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8 Best Crappie Baits: Pro Anglers Guide

Kyle W by Kyle W Updated on April 1, 2021.

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Few fish are as notoriously fickle as the famous crappies. Typically, and for an unknown reason, they only hit a bait of a certain wiggle, shape, size, or wobble.

These little creatures only opt for a bait sporting multiple, well-defined hues or one bait color. Other times, they gravitate more towards fast, tight-twitching lures or those with a broad and slow-wiggling pace.

Today, it may be a 1/32-ounce or 1/8-ounce, and tomorrow a 1/16-ounce bait is what it takes to catch them. Configuration and jig size also varies, ranging from curly or straight tail, marabou or bucktail, to soft plastic, chenille, or Mylar. Either way, they decide. You serve the entrée.

Figuring out the best crappie bait to buy can leave you scratching your head in utter confusion and frustration, to say the least. Therefore, we’ve narrowed down your search to 8 of the best baits that will get the job done by consistently putting slabs in your fishing canoe. Read on!

1. Best Feathered: Eagle Claw Crappie Jig

Best Feathered- Eagle Claw Crappie Jig

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You may not realize how effective jigging is, particularly in the spring, when crappies usually congregate in large schools. As a result, you can plunge a jig right in the middle for an almost assured bite.

Some of the most effective crappie jigs are also usually the simplest. A great example is the Eagle Claw. Available in variations of 1/32 ounces and 1/16 ounces, it can be fished in a boatload of ways, from twitching below a bobber to jigging vertically.

The jig comprises a metal shaft ad head, feather tail for subtle in-water action, and a thread body that generates the most ideal level of vibration to trigger interest. You’ll notice the head is painted with a contrasting dot that closely resembles a baitfish’s eye.

On sunny days or when angling in clear water, opting for lighter colors such as pink, white, or chartreuse guarantees the best outcome.

When fishing in stained water, choose darker colors such as black or a blend of black and yellow. Furthermore, with six jigs per packet, you have sufficient backups if you have to cut one or two loose.

2. Best Soft Plastic Jig: Berkley Power Bait

Best Soft Plastic Jig- Berkley Power Bait

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If you’re on the quest for the best crappie bait that doubles as a bottom-bouncing or spinner rig and rig trailer, then the Berkley Power Bait wraps up your search. With a split-tail design, this product has a life-like motion that echoes the action of a wounded baitfish and gets the job done as a finesse visualization of pressured lakes.

It looks impressively realistic, courtesy of a pair of 3D eyes coupled with holographic inserts.

The iconic Power Bait from Berkley impregnates the minnow with its flavor formula and scent that has been developed for more than two decades to lure fish into hanging on up 18 times longer. As a result, this gives you the leeway to properly adjust your hook and reel them in at leisure.

The Berkley Power Bait is 2 inches long, making it the perfect size not only for crappies but also other freshwater species such as trout, bass, and perch. A black patterned jig is linked here along with smelt and firetiger. Each pack of this crappie bait comes with 10 minnows, two pre-rigged on the hook, and ready for fishing.

3. Best Plastic Tube: Strike King Mr. Crappie

Best Plastic Tube- Strike King Mr. Crappie

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As a collaboration of pro angler Wally Marshall, nicknamed Mr. Crappie, and the renowned tackle company Strike King, this product is particularly designed to catch delicious pan-fish.

Strike King Mr. Crappie can be linked to a jig head for bouncing along the bottom, casting, and trolling, or used alongside a vertical drop shot rig. Constructed from top-notch silicone, the bait is 1¾ inches long with a sturdy ripple body that lures in a multitude of crappies due to its close resemblance to delicious grub.

The intriguing features of Strike King Mr. Crappie give you the best bang for your buck. For instance, the glitter flecks that mimic the shimmer of baitfish scales.

Secondly, a tail with multiple strands flares out at a 90-degree angle, causing vibrations easily detectable by the fish’s lateral line. It’s this canny combo of various factors geared towards triggering a feeding frenzy, and more often than not, it works like a charm.

For aesthetics, you can take your pick among the assortment of colors such as bluegrass, chartreuse glitter tail, and black tuxedo sparkle.

It’s worth noting that the soft plastic is vulnerable to nibbles and, therefore, isn’t as durable as other crappie lures. However, with each packet having 15 grubs, Strike King Mr. Crappie is worth every coin.

4. Best Swimbait: Strike King Shadalicious 

Best Swimbait- Strike King Shadalicious

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Do you gravitate towards retrieve-fishing, casting, and trolling? Then the Strike King Shadalicious was designed with you in mind. As the best crappie bait for you, it delivers a steady and slow retrieve with rigging on a weighted hook or open jig head.

The paddle tail coupled with the soft, hollow body gives the bait a side-to-side and life-like swimming action that hungry crappies cannot resist.

Realistic color patterns such as ghost shad and blue gizzard match this crappie baits movement. If you prefer a more eye-catching shade, then the chartreuse pearl belly is right up your alley.

Strike King Shadalicious is available in 4 sizes, ranging from 6.5, 3.5, and 5.5 to 4.5 inches.  These sizes grant you free rein to match the bait size to that of your hook, allowing you to target different-sized crappies.

With more practice, tailoring your catch to suit the number of people you want to feed is a walk in the park.

5. Best Crankbait for Shallow Water: Rapala Jointed Shad Rap

Best Crankbait for Shallow Water- Rapala Jointed Shad Rap

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Although crankbaits are not as popular as jigs, they are undoubtedly your best bet when you’re fishing in unfamiliar territory and need to cover a large area in a short duration. Measuring 1.5 inches long, the Rapala Jointed Shad Rap is the ideal size for crappies.

