Perhaps it's because of the long winter and high snow banks, but I'm itching — big time — for some spring crappie. I'm a bit of a fishing tackle junkie when it comes to baits, no matter the species. Here are five of my favorite baits for early-season slabs.
|Rapala X-Rap XR04 lure|
The XR04 and XR06, which measure in at 1.5 and 2.5 inches, are awesome crappie search lures. Fan casting these baits over flats and using them to dissect sun-drenched shorelines have put a ton of fish in my boat. When prospecting new lakes for papermouths this is a lure that's always tied on.
|Mr. Twister Nymph - Black|
Mister Twister Nymph
This 1.25-inch plastic is a must-have in black and yellow brown. These small baits have saved the day on more than one occasion when crappie had tunnel-vision for nymphs. I typically rig one on a 1/32- or 1/16-ounce jig head and dangle it beneath a float Road Runner Original Marabou Jig
|Road Runner Original Marabou Jig|
No panfish tackle box is complete without some marabou crappie jigs and the Road Runner Original is a reliable classic. In addition to the many standard advantages that marabou provides, the small blade of these baits takes its potency to another level. Flash and vibrations call in fish and trigger bites. Plus, when you suddenly lose the feeling of the little blade thumping it means a fish has sucked in the bait and it's time to set the hook.
Bass Pro Shops Magnum Squirt
|Bass Pro Shops Magnum Squirt|
"At 2-1/4 inches this isn't your grandfather's crappie bait!" reads the Magnum Squirt's package. This is a big-fish tube and the one you want tied on when you're hunting trophy slabs. Vertically jig it, cast and swim it, wind-drift it, or work it beneath a float — this tube does it all. Buy a few extra packs too, because if you're friends don't have any you can bet you'll be sharing your stash.
Bass Assassin Shad Assassin - 1.5" Tiny Assassin
|Bass Assassin Shad Assassin|
The fat belly design, soft feel, and enticing teaser tail are what make this bait such a winner. Good color pattern variety is another plus for this plastic. A 1/32- or 1/16-ounce jig completes the offering. When up against discerning crappie, I've seen this little bait load the boat and out-fish a lot of other time-honored crappie baits.