What is the Best Crappie Fishing Lure?

The Best Crappie Fishing Lure is the Blakemore Road Runner

Crappie are one of the most popular freshwater game fish species. Many anglers choose to fish for them using artificial lures. There are many lures that will fool them. However, there is one lure that is particularly effective when crappie fishing.

The best crappie fishing lure is the Blakemore Road Runner. It is an extremely versatile and productive bait when fishing for crappie. The Blakemore Road Runner combines the bulk and action of a jig with the flash and vibration of a spinner. They are available in a wide variety of color combinations and several different sizes. Road Runner lures are effective, versatile, and economical.

best crappie fishing lure

Jigs have long been used by anglers to catch crappie, and for good reason. A jig is basically a hook with a lead weight molded at the head and dressed with a soft plastic or hair body. This lure has an erratic action in the water, particularly when falling. It can be fished at any depth effectively.

Spinners have long been used by freshwater anglers to catch crappie and other species. The rotating blade adds both flash and vibration, imitating wounded bait fish. The genius of the Blakemore Road Runner is that it combines both of these highly productive crappie fishing lures into one unit.

road runner

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Road Runner crappie fishing lure options

Road Runner are available dressed with hair, mostly marabou, and with soft plastic grub tales. Each have advantages and disadvantages. Marabou dressed to jigs are very effective and extremely lifelike in the water. The natural hair dressing undulate seductively in the water with even the slightest movement. These jigs come in many different color combinations.

Sarasota Crappie Fishing video

Many anglers prefer the soft plastic tails for their versatility. Anglers can quickly and easily change the color and action of the jig by simply changing the grub body tail. Also, the tails are easily replaced if they get chewed up or the curly tail is bitten off. Either way, anglers can’t go wrong choosing the marabou or soft plastic tailed Blakemore roadrunner lures.

Best crappie fishing rod and reel

Anglers fishing for crappie with Blakemore Road Runner lures mostly opt for light spinning tackle. Given that crappie average a pound or so, for pound or 6 pound light spinning outfits work very well. This outfit will work well whether casting lures, vertically fishing, or even trolling. Anglers fishing for larger crappie around heavy structure will have to bump it up a bit.

Click this link to shop Amazon for a Zebco Quantum rod and reel

fishing for crappie bluegill and panfish

Click to read a detailed article on crappie fishing tackle and lures

Choosing the best color and size for crappie fishing

Blakemore Road Runners are available in many different colors and several different sizes. As in all fishing situations, anglers fishing for crappie should match the lure to the current fishing situation and conditions. Water clarity, water depth, current, forage size, structure, and fish size are all factors that should be taken into account.

The 1/8 ounce size is an excellent all round size for most crappie fishing situations. It is small enough to catch average sized fish while large enough to attract trophy crappie. In darker, tannin stained waters, bright colors will be more productive. Pink and chartreuse are the top colors in stained water, with white being a another good choice. In clear water, white works very well. Chartreuse is the most popular color and works well in all conditions.

crappie fishing with minnows

Crappie fishing techniques

One of the key elements that makes the Blakemore roadrunner the best crappie fishing lure is its versatility. These lures can be cast out and retrieved, fished under a float, trolled, or even used to present a live bait.

Casting the best crappie fishing lure

Casting and retrieving the roadrunner is a very effective technique. This is most often used in shallow water were anglers want to keep a distance away from the cover being fished. The lure is cast out, allowed to sink, then reeled back in. In most cases, a slow steady retrieve works best. This is a very effective technique to use over submerged grass beds as well as around structure such as docs and fallen trees.

Sarasota crappie fishing

The Blakemore roadrunner is very effective when fished under a float as well. This serves a couple of different purposes. Allows anglers to suspend the lure at the desired depth, usually over submerged vegetation or structure. It also gives anglers a visual reference when a strike occurs as the float will disappear or move, indicating a strike.

In deeper water, anglers can vertically fish the Blakemore roadrunner quite effectively. This is a very efficient technique when crappie are located over deeper structure such as channel edges, creek beds, artificial reefs, and submerged timber. The bait is dropped down to the bottom and jig subtly. After a few moments, the angler reels up a few feet of line and repeats the process. This is an excellent way to catch suspended crappie, which can be difficult to catch at times.

