The screen on your fish finder suddenly lights up. You send down your mini jig down and hit bottom only to get bit a few seconds later. This lasts for hours on end and and soon your cooler is full of delicious crappie! (Catch and release is great too).
Jigging for crappie can be a deadly technique when large schools of fish are located. In the colder fall to winter months where crappie congregate in heavy schools near the bottom, jigging can produce hours of fish-catching fun and is quite addicting to be honest.
Finding Schools of Crappie
Locating schools of crappie is not too difficult. If you are fishing off a boat and have access to a decent graph it can be quite simple finding fish. If this is not the case, no problem! Using a special tool called your eyes you can easily locate promising structure that is most likely holding fish.
Crappie absolutely love wood structure. Finding trees sticking out of the water is not a hard task but sometimes there are multiple species of trees in the lake, making it rather confusing. This is up to you to work your way through each type of timber and find what the fish are holding to on that specific day.
When visible, emerging timber isn’t an option, use your graph to find submerged trees instead. Play with depths and see which levels of the water column are most productive for you. Also pay close attention when you locate a large ball of bait – a school of hungry crappie may be close by.
No graph? No problem! There are a few ways you can locate crappie quickly and efficiently. One method is to drift your rigs around promising structure until you find a decent school, then stop the boat and jig up the rest of them. The second method is to break out your tiny crankbaits or ripbaits and troll at certain depths until you get bit, then stop the boat and drop down your jigs.
It’s important to remember the depth that you find the schools at each specific location. Chances are the crappie will hold to that depth for a long period of time, making subtle changes with each trip. If this is not the case, simply check different areas and repeat the process, making mental notes of depth and any promising structure around the area.
Pay Attention to Water Clarity
Crappie tend to position themselves in shallower waters when the water clarity is low. The general rule of thumb is to avoid crystal clear water when targeting crappie as their keen eyesight makes them more finicky.
Honestly, a mini jig doesn’t look too realistic so murky water helps you fish your jig with more confidence. Low water clarity means you can break out the brighter, more flashy jig colors such as white, pink, and chartreuse.
Ultralight Tackle for Jigging Crappie
Since crappie are rather small fish they don’t put a bunch of wear and tear on your gear. This means that you don’t have to spend big bucks on an expensive setup to fish effectively. That’s always good news, right?
- Shakespeare Wild Series Trout Combo (includes both rod & reel for $50 so you’re set!)
- Daiwa Presso Ultralight
Ultralight Reel (Spooled with 4-6lb Fluorocarbon)
I prefer spending a little extra dough on high-quality spinning reels because they last longer but honestly a cheap 1000 or 2000-size reel is perfectly fine. I use 4-6lb fluorocarbon because the stiffer properties gives me extra sensitivity as well as complete invisibility underwater.
- Daiwa Revros 1000
- Pfleuger Trion 25
- Shimano Sienna 1000FD
- Daiwa Procyon EX 1000 (what I use)
Choosing Line: Go Light!
There are a few line choices you have when crappie jigging but the main key is to stick to the lightest line possible for the best results. The issue with light line, however, is that it will both break easily and get nasty line twist at times. If this is happening to you too often then bump up your line size just a bit to make things easier. Here are a few options for line selection.
Your cheapest, simplest option. Monofilament is known for its stretchy properties, making it great for lighter lines since it will dampen any excessive force. I’ve found the best success with 4-6lb monofilament.
If you are dealing with extremely clear water situations then fluorocarbon is the way to go. Fluoro refracts light better meaning it is more invisible underwater, making a huge difference in clear water where crappie are more line shy. Fluoro is also stiffer meaning it stretches less and provides more sensitivity to detect those deep-water bites. I use 4-6lb fluoro for the best results.
Braided Line (with Mono/Fluoro leader)
I only use this line combo when dealing with both murkier water and deeper water situations (25-30+ feet). A light, 10-20lb braid connected to 3-5ft of mono or fluoro leader gives the ultimate sensitivity to detect deep-water bites. The braid also comes off the spool smoother, making it perfect for dropping your jigs as quickly as possible.
Terminal Tackle for Crappie Jigging
I love the effectiveness of a double drop shot rig for jigging. The extra weight gets you down into the strike zone faster and having two jigs gives the extra flash that can make a huge difference in your bite ratio. There have been many times where I was out-fished with two jigs while I was only using one.
Setting Up A Double Drop Shot Rig
- ⅛-¼ Drop Shot Weight (any bell weight is fine too)
- 1/64oz. Mini Jig (brand is up to you)
- Any color combo including chartreuse works great
- Spro Power Swivel Size 10 (optional)
Putting It All Together
- I like using a tiny barrel swivel about 8-12” above the mini jigs because they tend to spiral quickly when falling and cause nasty line twist. This is completely optional, however, and if you aren’t experiencing much line twist then feel free to avoid the swivel and simplify your rig.
- I use a Palomar knot when tying this rig. If you’re using the swivel tie it onto the main line first and attach a 3ft leader of 4-6lb fluoro to the other end. This may seem lengthy but it gives you plenty of room to tie on your jigs and drop shot weight.
- Tie a Palomar knot to the first jig with enough line for the rest of the rig. Run the tag end back through the eye of the mini jig before tying the second jig. This helps the jig stay upright similar to a traditional drop shot rig for bass.
- Repeat the process for the second jig and finish with your drop shot weight at least 6-8” away from the bottom jig.
Choosing The Right Jig Color
Crappie love chartreuse. This is why murkier water can make for a killer day out on the water. Low water clarity also allow you bump up your line size if necessary. My all-time favorite color is a Red & Chartreuse combo or straight Chartreuse, but honestly any color combination with Chartreuse in it will be effective.
What if the water is clear? If you are experiencing high water clarity it’s not the end of the world, but your bite ratio may not be as good as murky water conditions. No worries! Simply switch your jig colors over to more natural presentations including Green Pumpkin, Watermelon, or any translucent shad and minnow patterns. Also make sure to bump down your line size as much as possible as crappie have very keen eyes.
Crappie Jigging Techniques
There are three main methods when it comes to crappie jigging. Each one allows you to target a certain depth and can be killer if used at the right time and place. Once again pay attention to where the schools are located and why they are there. Possible reasons may be a prominent hump or ledge on the bottom or submerged timber that serve as promising shelter for the fish to ambush their prey. Remember which techniques are effective in which specific situations and you will dial in on the fish in no time.
When schools of crappie are holding tightly to the bottom, I’ll send down a double drop shot rig for the best results. Most of my fish are caught leaving the jig completely still but often times a subtle twitching action can produce more bites. Play around with both and see which works best for you.
Jig and Bobber
This technique is exactly what it sounds like. Once again I use two jigs spaced 6-8” away from each other under a slip bobber. The slip bobber allows me to control my depth and make any changes on the fly. The jig and bobber rig works best when the fish are found suspended in open water or near structure.
The Solo Jig
As simple as it gets. Simply tie a single mini jig directly to the main line and whip it out there! If you need extra weight you can clamp a split shot or two 8-12” above the jig for more casting distance.
This method works best when the crappie are found scattered in more shallow waters, making it perfect for any bank fishermen. Cast the jig as far as you can and start a steady twitching retrieve, shaking the rod tip consistently as you reel in slack line. Play around with different twitching cadences and use the same rhythm once you find one that works. If the fish are in deeper water feel free to let the jig sink for a few seconds after hitting the water.
I hope this helped you land some slabs! If you have any further questions regarding jigging for crappie please comment below and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. Tight lines!