When crappie fishing, choosing the correct lure color can make the difference between a busted trip and a successful day. Most anglers are aware that crappie can be quite finicky when it comes to lure color.
Top crappie lure colors and patterns are often related to light conditions, water clarity, time of day, season, and abundance of local forage species.
Live bait anglers often combine live minnows with colored jigs to entice crappie. Although live minnows presented on a bare hook will catch fish in many situations, there are times when a colored jig can be critical for success. In most areas, traditional crappie jigs or shad darts are favored for fishing live minnows, with colors often related to water conditions.
Crappie jigs come in a range of weights, patterns, and material combinations. The simplest and oldest designs incorporate a painted lead head jig, a chenille body and marabou feathers for the tail. Solid color jigs are among the most popular, with white, black, yellow, chartreuse, green and other colors being common.
Several old school marabou crappie jig patterns feature color combinations. Some of the most famous are red head/black body/white tail, red and white, pink and white, chartreuse body/black tail and others. Elaborate jigs may feature a variety of head shapes, body materials, and tail designs. The combinations are endless, with spinner blades, tinsel and other flashy materials often added to designs.
Shad darts are another old school fishing lure that never looses popularity. These small jigs have remain popular because of their low cost, simplicity, and effectiveness. They are fished as-is or used in conjunction with live baits.
The most popular shad dart patterns include some combination of red, pink, white, chartreuse, green, yellow, orange, and black. Crappie specialists sometimes prefer shad darts with a traditional red and white head pattern, dressed with white deer hair. In addition to the basic version, anglers often carry a selection of shad darts in various colors and patterns.
Beetle spins are another traditional crappie lure. These specialized spinnerbaits utilize a wire arm, which attaches to the line. The arm has upper and lower branches, to which a jig and spinner blade are attached. The original design uses a soft plastic “grub” body with a spit tail. The body itself has no action, but has a lifelike feel and provides an element of color. On the opposing arm is the spinner blade, which can be silver, gold, or painted. Beetle spins come in a wide range of colors and patterns, with favorites varying regionally.
One advantage of the beetle spin design is its modular construction. The simple wire arm allows anglers to quickly change the entire jig, allowing for variations of weights, colors, or head shape. The spinner arm not only adds an element of flash and pulse, but also serves to slow down the jig. In heavy cover, the spinner arm also helps deflect the jig off branches and other snags.
Simple painted or unpainted jig heads rigged with soft plastic “curly tail” bodies are one of the best lures for catching crappie. These jigs are among the easiest lures when it comes to changing colors. Most anglers select a basic jig head and experiment with different body colors while fishing.
Regardless of the type of lure chosen, color can be an important factor for success. Some anglers swear by black on black, and rarely fish other patterns. Others claim that white, chartreuse, or another choice is the best color for catching crappie.
Color patterns are also popular. Red and white is perhaps the most famous color combination in the world, having been popular for more than a century. Many patterns attempt to mimic species of fish or other prey. Shad, bluegill, rainbow trout, fire tiger, crawfish, and other patterns are usually among the best sellers.
A few exceptions to these guidelines are notable. First, crappie are known to sometimes be attracted to bright colored lures which in no way resemble natural baits. This behavior occurs with a number of fish species and can be difficult to predict. Another situation occurs when crappie will bite a certain lure, regardless of color. Similar to their attraction to bright colors, crappie may sometimes respond to a particular lure action.