Trolling for crappie

Trolling is a very efficient and effective way to locate and catch crappie. Trolling is simply the act of slowly moving the boat while pulling lures behind. This also allows anglers to present multiple baits at various levels at the same time. The roadrunner is an excellent lure to use when trolling for crappie as the combination of the flashing blade in the action of the lure body combined to attract fish.

crappie fishing in Texas

Trolling for crappie can be as simple or as complicated as an angler desires. In its easiest form, a couple of lures are simply trolled behind a slowly moving boat while the angler holds the rod in anticipation of a strike a couple of anglers can easily troll for rods using rod holders or just holding them.

Many anglers have taken trolling for crappie to a much higher level. A special technique called spider rigging is used by serious anglers. This involves the use of multiple special rods that vary and length up to 16 feet or more. It is usually done from the bow of the boat. This is a bit complicated as anglers have to constantly monitor many different rods and lines.

Using the Road Runner with live bait

Anglers fishing for crappie can even use Road runners to present a live bait. This is an option as the roadrunner is available bear, ready for a soft plastic grub body to be attached. This makes the lure an excellent choice when fishing with live bait, as it has weight, a hook, in the flash of a spinner all in one tidy little unit.

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Live minnows are the most popular bait used by anglers fishing for crappie. A 2 inch minnow hooked through both lips from the bottom works very well behind a roadrunner. Anglers can certainly use other baits such as nightcrawlers or worms as well.

More productive crappie fishing lures

While the Blakemore Rd., Runner is the best crappie fishing lure, there are certainly other baits which are effective as well. Several of these will be listed below.

Rooster Tail inline spinners

rooster tail

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Inline spinners are effective lures for just about every freshwater species, and crappie are no exception. The Worden’s Rooster Tail line of in-line spinners are very productive crappie fishing lures. They are available in many different color patterns, with the 1/8 ounce size being the best all round choice. They produce best with a very slow and steady retrieve. These lures can be cast out as well as trolled.

Mister Twister grubs

mister twister

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Mister Twister pretty much invented the curly tail jig back in the late 1970s. These lures revolutionized soft plastic baits. The 2 inch Mister Twister continues to be a very effective lure to this day. It is most often fished on a 1/16 ounce or 1/8 ounce jig head. It can be productive and every crappie fishing situation and is fished similarly to the roadrunner. The primary difference is that it does not have the flashing blade.

Rapala Husky Jerk

husky jerk

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The Rapala Husky Jerk in the 06 size is an excellent crappie fishing lure. It is a shallow diving plug that realistically mimics a wounded minnow. This lure floats on the surface and dive down several feet when retrieved. It works best in fairly shallow water and is an excellent choice for anglers targeting larger fish. Silver and gold are the top color patterns.

In conclusion, this article on the best crappie fishing lure will help anglers catch more of these desirable freshwater fish!

What is the Best Live Bait for Crappie Fishing?

What is the Best Live Bait for Crappie Fishing?

Crappie are one of the most popular freshwater game fish in North America. While they can be caught by anglers using artificial lures, a lot of crappie are caught on live bait. There are several effective live baits for crappie fishing. However, there is one live bait that stands out above the rest.

Live minnows are the best live bait for crappie fishing. While crappie feed on crustaceans and insects, the majority of their diet consists of smaller fish. Crappie have a fairly large mouth relative to their size which enables them to easily inhale a small minnow. There are a wide variety of live minnows available for anglers to use that can be either caught locally or purchased at bait shops.

Crappie fishing minnows

Anglers have two choices when it comes to using live minnows, they can purchase them at a bait shop or catch their own. Most anglers choose to purchase live minnows at a local bait shop, as they are reasonably priced and it is quite convenient. Each region has minnows that are popular for that particular area. Missouri minnows are famous for being extremely hardy and easy to keep alive. Emerald shiners are popular for northern anglers fishing both in open water and when ice fishing for crappie.

best live bait for crappie

Some anglers prefer to catch their own live minnows, and are of the opinion that the local forage is more desirable to game fish species. Live minnows are caught in baited minnow traps as well is in seines and in dip nets. For some, this is just part of the fun and adds to the adventure of crappie fishing. Anglers should check local regulations to make sure they are in compliance.

crappie fishing with minnows

The best live minnows for crappie fishing are between 1 inches long and 2 inches long. Anglers who specifically target the largest crappie may go up to 3 inches long. Modern fishing boats have live wells that easily keep bait fresh and lively all day long. However, a simple bucket with a battery operated aerator works fine as well.

