When fishing for crappie, the best bait is minnows. Minnows are inexpensive, easy to use, and part of the crappie’s regular diet.
Here we look at different types of minnows, how to hook them, and offer tips on fishing with minnows.
Best Minnows for Crappie Fishing
1. Golden shiners
The crappies in Southern waters love golden shiners, named for their gold color. Their animation and golden hues attract the crappies.
2. Fathead minnows
Midwestern crappies eat a steady diet of fathead minnows despite their dull colors. Fatheads do great when the water temperature changes quickly, making them exceptionally hardy.
Chubs are rarely used as bait but larger predatory fish enjoy them, making chubs ideal to use as bait. In addition, they can be up to twelve inches long, which is ideal for walleye and pike.
4. Rosy reds
Rosy red minnows are part of the fathead minnow family but are a bright reddish-gold. They are a favorite of crappies because of their bold colors and tolerance to colder water and weather.
Also called ciscos, this is a favorite of fish because they are meaty – a direct result of being a whitefish relative. You can use them as fresh bait or buy from frozen storage.
Suckers can live for a whole day on ice when they are in a bait bucket. They are perfect for bigger game fish as well as crappie.
Suckers come in multiple sizes, so they are used for all sizes of fish. You will find numerous varieties in most bait shops.
How to Hook a Minnow for Crappie
1. Live minnows
Minnow and bobbers
When using a bobber with your minnow, you place the bobber on the line about twenty-four inches above your hook. How long the line below the bobber shows how deep the minnow can go.
If you want to fish deeper, you will have to move the bobber away from the hook to create depth. Making the line shorter will take the minnow shallower.
Once your bobber is set, hooking your minnow in the head, nose, or throat works best, though some crappie will eat a minnow hooked below the dorsal fin.
Hooking the lips
Unfortunately, hooking through the lips means the minnow dies quicker when it can’t take in water (can’t really breathe).
But it works so well because the hook is right where the crappie will bite, offering great odds of landing the fish!
Hook the minnow from one lip into the other, then through its head.
Hooking the tail
When you hook the minnow through the tail, the minnow gets the crappie’s attention by swimming and floundering around in the water. Holding the minnow’s head in one hand, pull the hook through the thicker part of the tail.
Tail hooking is the simplest way to hook the live minnow. When the crappie bites, you are going to have to wait a few seconds before you set your hook, or the crappie will get a mouth full of minnow, and you will have no crappie.
Hooking the snout
Hooking through the snout is one of the best ways to keep the minnow alive longer, and the position of the hook is precisely where you want the crappie to strike so they get hooked the minute they bite the minnow.
Holding the minnow’s tail, push the hook through the snout (the upper lip towards the eyes) and out of the minnow’s mouth.
Spider rigging isn’t about the bait you use. It is about the placement of the fishing poles.
The poles are set up in groups of six to eight poles and spread out on the front of the boat so they can catch six to eight crappies at a time.
The poles can be baited with minnows and placed at different depths to ensure you catch a large amount of fish in a smaller amount of time.
Place hook near dorsal fin
If you want the minnow to draw the crappie by splashing around, you want to hook it below the dorsal fin into the top of the back.
The minnow will dance on the line and attract crappie as it moves.
Hooking the mouth or back
If you want the minnow to stay on your hook longer, put the hook in the minnow’s mouth, down its throat, and out through the center top of its back.
Beware that the minnow will not live long after you have hooked it in this fashion.
Slip bobber rigging
Take the slip off the black tub by pulling it towards your reel. Thread the line through the black tube while keeping the slip and tube separate.
Continue pulling the black tube in the opposite direction of your fishing pole and off the line, so the slip is drawn in the rod’s direction (you don’t want that black tube stuck on your line higher than the slip.)
Tighten the slip by tugging each end of the slip snug and add a bead. Leave enough slack so you can fix the slip’s position on the line.
You need to position the bead now, you can’t do it later. Pull the slip tighter once you decide the depth you’ll fish.
Place your slip bobber on the line by attaching the small hole on the line first, so it meets the stop (the bottom of the bobber is the bigger hole), then attach the larger hole.
Whether you use a live minnow or artificial bait with your jig, use a small # 4 hook and slip shot or a sinker to create enough weight to cast out with your minnow.
If you’re fishing in fast-moving water, you’ll want the hook to grip the minnow firmly.
Hook the minnow by entering the mouth and pulling the hook out on the stomach right behind the gills. This will instantly kill the minnow, but the water won’t pull the minnow off the hook.
Using casting jigs
When looking for depth, your casting jig’s size, how thick it is, and the type of fishing line you use all come into play.
Many fishermen cast and count “one Mississippi”s” after casting until the jig hits the lake floor as a depth guide.
There is no way to accurately measure but the best way is to cast the jig and take note of when it hits the bottom.
1. Dead minnows
Quick strike rigging
The double hooks on a quick-strike rig let you set the hook quickly when a fish strikes. Using a dead minnow behind the dorsal fin, scrape off a few scales.
Face the hook’s point in the tail’s direction and insert the stinger hook. Your main hook inserts behind the gill plate on the top of the head.
You may want to remove a few more scales to increase the hook set.
Using a minnow on a jig is done when the minnow is dead. You want the minnow on the hook where the crappie bite. Hooking the minnow through the eye or the lip is best.
Minnows as cut bait
If you are using the minnow as cut bait, you will need to cut the minnow in three pieces (head, middle, and tail.) Then use the head or tail and an active jig. Place the head or tail on the jig, add some aroma, and cast the jig into the water.
Minnow fishing pros
- Enticing fish to your lure
Once you’ve hooked the minnow so it will stay on the line, the minnow lures the crappie to itself with its actions. You hold the pole and be patient!
- Minnows make fishing easy
The minnow will draw the crappie out of their hiding spots if you fish in the still water with natural camouflage. These are natural settings for the minnows, and the crappie won’t give a thought to lunching on the minnows.
Minnow fishing cons
- A Boat is required for fishing
You need to keep minnows alive to get the best results when fishing. So, you will need a boat with a live well or minnow bucket to keep the minnows alive if you are going to attract the crappie.
- Transporting live minnows is a hassle
Even though minnows are the bait of choice for fishermen, not all situations allow minnows as bait. Since minnows need water to stay alive, you will need to have a minnow bucket to keep them alive.
You don’t want the minnows to die before you can use them!
Catching your minnows minnow traps
If you live near freshwater, you can catch your minnows using a minnow trap. Minnow traps are built or bought. Place bread crumbs or a slice of bread in the trap.
Place your trap in shallow water and check your trap in a few hours or overnight. Once you catch your minnows, put them in a live well or minnow bucket and keep them in a cool place.
Quick tips for hooking minnows when fishing for crappie
- Make sure it is legal to use minnows as bait in the state you fish
- Use minnows that are no more than two inches in length
- A cooler or a live well will keep your minnows alive
- Add slip shot to your line to get the minnows down to the level of the bigger fish
- If you puncture the minnow’s air bladder, the air will escape, and the minnow will sink
- Hooking the minnow through the back should be done shallowly to avoid hitting the spine so the minnow is not paralyzed or dies