The 8 Best Crappie Lures, Jigs, and Bait

The 8 Best Crappie Lures, Jigs, and BaitTrying to choose the best crappie lures for any given day of fishing can be tricky. If you’ve ever been down the fishing aisle at your local big box store you know there’s a ridiculous amount of lures and bait to choose from. After you finally make your decision on which one to pick you then have to choose one of about ten different colors, which always turns out to be the one the crappie aren’t biting that day. With so many variables to take into consideration – water clarity, depth, season, structure, technique, weather and so on, it makes it hard to whittle down your choices.  Obviously you can catch crappie (as well as other fish) on just about anything if you put in enough time, but I’m here to tell you what works well for many crappie fisherman (including me). Ask any pro crappie fisherman what their favorite crappie rig is and they’ll probably mention minnows or jigs. Occasionally you may hear spinners and crankbaits being thrown around as well. Although the proper lure/bait choice really depends on a number of variables, here are what are often considered the best crappie lures in the jig, minnow, spinner, and crankbait categories.

(Note – I will receive a small commission on any jig/lure you purchase through the following links)

The Best Crappie Lures, Jigs, and Bait

 PictureNameTypePriceAmazon Rating Why should I fish this type of rig?
Jig
First Choice

Southern Pro Crappie Tube Kit (541-Piece)Plastic Jig$$$ (541-piece kit)4.4 / 5- Fishing near structure (stumps, weeds, shelves, etc.)
- Wide variety/color
- Subtle presentation
Second Choice
Eagle Claw Crappie Jig
Crappie Jig$$4.1 / 5- Fishing near structure (stumps, weeds, shelves, etc.)
- Wide variety/color
- Subtle presentation
Minnow
First Choice
fathead minnow1"-2" Fathead MinnowLive Bait$N/A- Fatheads are hardier than Shiners
- Fishing shallow water and weeds
- Fishing "soft" biting crappie
- Scent and action is unbeatable
- Nothing else works
- You like to drink and fish
- They are cheap!
Second Choicegolden shiner minnow1"-2" Golden Shiner MinnowLive Bait$N/A- Shiners color is more alluring than Fathead's
- Fishing shallow water and weeds
- Fishing "soft" biting crappie
- Scent and action is unbeatable
- Nothing else works
- You like to drink and fish
- They are cheap!
Spinner
First Choice

Johnson Beetle Spin with Nickel Blade, Yellow/Black Stripe, 2-InchSafety Pin Spinner$$4.5 / 5- Snags less in weeds than in-line spinner
- Fishing murky water and night fishing
- Covering large areas
- Fishing open water
- They shimmer and provide vibration
- Fishing during the spawn
Second Choice
Yakima Bait Wordens Original Rooster Tail Spinner Lure
In-line Spinner$$4.4 / 5- Fishing murky water and night fishing
- Covering large areas
- Fishing open water
- They shimmer and provide vibration
- Fishing during the spawn
Crankbait
First Choice

Rapala Jointed Shad Rap 04 Crankbait, 1.5-Inch
Diving Crankbait$$4 / 5- Fishing a certain depth
- Covering large areas
- You want to cast long distances
- Fishing weed bed edges
- Open water
Second Choice
Rat-L-Trap Lures 1/2-Ounce Trap Lipless Crankbait
Lipless Crankbait$$4.5 / 5- Can fish any depth
- Creates sound by rattling
- Covering large areas
- You want to cast long distances
- Fishing weed bed edges
- Open water

Jigs

Jigs have become one of the best crappie lures due to their wide variety, versatility and effectiveness. A common rig setup for jigs is a 1/16 oz jig tied directly to 2-4 lb test line. If using a plastic jig, a lead head will first need to be inserted into the plastic body through the head and out of the tail. 1/16 oz to ¼ oz jigs (1.5 to 3 inches long) are considered large jigs for crappie. Early spring and winter are good times to use large jigs because baitfish are generally on the larger size as well. During winter, remember to keep the jig movement very slow due to the crappie’s lower metabolism. This can be done by choosing a smaller or floating lead-head, or by using heavier line. Large jigs can also be used when fishing for larger crappie in general…but remember, you will probably catch less fish overall!

1/100 – 1/16 oz jigs (less than 1.5 inches long) are considered small jigs. A good time to use a small jig is during the late spring, at about the same time baitfish hatch. Jigs work extra well when tipped with a piece of minnow. This adds an alluring scent and flavor that the jig otherwise wouldn’t have. Finally, take water clarity into consideration when choosing the size of the jig. In very murky water it may be hard to see a small jig, so size up.

Minnows

A tried and true minnow rig consists of a minnow on a hook, a sinker, and a float (aka bobber). It is common to hook the minnow either through the back (near dorsal fin) or through the lips. Use a light, bendable hook to prevent snags and to prolong minnow life. Remember to size the hook to the minnow; smaller hooks (No. 6-2) for small minnows and larger hooks (No. 1 up to 1/0 or 2/0) for large minnows. Use enough weight to only keep ¼ of the bobber above water. Crappie will usually swim up at minnow, raising the bobber and thus alerting you. A slip bobber makes life easier when fishing deeper water in the summer and winter. Read Crappie Fishing with Minnows to get detailed tips and tactics on this specific bait.

Spinners

Spinners are great if you want to cover a large area. Jigs and minnows are usually cast to a specific area, then either just sit there or are jigged. With spinners, you can cover a huge amount of water by continually casting to different spots and retrieving. This makes them one of the most versatile and one of the best crappie lures. You want to be careful when you retrieve to do it just fast enough to spin the blade. This makes it as easy as possible for a fish to bite. Experiment with a steady retrieve and retrieving with pauses to see what works best.

Crankbaits

Crankbaits, like spinners, are great for covering a lot of water. Crankbaits work well for fishing deep water too, due to their weight. This is great during the summer through winter when crappies are generally hanging out in deeper areas. Crankbaits are often trolled as well. This works best along weed beds, lake channels, or other underground structures. Diving crankbaits are good to use when you are after a specific depth. Lipless crankbaits can dive to whatever depth you desire and also swim with an enticing wiggle. Keep crankbaits on the smaller side (less then 2”) to match local forage.

Additional Tips:

  • Try mixing and matching different aspects of each of these rigs. For example, don’t be afraid to fish a jig with a bobber or hooking a minnow onto the hook of a jig.
  • If the water you are fishing is murky, add a spinner to add shimmer and vibration so the crappie can more easily sense your jig.
  • Heavier line (10-20lb test) can be used in murky or dark water to aid in retrieving snagged lures
  • If you have a fish stomach pump, you can see what the crappie has been eating, allowing you to match your jig size and color with the actual forage in your area.
  • Experiment and see what works. If you’re not getting any bites after 15 minutes, change it up. Eventually you’ll find a winner.
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