Crappie fishing can be frustrating and fruitless unless you know how to fish with the right lures. Using live bait is usually the best way to fish for Crappies but jigs can also be very successful.
When fishing for spring crappie, they will normally bite very light. You need to be able to feel the bite to catch fish. Use lighter line, like mono in 2lb to 6lb test. The reel can be an ultra light spinning reel or an open face baitcast reel. A simple spincast reel can also work, as well as a cane pole. A graphite rod with a cork handle can be very sensitive to feel the Crappie’s light bite or nibble. Keep in mind that Crappie have a very sensitive lip that can tear easily if you set the hook to aggressively.
Jigs with minnows can be very effective fishing for Crappies because I believe that is their favorite food. Begin by dropping jigs around cover, structure, and along edges of weed lines. Plus, you can slow down the boat and let lip hooked minnows dance around a fishing spot to entice reluctant crappie into biting. Using multiple rod presentations will help you cover a lot of water. One rod could have a small spinner bait, one could have a pinkie jig, with a minnow or without, and another pole could have a jig and float combination. Other Crappie fishing jigs you can use can be marabou and hair jigs in baitfish type patterns. When you are crappie fishing with jigs, use a loop knot to tie it on. The jig will move more freely when casting.
In muddy or stained water, use jigs that have dark and light patterns on them. Sometimes you may need to try numerous colors to entice finicky Crappie to bite. If you are not successful in the murky water areas, look for bays that may be quiet and not a lot of water movement. The water may be a little clearer but shallow so look for the deeper areas to fish. If you are working with a fish finder it may be easier to spot them in areas that are tough to see. Try to spot schools of Crappie. Then start the rod rotation technique and throw a crappie jig or the spinner bait. Plus the jig and float to see what they may bite on. Using a jig with a minnow on it may work better in these circumstances. When Crappies seem to disappear from an area you have been fishing, move out to deeper water. Sometimes crappie will suspend above structures or around drop offs. Usually this is more of a summer mode for crappies.
I particularly like to troll for Crappie in order to locate them. I have 3 rods set up with 3 different baits all ready to use on a moment’s notice. When I troll I use two rods: one with a bobber or float and live bait such as minnows. The other rod will be rigged with a jig like a pinkie jig with a minnow or just by itself. The 3rd rod is fit with a small spinner that I may cast into areas of structure like around stumps or fallen trees, weed beds etc.