Crappie tube jigs and other fishing gear you will want to have ready

While minnows make be the best live bait for crappie year-around, there are times when jigs are equal, or even better for the task at hand.

I divide jigs into 4 categories.
1. Jigs with real feathers or bucktail.
2. Jigs with plastic bodies on the hook.
3. Jigs that insert into plastic bodies
4. Horse-Head jigs with spinners

The first category is the simple, long-lived and incredibly successful Marabou jig. More crappie have been caught on this jig than all the others put together. It is simply a colored ball-headed jig with a corresponding color of marabou, or sometimes bucktail, and chenille tied to the collar. The usual sizes are 1/16 and 1/32 oz. This is the stereotypical %u2018crappie%u2019 jig. It can be fished at any depth, singly or in tandem , or under a bobber. It has produced crappie when absolutely nothing else works. They are cheap to buy, or easy to make yourself. No crappie fisherman should ever be without a selection of these in white, yellow and chartreuse.

Next are the standard jig heads, either ball or bullet head, with a plastic curly-tail, minnow body or similar shape body impaled on the hook and around the collar. These are very handy because they allow you to change bodies quickly without removing the jig-head from your line. This allows you to switch colors rapidly until you find the right combination. Like the marabou jig, they can be fished at any depth, singly or in tandem, or below a bobber. The most famous of this type of jig is probably the Sassy Shad, and Sassy Grub. Again, the best colors are white, yellow and chartreuse.

About 30 years ago, a new type of jig hit the market. It was revolutionary in that the entire jig-head fit inside the jig, giving a life-like look and feel to it. It has almost replaced the marabou jig as the industry standard for crappie. They are extremely successful, especially with moody, suspending fish! Like the marabou jig, it can be fished at any depth, singly or tandem, or under a float. They come in every color combination imaginable, and in every usable size to catch just about everything that swims in fresh or salt water. For crappie, you%u2019ll want to stick to the 1-1/2 to 2%u201D sizes. Any combination that has the colors yellow, white or chartreuse in it will work. The most popular brand of these is called the Gitz-It. Every crappie angler needs a selection of these in the appropriate sizes and colors.

Lastly are the Horse-Head type jigs. These have a bent-down nose, giving them the horse-head appearance. This imparts a slight wiggling action to the jig that some feel enhances its fish catching ability. They have a body of chenille and marabou, or use plastic bodies, much as other jigs do. It is a bit heavier than the other jigs, so they are a good choice when crappie are deep. They sometimes have a small spinner added to them to provide more action and flash. They are usually fished singly, and retrieved like a
crank-bait, only slower. They are not a good choice for suspended or moody crappie.

As far as rods are concerned, if you are going to jig fish exclusively, then all you need is a good ultralite rod and reel, and a good crappie pole set-up, between 9 and 12 feet long.

Most jigs can be fished in several ways. Vertical Jigging is simply dropping a jig straight down to the correct depth, and moving it up and down a few inches, slowly, at intervals. This can even be done from shore with a cane pole. Sometimes, this is the only way to fish in thick brush, fallen timber or other dense structure. It is THE method for pulling crappie out of heavy cover, and is extremely effective for placing a jig right in front of a moody, suspending slab-side. This method will produce when all others fail, if the right colors are used. Two jigs can be rigged in tandem with this method as well.

Next is the Bobber Rig. Either one, or two jigs in tandem, are rigged at the correct depth under a slip bobber. Then the rig is cast to likely spots and retrieved slowly in short, periodic jerks. Or, in a current such as below tail-races, it can be cast upstream and allowed to drift down. This is another effective method for suspended crappie. It%u2019s best to set the depth close to the thermo-cline.

Lastly, jigs can be cast and retrieved like a spinner-bait. This is the least effective method for controlling your depth. All these methods produce crappie at different times. The trick is to match your technique to the prevailing conditions.

One method I use when crappie get finicky may be a bit cheesy, but it works. I will cast a jig out under a bobber and let it sit. Then I will take another rod rigged with a crank-bait and cast it out beyond where the jig is. I rapidly reel the crank-bait up to, and past the bobber with the jig. I repeat as necessary. To a nearby crappie, it appears as if a smaller fish is attacking the jig, in effect stealing the crappies potential meal. This is something no predator can ignore. The crappie will savagely hit the jig before the crank-bait can get it, thus putting the smaller fish in its proper place. Unorthodox? Absolutely, but it really works. Try it sometime.

A whole book can be written on crappie tricks, but this will give you a place to start.

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.

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