Speckled perch. Strawberry bass. Papermouth. No matter what name you call them, almost any angler that has gone crappie fishing knows that the name doesn’t matter when you’re cooking up some of the finest tasting freshwater fish. At an average weight of between 0.5 lbs. and 1 lb., crappie are an excellent sport fish to catch.
Don’t let their size fool you, however. These little sunfish can put up a fight, making them a lot of fun to fish for as well!
If you’re new to crappie fishing and don’t know where to begin, we’ll go over the basics to help you land as many crappies as your heart desires. We’ll go over the most important crappie fishing tips, like:
- Figuring out your preferred way of fishing for crappies
- Gathering the correct tackle
- Information on where to find crappies
- The top places in the US to fish for crappies
Let’s get started!
How Do You Fish For Crappie?
One of the first things to consider when beginning to learn how to fish for crappies is your preferred way of fishing for them. Your preferred method of take will determine what fishing gear you take with you and the tactics you use when at the lake.
When you’re just beginning to learn how to catch crappies, try out a few of these methods to determine your favorite. Take some time to get good at that method and then try adding on new techniques. That way, you’ll have plenty of ways to catch crappies, regardless of the conditions!
Bobber and minnow
The bobber and minnow rigging is one of the easiest and most effective ways to catch crappie.
To start, get yourself a rod between 7 to 12 feet long. If you’re planning on casting your line with little chance of getting it caught on cover, consider going on the shorter side. For flipping your line into denser areas, bring along the longer pole.
Once you’ve selected the right rod for the conditions you’ll be fishing in, it’s time to set up the line. Get yourself a #2 Aberdeen hook and tie it to the end of your line. Measure 12-24 inches above your hook and set your bobber there. To decide whether to have a longer lead, consider the environment you’ll be fishing in. In a more open area where there is little chance of getting your line caught on something, go a bit longer to get more movement out of your minnow. For denser covered areas, go shorter to mitigate the chance of catching your line on something.
After you’ve set up your line to the conditions, you’ll be fishing in, hook up your minnow and consider whether you want to put on a split shot weight to restrict its movement. Again, conditions are going to be a significant determining factor here. For densely covered areas, you’ll likely want to add a split shot to prevent the minnow from getting hung up. In more open water conditions, you’ll want to leave the split shot off to allow the most movement out of your minnow.
Jigging for Crappie
After you’ve mastered the tried-and-true method of bobber and minnow fishing, the next method to learn is jigging.
Start by bringing a 6.5’ rod with medium action outfitted with a spinning reel and fluorocarbon line rated to 4-6 pounds. That way, you’ll be efficient when jigging your line. At the end of your line, tie off a 1/16-ounce jig hook and a soft body plastic bait.
Once your line is set up, find an area with a bit of cover that you can stand over top. Then, drop your line to be just outside of the strike zone at the edge of the cover. If you’re hooking brush, you’ve gone too deep! After you’ve achieved the right depth, jig your line by gently lifting the tip of your rod up and down or side to side to produce movement out of your bait.
Jigging for crappie is especially effective when fishing from a boat around dense underwater brush, as you can pretty much park your boat above where the cover is at and just drop your line immediately below the boat. A pro tip is to try to tie off to something nearby so that your boat doesn’t drift away while you’re jigging for crappie! Tie off to a bridge pylon or toss out your anchor to prevent moving away from where you’ll be jigging.
Another very effective way many anglers set up for crappie fishing is the crankbait method. This method is best used when there is little cover around, and you’re looking to find schools of crappie in open water.
You’ll want to get a rod that is between 14-16’ long and set it up with a 4-6 pound fluorocarbon line. After you’ve got the right rod and line set up, attach your crankbait to the end of the line and let out between 90 to 110 feet of line to troll behind the boat.
From there, you’ll want to move fairly slowly through the water between 1-2 MPH. That way, you’ll get the right action out of your crankbait and not accidentally blow right by the fish!
To increase your odds of landing come crappie, set your boat up with a couple of rod holders, and set multiple rods up with crankbait rigging. Just remember to set your rods up with plenty of space between them and make broad, sweeping turns with your boat so that your lines don’t get tangled up!
Bring the Right Tackle
Your gear selection will vary based on the method that you prefer to fish for crappie. You can make it as simple or as complex as you want to, which is one of the reasons why crappie fishing is so much fun! Novices and experts can find a method and gear set up that suits them best.
Whether you bring a few 12-foot rods to set up a spider rig with multiple bobbers and minnows set up on each line or a 10-foot medium action rod with lead jig heads, you’ll find success by bringing the setup that is right for your method of choice for catching crappie.
As far as bait is concerned, crappie love movement. Whether you’re using live minnows, crankbait, or jigs, make sure that there is always movement in your presentation to entice fish to bite.
Where to Find Crappie
You’ve got the techniques, and you’ve got the gear; now it’s time to go fish! Finding the right spot to fish is as important, if not more important, than your gear selection. If there aren’t any fish around because you didn’t go to the right spot, it won’t matter which method you use or what rods you bring!
Generally, crappie like to hang out where there is plenty of cover to keep them protected. Brushy areas, timber stands, Cyprus trees, and log blowdowns are excellent locations to find crappie hanging out. Set up on the edge of one of these areas and toss your line just outside of the strike zone to entice fish out of their cover.
Keep an eye out for schools of minnows swimming in the water as well. These are key areas because the little baitfish will attract crappie. Increase your odds of catching one by following where the baitfish go!
Top Spots in the US for Crappie Fishing
Weiss Lake, Alabama
Crappie fishermen worldwide have heard about Weiss Lake and for good reason! You’ll find tons of 2 to 3-pound crappie in this 30,000 acre reservoir in northeast Alabama, which helps explain why Weiss Lake is known as “The Crappie Capital of the World.”
Lake Wilhelmina, Arkansas
Don’t let the size of this lake fool you, as it’s where the state record crappie was caught! In 2011, a ten year old boy pulled 5-pound black crappie from this 200 acre lake, setting a new state record for the biggest crappie caught. Whether you stay at Lake Wilhelmina or go to one of the other hundreds of lakes around Arkansas, you’ll find tons of big crappie. And who knows, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to catch the next state record crappie!
The hardest part about going crappie fishing in Florida is just picking a lake to go to. There are so many premium spots to fish for crappie that it’s difficult to pick just one spot! Plus, the warm weather makes fishing here excellent almost year-round. Some popular areas for crappie fishing in Florida to consider visiting are Lake Okeechobee, Trafford, Arbuckle, and Kissimmee. Check them out and see which one produces the most fish for you!
Are Crappie Good to Eat?
Absolutely! Crappie are one of the most delicious freshwater fish and are very popular to eat. Both white and black crappie taste fantastic and have white, flaky meat that isn’t very fishy at all. The most common way to cook crappie is to fry them, but you can also grill or saute them, and they are lovely in a fish sandwich.
So, you’ve learned a ton about how to fish for crappie. We’ve covered fishing methods, gear considerations, as well as some of the best places to find high-quality fish.
Remember always to be responsible and clean up after yourself wherever you go fishing. Don’t leave cut line on the docks, banks, or in the water so that it keeps the environment pristine for as long as possible. This keeps critical habitats from getting damaged, which would prevent future anglers from enjoying the same spots you do!
Which method will you use? Where will you go fishing for crappie this season? Let us know in the comments below!