While it is possible to catch crappie on any rod, from a cane pole to a fly rod, there are some types of equipment that will make the experience easier – and we have put together a full list of essential crappie fishing gear.
Just take a look in the fishing section of any big box store and you will find a multitude of lures, bobbers, lines, and rods that claim to be best for crappie fishing. It can be overwhelming to an inexperienced angler.
This article is intended to give you a no nonsense guide to what you really need for success in crappie fishing without blowing your budget.
Rod for crappie anglers
Crappie can be caught on just about any commercially available rod in the store, as is also true with most fish. In some instances, you might want a specific rod designed for crappie fishing.
In order to determine the best rod for your needs, consider the type of fishing you want to do in search of crappie. If you prefer a cast and retrieve method using artificial lures, a good quality baitcast or spinning combo will work just fine.
If you want to catch crappie by jig fishing, you will want a longer, more sensitive rod. Most crappie anglers prefer a 10 to 12 foot crappie pole. These are available in two or three piece sectioned rods or telescopic types of poles.
When shopping for jigging poles, take the time to handle each one. See how it feel in your hand. Shake it to see how flexible the rod is and how sensitive the tip is.
You want an ultralight rod with fast action when crappie fishing. Because crappie don’t actually pounce on the bait like a bass might, the only indicator you may have of a fish on the line is the rod tip.
If you plan to use spider rigs, you want moderately long rods with long, sturdy handles that will stay secure in rod holders. Most anglers choose 10 foot long fishing rods for spider rigging.
Reel for crappie
Get the reel that fits your rod and feels comfortable to use. Crappie fishing tackle is not that different from any other fishing equipment. Reels for crappie rods include baitcast reels, spinning reels (here are some suitable candidates), spincast reels, and round reels that resemble those typically used on fly rods.
No matter what reel you choose, you want to be sure it works well with lightweight fishing line. For crappie fishing you want a reel that allows quick retrieval. Generally, this means you should shop for a reel with a higher gear ratio.
Spool the reel with 4 pound test line. This can be monofilament light line or braided line. Many anglers prefer high visibility line, but that is a personal choice.
Essential Lures For Catching Crappie
Catching crappie with artificial lures is often the preferred method because fragile minnows tend to die after one or two casts or fling off the hook during long casts.
Artificial fishing lures include crankbaits, soft bodied plastic baits, plugs, spinner baits, and flies. Experienced anglers should be able to catch crappie on any of these lures, but those new to crappie fishing will likely start with live bait or jigs.
Fishing jigs are small, soft bodied plastic bodies that are hooked onto a jig head or hook. Most crappie anglers prefer to use small hollow tube jigs with a skirted bottom. Most crappie jigs are around an inch to an inch and a half in length and they come in an assortment of colors.
To use this type of light jig, you purchase a weighted metal hook called a jig head. These are round metal heads with painted on eyes. A hook is molded onto the jig head. The jig heads are weighted. For crappie fishing, you want jig heads weighing less than 1/8 oz.
Jigs come in a multitude of colors and styles. By far, the most popular color is chartreuse. This neon greenish yellow shows up well in stained or muddy water, but still attracts fish in clear water.
Other types of jigs include long, swimming tails on a solid plastic body, feathered maribou jigs, and minnow shaped bodies that can be hooked to a jig head. One popular type, the Bobby Garland baby shad, has a bulbous body with a long, thin tail.
If you are a beginning jig fisherman, you can purchase a small crappie tackle set that will have a few of each of these types of jigs for you to try out.
Another type of crappie catching lures is the crankbait. Crankbaits are made of molded plastic and often painted to resemble live bait. The crankbait will look like a small fish. It might have a clear plastic diving bill attached to the front. A ring on the front gives you a place to tie your line.
Crankbaits come in many different sizes and styles. Shallow water crankbaits allow you to fish at depths up to 5 feet deep. Deep water crankbaits are meant to dive toward the bottom of the lake and are often used in the summer to locate fish on drop offs and underwater islands.
You use a crankbait by tying it directly t o your fishing line and casting it out a far distance. Then retrieve it by using alternating slow and fast reeling.
Crankbaits are available with extra crappie attracting flashiness like spinning spoons, rattles, and reticulating sections. Some have a treble hook suspended underneath. Others have two sets of hooks.
One popular crankbait is the rooster tail spinner. This small, tube shaped lure has an attached feathered tail and small safety pin spinners. On the market since the 1950’s, it is still a favorite crappie fishing lure.
When choosing crappie lures, don’t overlook things you might already have in your tackle box, like the long rubber worm you use to catch bass. These work great when fishing heavy brush. Just be sure to have the hook point securely embedded into the body of the worm for weedless retrieval.
Curly tailed worms pull crappie out of hiding places with their swimming motion. Other crappie catching lures that work well are gulp baits. After seeing the success minnow fisherman had catching crappie on live bait, synthetic minnows were created.
Soft bodied frogs and grasshoppers work well for crappie during the spring spawn, when they are close to shore and voraciously feeding after their long winter diet.
Other lures to try include spinner baits and buzzbaits, mostly thin wire models in smaller sizes. . While you wouldn’t normally think of these as crappie lures, these things work pretty well for crappie fishing. Larger jigs prove useful when a group of crappie is chasing bait fish. As I said before, you don’t necessarily need special gear when crappie fishing.
For more info, check out our article on the top 20 crappie lures.
Other Essential Gear to Catch Crappie
Other crappie fishing tackle to have in your tackle box includes an assortment of split shot in 1/64 to 1/8 oz sizes, size 4 and 6 Aberdeen hooks and a few different types of bobbers for live bait minnow fishing.
Nice things to have, but certainly not necessary include rod holders for spider rigging, fish attractant spray, and attractant baits like crappie nibbles.
Crappie nibbles are soft, dough-like nibs that look like kernels of corn. They are impregnated with a scent to attract the fish. They can be used alone or on the tip of hook points under lures or live bait.
Maps of your favorite fishing lakes can be helpful for finding underwater islands and stepping drop offs. The best maps are laminated and foldable or mounted in a book.
If your reel combo has the ability, and extra ultralight spinning reel can be handy in case something goes wrong with the one you are using.
A fishing finder and trolling motor on your boat make it easy to get to the fish, no matter where they are hiding.
Crappie fishing is an enjoyable activity, and you can make it as complicated or as simple as you want. A live minnow suspended under a bobber and cast from the bank will catch crappie just as well as a 12 foot, telescopic crappie rod with an umbrella rig slow lined behind a crappie boat. It all comes from knowing which method to use at which time of year, how to present the bait, and how familiar you are with the waterbody in which you are fishing.
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