Best Bait for Crappie Fishing in 2020: Complete Reviews With Comparisons

By Richard | Fishing Lure Review

Best Bait for Crappie Fishing
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Crappies are a favorite of many anglers, given that you can catch them with light fish tackle.

What’s more, you’ll find crappies in almost every lake in every state.

There are just two types of crappies (white crappie and black crappie), but they have many nicknames.

Crappie makes a good catch not only for tournaments but also as a good fish for dinner, and having the best bait for crappie fishing makes all the difference.

People used to consider minnows on the float to be the best bait for crappies, but now we have many more effective bait options.

If you’re looking for the most effective bait for crappie fishing, these reviews will be more than helpful.

Comparison Chart

Berkley Gulp Alive Minnow Soft Bait

Berkley Powerbait Crappie Nibbles

Bobby Garland Baby Shad Crappie Bait

TRUSCEND Fishing Lure

Bobby Garland Slab Slay’r Crappie Bait

Best Bait for Crappie Fishing: Brief Reviews

1. Berkley Gulp Alive Minnow Soft Bait

Berkley is synonymous with fishing gear, as the company has been selling fishing gear for decades now.

Their products are innovative, and they were one of the first ones to use nylon from DuPont.

The company makes a wide range of fishing baits, including some of the best for crappie fishing.

Product Highlights

The Berkley Gulp Alive Minnow bait has a very natural look and feel. The length of this bait is one inch, while the container’s weight is 2.1 ounces.

In terms of taste and scent, it’s pretty close to the natural thing, which makes it ideal for crappies.

There are plenty of choices in terms of colors, including Smelt, Chartreuse Shard, Emerald Shiner, and Luma Glow.

These give you options for both bright colors and subtle ones, and you can choose depending on your needs.

The quivering split tail design adds to the bait’s natural look, making it appear almost like a real minnow.

While it resembles live minnow, it has a longer life. Also, it’s a durable bait, so you can be sure to get your money’s worth.

What’s even better than live minnow is the scent. This Gulp bait has a scent 400 times stronger, which means it attracts crappie in a bigger zone.

This attractant is rechargeable, so even if you’re using it out of the container after a long time, you can make it fragrant once again.

The container these baits come in help retain their freshness. It contains around 40 to 50 of these baits and comes with water, too.

Whether you’re jigging or drop shot fishing, this would make good bait. All in all, it’s fair to say that this option brings you good value for your money.

What We Like

It’s the scent of this minnow bait that’s a winner. It does not get any stronger than this.

Crappie from far can easily smell the fragrance and swim all the way to bite. As a result, this bait helps you catch more fish.

What We Don’t Like

 While it’s fragrant and popping, anglers found it performing best in clear water. In contrast, though, it’s not as good and as fragrant in saltwater.

PROS

  • Natural bait action
  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Powerful scent dispersion
  • Easy to use
  • Can be used for other fish, too, besides crappie

CONS

  • Might not work great in saltwater

2. Berkley Powerbait Crappie Nibbles

This is yet another product from Berkley, the company famous for its fishing tackle. The reason being they use the latest technology in everything.

Nibbles are hard to perfect as they can often create a mess, or worse, they float on water.

However, the right nibbles can give you great action, just like this Powerbait Crappie Nibbles.

Product Highlights

If you want something for low-light fishing, the Berkley Powerbait Crappie Nibbles is a great option. These nibbles glow under dark conditions and attract crappies far and wide.

This is pretty effective, as crappie are mostly active during low-light conditions, like at dawn or sunset, and even at night.

The colors of these crappie nibbles include Glow Chartreuse, Glow Pink, Glow Yellow, and Glow White. Glow white would be best for clear water.

You can even use it on a small treble hook without the need for a jig. However, if you use it with a jig, it can potentially catch more fish.

These nibbles are great for tipping jigs and filling tubes because they don’t float. Also, they have the perfect size for crappies.

