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crappie on Bobby Garland Jig

Learn Why Crappie Jigheads Matter

Don’t think for a moment that all jigheads are created equal or that the only real decision regarding these critical crappie catching components is the weight of head to choose.

With so much that is commonly discussed about crappie baits, the ways those baits move in the water and the significance of bait colors, important distinctions related to the heads that complement those baits get very little attention. Folks sometimes give passing mention of a jighead’s weight and occasionally color (both critical), but the conversation usually ends there.

We want to correct that because crappie jigheads matter, and many differ substantially from one another. Jigheads vary in weight, shape, eye positioning and angle, color, decoration, hook design and hook used, to name some of the most common variables. We’ll look at important variables one a time to help you make the best decisions.

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Spring Crappie

Strategies for Finding Spring Crappie

Learn how to methodically search for and find spring crappie that are on the move and then effectively pattern their behavior.

“I haven’t been to Wylie for two months, so we will be figuring it out as we go,” Jordan Newsome told me while confirming the following day’s plans. Flooding on other waters had limited options for our planned photo outing, but he was confident that he and his father, Craig (who is his current tournament partner) would be able to find plenty of crappie for a productive day.

A tournament crappie angler from Iron Station, North Carolina, Newsome specializes in long-line trolling with jigs. Trolling, by nature, is a searching strategy. However, simply casting back baits at the first opportunity and hoping to cross the fish’s path can be highly hit-or-miss.

Newsome does the opposite. He is systematic in his crappie trolling approach, from starting areas to the way he sets up his trolling spread. Several elements of his approach accelerate the process of finding spring crappie and figuring out their preferences that day. That equates to more dialed-in fishing time, which ultimately results in catching more fish (and often better fish).

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Baby Shad Swim'R Crappie

Six Top Baits for Spring Crappie Fishing

Learn how a crappie lure’s profile affects it action and appearance in the water and how to choose the best bait for every situation.

Do you ever look at soft-plastic lures designed for crappie fishing and wonder why they come in such a broad range of shapes? If so, the next question might be which specific bait to choose for a given situation. Here, we will lessen the mystery by comparing the profiles and features of a handful of popular Bobby Garland Crappie Baits, looking at how those distinctions affect each bait’s movements and appearance in the water.

Considering a specific bait’s design and how it swims or falls through the water can make it much easier to select the best bait for conditions and for the technique you intend to use.

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float fishing for spring crappie

Use Floats to Catch More Spring Crappie

When crappie move shallow during spring, adding the right float to a rig allows for better targeted and more effective presentations of crappie jigs or live bait.

“The thrill of bank fishing with a float never gets old,” said Brad Bowles “I don’t care how old you get.”

Few anglers would disagree with Bowles, a crappie tournament angler and expert bank angler on Barren River Lake in Kentucky. “I love to bank fish around riprap under or around bridges on Barren River Lake. The bridge areas are normally the mouth of a migration point for crappie and typically warm up first,” he said.

Barren River Lake gets drawn down as much as 24 feet during winter in anticipation of rising flood waters. Floating debris often makes fishing from a boat dangerous. However, bridges become pinch points, making them prime areas to fish for crappie from the bank.

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Barry Morrow crappie

How to Find and Catch EARLY Spring Crappie on the Move

Learn to find and catch early spring crappie when they begin migrating from winter holes toward spawning areas.

Crappie go on the move when daylight hours lengthen and the water warms in early spring.

The longer daylight hours lead to warmer air, which starts warming the water. The warming water triggers early spring crappie to start moving from their winter haunts, according to Dan Dannenmueller, an Alabama tournament competitor and publisher of CrappieNOW! online magazine.

“That water temp is the key,” Dannenmueller said. “When the water temp starts getting up to 55 degrees the crappie are going to start to move, and as they approach closer to 57 to 58 you will see the males move up, and then the females right after them.” 

