How to Fish for Crappie: 6 Crappie Fishing Tips

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Written By Russ Egan

Russ is a professional fisherman with over 20 years of experience. He has fished all over the world for more than two decades, primarily for saltwater game fish but also for local trophy fish. Russ comprehensively tests and reviews all his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. There is nothing he prefers than heading down to his local tackle store, buying the latest fishing reel, and taking it to the water to test.

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If you are looking to catch one of the most populous fish in North America then you will need these Crappie Fishing Tips. They are found in hundreds of lakes throughout the United States in large numbers.

They are often a by-catch of anglers who are targeting bass but are a great fish to hunt for due to their population and ease to catch.

Crappie are found in both white crappie and black crappie species. Angling techniques are the same for both.

Crappie are often under 1 pound in weight, and their bite is so slight that you might not even relive that you have hooked a fish. The key is to be aware and focused on your rod. Having an extremely sensitive spinning rod is crucial to feel that bite and hooking the fish.

When is the Best Month to Catch Crappie?

The best month to catch crappie is in the spring months of March to May when the fish start to spawn. Crappie go into a pre-spawn feeding frenzy that often gives the largest number of fish to catch.

Crappie are found in hundreds of lakes throughout North America and can be caught all year round. They are found in large numbers and are caught relatively easily compared with other fish species.

In summer and winter crappie form loose schools and can be found in 10-35 feet of water. 

MonthLiklihood of Catching Crappie
Crappie Fishing Tips

Where is the Best Location for Crappie?

In summer and winter crappie can be found around deep timber or old river channels.

In spring as the water temperature rises crappie begin to move to their spawning grounds in shallow, wind-protected coves. Anglers often look for weed beds or willow trees providing cover in shallower areas.

A good rule of thumb is to fish shallower waters during spring and fall, then fish deeper waters during summer and winter.

Donny Karr with a Black Crappie
Donny Karr with a Black Crappie

What is the Best Crappie Fishing Gear?

The best fishing gear for crappie is ultra lightweight either spinning or baitcasting reels. 

Long cane rods are also very popular as this allows the fishermen to remain at a distance from the fish and avoids spooking or scaring the school. The other old-school favorite rod is the telescopic float rod. The key here is the length as the rod doesn’t have to be particularly strong.

Crappie can also be targeted through fly fishing which will need its own specific equipment and flies.

What Bait Should I Use for Crappie Fishing?

The favorite bait for Crappie fishing are minnows, worms, and insects. Like a lot of fishing, keep an eye on your local bugs and pick a bait that replicates them as closely as possible. Just about anything will get their attention, which is one of the reasons they are so popular. Crickets are a popular and easily found bait for crappie.

If you are using minnows you want them to be as fresh as possible. Dead minnows lose their scent and may not be the attractant you are hoping for.

There are also plenty of artificial baits and lures available such as the one below. Anything that mimics their normal, natural bait will work.

Crappie BaitEffectiveness
Live Minnows⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Soft Plastic Grubs⭐⭐⭐⭐
Small Spinnerbaits⭐⭐⭐⭐
Marabou Jigs⭐⭐⭐⭐
Tube Jigs⭐⭐⭐⭐
Hair Jigs⭐⭐⭐
Slip Bobber Rigs⭐⭐⭐
Insect Imitations⭐⭐

What is the Best Crappie Rig?

There are plenty of popular rigs for crappie fishing including:

  • Slip float rig
  • Drop shot rig
  • Minnow and brush jig
  • Bobber rig
  • Floating bottom walker
  • Double jig bait rig
  • Three-way swivel rig
  • Bullet bait rig

This video below shows two of the most popular rigs and how to tie them:

What Temperature do Crappie Bite?

Crappie spawning peaks at 60 to 70 degrees when the fish move from the deeper waters to the shallow flats (6 to 15 feet) in spring. 

In colder temperatures they can be found in 15 to 30 feet of water, normally hiding in the depths of river channels or around deep timber and weed beds.

However, crappie can be caught all year round in all temperatures. The key is to change the location and depth you target based on the temperature.

Water Temperature (°F)Likelihood to Catch CrappieTarget Depth
Below 5012-20 feet
50-55⭐⭐10-18 feet
56-60⭐⭐⭐8-15 feet
61-65⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐5-10 feet
66-70⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐3-8 feet
71-75⭐⭐⭐⭐5-10 feet
76-80⭐⭐⭐8-15 feet
81-85⭐⭐10-18 feet
Above 8512-20 feet

There is a great article by Outdoor Life that explains some thermometric analyses tracking crappie behavior throughout the year.

Donny with a Crappie


Crappie are a great fish to target due to their sheer numbers and ease to catch. They are a favorite among beginners and experienced anglers alike. There are also plenty of other crappie instructions available online if you are looking for more information.

Crappie are also one of the nicest fish to eat with clean white flesh that doesn’t carry the taste of the water in which they are caught.

If you have any tips of your own to share then please leave a comment below. The more wisdom we can gather the more fish everyone will catch.

We have written a guide on other fish species that you might find interesting.

Happy fishing.