As for the size, these are approximately a quarter of an inch. The small container’s weight is 1.1 ounces. You’ll have plenty of nibbles in a single container to have a few good fishing sessions.

You don’t have to worry about the usual mess with nibbles when working with Powerbait nibbles. These nibbles dissolve gradually, emitting a powerful scent to attract fishes.

This is one of the oldest products from Berkley, one they have continuously improved, so the odds of catching crappies will be in your favor.

What We Like

These nibbles are everything nibbles should be. They don’t fall apart so easily, and they get the job done.

If you’re not having any luck with small bait, adding this nibble will definitely turn the tables for you.

What We Don’t Like

We didn’t find much to not like in this bait, except for one small observation. We think that the manufacturer should add an expiration date for those who don’t fish as frequently.

PROS

  • Great for low-light fishing
  • Works well with small lures
  • Non-floating
  • Powerful scent
  • Great value for money

CONS

  • No expiration date on the container

3. Bobby Garland Baby Shad Crappie Bait

Bobby Garland specializes in crappie baits, which is why it’s pretty popular among anglers fishing for crappies.

They produce soft baits in a plethora of shapes and colors, giving you quite a lot of variety.

Since these baits are made in the USA, you can be sure about the quality, too. The Baby Shad Crappie has long been a favorite among the angler community.

Product Highlights

The Bobby Garland Baby Shad is a small bait that you can use for catching non-aggressive crappies.

You’ll get a wide variety in terms of patterns and colors. This particular Baby Shad is available in Blue Ice and Silver.

You’ll get 18 baits in one pack, each one is two inches long.

You can tip them with a jig or nibble, as these are unscented. The look and glow is still pretty strong to attract fishes, even if there’s no scent of its own.

If you just want to use this one, you can perhaps add a scent with a crappie slab sauce spray. That usually does the trick, too.

The body is the bait’s main strength and provides great action. It features a spear-shaped narrow tail that moves in the water effortlessly.

No wonder it’s used by anglers in tournaments, as crappies absolutely love these.

What We Like

The action, the color, the shape—everything about this bait is great. If you love catching a lot of crappies, this is the bait for you.

Using the optional scent is a good idea because it gives you discretion on whether you want to add it or not.

What We Don’t Like

Unfortunately, the plastic used in the production of this bait can expose you to some chemicals, which have been linked to cancer.

PROS

  • Great action
  • Lots of color/pattern choices
  • Best for slow slab days
  • Glows in low-light conditions

CONS

  • No scent
  • Plastic contains chemicals

4. Bobby Garland Slab Slay’r Crappie Bait

Bobby Garland is a trusted brand name when it comes to crappie baits.

You’ll see that most of the Bobby Garland crappie baits are spear-shaped because crappies respond to them readily.

While the Baby Shad remains the most popular, you have other great options, as well.

The Slab Slay’r Crappie Bait is another such bait you should give a try.

Product Highlights

The Slab Slay’r is a size 0 crappie bait, which is basically two inches in length.

It comes in many different colors that are all mostly vibrant. Some of these include Electric Chicken, Balck Chartreuse Silver, Cajun Cricket, and Pumpkin Pearl Chartreuse.

You get 12 of these baits in one pack, which is not a lot but still offers good value for money.

Its ribbed head and a spear-shaped body works great with lazy crappies that won’t bite so easily. It also works well in heavily stained waters.

The dancing action of these baits entices even the slowest of the crappies.

What We Like

This is a clever combination of a solid body, spear shape, and size that gives great action with crappies, especially those lazy ones.

You can also use these for catching panfish.

What We Don’t Like

The Slab Slay’r crappie baits are made of plastic containing a potentially hazardous chemical.

This chemical is classified as cancer-causing in California state, according to Proposition 65.

PROS

  • Dancing action
  • Great value for money
  • Lots of variety
  • Ideal for panfish too
  • Made in the US

CONS

  • Harmful plastic chemical

5. TRUSCEND Fishing Lure

TRUSCEND is a relatively new player, but their fish baits are high-end and innovative.