Crappie fishing tackle

Anglers have several choices when it comes to the tackle they use for crappie fishing with live minnows. Most anglers opt for spinning tackle these days. It is very versatile, reasonably priced, and easy to use. The old push button spin cast reels still work fine for anglers that prefer them. Some anglers keep it simple and just use a cane pole with a hook in a float. Conversely, serious crappie anglers use specially designed rods up to 14 feet long called “spider rods”. These allow anglers to troll several rods at one time.

Click this link to read more about crappie fishing tackle

Crappie seasonal migrations

Crappie are a schooling fish and once located, anglers can usually catch quite a few in one spot. They have a fairly reliable seasonal migration. In the cool and warm months, crappie school up in deeper water, normally over offshore structure. This can be channel edges, submerged islands, deep weed beds, and even bridges.

top freshwater species

In the spring time, crappie move into shallow waters to spawn. This is the time of year that many anglers pursue them, as they are aggressive and relatively easy to find. Just about any type of cover will hold the crappie in the spring time. Fallen trees are particularly attractive to crappie. Some serious crappie anglers even create their own artificial structure using tree limbs, cinder blocks and Christmas trees.

Presentations for crappie fishing

One of the great advantages of fishing for crappie with live minnows is the simplicity. Anglers basically present live minnows to crappie in one of two ways; under a float or on some type of bottom rig. Some anglers will add a live minnow to and artificial lure, particularly a jig. This can be the best of both worlds as it combines the action of the lure with the smell and taste of a live bait.

fishing Texas lakes

Shallow water crappie fishing

Most freshwater anglers have fished for panfish using a worm or other live bait under a float. This is a very simple technique which continues to be effective to this day. Obviously, fishing with a live minnow under a float for crappie works best in shallow water. This usually occurs in the spring time when crappie move in close to the bank or on shallow bars and flats to spawn.

The rig for fishing a live minnow under a float for crappie in shallow water is very simple. It begins with simply tying a hook onto the end of the running line. Many anglers opt for thin wire hooks with a long shank. Crappie have a very thin membrane in their mouth and a thick heavy hook will often create a large hole, enabling the hook to fall out.

tackle and lures for crappie fishing

The hook size should be matched to the size of the minnow being used. In most cases, 1 inch long to 2 inch long minnows are best for crappie fishing. Therefore, hooks and sizes from #6 down to #2 work best. The float is then attached to the line 2 feet to 3 feet above the hook. If required, a tiny split shot can be added near the hook to keep the minnow down.

Deep water crappie fishing

While fishing for crappie in shallow water is relatively easy, pursuing them in deeper water is a bit more difficult. However, it can be very rewarding as once a school is located a bunch of fish can be caught in short order. Also, and some fisheries, the larger fish are caught in deeper water. Prime spots are point drop-offs, flat drop-offs, main River and tributary Creek channel edges, submerged rock piles, submerged weed beds, sunken islands, and bridges.

best crappie lures

Most anglers fishing in deep water with live minnows for crappie use a two hook spreader rig. This consists of two hooks projecting out from the side of the main running line a foot or so apart. This allows anglers to present multiple baits at multiple depths. A sinker is used to get the baits down to the desired depth. The same hooks used in the above section 4 shallow water fishing work fine when fishing for crappie and deep water as well. Anglers should use the minimum amount of weight required to get the rig to the desired depth.

crappie rig

One very easy technique used by anglers to fish for crappie with minnows and deep water is to simply add a live minnow to a jig. This is an extremely effective way to present a live minnow in deeper water without the hindrance of sinkers and special rigs. Small marabou jigs are perfect for this. The angler simply hooks the minnow through both lips up from the bottom that fish is the jig the same way he or she would without the minnow.

Anglers can also fish in deep water for crappie using a float. This is done so with a sliding float or slip float. The running line passes through the float and then a hook is tied on. A small split shot is added 1 foot to 18 inches above the hook. A special stop is used on the running line at the desired depth. This is usually a piece of yarn or a rubber band or some other clever device that is small enough to pass through the rod tip, allowing anglers to make a long cast. Once cast out, the line slides through the float and then stops at the desired spot.

