bright, sunny days and darker colors for overcast weather is typically recommended by experienced anglers. This is also a solid choice for trolling as well.
9. Rapala Mini Fat Rap Crappie Lure
- Compact Body Design
- Tight Swimming Action
- FR05 Deep Diving
Avid crappie anglers are well-aware of the advantages that come with using a miniature crankbait at times when crappie are looking to engulf anything they come across in the spring. Before the spawn, many crappie are gorging themselves on everything they can find and will not think twice about striking at a choice like the Rapala Mini Fat Rap Crappie Lure.
This 1.5-inch version of Rapala’s legendary Fat Rap crankbait is perfect for hungry slabs as it features a distinct wobble that is virtually irresistible to crappie during the late winter and early spring months. It’s capable of diving down to at least 10 feet, which is ideal for trolling or probing around brush piles and fallen trees to find your target.
Be aware that you’re much more likely to hang up on grass or small brush underwater with the dual treble hook design. This is a great option for trolling through open water near points and coves to catch crappie as they are staging and getting ready to spawn.
10. Strike King Mr. Crappie Slabalicious Bait
- Unique profile
- Paddle-tail action
- Pack of 15
Sometimes, the best approach to crappie fishing doesn’t have to be overly striking from a visual standpoint. While it’s well-known among crappie anglers, that this species of fish has acute eyesight, you can gain quite an advantage on them by using bright-colored lures that offer uniquely realistic action at times when the water is stained.
The Strike King Mr. Crappie Slabalicious Bait is an outstanding choice in these types of situations due to the fact that it presents a simple, yet realistic swimming motion which most crappie find to be too good to pass up. This plastic jig is easily one of the most popular on today’s market and there are no shortage of color combinations to choose from.
Anglers can successfully pitch this around underwater structure, or fish it with a smooth, steady retrieve to get bites at most times of the year. It’s extremely tough and one jig will be likely to last through a few catches before needing to be replaced.
Last update on 2021-07-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API