5 Crappie Fishing Tips

There are few things better than hitting your favorite creeks, coves, and canals for a day of crappie fishing. Whether you’re a new angler or a seasoned veteran looking for some crappie fishing tips to change up your technique this season, we have you covered.

Here, we’ll give you five tips and tricks that will help you refine your rig, choose the right bait, and use the best technique when you’re fishing for crappie.

Understanding crappie – details about the species

If you want to be successful at crappie fishing, first you’ll need to learn more about the species. This information can help you better predict their behavior, what they’ll eat, and where to find them. Here, we’ll give you some interesting facts about these freshwater fish.

The difference between black and white crappie

There are two main species of crappie, black and white. Although they differ in appearance, their name doesn’t necessarily mean the fish will be that color. 

If you’re crappie fishing for the white species, you’ll notice they have a vertical bar pattern that runs down the length of their body. The black variety usually has sporadic speckles on its scales. Another differentiator is their body shape –  white crappie has up to six spines, but black crappie can have up to eight. 

The most important crappie fishing tip for an angler to know about the two species is that they have different diet preferences. You’ll want to know what type you’re after so that you pick the best type of bait.

In general, white crappie live in open, murky, or muddy water, and they prefer to eat minnows and shad. 

 Black crappie enjoys the shade and will gravitate towards areas with a lot of vegetation in clear water. They are more likely to eat worms, insects, and small crawfish. 

Crappie behavior

Regardless of species, if you’re honing your crappie fishing technique, it’s helpful also to understand their behavior. They like underwater structures and will congregate in areas that have weeds, fallen trees, or other materials that provide shade and camouflage. 

They prefer deeper water but will come closer to the shore when they’re hungry and want to feed. Peak feeding times are at dawn and dusk, and that’s when you’ll have the best luck catching them.

One exception that will cause them to break that routine is when it’s time to spawnDuring that period, crappie flock to shallow water in large groups, making them both easier to see and catch.

5 crappie fishing secrets

Using a few of these crappie fishing techniques the next time you head to your favorite spot could help you catch more fish. Here are a few insider tips to refine your bait, knots, and rigs to see an improvement.

1. Pick the right bait

Crappie fishing bait is a very personal choice, and many anglers swear by one type over another for best results. Whether you’re using live or artificial bait, the most critical step is choosing one that matches what your fish like to eat. 

If you’re chasing black crappie, worms or crawfish work well. If reeling in white crappie is your goal, stick with minnows or shad. Although it’s possible that the different species will respond to bait that’s outside of their normal diet, you’re more likely to get lucky if you stick with what they know.

2. Use the right rig

If you’re fishing with live bait, it’s crucial you have the right crappie fishing rigging to get your bait and lure noticed. Try combining a razor-sharp #6 Octopus hook with a small weight and a slip bobber that will allow you to adjust your setup to match the water depth.

Bait a live minnow, and make sure to hook it right behind the top of their dorsal fin or through both lips so that it maintains movement and catches the attention of nearby crappie.

3. Adjust your depth

One of the more well-known crappie fishing secrets is that they prefer dark, deeper, cool water until they’re ready to feed. Make sure to adjust your rig so that you’re hitting the right depth to find the areas where the fish are during the time of day you’re casting your line.

If you’re heading out in the morning or evening, you can stick to shallower water near the shore. During the day, especially in the hot summer months, you might need to go as deep as six feet to find them.

4. Hold the line tight

One of the challenges of fishing for crappie is that they have a  soft lip. That means it’s possible they will tear when you hook them, or they can shake loose if you give them room to do so. Keep your line tight and be ready for them to fight when they bite.

5. Know where to look

Because different species of crappie have different behaviors, and they can live in several different freshwater environments, it’s important to know where to look when you want to catch one.

It won’t matter if you have the best rig, bait, and crappie fishing lures available if you can’t find the fish.

Prime areas to scout for crappie are freshwater creeks, coves, and canals that have lots of vegetation or places that can provide cover. Tree limbs, eelgrass, underwater brush, weeds, or rocks are all good signs that you might spot fish in the area.

 In the summer months, expect them to be in deeper, cooler water taking shelter. In winter, they may come closer to shore to stay warm or hibernate in schools. If you find a large group, drop a line to see if you can stir them and haul in a great catch.

Looking for a new rig? Check out our list of the best baitcasting reels.

FAQs About Crappie Fishing

What is the best time of day to go crappie fishing, and how does this differ from other types of fishing?

The best time to go crappie fishing is typically early in the morning or late in the afternoon, as crappie are most active during these times. This differs from other types of fishing, where mid-day may be a more productive time to fish.

What is the best location to find crappie fish, such as underwater structures or vegetation?

The best location to find crappie fish is near underwater structures, such as fallen trees, docks, or brush piles. They also tend to congregate near vegetation, such as water lilies or grasses.

What type of bait or lure should be used when crappie fishing, and how should it be presented to the fish?

Small minnows, jigs, or soft plastics are effective baits for crappie fishing. The bait should be presented at varying depths until the fish are located, and then fished at that depth.

How can you tell the difference between a crappie fish and other similar fish species, and what are some identifying characteristics?

Crappie fish have a distinct body shape, with a compressed body and large dorsal fin. They also have a distinctive color pattern, with black spots and a silvery-white underside.

What are some tips for cleaning and preparing crappie fish for cooking, and what are some popular recipes for cooking crappie?

To clean and prepare crappie fish for cooking, first remove the head and guts, then scale and fillet the fish. Crappie is a versatile fish that can be prepared in a variety of ways, such as fried, baked, or grilled. Popular recipes include crappie cakes, crappie tacos, and crappie sandwiches.

Final thoughts

There are lots of different approaches to catching crappie, and these tips and tricks can take your technique up a notch. By learning more about the most common species, scouting their environment, and using bait that’s likely to appeal to them, you’ll lure them to you easily.

Regardless of which tips you use, remember improving your technique, and staying patient are two keys to helping you become a better angler.


About the Author

Trey is a lifelong hunter and avid camper. He lives outside Denver, CO with his wife Kaci and their lab mix Ziggy. They spend as much time as possible outdoors - hunting, fishing, and camping.

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