Informational Guide

Crappie Fishing Tips: How To Catch & Fish For Crappie

Fishing is a great excuse to get outside & enjoy nature. Brush up on your Crappie fishing tips & learn how to catch them with this article!

by Andrew

Informational Guide

Crappie Fishing Tips: How To Catch & Fish For Crappie

Fishing is a great excuse to get outside & enjoy nature. Brush up on your Crappie fishing tips & learn how to catch them with this article!

by Andrew

by Andrew

Crappie fishing is a great excuse to get outside and enjoy nature. It is also a great way to catch yourself some dinner! These little fish are wonderful to eat. This article should give you some elementary tips and advice on how you can bring home some crappie from your next outdoor adventure.

  • White Crappie
    With 5 or 6 spines on their dorsal fin or the vertical bars on down their sides, white crappie are easily distinguishable from black crappie. 
  • Black Crappie
    These fish have 7 or 8 spines on the dorsal fin at the top of their backs. They also have no clear patterns running along their sides.
  • Black Nosed Crappie
    These are black crappie that have a genetic mutation that gives them a black stripe from the dorsal fin to their lip.
  • Natural Hybrid Crappie
    Natural hybrids are exactly what they sound like. They have variations but typically are about the size of white crappie and have some vertical bars that transition to spots as they move toward the tail section of the fish.
  • Stock Hybrid Crappie
    Laboratory created, the stock hybrids are created to stock underpopulated fisheries. They are fertile, so they will produce offspring. Stock hybrids do not grow very large or live very long, so they tend to make great feeding stock for larger fish like bass.
  • Triploid/Magnolia Crappie
    These are the exact same as a stock hybrid crappie, other than they are subjected to an 8,000 psi shock treatment during the incubation period, which renders them infertile. These are also great feeder stock for ponds, as they do not overpopulate.
  • Golden Crappie
    Like the golden ticket, these are very rare and could only be explained as a genetically mutated crappie. They vary in appearance and are about the same size as the average white crappie.
Crappie Fishing Tips

What Do I Need for Crappie Fishing?

Fishing Rods, Reels, and Poles

Light gear works perfectly for crappie fishing. An ultralight spinning reel combo with some 4-6lb test line is best. A leader of 4lb fluorocarbon will help catch more fish, as this line is nearly invisible underwater.

Jigs and other fishing lures/bait

Jigs, while you could spend time trying your luck with spinners or stick baits, soft plastic and feathered jigs will always be your best bet for crappie success. Crappie are super finicky eaters; they like small, natural presentations that jigs imitate well. Smaller sizes are also usually better for catching. Greens, yellows, or even pink colors work well depending on water clarity.

Terminal fishing tackle

The less hardware, the better when it comes to crappie fishing. Where you would use weights, split shots, and swivels for trout fishing, this is not the case for crappie. For this variety of fishing, using a light backer line, a light leader, and a jig head with a small hook will work great.


Crappie fishing does not entail bringing too much gear. Using a small, simple tackle box or bag will be fine for this application. Throw in some jigs, soft plastics, some jig heads, and a set of pliers. That is about all you should need for a day out on the water crappie fishing. Or you could go all out and take a fish finder designed for Crappie with you. 

Where To Fish For Crappie

1. Catching crappie in backwaters lakes

Blackwater stump fishing is one of the best-known ways to target crappie. Tidal Cyprus pools are a great place for these fish to hide and feed. To catch these fish, set up among the stumps and jig fish in and out of the structure. The fish will be hiding close to the stumps waiting to ambush smaller bait.

2. Catching crappie in sloughs

A fun and unconventional way to catch crappie is to throw on your favorite waders and head in the thick, brushy waters of shallow water sloughs. These fisheries are normally untouched due to the lack of access by boat, so they tend to be packed with hungry fish that have never seen an artificial bait. Be sure to carry a stringer in with you, as you are sure to fill one up!

3. Catching crappie in creeks

Creek fishing for crappies has been the favorite pastime of grandfathers across the country. When these fish move up into shallow streams for warmth during the winter, anglers will often set up on a bend where the crappie tend to congregate. Again, using a small jig and an ultralight setup is the best method for creek fishing for crappie.

4. Catching crappie in streams/rivers

Crappie are sometimes seen as second-class fish when targeting streams or small rivers. These waterways are traditionally home to more well-known species like bass or walleye, which usually control most of the angling attention. This is the perfect time to cast or wade in and use a small setup to catch your fair share of overlooked crappie.