Crappie fishing with lures

Sarasota freshwater fishing

While live minnows are the best live bait for crappie fishing, there are many effective crappie lures which will catch plenty of fish as well. Just about all of these lures imitate live minnows, which is the primary forage of crappie. Jigs are by far the most popular crappie fishing lure. Small spoons and tiny plugs are also effective as well.

More live baits for crappie fishing

While live minnows are the best live bait for crappie fishing, there are other baits that will produce as well. Nightcrawlers and worms are traditional freshwater fishing baits. Both will produce crappie when presented under a float or on a bottom rig in the right location. Grass shrimp are a terrific live bait for crappie, but can be difficult to obtain. Crickets and grasshoppers will catch a few crappie as well.

In conclusion, this article on the best live bait for crappie fishing will help anglers catch more of these terrific freshwater fish!

Crappie Fishing Tackle and Lures, a Complete Guide

Crappie Fishing Tackle and Lures, a Complete Guide

This article will focus on crappie fishing tackle and lures. Crappie are an extremely popular freshwater fish species. They are the largest of the “panfish” family. Crappie are taken by anglers using both live bait and artificial lures. They are beautiful, scrappy, and terrific eating. What more could an angler ask for? However, anglers do need the right tackle in order to be successful.

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The best crappie fishing tackle consists of a 6′ to 6 1/2′ light spinning rod with a matching reel. This outfit will cover every crappie fishing situation. A selection of light jigs with plastic grub bodies will be needed as well. #2 to #6 hooks, floats, and split shot finishes off the crappie angler’s tackle box.

crappie fishing tackle and lures

Capt Jim Klopfer runs fishing charters in Sarasota, Florida.  The crappie tackle and lure recommendations are his personal choices based on his almost 50 years of fishing for crappie in Florida and other parts of the country.

Click on the title link to read Capt Jim’s E-book Fishing for Crappie, Bluegill, and Panfish

Crappie fishing rods and reels

Crappie anglers have quite a choice when it comes to fishing rods and reels. Most opt for light spinning tackle. Some still prefer the time proven spincast outfits. A few anglers choose light conventional rigs. Some serious crappie addicts go for the long spider rods to troll many lines at once.

Spinning rods and reels for crappie fishing

Most anglers fishing for crappie do so using spinning tackle. This type of tackle is versatile, easy to use, and very affordable. Capt Jim still likes to cast to crappie or troll for them with a typical spinning outfit. Therefore, he prefers a light spinning rod that is 6′ to 6 1/2′ long and matched with a matching reel. This rig allows anglers to cast a very light jig as well as do some trolling.

Here is a link to a quality outfit for $50. Not only is it perfect for crappie fishing, it will serve anglers well for fishing for smaller bass as well as stream and small river fishing.

Florida crappie fishing

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Spider rods and reels for crappie fishing

There is a specialized tactic for crappie fishing called “spider rigging”. This is where angler slow troll near submerged structure using several long rods. It is usually done from the bow with the rods extending out in front on the boat. However, anglers can do the same from the stern as well. These rods are long, up to 18 feet in length.

crappie tackle and lures

Varying the rod length and lure depth allows anglers to cover a lot of water in search of crappie. It also keeps the lines from tangling. Boat control is crucial! It does take some practice to master this skill. Capt Jim does not fish this way, but anglers can read more about fishing a spider rig in this link.

Anglers can shop Spider rods at Amazon from this link

Spin Cast rods and reels for crappie fishing

Some anglers still prefer the simplicity of spincast rods and reels. Most anglers, Capt Jim included, caught their first fish using these outfits. They are a good choice for children and novice anglers. They are also fine for experienced anglers as well.

Anglers can shop Amazon for spincast outfits in this link

Ice fishing for crappie

crappie fishing

Many anglers enjoy ice fishing for crappie. Many of the same lures, baits and lines are the same used in open water fishing. However, due to the need to stand near the hole, the fishing rods are shorter. Very light lines are used in the clear, cold water. Capt jim wrote a detailed article on ice fishing for crappie, anglers can read it in the link below.

