It’s Time to Switch to Open Water Crappies!

The transformation from hard to soft water has occurred, and for anglers across the northern tier of North America, that means one thing: ice-out crappies. Tubes are an excellent lure to use for crappies from ice-out through fall pattern, yet I don’t see many anglers using them much anymore.

Tubes are very useful for catching crappies all open water season. With tubes, you can troll them, drift, cast, or use a bobber system. Bottom line, you have multiple ways of presenting a bait.

Generally speaking, I’ll start with a 1/64 to 1/32 lure size for a tough bite or shallower fish. Add a plastic dressing of 1/2- to 1-inch long, and later into spring or summer, step up your jig size to 1/16 or even 1/8 ounce. Amp up that dressing to 1.5 to 2.5 inches.

We do not want to overpower or underpower that tube. If we put too heavy of a jig, with a 1/2-inch plastic, it’ll become overpowered. It will not present that plastic correctly! If it’s too heavy, it falls too fast, then appears unnatural. Don’t forget to experiment!

A good way to start out is by matching the hatch via color first. Use something that imitates food sources. Blackish or white colors provide good alternatives. In dark water, go with more of a vibrant color, like say chartreuse. In clear water, go with shad colors. (Those are good starting points.) And when in doubt, add a crappie minnow on that tube jig.

For a larger profile, place the tube head up over jig head or run up to the jighead itself.

As for rods, when casting, I like 7- to 8-footers with 2- to 4-pound-test fluorocarbon line and light action (not ultralight) reels. Use something very similar to a walleye spinning reel.

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2 Responses to “It’s Time to Switch to Open Water Crappies!”

  1. Sam

    Great tip – thanks for sharing. I’m in the market for new lures. Do you recommend a particular brand of tube lures?

    • Jake Dybedahl

      Terry recommends Crappie-Delite by JB Lures. Just let us know if you have any other questions.