Crappie Fishing With A Jig: 3 Ways To Increase Hookups

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Jason Kaefer is on a lake and holding up a small black crappie.

Crappie fishing with a jig can produce a ton of action on the water during the warmer months. But where do you begin? Jigs are versatile, which means every shape, color, and size are available and can be fished all different ways. Not to mention that crappie are difficult to find after they’ve spread out across the water. But, it comes in handy having some advanced tricks to employ. And believe me, jigs put fish in the boat. It’s just a matter of nailing down a solid set of crappie fishing techniques. Once you’re dialed in, it can be an awesome ultralight fishing method and produces a ton of action!

Cover And Structure

Crappie are commonly found near structure and cover. But this varies depending on the time of year, and they’ll often be found at varying depths. Whether on grass beds, brush piles, train trestles, or sunken logs, they’ll bunch up, and once you’ve found one, you’ve found several! However, knowing what to look for is crucial. Some of the best places to find them are on ledges and drop-offs.

A map is shown of topographical map with contour lines within it. This is demonstrating the ideal locations to Crappie fish with a jig.
Reading the contour lines of your body of water can help you identify sharp drop-offs, flats, and ledges.

A contour map will help you identify these locations. A quick internet search will bring up a map like the one pictured above of your lake. Locate shallow water depth changes, usually in about 5-6 ft, indicated by narrow lines. The closer the lines, the faster the change in depth.

In late summer when fish are hugging the thermocline, a vertical jig presentation can prevail. Other structures to look for are brush piles, fallen trees, and submerged stumps.

1.) Vertical Jigging: Less Action Is More

The easiest, most relaxing way to catch crappie is vertical jigging. It’s best to work your way down rather than back up, so as not to spook any fish. Begin mid-water column. Give your rod small lifts, let your jig rise and fall. That stillness is when the real bite comes. The natural pendulum swing of your lure with minimum rod intervention is also effective so keep it calm and gentle. Use more of a subtle shake rather than a twitch or hop. This is where bass anglers tend to rush the job, as they’re used to a heavier jig set-up with more aggressive action. Practice this over grass beds in late summer on a slow troll.

Crappie Fishing With A Jig: Best Products

The world of jig fishing is never-ending. But some reliable brands to go with are;

  • Eagle Claw Crappie Jigs
  • Bobby Garland Baby Shad
  • 1/64 oz Crappie Magnet Pop-Eye Jig

2.) Begin Large With A Straight Retrieve

Straight retrieving has killer benefits. 1- It’s proactive, 2- You’ll find yourself getting harder strikes from aggressive fish. And every newbie knows how to cast and wind. But knowing where and when to throw what lures and how is a different story. First, identify the cover you’re going for – train tressels, boat docks, for example. I like fishing tressels and boat docks early to mid-summer with a larger profile jig like a Blakemore Road Runner Crappie Lure. The body size of this bait can vary.

A small spinner blade is incorporated into the head of the jig giving it that extra flash and allure. While retrieving, I like to keep it higher in the water column. If no bites follow, using the same lure, I’ll move straight into a Yo-Yo retrieve, raising my rod tip up sharply and letting the jig fall. This action will get my jig down past the mid-water line and cover water in wide V shapes. The reason I start with big jigs is to isolate those larger, more aggressive fish, as they’re more likely to peel off the school and murder something.

Crappie Fishing With A Jig:

Other jig brands that’ll get slammed on the water;

  •  Arkie Sexee Tail Shad
  • Large Featured Jigs
  • 2-3″ Grub Tail Jigs w/ 3/16 oz Jig Head

Crappie Fishing With A Jig: Slip Float

A slip-float is another way to incorporate a vertical jig action around cover. Using a long rod with braided line to a 4-8 lb fluorocarbon leader, cast out and jig your lure back to the boat. Keep your action light, giving it tiny shakes.

3.) End Small

A fun way to follow up a large profile jig is with something tiny like a 1/16 oz green tube jig.  This method will target the smaller fish in the school and produce quantity rather than quality fish – a fun way to end the day!

Three crappie jigs are laid out on a wooden floor; two green crappie magnets and a grub tail jig.

With smaller jigs like these, I’ll flip them as close to boat docks as possible, working the lure along with the corners. Another option for enhancing your jigs presentation is tipping it with small chunks of nightcrawler.

Final Thoughts

Crappie jigging techniques are simple to learn and fun. Whether you’re fishing with a bobber, casting and retrieving, or jigging for crappie from the bank, the above techniques are a good starting point for the semi-new crappie angler. Learn what you can about crappie and their behavior. Experiment with different jig colors, different weights, and explore the natural make-up of your lakes and reservoirs; brush piles and fallen trees are my favorite! Do this until you develop your go-to methods and a loaded tackle box of jigs and jig heads.


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