Do Minnows Or Jigs Work Best For Crappie?

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If You Were To Stick A Crappie Jig And A Minnow In Front Of A Crappie Which Would It Eat First?


Crappie jigs were designed to mimic live bait, namely minnows.  And yet, minnows are one of the most sold products in bait shops.  Is this due to the fact that many anglers have difficulty catching fish on artificial?

At first glance you might think this, but truth is that certain times of the year minnows will outperform jigs but not for my money.  I plan on covering in detail why my first choice is always a crappie jig vs. minnow.


Why Most Crappie Angler’s Believe That Minnows Work Better Than Jigs.


A few months ago, back in late summer, I asked a local stick why with his talent he was using live minnows when he had proven his ability with a crappie jig?  “Would you prefer a steak or a hot dog”?… was his response.

His implication was that nothing beats live especially when the fish can be picky on the hotter summer days.  Another local who always comes away with a nice mess from Rend Lake regurgitated his philosophy and told me he only went to jigs in the wintertime when fish were easier to catch.

Minnows are the real deal and look almost completely natural to their predators.  The only pause or hesitancy before a crappie bite is the fact that a hook is sticking out of the minnow’s mouth causing an unnatural swimming action.


Using Minnows For Crappie

Minnows like most commodities are discounted with bulk purchases.  If you only buy a dozen, be prepared to pay out the nose per minnow.  If you purchase by the pound, you will have a high upfront cost, but if you have a means of taking care of them then your savings are substantial. 

One of my friends keeps his minnows alive for up to a week in summertime by using a bubbler inside a cooler.  Just shutting the lid alone after dipping each minnow will keep them alive a lot longer.  Also only bring what you plan to use!

You can learn how to use a minnow trap to catch your own minnows and save a ton of money!


Spring Fishing With Minnows For Crappie


Bait shops always stock minnows but in springtime they get daily deliveries in order to keep up with demand.  Once crappie begin moving shallow for the spawn, even beginner fishermen seem to catch a bucket full.  If you’re a beginner, then for sure minnows should be your go to. 

The best spring rig for crappie is a simple bobber, split shot, hook and minnow.  Cast close to any visible structure whether it be along a log, stump, or beaver dam.  The female crappie will be in there looking to spawn and are already hungry making catching slabs with minnows easy!


Summer Fishing With Minnows For Crappie


If there’s a time that I will trade off minnows for jigs, the hottest summer days would have to be it.  Sitting over brush piles in over twenty feet of water with a bait hanging down the bites are still few and far between, especially once the sun climbs up over the trees.

Crappie have high metabolisms in summer and can’t risk using too much energy swimming out from a brush pile to chase a low percentage swimming jig, and thus will prefer a chunky dying minnow in front of them after they’ve examined it for some time.


Fall And Winter Crappie Fishing With Minnows


To me minnows play a much smaller roll in fishermen’s arsenal this time of the year.  Crappie are stocking up on shad and can’t afford to be too picky.  Anything that looks edible is going to be attacked and that means crappie jigs, so save yourself some money and convert to plastic!

Having said that, fish can still be easily caught on jigs this time of year as well.


Why Some Crappie Anglers Believe That Crappie Jigs Work Better Than Minnows.


While in a minority, I’m one of those that tend to believe I can catch more quality fish with a jig than a minnow regardless of the time of year. 

Last summer I got introduced to Livescope fishing and watched as fish would constantly swim out to my 3″ curly tail to eat while bypassing my partners minnow.  Of the hottest four days we fished, the jig outproduced the minnow three times and by a better than 3:1 ratio making the jig preferable to a minnow! 

The one day the minnow outproduced though it really outproduced which forced me to tip my jigs with minnows to try to get a few more bites.

I started out using jigs and learned to master fishing techniques from vertical jigging for crappie on up to slip corking for crappie.

My confidence just comes from years of experience.


Spring Crappie Jig Fishing


I started fishing for crappie in the spring with a jig and cork back when I was quite young.  We visited a small lake outside of Johnston City, Illinois and I watched as a friend of mine would cast a bobber out with a jig dangling about a foot under.  Once it landed, he began popping it back to himself with intermittent pauses.

It never took long before the cork would pop on its own and then lay on its side indicating it was time to set the hook!  We would only have a handful of minnows packed with us these days and opted for jigs instead!


Summertime Crappie Jig Fishing


As I mentioned above, summertime is the only time where I might opt for a minnow over a crappie jig in order to catch a mess.  We always arrive at the lake before dawn this time of the year and for the first couple of hours a jig will fish just as well as a minnow.  As the day heats up though, the fish hunker down and would prefer to work as little as possible to fill their stomachs.

The secret is to use a larger crappie jig that’s three inches and above.  Remember the crappie need to eat a bait large enough to make it worth their while!


Fall And Winter Fishing For Crappie With A Jig Instead Of A Minnow


A great time to ween yourself off of minnows is once temperatures start to plummet.  Starting in November around my home lakes, fish begin loading up on threadfin shad.  They leave their familiar brush piles and seek warmer waters where the shad flee to survive.

It’s now when parallel fishing jigs along contour drop lines will produce some of your best opportunities.  Curly tail jigs are my go-to this time of the year!

With the bite being so good now it makes no financial sense to use minnows, and you’ll be rebaiting way too often potentially missing out on more fish!


Inconclusion I believe Crappie Jigs Work Better Than Minnows


I’ve laid out my arguments for why I believe A Crappie Jig outperforms minnows on any given day.  

Using jigs is an art and once mastered you can make it do things that a minnow won’t do naturally triggering a crappie’s predatorial instincts.  You also have unlimited color combinations to choose from allowing fish more opportunities to find your bait.

If you’ve ever wanted to take up jig fishing for crappie, use the tips provided above and you’ll see the savings pile up! 

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