Click to read this article on ice fishing for crappie

Fishing line for crappie

Anglers have several choices for fishing line when crappie fishing. These are basically monofilament, flourocarbon, and braided line. Like most things in life, all have advantages and disadvantages. 6 lb test is a good all-round size. However, anglers may drop down in clear open water or go up higher in stained water or when fishing in heavy cover.

fishing for crappie bluegill and panfish

Monofilament fishing line

For most crappie anglers, monofilament line is the best choice. It is what Capt Jim prefers. Monofilament line is inexpensive and easy to use. Knots are easy to tie as well. Monofilament line stretches, and this is a good thing when it comes to crappie! They have very soft mouths and hooks will pull easily.

Click this link to shop Amazon for monofilament line

Flourocarbon fishing line

Flourocarbon line is excellent line to use for crappie. It is nearly invisible and does have a little stretch. The main down side to this line is the cost. Anglers who only use a couple of outfits might decide that it is worth the price.

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Braided fishing line

Braided line is very popular among many anglers, particularly with those chasing largemouth bass. The advantages of braided line are that it has almost no stretch, incredible sensitivity, and lasts a long time. However, the “zero stretch” aspect is not necessarily the best for crappie fishing. Anglers using braided line need soft rods and lightly set drags.

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Best crappie fishing lures

Many crappie are caught by anglers using live bait. Live minnows are by far the most popular live bait for crappie. However, artificial lures are very effective as well. Most lures imitate minnows, which is the primary forage of crappie.

Sarasota trolling techniques

Click to read about the best crappie fishing lure

The main advantages to lures are that they allow anglers to cover a lot of water as well as being more convenient. Lures can be stored and do not need to be kept alive. Trolling or casting lures will also generate reflex strikes from inactive fish.

1) Blakemore Roadrunner

road runner

The Blakemore Roadrunning is Capt Jim’s go-to crappie fishing lure. It can be cast or trolled in all portions of the water column. It can even be fished under a float. The lure consists of a jig head, tail or dressing, and a spinner blade. It really combines two of the best freshwater lures; spinners and jigs.

crappie fishing tackle and lures

While the Road Runners that come with marabou dressings are quite effective, Capt Jim prefers to add a grub tail to the bare jig head. This makes it easier to change colors and sizes. 1/16 to 1/8 ounces are the best sizes.

Productive colors vary greatly. Anglers should match the color to the water clarity being fished. Light colors work well in clear water. Darker colors are productive in stained water. Hot pink is good in muddy water. Chartreuse is a great all-round color.

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2) Mister Twister curly tail grub

mister twister

Mister Twister twister tail lures hit the market in the late 70’s. They have been catching a wide variety of fish species ever since! Crappie are certainly no exception. These baits have a tantalizing action in the water. The Teenie Grub is 2” long and perfect for crappie of all sizes.

Sarasota freshwater fishing

The Mister Twister grub is most often fished on a jig head. The jig head provides weight for casting and depth control along with a hook. It also results in the action for which the “jig” gets it’s name. 1/16 ounce is a good all-round jig head size. Colors vary, but the same rules regarding water clarity apply. Once again, chartreuse is a terrific choice for most applications.

Sarasota crappie fishing

The Mister Twister grub/jig head combo can also be added to a spinnerbait. This is an excellent bait for larger crappie. It will catch other panfish species as well as bass.

Click this link to shop Amazon for Mister Twister Teeny grubs

3) Johnson Beetlespin

beetle spin

Number three on Capt Jim’s list of the top artificial lures for crappie in the Johnson Beetle Spin. This is a simple, yet highly effective lure for crappie and other species. It is basically an undersized spinnerbait with a small grub on the business end. 1/16 is the best size for crappie, but anglers going after larger fish can bump up to the 1/8 ounce size.

Sarasota crappie fishing

The best aspect of the Beetle Spin is the simplicity. These baits are very easy to use! Anglers simply cast it out, allow it to sink, and use a slow, steady retrieve to bring it back in. The same approach applies to trolling; the slower the better, as long as the blades are turning.

Capt Jim does like darker colors such as black and green when using the Beetle Spin for crappie. As with most crappie lures, these baits will catch just about every freshwater species, particularly bluegill.

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4) Gulp Alive Minnow

gulp alive minnow

The Gulp Alive Minnow in the 1” size is a terrific bait that combines fishing with both artificial lures and live bait. It can basically be substituted in any situation where live minnows are used. They have a great scent that will attract crappie to them.

tackle and lures for crappie fishing

The Gulp Minnow is generally used on a jig head. It can be fished with or without a float. Anglers also use them on bottom rigs and drop shot rigs. They have the advantage of fishing with live bait without the inconvenience. Gulp baits are a good choice when crappie are located and a bit fussy.

