18 Best Crappie Bait

Depending on what time of year you start your crappie fishing, you will need to be using different tactics! The fish will be going through different stages in their life cycle, so you need to match your bait and lures with their desires.

Spring crappies have just suffered a hibernation and low eating season, so they will eat almost anything you put in front of them, whereas summer crappie will have grown wise to artificial lures and need more persuading.

Each season brings its own challenges and rewards, but using the same method all year round could mean missing out on bigger and better catches!

18 Best Crappie Bait

In this guide, we are going to tell you the three best bait and lures for every season, so you can be prepared for the whole year!

The Difference Between Lure And Bait

Throughout the internet and the angling world at large, you will notice the terms “lure” and “bait” used interchangeably, but there is a difference.

Baits are often alive. They are a tempting food that your prey will be interested in gobbling up. You can use cooked or dried baits instead of living ones, but the concept is the same. Bait is something your catch will want to eat.

Lures, however, are an attractive and often bright artificial temptation. They are designed to look like fish, or jellyfish, or some type of common fish prey. 

Some anglers use the attractive shapes of a lure, along with the natural smells of bait, to maximize their chances of seducing the fish!

3 Best Live Bait For Crappie

Live baits may not be fashionable for some anglers, but they still provide excellent results, especially for crappies.

Live bait is environmentally friendly, natural, and for some people it is also a free option. You can use live bait from anywhere, so if you live near the woods or any other natural location, you can find worms, nightcrawlers, and larvae just hanging around. If you go after heavy rainfall, you will be inundated with free bait!

Below are the best 3 live bait for crappies, but if you see any small creatures by your lake or pond, you can assume it will be an enticing dinner for fish!


Minnows are a small fish. They are often hunted in the wild by larger fish, like crappies, for food. This means that minnows are the perfect natural bait to catch crappies, as your prey will be searching for this poor little fish anyway.

You can buy minnows in all angler shops and most fish markets. If you watched to catch some minnows yourself, you should search in shallow parts of a lake.

To attach the minnows to your hook, you need to impale them in the middle so they can wiggle in the water to gain the crappie’s attention.


  • Natural Prey To Crappie
  • Cheap
  • Easy To Find 
  • Large Enough To Be Its Own Lure


  • Not Colorful


Grubs, like minnows, are a natural dinner for crappies; however, they are a rarer treat. Grubs are large for an insect and filled with nutritious goodness. Imagine minnows as a classic lunchtime sandwich and grubs as an unexpected trip to a fancy restaurant.

Unlike minnows, grubs are normally not large enough to be used by themselves unless the body of water is relatively clear. This means you might want to attach a lure to the line to gain the crappie’s attention.

You can find grubs under rocks, in woodlands, and under rotting pieces of wood. You can often find grubs in angler shops too, as they are a classic choice for most fish.


  • Natural Prey To Crappie
  • Cheap
  • Easy To Find 
  • Exciting Treat


  • Not Colorful
  • May Need a Lure As Well


Many experienced anglers will choose nightcrawlers over any other live bait because they are the easiest to find in nature. You can find nightcrawlers in holes of a tree, in muddy woodlands, or lake banks.

They are also found in stores all year round and can be stored for three or four months, so if you don’t fish often, you can keep the same bait until your next session. 

Crappies will quickly notice a nightcrawler in the water, so you should experience a great response with these as your bait.


  • Natural Prey To Crappie
  • Cheap
  • Easy To Find 
  • Long Storage
  • Quick Response


  • Not Colorful

3 Best Bait For Crappie In Spring

In the spring, crappies will start to emerge from their winter retreats, both hungry and dim. Their only thought is to eat because they will soon want to begin spawning. This means they will take a bite on almost anything. 

However, there are a few factors that you need to consider before buying the cheapest bulk buy around. 

Every natural creature in spring will be small and thin, as they will have had a hard time gaining weight during the winter. Crappies might be a little dim-witted during this time period, but they will notice if your minnow is suspiciously big.

You also need to think about weight. If the water is super cold, then the crappies will be swimming at the bottom of the lakes to keep themselves warm.

If you want to use live bait, then minnows and grub will be a great choice, but there is a third option…

3 Best Bait For Crappie In Summer 

Once spring has been and gone, you will notice that crappies have become harder to catch. As the water temperature rises above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, crappies will dive deep into the cover of foliage in an attempt to avoid predators and to keep cool.

They are still active and hunting prey like schools of shad, but they will do so with more delicate and precise movements.

You should aim to land your lures in or near bushes in an attempt to encourage the crappie to leave their safe environment.

You might see some fish in clear water locations if you are fishing in the early hours of the morning or the late dusk of evening, but at mid-day, the crappie will be hanging around the deep trenches of water.


Worms have been classed as the perfect bait for fish, and this is so stereotypically true that you will find worms hanging off hooks in any sea-faring cartoon. When it comes to crappies, the story is still the same.

In the summer, when crappies will not want to venture too far from their bushy cover, you want a bait that seems like easy prey. This is where worms have an edge over other baits.

They are easy for crappies to see, will move in the water whether they are dead or alive, and they would normally not be a challenge for the crappies to hunt. 

However, if anglers have targeted the crappies in the spring, the fish might become wise to the lure of worms. If that’s the case, then you may need a stronger smelling bait.


  • Natural Prey To Crappie
  • Cheap
  • Easy To Find 
  • Moves Naturally in Water


  • Not Colorful
  • May Not Be Enticing Enough

3 Best Bait For Crappie In Winter

Coldwater makes crappies lethargic, to the point where they are sluggish and slow. They still have to eat during this state of mind, but they won’t want to give too much energy into the chase. They are after an easy meal.

To catch a crappie in winter, you need to rely on a slow presentation with your lure, which will land at the middle-depth of the lake. Your lure needs to be slow-moving, so the crappie doesn’t have to weigh up the energy cost vs. likelihood of success. 

Arguably the best bait for this season are minnows. They are small fish, which are easy to catch with a lot of protein, and they are natural at this time of year. However, we want to show you new suggestions.

10/02/2022 12:32 am GMT

3 Best Early Season Crappie Bait 

The best season to catch many crappies is spring, as they are desperate for food and not on high alert for predators, so spring is considered to be crappie season. The early season is between Fall and Spring, where the temperature is around 50 degrees Fahrenheit and is slowly rising.

This is because the fish will start to leave the lower feeding grounds and begin to gear up for spawning and larger, more accessible food.

The best type of bait will depend on how the lakes are doing when the temperatures start to rise. If the water is clear, you will want a natural-looking lure and a less pungent bait.

If the day is bright and sunny, you can use pretty and bright-colored foods to stand out against the sun’s rays. 

If the water is darker due to algae, you will want lures and bait that are colorful and reflective. This is so when the light does hit the materials, it will look like a beacon.

If the day as a whole is cloudy or overcast, then you will want a strong-smelling bait to catch the crappie’s attention.

3 Best Early Spring Crappie Lures

With so many bait options needing jigs or tubes to keep them attached to your line, we should let you know what lures are the best for you to use.

When it comes to early spring, you should be looking at small tube jigs around two inches long. Ideally, you want these in either red and white or blue and white. The size should represent the new and thin fish that will naturally be starting to emerge in the lakes.

10/02/2022 12:18 am GMT

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