Whether you pronounce crappie as "croppy" or "crappy," your crappie-hunting fishing expedition for the lively, silvery-green panfish is still sweet. Nothing beats finding an underwater school of famished crappies that keep an angler busy reeling in, netting, and checking and replacing bait or lures. To optimize crappie catching, it's important to use the most appropriate lures available.
Hungry crappies are lured by a variety of natural baits. Topping the list are inch-long minnows that most anglers hook through back behind its top fin, without piercing the minnow's spine so the fish remains active underwater. Short-shanked hooks should be small and suitable for panfish. Other natural lures include mealworms, crayfish, maggots—sometimes called silver wigglers or mousies—and waxworms.
Another popular crappie lure is the lead-headed jig, especially a jig with a fuzzy, flowing tail made from feathers, fur or hair, threadlike plastic strips, or chenille. Simple, tail-less lead-headed jigs are also effective. The heads of all jigs are painted to mimic the head of an insect or small fish. Using a jig for crappies requires a subtle, come-hither, up-and-down movement to draw the crappie's attention.
Spinner blades are excellent lures when fishing in weeds or trailing a line in the water and reeling it in slowly to attract crappies. Narrow, leaf-shaped spinner blades sparkle and reflect as they move through the water. Slimmer spinner blades are more suitable for fishing in weedy areas. In any case, these attention-grabbing lures spin and disturb the water, much like a very small, flailing fish.
Curly-tailed grubs come in assorted colors and have a soft plastic body that ends in a curly, swirling tail. These inch- or inch-and-a-half-long curly-tailed lures are threaded onto the hook of a lead-headed jig and create a lot of movement as their tails swish seductively through the water. Crappies can't resist white, black or chartreuse curly-tails.
Spinners look a lot like jigs with fuzzy tails but with the addition of a tiny, spoonlike spinner attached to a bent wire shaft that juts out at an angle from the lead-weighted head. Spinners create more flash and dazzle in the water, though aren't really suited to fishing in weeds, as the wire shaft can catch and snag on vegetation.
Small, hard-bodied crankbaits work well for fishing in deeper waters. A large, oval of clear plastic juts out from the head of the crankbait and resembles something like a huge lip on the lure. Lipless crankbaits are also available. Crankbaits have treble hooks and shimmy crazily through the water in a hard-to-miss manner that drives crappies wild. Again, as with other lures for crappies, crankbaits should be no longer that an inch and a half.
Bright-colored, soft-bodied lures in fluorescent shades such as fuchsia, bright green, glowing chartreuse and yellow are perfect for murky, muddied water when fishing for crappies. If fishing at night or on a cloudy day, it's best to use black, brown or smoky colors that match the natural surroundings.
To intensify the frenzy of a school of hungry crappies, many anglers use sonic lures, or lures that rattle as they skim through the water. Crappies are keen to vibrations in the water, and lures with rattles built inside of them can snag the attention of even the most blasé crappie.
Though most people connect flies and fly-fishing with trout, crappie flies are highly efficient little lures that can surprise and snag a crappie's attention. Flies are light, feathery, insectlike lures that are typically cast on top of the water. Some anglers lace the tip of the fly with the head of a worm or maggot.
Natural bait such as small minnows, worms and insects added to almost any lures used to entice crappies will improve your chances for a successful crappie catch. Simply work the bait onto the lure's hook and work the lure as usual.