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5) Rapala Floating Minnow

Rapala Ultralight floating minnow

Plugs will certainly catch crappie, and in many cases larger specimens. Minnows are the number one forage for crappie. The Rapala Ultralight Minnow closely mimics a wounded bait fish. It has an erratic action that puts out both flash and vibration. It can be cast out and retrieved and is also productive when trolled.

best crappie lures

For the most part, these lures are best used in shallow water. The lure floats at rest then dives down a few feet. This means that shallow weed beds and other flats are most productive. Spring and fall are usually the best times of year to fish this bait.

Click this link to shop Amazon for Rapala Ultralight Floating Minnow plugs

6) Rooster tail Spinner

rooster tail

The Rooster tail is a very good lure for catching crappie. It is very well known for fooling trout and is a bit underrated for crappie. It works very well in water 6 feet deep or less. Rooster tail lures are an excellent choice when crappie are scattered out over large flats. One “problem” with these spinners is that they catch so many different species that anglers will be spending time catching bluegill, bass, and other species.

Crappie fishing tackle

Rooster tail lures are very easy to use. Like most freshwater baits with spinners, they work best when reeled back in using a slow, steady retrieve. Anglers can vary the depth fished by changing the sink time allowed. These lures can be trolled, but anglers must go very slowly.

Click this link to shop Amazon for Rooster Tail spinners

7) Rattletrap Tiny Trap


Anglers searching for big crappie and who enjoy “power fishing” will love fishing the Tiny Trap. This is a small version on the venerable Rattletrap. These are in the family of artificial fishing lures known as “lipless crankbaits”. They do not have a lip. Therefore, they do not dive down. Instead, they slowly sink and vibrate intensely when reeled back in.

crappie fishing in Michigan

Anglers can both cast and troll the tiny trap. This lure does work better with a fairly fast retrieve, as opposed to most bladed baits. A steady retrieve is usually used, but anglers can mix it up with pauses and twitches. It is a great “locator” bait that allows anglers to cover a lot of water when crappie fishing.

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Miscellaneous crappie gear

One nice aspect of crappie fishing is that a lot of extra gear is not necessarily required. For the most part, this is fairly basic fishing. The exception might be the anglers who get really into using spider rigs. Otherwise, it is just fairly light tackle, a handful of lures, a bit of tackle, and a couple extras.

Anglers who fish with live bait will obviously need some hooks. Fine wire hooks from size #2 down to size #6 will cover most crappie fishing situations. Anglers who mostly fish with lures can simply use a plane jig head to put a live minnow on if they like. A selection of split shot and sinkers along with some bobbers will also be required. A landing net is always a good idea, especially for fish like crappie with their soft mouths. Finally, anglers who fish with live minnows will need a bucket with a portable aerator.

Crappie fishing tips

It is often said that crappie are easy to catch but hard to find. For the most part, this statement has some truth to it. Crappie are not the most challenging of game fish to catch, once located. There are certainly days where they suspend and post front fish can be difficult to catch. However, the true challenge in crappie fishing is finding them.

Crappie are almost always found in schools, or at the very least scattered bunches. In deeper water, they will school up on some type of depth change. This is particularly true if cover is present. In man-made reservoirs, submerged channel edges of the original River are prime spots. Sloping points are another good place to look for crappie. Submerged timber or other types of structure will greatly enhance the chance of fish holding in these locations.

Shallow water crappie fishing

Crappie are found in fairly deep water for most of the year. The exception to this is in the spring when they move in close to the bank to spawn. For many anglers, this is the prime time to pursue these tasty freshwater pan fish. In many lakes, just about any brush pile and 328 foot of water will have crappie holding on them in the spring time.

This is a great time of year to use light spinning tackle and cast artificial lures. Since crappie are scattered about but highly aggressive, this is a fun and productive technique. All of the artificial lures listed above will catch crappie in the spring time. Many anglers fill their freezers this time of year and ignore crappie fishing in the other three seasons. This can be a mistake!

Deep water crappie fishing

Crappie are a bit more difficult to locate and catch when they school up in deeper water. However, anglers who put in the time to learn the patterns that crappie use in the summer, fall, and winter can experience some outstanding days. Anglers who do find crappie in deep water schools can experience nonstop action!