Whether he is fishing a natural lake in Florida or a highland reservoir in the Midwest, Dannenmueller notices crappie spend their winter in the deepest holes they can find and start moving during the first prolonged warm spell in the early spring.

“If there is a 5-foot hole and that is the deepest water in a creek that is where crappie will be or they will go to somewhat deeper water and sit on the bottom,” Dannenmueller said. “They are going to move in to those first ledges that warm first.”

When early spring crappie start moving out of winter holes and toward spawning grounds, here are four techniques to intercept them on their migration route.

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Tiny Crappie Bait

Why Getting Tiny Helps You Catch More Winter Crappie

Very small jigs can make a very large difference for winter crappie fishing, whether you fish through the ice or fish open water. Learn how.

With a sub-zero forecast for a mid-winter Sunday, services were cancelled at Chris Edwards’ church. So what did he do? He went fishing, of course, and that turned out to be an excellent decision. Using double rig of Electric Chicken Itty Bit Swim’Rs on 1/48-ounce heads, the Broken Arrow, Oklahoma angler caught more than 100 crappie that day.

Winter crappie fishing offers definite challenges. Chilled fish won’t expend much energy to feed, and they can be pretty picky. Edwards has learned, however, that by downsizing jigheads and baits and using decidedly subtle presentations, he can continue to enjoy excellent crappie action through the coldest part of winter.

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man with crapie

How to fish for crappie vertically over cover

Learn to locate crappie-holding cover and the best techniques for making those fish bite.

Crappie are interesting little fish who bundle up tightly around cover in the coldest parts of the year, making them easy to locate using your graph. But how do you fish for crappie vertically? From technique to equipment, I’ll tell you how, with four helpful steps from start to finish in this blog!

1. Locating cover

This is by far the most important part of learning how to fish for crappie vertically and seems pretty simple. But, it’s not! Crappie tend to look for certain types of cover, be it free standing timber you can visibly see, or brush that has been placed in depth zones by other fishermen. The easiest finds are obvious trees sticking out of the water in the right depths. Typically, crappie dwell in the 10-20 foot range in the winter, so finding timber that exists in that zone can be very productive. The hardest kind of timber to find is sunken timber or brush piles. For these you need to use the electronics on your boat. Preferably structure scan, but regular sonar can find brush piles as well. The best places to check for sunken brush are off the edges of points, flats, or near boat docks. Identifying crappie on top of the brush is not always the easiest task, but they can be differentiated from most other fish. Crappie tend to bunch up tall on top of the brush or around it, so there will be several small dots tightly packed together.

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Lee Pitts with Crappie

How to Catch Crappie with the Float & Fly Technique

Learn the secrets of an approach that capitalizes on the crappie’s winter behavior and produces outstanding fishing this time of year.

Anglers often wonder how to catch crappie when the water gets cold and the fish start getting finicky. For Weiss Lake Guide Lee Pitts, that answer often comes in the form of the “float & fly” technique.

“Fly” in this technique’s name comes from the technique’s origin. Popularized as a winter bass tactic on clear mountain lakes in Kentucky and Tennessee, float-and-fly bass fishing is traditionally done with small hair jig, known regionally as a fly.

How to catch crappie with a float & fly essentially mirrors the bass anglers’ approach, except in types of areas fished, the even smaller size of the jig and the common use of soft plastics bodies on jigs. For Pitts, the perfect “fly” is a Bobby Garland Baby Shad or a 2-inch Slab Slayer on a 1/24-ounce Mo’ Glo Jighead and 6-pound-test line

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winter crappie fishing

Winter Crappie Fishing 101: Top Tips for Dock Fishing Crappie

Crappies tend to gravitate toward deep structure in the winter months, and an excellent stronghold for them is manmade docks, which are prevalent on several bodies of water throughout the South and Midwest. These docks offer ample cover for winter crappie fishing and offer easy opportunities to simply drop small plastic lures down to them without the need for an expensive boat and accessories.

