Crappie Fishing 101: Top Tips for Catching Crappie

If you think that you can only catch crappies in the spring, you couldn’t be more wrong. Crappies are always there for you. They can be harder to maneuver during other seasons, but it’s nothing that a few tips and tricks can’t fix.

Crappies are North American sunfish, aka dirty sunfish, or speckled perch. The main ingredient of catching one is having enough patience to tolerate its sneaky behavior.

Start reading these exclusive tips for catching crappies like a pro, then put them into practice. Who knows? Maybe you could be the next crappie-fishing champion.

1. When and Where to Find the Crappie

Locating the crappie wouldn’t be a problem in the spring. You’ll spot schools of crappies swimming around in the shallow waters. Spring is their spawning season. It’d be better if you go crappie fishing at dusk or dawn, not in the morning because they tend to hide from sunlight.

The real challenge is to spot these crappies in the summer and winter. During these seasons, crappies tend to hide close to underwater structures like weed beds and sunken trees, which give them a sense of tranquility as these areas are usually predator-free zones. 

If they aren’t hiding, they’d be at least 10 feet deep. Deep waters are more still with constant temperatures. Unlike shallow waters at which the temperature changes throughout the day.

To make your life easier, you should start by buying a fish finder that can take pictures of the world down there. It’ll save you time, and you’ll only need to worry about acing the casting techniques.

It’d be best if you also studied the maps of your fishing area to enable you to find hiding spots. That way, you’ll get more familiar with the lake or river in which you’re going fishing. And you wouldn’t have a hard time adjusting your gear and skills to the surroundings.

2. How to Entice a Crappie’s Appetite

Crappies are a bit moody. Their appetite changes daily. They could be craving a particular lure on a day, but if you used the same trick on the following day, they wouldn’t go near it.

But that’s nothing a small live minnow couldn’t fix. Crappies love them no matter what season you’re using them in. Minnows can never go wrong.

Moreover, you can always go for wet flies as they can go deep into the water and startle the little hiding crappies.

If natural bait isn’t in the cards for you, then go for an artificial lure. Jigs can do the trick. You’ll find a wide variety of ready-made jigs. If you’d like to get creative, you can buy a bare jig head and fix any matching body on that head. Just like a fun puzzle!

Another vital tip to bear in mind while lure shopping is that you must choose attractive natural colors to grab a crappie’s attention. A gold or silver spinnerbait will send forth the necessary vibrations to entice a nearby fish. 

You can always resort back to your experiment and use your self-made jigs. Try them out and choose the best match for you. 

Also, you can use a 2-inch diving crankbait, but only when schools of crappies are around. Tie them to your fluorocarbon line and shoot your throw. You may be amazed by how deep crankbaits can go. They can go till 12 feet deep.

3. Adopt a Fishing Tactic

Crappies aren’t the easiest fish to catch, but it’s definitely worth your effort and time. Anglers discovered numerous techniques to follow while fishing. 

You can adopt whatever suits your liking; however, you’ve to keep two questions in mind. The first one is, “where is the fish hiding?” The second is, “where are you standing?” 

Do you have a boat? Or will you be standing on the shoreline?

1. Vertical Jigging

Vertical jigging is best used when your prey is close to a structure like weed beds, as it allows you to go to deeper levels.

As a beginner, all you need to do is tie one jig to the end of your line. Hold the rod out with no definite casting technique, and wait till the jig goes down deep, where the fish could see it.

If you’re a professional crappie angler and got a boat, things are much easier for you. You can go up to 6 jigs at a time. Before you hold out your rod, use the fish finder to know the exact depth of your catch. 

Thereafter, hold the rod and let the jigs sink till they reach the same depth. At that moment, start doing some tricks and bounces to grab the crappie’s attention.

2. Bobber Fishing

Bobber fishing can be used in the spring when crappies are close to the water’s surface. You need to master this technique, not just for crappies, but also for every fish out there.

First, you need to use a fixed plastic bobber 2 feet from the end of your line. Tie a minnow to the hook, and that lightweight minnow will allow you to move the line around freely.

Second, if you’d like to go to deeper levels, use an adjustable bobber with a weighted minnow so that the bait can catch the crappie deep down.

If bobber fishing is your go-to technique, then you should go for a rod that’s 7-12 feet long, depending on your height.

3. Cast and Retrieve

Start by attaching your spinner and crankbait to your highly sensitive rod. This method is based on trial and error. You’ve to cast your rod several times to know the depth of your target.

Cast your rod near the water structures where crappies hide. When you get a bite, start slowly retrieving your line until you get a full grip of the fish. 

Your highly sensitive line will help you feel the crappie’s movements while you’re retrieving the line. Also, it’s recommended that you buy a 6- or 7-foot-long rod to get the hang of this technique.

4. Spider Rigging

If you’ve got a boat, then spider rigging is designed for your convenience. You may ask why it carries this name. Let me enlighten you with the reason! 

When you set up your gear for spider rigging, you’ll need 8-rod holders for 8, 12-foot-long rods to be placed in different positions on your boat. The scene resembles an 8-legged spider.

Each rod should have different bait or lure tied to its hook. So, the lure could go to different levels. When the crappie grabs a bite, you’ll learn where the schools of fish are located. Just then, you’ll be apple to adjust all the rods to the desired length and bait.

The method is a bit pricey because you’ll need a trolling motor and a fish finder on your boat, which will make your life easier.

Final Thoughts

You need to have patience if you take on fishing as a hobby or a profession, especially if you’ve picked crappies to be your prey. Crappies are sneaky and hard to catch. It may take you years to become a pro.

Fishers may adopt different fishing techniques, but they all agreed on the secret ingredient to a successful fishing trip, which is patience. Have a sprinkle of patience, and I promise you that you’ll have crappie for dinner.