For the most part, vertical presentations work best when fishing for crappie in deeper water. This is a very efficient technique that keeps the bait or lure in the strike zone for the entire time. Jigs and live minnows are generally the most productive baits to use when fishing for crappie in this situation.

Trolling for crappie

Trolling is another excellent technique that anglers can use to locate crappie. Once again, lures that get down deep in the water column such as jigs, Road Runners, and Beetle spins are generally the best choice. Crank baits that will get down close to the water level being fished can work well, too.

One new method that has come about in recent years is spider rigging. In this method, anglers use several rods of varying lengths to thoroughly cover a wide swath as the angler trolls. Using varying length rods and different depths, anglers can quickly locate the depth that which crappie are feeding that day. Is a bit complicated regarding equipment. However, once mastered, it will put a lot a fish in the boat.

Crappie can be caught through the ice as well. These fish not only tolerate cold water, they feed and thrive in it. The same spots that produce in summer are often the best fishing spots for crappie he under the ice as well. Since a vertical presentation is really the only option, jigs and live minnows are the top baits to use.

Channel edges and deep water points are prime ice fishing spots for crappie. Anglers should drill multiple holes at several different depths and locations in order to quickly locate a school of fish. Once found, anglers can concentrate on that area. It is important to follow safety measures and make sure there’s plenty of ice before going out.

In conclusion, this article on crappie fishing and tackle should help anglers catch more of these very popular freshwater pan fish!



Sarasota crappie fishing

Sarasota Crappie Fishing

Anglers who like freshwater fishing will enjoy Sarasota crappie fishing. Most visitors naturally associate Sarasota was saltwater fishing. However the Sarasota Bradenton area does have some good and really overlooked fishing. Several area watersheds offer good fishing for bream (that is southern for bluegill and other panfish), crappie, catfish, and bass.

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Sarasota crappie fishing

Sarasota crappie fishing lakes

The three dominant river systems in Sarasota County and Manatee County are the Manatee River, Braden River, and Myakka River watersheds. All three are similar in that they are freshwater streams which have dams that created reservoirs. The water upstream from the dams is totally fresh, while the portion downstream from the dams is tidally influenced. This creates a really interesting fishery, where bass and panfish mix it up with snook and other saltwater species.

Lake Manatee differs from the other two in that the water release can be controlled at the dam. Lake Evers on the Braden River and Lower Myakka Lake are very simple weir dams. The water level in Lake Manatee varies quite a bit depending on the release of water. The water level in Upper Myakka Lake inside of Myakka River State Park fluctuates greatly and is entirely based on rainfall. Lake Evers is quite deep and is a bit more stable due to that factor.

Sarasota crappie fishing

All three lakes have paved boat ramps for boaters to access the lakes. Lake Evers and Upper Myakka Lake are idle speed only lakes. Lake Manatee has no speed restrictions but does have a 20 hp limit. This results in all three lakes having very little recreational boat traffic and wakes from other boaters.

Sarasota crappie fishing techniques

The same techniques produce crappie in all three lakes. Some anglers use live bait with the Missouri minnow being the most popular. These minnows are commercially grown and are very hardy. They will live all morning in a small bucket of water. They are fished on a #4 hook either under a float or with a light weight to take it to the bottom.

Many anglers, myself included, prefer to use artificial lures when targeting crappie. By far the most popular and effective lure is the jig. Tiny spinner baits can also be effective. A unique and very effective bait is the Blakemore Roadrunner. It is sort of a hybrid between the two, with a jig body and a spinner blade coming off of the eye of the hook.

Sarasota crappie fishing

Florida waters are generally speaking very dark. They are tannin stained and the color of root beer or coffee. Therefore, brightly colored jigs are generally the most productive. Pink, chartreuse, and white are the most effective colors. Often times, a combination of colors works best. For example, a white jig head with a chartreuse curly tail grub body is one of the most effective combinations. A good approach is to use several different colors and see if one pattern emerges as being more effective.

Anglers who get up early will be rewarded when crappie fishing in Sarasota. For the most part, the first light bite is best. This is not always the case but is a good rule of thumb. The two basic techniques when targeting crappie are to cast lures or bait out or troll. Both can be effective, depending on conditions.