Why are docks good crappie holding structure in the winter? Man made docks often feature posts that root them to the lake or river floor and provide structure for crappie to relate to. Also, most docks have boat owners who like to fish, so it’s no science figuring out that they occasionally toss brush and other structure pieces out by their slips, along the points and other various spots along the docks.

How to find the right docks for winter crappie fishing

• This is the most important part of fishing docks, because if you aren’t around the crappie – how will you catch them?

• Try to identify docks with enough depth under them. Crappie tend to gravitate deeper over structure in the winter. A good rule of thumb is to find docks that maintain a depth of over 10 feet under them. You can find the depth by counting down a jig head to get approximate measurements.

• Look at a map or use Google Earth to find docks in a creek arm or adjacent to deep water. These typically hold the highest amounts of crappie.

• Most important rule: Always have permission to fish the docks you are on, ask the owner or marina in charge before stepping foot on a dock.

Once you have found an appropriate dock you can begin to look at the slips inside and around the dock to survey for any brush or structure laying underneath. A good tip is to find old docks that aren’t frequented and be aware of any indicators of sunken brush such as pieces of wood or pipes lying around the slips.

The right equipment for winter crappies

For this presentation you don’t necessarily need specialized equipment, just a short medium light action rod, light line and a small capacity spinning reel. Winter crappie fishing doesn’t have to be difficult.

Lurenet team pick: 6-foot medium light action rod, 1000 size spinning reel, 6- to 8-pound test line

For lures you can use a large variety of plastics, but I will narrow it down to the best three available.

1. Bobby Garland Baby Shad w/ Bobby Garland 1/16 oz. MoGlo Jig head • Colors: (Clear water – Monkey Milk, Threadfin Shad, Blue Ice) (Stained water – Lights out, Devils Grin, Black Hot Pink)


2. Bobby Garland 2” Slab Slayer w/ Bobby Garland 1/16 oz. MoGlo Jig head • Colors: (Clear water – Double Silver Rainbow, Blue Ice, Eclipse) (Stained water – Bone White Chart., Junebug Pearl Chart., Cajun Cricket)


3. Bobby Garland Slab Hunter w/ Bobby Garland 1/8 oz. MoGlo Jig head • Colors: (Clear water – Live Minnow, Threadfin Shad, Coppernose) (Stained water – Bluegrass, Cajun Cricket, Bone White Chart.)


These three options are primary picks for the dock fishing technique because they have a very subtle action, and when dropping straight down to suspended fish you need as real looking of an imitation as possible.

The first two picks are small options that appeal to crappie of all sizes, but the third pick is built for going after giant slab crappie that pass over smaller baits.

Our favorite dock fishing crappie techniques & locations

Now that you have identified the right dock to fish and gathered up the proper lures, it’s time to actually start winter crappie fishing! The technique used to dock fish is just like any standard brushpile fishing from a boat. You simply want to identify where to drop down and let your bait fall to the bottom. Once it is on the bottom, lift slightly and hold the bait steady to detect any bites. If the lure sits for a period of time with no bites slowly, begin to pull it up. I like to implore a few cranks of the reel handle and hold the bait steady at multiple zones in the water column. Often crappie will sit in a certain zone all over the dock.

Below are a few tips on finding the right places on the dock to drop your baits down. • Inside corners of slips (typical place for brush to be dropped)

• Outside corners of slips • Along walkways (look for signs of brush or cover)

• Under boat lifts

• Dock posts These are simple places to find on all docks, but always be creative and check multiple areas.

Almost anywhere that casts shade can be a primary spot for winter crappie fishing! Also, be sure to try multiple colors. I listed several above, but crappie are notorious sight feeders and love bright color patterns so don’t be afraid to try a wide variety. Often times bright patterns work well even in clear water, especially under the shade of docks.

Ready to go hit some docks? You find all the lures, jigs and accessories you need at

Be sure to use code MERRY15 for an extra 15 percent off your order!