Crappies are scrappy little fish that are fun to catch and delicious to eat. Because they congregate around “stick ups” like stands of water grasses, downed tree limbs, or bridges and boat docks, crappies are easy to reach from shore positions. Those with limited casting skills can easily catch scads of crappies by “jigging” for them rather than casting. Crappie jigs come in dozens of colors. Choose the color by environmental factors like natural food sources and water clarity, but be prepared to experiment with colors.
Natural Minnow Jigs
Crappies, particularly the much-desired “plate-sized” versions, feed on tiny minnows as enthusiastically as other species of sport and panfish. You can purchase crappie jigs made of soft plastic that look very much like real minnows, down to the silver and blue, or silver and green coloring of the skin and the large silver eye. Make sure you use the small minnow jigs, not the larger minnow jigs meant for bass and walleye fishing.
A popular takeoff on the artificial minnow crappie jig is the tube jig made from soft plastic that has silver flecks impregnated in the tube body. The head of the jig is usually painted black or white and has a painted eye on it. This kind of tube jig approximates the silver “flash” of a minnow and can entice crappie to bite.
Hot lemon-lime or chartreuse-colored jigs are perennial favorites among all anglers, from bass anglers to crappie hunters. Chartreuse crappie jigs, made from marabou feathers or bucktail, are particularly effective in cloudy waters. The theory is that crappie can see this color from some distance despite a lot of silt or vegetation in the water.
Hot Pink Skirts
Hot pink is another popular color in marabou or bucktail feathered crappie jigs. Hot pink can work in the same cloudy water conditions as chartreuse-colored jigs, theoretically. When presented with the right line action—a darting “bounce” produced by a slight jigging or dancing of the tip of the fishing pole—a hot pink jig can strike crappie gold.
White is another favorite color choice among crappie fans. White is very visible in cloudy waters and in water that is choppy and confused due to wind on the surface of the lake or pond.
If you locate a swarm of crappies that are hungry, any color—and nearly anything for that matter—can be jigged effectively. Crappies have even struck a piece of aluminum foil or a bit of red cloth. Do not be afraid to try any and every hue of crappie jig available, including dark green, blue and black jigs, in very clear water. Because crappies school together and often feed in a frenzy like sharks, you may find you can catch dozens of them, one after another continuously, as soon as you put the right jig in the water. Experiment to find the “color of the day.”
- “The Crappie Book: Basics and Beyond”; Keith Sutton; 2006
- “Pro Tactics: Panfish: Use the Secrets of the Pros to Catch Bluegill, Crappie, and Perch”; Jason Durhan; 2008
- Bass Pro Shops: Jig and Minnow Crappie