These are made from some of the best materials that are also good for the environment.

This soft plastic fishing lure is an example of the brand’s innovation. It resembles live fish and has similar action.

Product Highlights

This fish bait has been designed in Japan using organic Japanese plastic that’s both eco-friendly and provides a good balance.

The dual-color injection makes it versatile for both low-light and high-light conditions.

The bait has a built-in BKK dual hook that slides up to the lure with a built-in magnet in the lure. This ensures that the fish stay hooked, and your bait stays intact for future use.

The overall design delivers great action, whether it’s the directionality of the fins or the sensitivity of the tail.

The swimbait body has a swimming action no matter how fast you retrieve them, which will be ideal for crappie fishing in summertime.

One pack contains five pieces of swimbait. Each bait is 3.5 inches long, so this is relatively bigger than most other baits you would use for crappie.

What We Like

The shape and look of this bait is downright beautiful. Also, it’s a high-quality bait with features that make fishing a breeze.

What We Don’t Like

It may be a bit too advanced for crappie fishing, as you don’t necessarily need something fancy like this to get a good catch.

PROS

  • Swimming action
  • Eco-friendly
  • Reusable
  • Built-in dual hook with magnet
  • Durable

CONS

  • Expensive

Buyer's Guide

You don’t necessarily need fancy fishing gear for crappie. Instead, you can use reels from less affordable brands like 13 Fishing.

When looking for the best baits for crappie fishing, there are just two things you need to consider.

1. Color

Crappies are quite color-sensitive, and the color of your bait makes a big difference for these fishes.

You need color in your bait to attract them, and they have their own preferred colors, which can change from time to time. This is why choosing the right color for crappies can be tricky.

The fact that there are so many color choices does not help either.

Visibility of the bait is very important, and it depends on two factors: the clarity of water and the light conditions (sunlight).

Generally speaking, bright colors work better in stained waters, whereas light colors work best in clear waters. However, that’s not always the case.

For crappies, you might want to go with a bait that’s dual-color, perhaps one lighter and one more vivid. For instance, chartreuse black could work in different light and water conditions.

Some colors work better than others, so you can keep these as your primary color choices. These include red, white, chartreuse, and pink.

These colors do great with crappies, and a combination of these will definitely have you catching a lot of crappies.

Glow colors, especially white glow, are great for catching crappies in clear water.

Some days, just one of these colors might not work, and one way to fix that is to change colors.

Sometimes crappies get used to the same color and don’t bite. Changing the color might just do the trick.

2. Type

The good thing about crappie fishing is that you can use a variety of baits in your rig.

There’s no clear winner as to which one works best, but you’ll find your favorite with time. Some are more popular than others, simply because they always work.

Here are the types you need to consider:

Jig

Jigging is very common for crappie fishing, especially in deep cover.

Vertical jigs are best for crappie, and they also work great with crappie that might be aggressive (for instance, in fall).

You just simply drop it to the bottom and slowly retrieve it until a fish bites.

Soft Plastic

With soft plastics, the advantage is that you have a lot of options, so you can try several on a single fishing trip.

Tubes are perhaps the most common soft plastic baits used for catching crappie. Their frilled skirts are great for increasing visibility and motion.

Curly tails and paddle tails provide the best action. Lastly, shad baits are also pretty useful for crappie because they resemble live minnow.

Spoon

Spoon bait is best for catching crappies in deeper cover during winters. These wiggle like baitfish, which is attractive for crappie.

The best spoon baits are the 1/32 to ½ ounce ones. Even the smallest of the crappie should be able to catch on to this size.

Minnow

Minnow is a live bait that’s not really common for crappie but can still make good bait.

The convenience of using minnow is that you don’t have to bother with all the colors of artificial bait.

You can even use artificial minnow baits that resemble the look and scent of the live one. These usually give a much better action than a live minnow.

