The 7 Best Baits for Crappie Fishing (Reviewed)
Looking for the best bait for crappie fishing?
Crappie are one of the most popular fish to catch for sport, they’re easy to find in lakes across the United States. Black crappie and white crappie are among the most common, however, there are many different varieties of this game fish.
Crappie also have many nicknames, you might hear them referred to as papermouths, speckled perch, calico bass, and many other variations. As many names as there are for crappie, there are even more baits and lures on offer to help you catch them.
7 Best Baits for Crappie Fishing - Overview
And here's an overview of the best baits for crappie fishing on the market today
A huge range of different baits confront the angler when shopping for a new crappie lure, so it can be hard to pinpoint which to choose. There are many factors to take into account when picking out a bait to cast; water clarity, weather conditions, depth of your part of the lake, the season of the year, water temperature, and additionally your own technique and personal preference has an impact. With so much to consider, we’ve put together this handy buying guide to lay out all of your options.
Traditionally, a simple minnow on a float was used to catch crappie, but baits and lures have evolved a long way since then. Most crappie anglers favor jigs and minnows for their tackle, however, crankbaits and spinnerbaits can also be the ideal choice. It all depends on the conditions you’re fishing in. Read on to discover all of our favorite baits for catching crappie.
1. Strike King Mr. Crappie Sausage Heads Jig Head
This sausage-shaped jig is a great weedless bait, even though it has an open hook. The hook is an Eagle Claw Laser Sharp Platinum Black hook, which pairs excellently with this Strike King crappie bait to ensure you catch a bite. The specially designed sausage-shaped head is similar to that of a football jig, however, this Mr. Crappie lure won’t roll over in the water. You can buy the Strike King Mr. Crappie Sausage Heads Jig Head in 1/16 oz and ⅛ oz sizes.
Crappie are often deeply hidden within underwater structures such as brush piles and downed trees, and it’s vital you don’t snag your line in these areas. Using a weedless bait such as this jig head from Strike King is ideal so your tackle stays free of vegetation. Casting and vertical jigging are a highly effective way to use this bait to catch crappie. It’s also ideal for fishing heavy cover.
The Strike King Mr. Crappie Sausage Jig Head is a high-quality bait, however, it isn’t as durable as some other options. However, these lures do come in a pack of three, and offer great value for money. The jig stands out in the water and is fairly large in size, promising to attract the attention of unsuspecting passing crappie.
If you’re fishing for crappie at night or in low light, it’s highly beneficial to use a scented bait to better catch the fish's attention. Using this method can help you to catch crappie even when there isn’t enough light for the fish to spot your bait. This fishing lure doesn’t come scented, so adding an attractant to your jig can make it more effective.
2. Berkley Powerbait Crappie Nibbles
- PowerBait original chrome glow crappie nibbles are a glowing formula for visual attraction from a greater distance
Berkeley’s Powerbait formula is completely irresistible to crappie. The scent, taste, and even the color of these Crappie Nibbles is perfect for making bites more likely and even make the fish hold on to your hook for longer. Berkely Powebait Crappie Nibbles will definitely help you to catch more crappie, the fish simply can’t stay away. You can use these Crappie Nibbles in any angling conditions and with any other tackle, you would like, as they’re effective no matter the weather or time of day.
Powerbait Nibbles come in a range of different colors; yellow, pink, white, and chartreuse. While the hue of your bait does have an effect on attracting fish, these Crappie Nibbles go one step further. Each piece of bait emits a strong glow of the color it holds, to make it even more visible to passing fish. Once in the water, Berkely Powerbait Nibbles release a scent cloud to attract even more crappie from larger distances. These lures are also highly effective on panfish, so as an angler you’ll have plenty of choices.
Try out these Crappie Nibbles with a small hook and bobber, or use them to make your jigs even more attractive. The only downside to these irresistible baits is that they can also attract the fish you aren’t targeting. Their small size and weight make them easy to steal without the angler noticing, a fact which smaller fish like minnows in your pond might be quick to realize. In this case, you might suffer from tiny thieves eating the bait before a larger fish has the chance, thus missing out on your bite.
3. Rapala Jointed Shad Rap 04 Fishing Lure
- The adrenaline-pumping X-rap slashbait has Xtreme attitude with its hard-cutting, aggressive darting action
Although jigs are much more popular, sometimes a crankbait is more suited to your crappie fishing trip. If you need to search a larger area of the lake and don’t have much time, a crappie bait like the Rapala Jointed Shad Rap 04 Fishing Lure is ideal for trolling. This bait features a streamlined lip to allow it to dive smoothly into the water, and quickly. Once you’ve cast your line, this lightweight bait will float in the water column giving it a great presentation.
Reeling in this jointed shad bait gives it a frantic swimming movement, convincingly mimicking a small injured baitfish. This is ideal prey for hungry crappie, and the bait also vibrates and rattles, attracting even more attention from the game fish. Several colors of this bait are available, among them are olive flash and bleeding chartreuse. These hues and designs are additionally beneficial in tricking your target crappie into thinking it’s found an easy snack.
This lightweight and streamlined lure allows for a quick and easy cast and retrieve, making your fishing experience much more pleasant. The Rapala Disjointed Shad 04 is about 4 inches in length, making it the ideal size for crappie. This lure is big enough to attract the largest fish you’re targeting, without scaring away the smaller bites. Spring and summer are the best time to use this lure, as it isn’t very effective in murky water. While the movement of this lure is excellent at attractive bites, the hooks can be a bit too small to actually reel in a catch. It’s also worth noting that the dive distance might not be enough to reach the lowest crappie-holding structures in deeper water.
