Ultimate Crappie Jigging – How It Works
By Mike Rustler, Author of The Mega Guide to Crappie Fishing
Jigging is one of the best ways to catch crappie in open waters. It’s simple, it’s fun and you don’t need a lot of expensive gear.
Jigs are one of the most versatile groups of fishing lure, and make a great choice for a whole range of predatory species. Crappie are no exception – you can get excellent results with a jig. The big question is what kind of jig? There are many, ranging from a simple jig head to an elaborate three-ringed rig with multiple sinkers and tails. Many crappie anglers even combine fresh or live bait with artificial lures.
There are enough possible combinations that it would take a book to cover them all – in fact there are books on the subject – but here you’ll find the essentials you need to get you jigging for crappie.
First let’s look at the issue of artificial lures. Live bait is excellent for crappie, so many anglers wonder why they should use a plastic or metal lure when a live minnow is so effective. The short answer is both have their place.
Lures have been around for a while now, but compared with natural bait they’re definitely the newcomer to the fishing game. When the first artificial lures hit the market they became highly popular almost overnight; they worked very well, and they were also convenient and economical. With fresh baits you mostly need a new one after every strike, but a lure will survive fish after fish after fish.
Of course natural baits have their advantages too. A good jig can simulate the look and motion of a prey animal, but fish also have a keen sense of smell and plastic or metal can’t replicate that. That’s why, some days, you’ll get better results with a live minnow than your best lures. Other times there are real advantages in combining the two.
If you have a multi-hook rig try varying the leaders – jigs on some, live bait on a few others. That gives fish the full range of sensory cues they’re looking for and increases your chances of a strike. When a crappie sees a minnow swimming along it might be less cautious about some of the other shiny things in the area. Older – and larger – crappie might have encountered lures before, so the familiar sight and smell of live prey will help counter their wariness.
Different jigs work well in different water conditions, so make sure you have a good variety. In clear water realistic-looking replica fish or crustaceans might be your best bet. Close to dusk, or when there’s a lot of sediment in the water, bright colors or shiny metal will stand out better. Stock your tackle box with a variety of jigs in different colors, shapes and materials.
Don’t worry so much about different sizes when you’re buying jigs – stick with small ones. Big lures are more visible, but that doesn’t mean more strikes. Remember, a big fish will take a small lure, but a small fish won’t take a big one. Small jigs will do fine for crappie; if you need to get it deep you can just add weight with a small sinker.
There are a lot of ways to catch crappie, but jigs are a really good option to have available. With a decent selection of them in your gear you’ll be able to set up a rig for any water conditions. If you haven’t tried it yet, you really should!
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