Crankbait

Crankbait is perfect for catching warm water crappie. It’s popular for summer tournaments because it can help catch bigger size crappies.

 However, crankbait requires a bit more advanced techniques and gear to pull off. This is one reason why you might want to stick with other options here if you’re just fishing crappie for fun.

Bait for Crappie Fishing FAQs

1. What is the best month to catch crappie?

There’s no particular month that’s best for catching crappie. Instead, there’s a whole season that’s generally great for crappie fishing.

Spring is usually the best time of the year, especially for beginners. From March to May, it is a great time to fish for crappie.

That said, any seasoned angler should be able to fish for crappie all year long. It’s just about using the right tackle and technique.

Although there are more crappies in the water in the summer months, it can be hard to pinpoint where they are exactly.

2. How do you fish for crappie with artificial bait?

Artificial bait is very popular for catching crappie. However, you can also use live bait like minnows.

Crappies usually love jigs, spinners, and grubs. You can tip a jig with a live minnow for an even more attractive bait.

Some artificial baits also have a scent to attract crappie, though it’s not as necessary as colors, which are more important for crappies.

3. How do you rig for crappie fishing?

There are several rigs that can work great for crappie fishing. Here are some of the common ones you might want to try:

Vertical Jigging Rig

Vertical jigging is a tried and tested rig for crappie.

When used in heavy cover, make sure to drop the jig properly, so it’s adequately visible to the crappie.

You’ll need jiggling poles for this type of rig.

Many people also use a setup with two jigs or one jig with a minnow. Do this on leaders that are at least 18 inches apart.

Bobber Minnow Rig

The bobber minnow rig or float rig is very common for crappie fishing. You usually use a minnow with a bobber, but you can also use a jig.

This kind of rig is good for when you want to fish at a particular depth. You can cast the rig farther, too.

Bobbers have two essential types: split bobber and stationary bobbers. You can fish for crappie with any type you prefer.

However, the split bobber is better for deep water fishing. Also, be mindful of the shapes of the bobbers.

Drop Shot

For drop shot, you’ll use a sinker and tie the hook anywhere in the four feet length above it. Normally, this rig uses a light line, light reel, and a six-pound test.

If you’re using live baits, you can use octopus-style baits.

To prevent the line from twisting, anglers often use a ball-bearing barrel swivel with their drop shot rig.

You can use virtually any kind of sinker, but the slender it is, the better. That way, it doesn’t snag.

4. What time of the day is best for crappie fishing?

The best time to fish for crappie is usually when there’s low light. This varies by the season you’re fishing in.

Evening and early morning, when the light is low, are the best times for crappie fishing.

That’s even better when it’s crappie feeding time, which is usually around midnight.

If you don’t like fishing in the dark, the time around sunrise and sunset is still good. Keep the fishing window to two hours before sunset and two hours after dawn.

During daylight hours, crappie tends to swim to the deeper waters, which is why it can be difficult to catch them in the hours around noon.

In winters, you may be able to catch them even during the daylight hours, as the temperature of the water gets high.

5. How deep should I fish for crappie?

Depending on the time of the day and the season, crappie could be in shallow water or deep water.

You should know about the right depth in every season and for the day so that you can catch as many as possible.

In the springtime, you can find crappies in the shallow water. Therefore, you can fish at just one or two feet deep.

In summers, it’s best to go deeper, as deep as 15 feet. Crappies stay in the brush during summer, so that’s where you’ll find most of them.

In the fall, they are usually near the docks where you can fish for them under 10 feet depth. They might move to shallow waters on warm days in fall.

Finally, in winters, you have to fish the deepest, around 20 to 40 feet. You’ll also have to use a slow retrieve, as they won’t bite on something moving fast.

Conclusion

The best bait for crappie fishing is the one you’re most comfortable with. If you’re just starting out, try different baits to see which works best for you.

The good thing is that crappie baits are not expensive at all, so you can try as many of them as you like.

Keep in mind the conditions of the water and time of the year when choosing a bait for crappie.

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