Sarasota crappie fishing seasons

Sarasota crappie fishing

We start crappie fishing here in Sarasota in early October. Fish can be taken all year long, but October through March are the prime months. The first cool front or two will have the crappie schooling up. Both Lake Manatee and Lake Evers are fairly deep. Crappie will generally school up on the edges of the channels and and deep water over structure. Myakka Lake is quite shallow with the constant depth being 3 to 5 feet depending on lake level.

Trolling is fairly simple and deadly effective. On shallow Myakka Lake the bait is cast out 30 feet or so behind the boat. The boat is then idled along using the gas or trolling motor at a slow speed until fish are located. In the deeper Lake Manatee and Lake Evers, trolling is a bit more nuanced.

Crappie will relate to the channel edges. Therefore, zigzagging over the channel edge is the best approach. Vary lure selection and speed until a productive pattern emerges. Often times the fish will hit on turns. Slack line will cause the lure to fall, then jerk up as the slack is removed. This often times triggers a bite.

By late December or early January depending on the weather, the crappie will have moved up to the bank. Trolling the banks can still be effective. However, many anglers choose to cast to the bank. They can do so using the same artificial lures or live minnows under a small float.

crappie fishing tackle and lures

Successful anglers actually use both techniques. They will troll was shoreline until a school of fish is found, then use the live minnows to catch the fish I have located. This is a common technique used and saltwater fishing that works quite well and freshwater also. Shore bound anglers usually opt for live minnows, using several rods out in a spread. Florida does not limit the number of rods that can be used in freshwater.

Sarasota crappie fishing lures

The top artificial lures are jigs, small spinner baits, tiny plugs, and Roadrunners. A 1/16 ounce marabou jig or jig head with a twister tail or shad tail body is preferred. Chartreuse is a great color and has proven to be a great lure for crappie along with bluegill and small bass. White works well, too.

Sarasota crappie fishing

My personal favorite spinner bait is the 1/16 ounce black Beetlespin. This lure has caught many fish for me and clients over the years. The grub body is very simple, but is effective. A tiny spinnerbait with a chartreuse twister tail grub is a good choice as well. Anglers can see an article dedicated to the best crappie lures here.

Tiny plugs work well for anglers Sarasota crappie fishing, too. They are very effective for trolling in shallow water as they only dive a couple of feet down. Plugs also tend to catch larger fish. They also work well on small bass and big bluegill. Anglers do have to deal with treble hooks.

Roadrunners are another bait that is both a jig and a spinner. It has a jig head, with 1/8 ounce and 3/16 ounce are the best sizes. A grub body slides on the jig. A spinner blade comes off of the head hear the eye of the hook. This results in a compact bait that casts well, gets down deep, and has a lot of color and flash.

crappie fishing tackle and lures

Fly anglers can certainly enjoy crappie fishing along with the spin fishermen. A 3wt or 4wt outfit is perfect. Anglers can use a floating line, but an intermediate sink tip line works better. Small bait fish patterns in white, gold, and chartreuse tied on #6 hooks are a great choice. Fly fishing for crappie is best when the fish move shallow to the banks.

Sarasota crappie fishing; where to fish

Lake Manatee: This lake is several miles long and sits 10 miles east of the interstate. There is a very nice boat ramp located in Lake Manatee State Park There is also a primitive ramp near the fish camp just off of the State Road 64 bridge. The Manatee River below the dam offers very good crappie fishing. However, access is difficult that time of year as the water level is low.

Evers Lake: Also known as Ward Lake, this lake is conveniently located in Bradenton just off of State Road 70 and west of the interstate. There is an excellent ramp at Jiggs Landing, which has bait, tackle, and facilities.

Upper Myakka Lake: This lake sits 10 miles east of Sarasota off of State Road 72. It is shallow with a decent ramp, suitable for boast bass boats as long as the water is up a bit. Anglers should call the park to make sure the ramp is open. The river inside the Myakka River State Park has some deeper holes which are great for kayak and canoe anglers to target crappie.

Benderson Lake: This lake was renovated to create a world class facility for rowing competitions. It is a reclaimed strip pit with a good population of larger crappie. It is electric motor or paddle only. There is a good ramp at the south end of the lake.

Next time you are looking for a different Sarasota angling experience, think about giving crappie fishing a try. Expect some fun, cool scenery, and some good eating!