4. Eagle Claw Crappie Jig
Feathered jigs are the perfect springtime crappie lure when the game fish gather together in larger schools. Cast a bait like the Eagle Claw Crappie Jig into the middle of a large group of fish, and you’re bound to get a bite. This versatile bait is easy to use, useful for vertical jigging as well as twitching underneath a small bobber. The size of this crappie jig is 1/16 oz, and it comes in five different colors.
The range of colors means you can use this jig to a good effect in several different water conditions; pale hues like chartreuse, pink and white are best on sunny days and in clear water, while darker yellow and black are much more effective in low light and murkier lakes. With a metal head and shaft and a feathered tail, this jig subtly disturbs the water and draws in the interest of crappie. Mimicking an insect or baitfish to your unsuspecting game, these lures will attract a bite and continue to interest the fish even after they’ve been hooked.
Unfortunately, this jig does not have a very weedless design. This means it can become tangled in cover quite easily, and you may have to cut it loose. On the other hand, Eagle Claw Crappie Jigs offer good value and come in packs of 6, so you’ll likely have a replacement in your tackle box. We recommend you keep your lines tight when jigging with this lure, as it’s small size can easily float off in the wrong direction.
5. Johnson Beetle Spin Nickel Blade
- This genuine nickel plated blade beetle spin is simple and easy to use for the novice or avid angler
A simple spinner like the Johnson Beetle is a valuable addition to any anglers collection, as it’s simple to use but highly effective. This bait features a nickel-plated blade that flashes and attracts the attention of fish from some serious distances. Meanwhile, the lure itself imitates a beetle suspended in the water, about one inch in length and a perfect bite-sized snack for a hungry game fish.
This lightweight lure needs a fine line to cast, so take care you don’t overload it. In murky water and low light conditions, this spinnerbait can attract the attention of crappie and tempt a bite. Then, the sticky-sharp hook will ensure you can reel in your catch. If you’re fishing at night, try swapping the jig to a scented lure and combine the spinners flashes with the attractant. With this setup, a simple beetle bait becomes an irresistible draw for catching crappie.
This simple bait can be very effective, in a range of different conditions. However, due to the lightweight design which allows for movement and vibration of the bait, this lure isn’t as durable as we’d expect. It only weighs 1/32 of an ounce after all, so if you need a heavier duty bait we recommend using something larger, such as a crankbait.
6. Berkley Powerbait Power Minnow
- PowerBait realistix micro power minnow is great for jig trailers, spinner rigs or other bottom bouncing rigs
Minnows have long been the angler's first choice as bait for crappie, and this soft plastic minnow from Berkley is no different. You can use this lure in conjunction with jigs, drop shots, and spinnerbaits, as it’s highly effective at enticing a bite. The design of this plastic bait is lifelike and detailed, with 3D eyes, a split tail and a holographic insert to closely mimic a crappie's favorite food.
If you’re an avid fan of using live bait to catch crappie, then give this amazing lure from Berkley a try. The trademark Powerbait scent is infused into this crappie bait, making it smell and taste completely irresistible. Once it hits the water, the attractant will actually release a cloud, bringing yet more crappie into your area to catch. The Berkley Powerbait Power Minnow is easy to fish, and just as effective as a live minnow would be. As well as crappie, these artificial baits are great for walleye and bass fishing.
Unlike live bait, there’s no need to refrigerate this artificial lure from Berkley, in general, it’s much more convenient than using live bait. The tailspin gives this lure a unique and realistic movement, ensuring good presentation in the water. However, the hook is quite small, so you might struggle to catch the larger crappie. Also, because the material used in this bait is a soft plastic, durability isn’t the best and you may need to replace your bait after a few big bites.
7. Strike King Shadalicious Swimbait
This swimbait from Strike King has excellent movement action and incredibly lifelike design, making it our absolute favorite swimbait for crappie. For anglers who enjoy trolling deep water, or like a cast and retrieve technique, we recommend you try out this convincing crappie lure. The body of the Strike King Shadalicious Swimbait is soft and hollow, allowing you to add additional attractants inside. Meanwhile, the tail gives a paddling motion which is highly effective at attracting crappie.
This crappie bait comes in four different sizes, from 3.5 to 6.5 inches. You can select a size based on the size of fish that you’re targeting, or simply buy one of each so your tackle box will be fully stocked. Try bouncing the bait slowly along the bottom of your lake, or cast and retrieve in shallow water.
Like many other soft plastic lures, this Strike King swimbait struggles when it comes to durability. The flexible material gives the lure excellent movement and presentation, however, it can easily become damaged after a few large bites. In comparison with the Berkley Power Minnow, this bait lacks the scent which really gives your lure the edge. You can add an attractant to soft plastic lures, however, so we recommend doing this to really get the most out of every cast.
For many years, live minnows have been the angler's choice of bait for catching crappie. It’s not hard to understand the reason, and that’s why the Berkley Powerbait Power Minnow is our pick for best bait for crappie. The lifelike design and presentation of this lure combined with the downright irresistible Powerbait formula is perfect for catching prize-winning crappie, so try it out today and catch yourself a big one!
If you liked this article, why not check out another of our buying guides, like the best ice fishing boots. If you want a successful and enjoyable fishing experience, the first step is to be well equipped, from your baits and lures all the way down to your boots.
Bonus tip: Check out this video on how to locate crappie in your lake!