Its fast-diving lip provides a shallow fishing depth that falls anywhere between 4 and 6 feet. In contrast, the lightweight plastic body allows the bait to hang suspended in the water column when stationary. In turn, the Rapala Jointed Shad Rap gives a vulnerable visualization that proves fatal for unsuspecting fish.

As you keep reeling, the jointed construction gives the body a broad swimming action that resembles a baitfish’s movements in distress. The sonic vibrations that the bait’s loud rhythmic rattle emits exacerbate the movement.

Color patterns such as chartreuse bleeding shad and bleeding olive flash create the illusion of a wounded baitfish. Furthermore, alternatives such as red crawdad and baby bass score points for realism.

Other highlights of the Rapala Jointed Shad Rap crappie bait are its top-grade black VMC treble hooks along with the tank-tested and hand-tuned quality.

6. Best Crankbait for Deep-Diving: Norman Lures Little N

Best Crankbait for Deep-Diving- Norman Lures Little N

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Featuring an angled and rounded lip, Norman Lures Little N can dive in a jiffy to soar to depths of 9ft to 12ft. It’s an ideal option if you’re on the quest for a deep-diving bait that’s perfect for fishing in fall when crappies delve deeper into the water.

Norman Lures Little N is 2.5 inches long and perfectly-sized to target bigger crappies and other game fish. As such, it’s a versatile addition to your tackle box, weighing 3/8 ounces and equipped with two sharp treble hooks.

The lure’s plump shade gives it a unique, fairly wide wiggle, particularly designed to produce aggressive strikes. Upon learning that Norman Lures Little N is the best crappie bait for you, consider purchasing a boatload of lures in various shades.

After all, you have more than 80 color patterns to select from, such as spring craw, lavender, and rainbow trout. Some of these color patterns incorporate glitter to accomplish a life-like iridescent dazzle and are safeguarded against wear and tear by a hardy gel coating.

7. Best In-Line Tail Spinner: Yakima Bait Worden’s

Best In-Line Tail Spinner- Yakima Bait Worden’s

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As one of the classic baits that have proved effective in catching freshwater species since the 1950s, Yakima Bait Worden’s spinner is available in varying weights. Nonetheless, fishing connoisseurs suggest selecting a smaller 1/24-ounce or 1/32-ounce when targeting crappies.

With an in-line weighted body, this bait delivers exceptional spinning action. On the other hand, the pulsating hackle tail carefully hides a sharp treble hook that is a beast at turning strikes into catches. The trick to the spinner’s allure is the copper, silver, or brass blade that emanates appealing vibrations.

Although you can take your pick from more than 100 colors or patterns, each is tailored to shine through in certain environments, ranging from the location and water clarity to time of year.

Frog, brown trout, and crawdad, to mention a few, are realistic examples of natural crappie prey. Glitter chartreuse, UV finishes, and metallic flame tiger are eye-catching patterns that spark the fish’s curiosity and tempt them to take bites.

8. Best for Ice Fishing: VMC TGS18SH Tingler Spoon

Best for Ice Fishing- VMC TGS18SH Tingler Spoon

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If you intend to embark on crappie fishing in the northern United States or Canada when winter rolls around, a bait designed with ice fishing in mind is just what the doctor ordered. For instance, the VMC’s TGS18SH Tingler Spoon.

Measuring 1.5 by 1.5 by 0.1 inches and weight 1/32 ounces, this crappie bait’s unique knuckle bend gives it a slow, tumbling, or tingling action. Therefore, it’s ideal for enticing finicky biters or mimicking the lethargic behavior depicted by game fish in icy cold water.

For increased vibration and flash, the metallic attractor rubs against the hook and spoon. The UV bright finishing of the VMC TGS18SH Tingler Spoon reflects immense light, enhancing its visibility in the dim conditions synonymous with ice fishing.

Its glowing aspect, sharp treble hook, and holographic eye make this bait irresistible for hungry fish.

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Crappie Bait

8 Best Crappie Lures To Buy

Here’s a breakdown of a few considerations to keep in mind to ensure you choose the most ideal crappie bait for your fishing scenario.

Color

With the wealth of colors and patterns to pick from when it comes to baits, selecting the best option for you and your situation can have you engulfed in a wave of confusion.

Therefore, to put things into perspective and make your decision easier, keep in mind that if you’re fishing in murkier waters, using vibrantly-colored baits will make them stand out in low visibility.

Contrarily, when the water visibility is high, we recommend using natural colors that trick the fish into thinking it’s a genuine meal.

For night fishing, using dark baits is a great idea as they can be silhouetted in water in the low lighting. As a result, this tricks the crappies into thinking they are genuine fish. The bait color is of less importance if you’re using one that depends heavily on sound, such as spinners.

Size

Most crappie baits are relatively the same size, with minor differences being in a centimeter or two. As such, while some baits are constructed to catch a broader range of fish, they are visibly larger than the counterparts that solely target crappies.

Determining the ideal crappie bait size for your fishing adventures, you’ll need to decide the type of fish you’re targeting. If you’re open to a vast assortment, then opt for a bigger bait.

However, if you want to attract and mostly catch crappies along with other small to medium-sized fish, then a smaller bait is right up your alley.

Package Size

Factor in how much crappie fishing you intend to do. The more fishing you embark on, the greater the likelihood of frequently replacing your baits. If that’s the case, then a package that comes with multiple baits is a great fit for you.

If you plan to fish in clear and brackish water, a package with a mixture of solid-colored and transparent baits is right up your alley. You should also consider packages with different-sized crappie baits, varying from 3 to 12 pieces.

Conclusion

Upon managing to catch crappies, it’s no secret you’ll feel that sense of accomplishment. After all, catching them can be an uphill battle and typically requires immense patience.

However, by implementing our buyer’s guide and selecting any of the 8 recommendations, the likelihood of landing a few crappies is significantly higher.

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