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To be a king in the game, you will need to know your gear. If you hang around other crappie fishermen, it would be hard to miss a discussion about the best crappie jig colors. Even so, there is hardly ever an agreeable answer. Rather, an experienced crappie fisher will tell you that several factors determine which jig color you should use. Or should I say which color you should try first. Most avid crappie fisherman carry a variety of colors on them at all times because they have to be willing to experiment when one color’s not working. It’s important to note that because crappie are sight-feeders, they will only strike at what they can see. This is the one common principle in any theory for choosing jig color: choose the color that is most visible to crappie. In this article we will be looking at the most common theories for choosing the most visible jig color in different conditions and what the thought process is behind each.
Bright Water, Bright Lures. Dark Water, Dark Lures
Two factors that guide experienced anglers in choosing the right jig color are water clarity and level of light penetration. It is these factors that play into the theory of choosing bright lures in bright water and dark lures on dark water. Jigs that are brightly colored will reflect penetrating light on a sunny day, thereby being more easily seen by a lurking crappie. On a cloudy day, on the other hand, dark jigs are said to better contrast in water where there is minimal light penetration. Note that you must use your judgement in determining brightness/darkness of the water. It can be a completely sunny day, but cloudy water may still be dark a few feet below the surface. On the other hand, it may be bright enough to justify using brightly colored jigs on a cloudy day.
Good starting points for bright jigs include chartreuse, yellow, white and hot pinks. Dark choices include dark greens, dark browns or black.
Bright Water, Dark Lures. Dark Water, Bright Lures
This theory makes more sense to a lot of fisherman. When the water is dark (i.e. less light penetration or cloudy water) brightly colored jigs will be easier to spot. When the water is clear or there is lots of light penetration, darker jigs will better contrast. The fact that this theory and the previous one directly oppose each other, both equally being used by plenty of crappie fisherman, really shows that it’s up to you to find out what works for the crappie and conditions YOU are fishing.
Chartreuse, Chartreuse, Chartreuse
The greenish, yellowish, lemon-lime type color known as chartreuse has always been touted by fisherman as one of the best crappie jig colors for crappie as well as bass jig fishing alike. It is considered by a lot of crappie fisherman as the only choice for crappie jig color. Chartreuse tubes, chartreuse grubs, and chartreuse marabou jigs (like this one) are all common types of jigs for purveyors of this theory. Hell, even throw a chartreuse jig head on there! The strange thing about this theory is that there is not really any science behind it. For whatever reason, crappie just have a hankering for this particular shade of greenish yellow.
Match the Hatch
This theory makes the most sense to me, although it’s one of the most difficult to actually execute. It makes sense to use a jig that looks like the real forage that the local crappie are actually eating. That is, if you know what the local forage for crappie is. If you don’t, you can always start out imitating one type of crappie forage and move to another if that doesn’t work. For example, you can start out fishing with a minnow type jig. Maybe a shad jig body and shad-shaped jig head, trying as much as possible to make use of colors like blue, green or silver. Jigs that have bits or flecks of silver and other colors impregnated in the tube body can work great. These jigs resemble the silver “flash” of a live minnow and can easily lure crappie in to bite.
If a minnow imitating jig doesn’t work, try a marabou jig, which more closely emulates zooplankton and water insects. If given a “darting bounce” type of action (produced by making a slight nudging of the tip of the fishing pole), these marabou jigs can even more closely resemble this type of forage.
Also, remember to keep your jig size relatively small, as there are plenty out there that are meant for walleye and bass that would not work so well for crappie.
Crappie jig color is not an exact science by any means, but by choosing a jig color based on the theory that makes most sense to you, you will have a place to start. The same crappie may choose to strike completely different colors from one day to the next so it’s important to remember to experiment when one color isn’t working. If one theory doesn’t work, change it up and try another and soon enough you’ll figure out what brings home the bacon…err crappie.