Five fishing secrets to use on silvery minnows

Minnows probably account for more crappie being taken than by any other method, but to be consistently successful, there are a few tips you should know about. Keep your minnows small. The size of the minnow is important, and the ideal crappie minnow is 1-1/2 to 2 inches long. Bait shops carry various sized minnows, so be sure to ask for ‘Crappie Minnows’. Bass minnows are too large. Crappies will take even larger minnows and shiners, but your best result will be with those that fall between 1 and 1 1/2 inches. At times, crappie can be maddingly size-selective. Hook the minnow in the back when using a rod and reel. Avoid hooking the minnow through the spine, or the lateral line. It will not swim naturally and will soon die. The hook should enter the minnow just below the back, piercing the smallest bit of skin possible, right behind the dorsal fin . This is why you need to use fine-wire hooks. They do less damage to the minnow. Some anglers prefer to hook their minnows through the lips, or the eyes, but these all cause the minnow to swim unnaturally, and will kill the minnow quickly. Crappies seldom bite a dead minnow. You can entice crappies a bit more by modifying your minnow, slightly, to make it swim more erratically. Take a pair of nail-clippers, and clip a very small piece of the minnow’s lower tail fin off. This can drive crappies wild at times. If crappies are slow to bite your float minnow rig, try this. Rig another rod with a crank-bait or spinner. Cast this out beyond where your float is. The reel the lure in rapidly, passing as close to the float as possible without snagging it. To a crappie, this looks like a smaller, more aggressive fish is attacking the crappies future entr?e, and will enrage it to no end. The crappie will attempt to put the little upstart in its proper place by either attacking it directly, in which case you will catch the crappie on the lure, or by trying to beat it to the punch by attacking the minnow first, in which case you will catch the crappie on the minnow. You can even double-up like this, catching a crappie on each pole, simultaneously. Either way, it is a win-win situation for you (but not so good for the crappie). To attract crappies, get a large glass jar, punch a lot of small holes in the lid, and rig a rope around it. Then place a dozen or so minnows in it and lower it into the water. The crappies will think it is a school of minnows, and will congregate in the immediate area. Use a small hook. Crappies are caught using a No. 4 hook, a 6, and even an 8. Crappies have delicate mouths that tear easily; hence one of their nicknames–papermouths. Be careful when setting the hook to keep from tearing the mouth and costing you a fish. Usually, just raising your rod tip is enough. When fishing for crappies from a boat or canoe, attach a small split shot on the line. This will keep the minnow down and stop it from swimming up toward the surface. Crappies congregate in schools at different depths depending on the season, and you can catch one after another under the right conditions. They are shallow for spawning in the spring and seek the thermocline in the summer. They often suspend in open water, without regard for structure. Crappies like their minnows to be moving. Trolling from a boat can be effective, as can a slow cast and retrieve. When ice fishing, move your tip-ups around until you locate schools of crappies. A minnow needs to be about a foot off the bottom in the winter. Once you start to catch crappies in a location, bring your other tip-ups into the area to blanket that spot (where legal). Jigging for crappies with an ice rod can be very successful. Another way to catch crappies with minnows, especially through the ice, is by hooking them through the lips on a very tiny jig head, and twitching them up and down through the ice. Try using a bobber when you are fishing for crappies with minnows from shore. Set the bobber a couple feet above the hook and put a small split shot a few inches from the hook to keep the minnow down. Watch the bobber closely for any movement. Hits can be light. This works really good during the pre-spawn, and spawning periods. It is better if you can seine, or trap minnows from the actual place you will be fishing, rather than buy them at a bait store. The crappies are more used to eating the local baitfish. And seined minnows are hardier than their hatchery-raised cousins, and will stay alive a lot longer on the hook. Judicious use of minnows can fill a fish basket in a very short time. Happy fishing.


Dan Eggertsen is a fellow crappie fishing enthusiast to the point of obsession. :) He's been providing solid advice on crappie fishing since 2004.

One Response to “Five fishing secrets to use on silvery minnows”

  1. I wish more people would write sites like this that are actually helpful to read. With all the fluff floating around on the net, it is rare to read a site like yours instead.

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