5. How to fish for crappie from the bank

Bank fishing for crappie is basically the same as any other panfish. For this application, use a worm with a small hook; size 4 or 6 will work. Rig a bobber on your line so that it will suspend your worm about 12 to 18 inches off the bottom. Crappie like to feed upward, so you will not want your bait to be below the fish as they swim along the bottom. Once that bobber dips under the surface, set your hook!

How to Fish for Crappie

1. Classic bobber and minnow rig

To bobber fish, a minnow rig for crappie, simply hook a minnow through its back with a small-sized hook. Then position your bobber so that the minnow is roughly a foot from the bottom of the water column. If the fish are present but refuse to eat, try adjusting your bobber so that the minnow is a bit higher in the column. The “slip” in slip bobber fishing means that your bobber can be low on the line for casting but stops at a designated bumper on the line once cast out. Crappie like to feed upward, so your bait needs to be positioned accordingly for the best chances of getting a bite.

2. Casting jigs

There are many ways to cast jigs for crappie. The most common way is to make short casts and vertically retrieve your jig in front of the fish. You could also cast out far and retrieve the jig through fish that are suspended in the water column. This works well for murky or muddy water.

3. Shooting or skipping jigs

More of a bass technique than a crappie technique, skipping or shooting jigs applies to bouncing your bait up under a log or branch to trigger a fish to leave the safety of a hide to bite. This can be effective in brushy or thick cover scenarios.

4. Spider rigging

This setup involves multiple rods, using minnows on jig heads to bombard the crappie with bait. The spider rig of rod holders drags the baits through a designated depth very slow to entice the fish to feed. This is a technical setup and involves a boat and some electronics to see what depth the fish are concentrated at.

5. Crankbaits

Crankbait fishing is one of my favorites because it is so effective for catching all sorts of species. For crappie, you fish the Rapala-style bait by trolling or casting the same way as you would for walleye. The only difference is that these crankbaits should be very small and lightweight.

How To Catch Crappie

Bonus Seasonal Crappie Fishing (Tricks to Catch Crappie All Year Round)

1. Crappie Summer Fishing

Summer is for trolling crankbaits. After the spawning season, crappie tend to disperse from their spring clusters and head for the nearest underwater shelf from their beds. The fish are usually scattered and suspended. Trolling small crankbaits in a lazy “S” pattern will be the best way to cover as much water as possible.

2. Crappie Spring Fishing

Spring is the best season for crappie fishing. The pre-spawn through spawn time frame is when you will want to target these fish. Spawning occurs as the water temperature reaches 50 Degrees Fahrenheit. Prior to this, the fish will concentrate on sand or mudflats downstream or a bit deeper than where they plan to spawn. At this time of the year, jigging or bobber fishing with minnows are the preferred fishing methods.

3. Crappie Winter Fishing

Ice fishing for crappies is a fun way to spend the day with friends or family. Crappie tend to be in shallow water, which makes the fish easier to locate and target. The preferred winter method for catching crappie is to jig small fluttering spoons. You could also rig minnows on tip-ups. If you find the fish, you could catch dozens in a single outing in the winter.

4. Crappie Fall Fishing

Fall is the toughest season for crappie fishing. This is where spider rigging comes into play. The trick to fishing for crappie in the fall is to find the fish. Depending on the wind, water temperature, and oxygen levels, the crappie could be just about anywhere in the water column. Once you find schools or pods of fish, narrow the search for the most active fish within those areas. Lastly, think big, use larger baits in the fall to imitate baitfish that have been feeding and growing all summer.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Where are the best locations around the world to catch crappie?

If you want to have the best luck catching crappie, you will want to fish the southeastern United States. Alabama and South Carolina are most likely your best bet. These states have high crappie populations, and the climate benefits the fish and the anglers more than others.

Are crappie easy to catch?

Crappie are not extremely easy to catch. They are picky eaters, so you need the correct baits. They have a soft mouth, so even if you hook them, landing them can be challenging. Overall though, if you have some basic skills and a bit of crappie experience, it is not that difficult to catch crappie.

How deep should you fish for crappie?

Crappie like to feed above themselves, so depth will depend on their orientation to the surface. You will just want to position your baits a foot or so higher than the fish in the water column. Depending on the season, crappie could be in 3 feet of water or 30 feet of water.

How do you know when a crappie is spawning?

Spawning is based on water temperature for crappie. You will know that crappie are spawning when that temperature is 50 Degrees Fahrenheit. The fish will generally be hovering close to the bottom on rocky flats during the spawning period.


Slab crappies are one of the best eating freshwater panfish that swim in North American waters. Catching them requires a bit of skill, but once you have the knack for it, you will be hooked. We hope this article boosts your knowledge and confidence when it comes to fishing for and catching crappie. Now head on over to our fillet article to find out what to do with the fish you catch!