Crankbaits For Crappie

I have caught good crappie on big lakes, in rivers and in ponds. Usually finding a mess of crappie is no big chore. I do have a “honey hole,” however. This six acres of water has never failed to produce a limit of 14-inch crappie for me. Nothing is a sure thing, but this pond in Northeast Missouri is close.

I had been trying for a couple of years to make arrangements to bring my best friend, Roger Lewis from Park Hills, Mo., to this spot for crappie fishing.

Roger and I have differing philosophies when it comes to crappie baits. I will use a Roadrunner wearing a Mister Twister Tail every time. I know they love it. Roger prefers a smoke grub because he has had tremendous luck in S.E. Missouri with it. We began fishing and I drew first blood. A small bass, about a foot long, ate my Roadrunner.

The author says crankbaits work on crappies because they imitate baitfish.

“I hoped my first one would be a crappie,” I said to Roger. I then proceeded to catch three more bass that size in the next 10 minutes, but no crappie. But I was in the fish and having fun.

Everthing Hitting But Crappie
Roger finally set the hook. The fish bent his ultra-light spinning rod almost double. When he lifted the fish into the boat, I saw that it was not a crappie either, but rather a huge green-earred sunfish. “It’s over 10 inches long,” Roger said. That fish and many more just like it and even bigger, went into the live well. Still, we caught no crappie.

We fished for an hour with no crappie bite. We caught lots of small bass and big sunfish, but no crappie. It was time to try something different. I remembered how the crappie at Mark Twain Lake hit a miniature crankbait the year before. I had no idea if that tactic would work on smaller water, so I decided to find out.

I knotted a shiny, shad colored mini “Rat-L-Trap” to my line. This shrunken version of the popular bass crankbait had paid-off big for me last year on the big water and the white crappie of Mark Twain Lake. I hoped for similar results today on small-water black crappie. I guessed right.

A half-dozen casts into my experiment I hit paydirt. As the fish ran, the first thought that crossed my mind was that it was another bass. As I fought the fish on my ultra-light tackle, nothing changed my mind. However, when the fish broke the surface, I was shocked.

The silvery sides and black scale pattern of a black crappie are unmistakable. The markings on this fish were outstanding and the fish had a mouth like a Dixie cup

“How big is that thing?” Roger asked as the fish fought close to the boat. “Big enough to keep,” I replied. She was about 15-inches long and weighed almost 2-1/2 pounds. “That’s the biggest crappie I’ve ever seen caught,” Roger sighed as he moved forward to examine the prize.

Crankbaits Imitate Baitfish
I thought he was coming to my end of the boat to praise my big crappie, and me but all he wanted to see was the “Mini-Trap.” “Crappie on a crankbait?” Roger said. “I would’ve never thought to try that.”

I do not think he was totally convinced by this one fish because he continued to cast his grub.

I believe crankbaits work because they imitate baitfish in a number of different ways. I know a lot of anglers like big, round fat-looking crankbaits, but for me it must be a thin, flat crankbait. When I examine the prey of bass and crappie, they are thin, not fat.

Also, the protruding plastic lip on most crankbaits turns me off. I’ve never seen a shad or a minnow with a plastic spoon in its mouth. Even though the clear plastic lips are virtually invisible on a moving bait in the water, action is sacrificed when you tie your line to a lip.

Now let’s look at action. I like a crankbait with a very tight wiggle and a very loud rattle. The “Mini-Traps” that I now throw at crappie respond well to both of these criteria. I think the tight wiggle of this thin little crankbait more closely imitates natural prey than any other fast-moving lure on the market. I know the fish can pick-up this high-frequency vibration and the rattling sound from quite some distance.

These crankbaits saved the day for me with Roger. We brought home all the fish he cared to fillet and he also picked-up something he hadn’t counted on: He learned how and why crappie like crankbaits.

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One Response to “Crankbaits For Crappie”

  1. crappie

    Thank you for the good writeup. It if truth be told was once a
    leisure account it. Glance complicated to far added agreeable from you!
    By the way, how can we keep in touch?