Skip to main content Skip to main content

Crappie Swim Jigs

Crappie Swim Jigs

Mary Savage just told Dave Genz, "Mine's bigger." He's formulating a response.

Well, yeah. Different species. C'mon, Mary. She wanted to try something different and rigged up a pearl, 2-inch Bobby Garland Hyper Tail gub  on a 1/32- ounce Lunker City Fin-S-Head. The Fin-S jig has the best collar for securing a plastic bait and keeping it viable for the longest period of time. She began swimming it through the cabbage beds, directing it around the tall corn with a 7-foot St. Croix Avid ultralight rod. Crappies were up and aggressive.


Mary caught some slabs. Dave and I couldn't stop She corralled several big bluegills with the grub, too — but it was soon obvious which species was dominating the weed tops. Crappies and largemouths were more likely to be up high, based on what Mary was doing.


A light, little Shimano Symetre reel filled with 4-pound braided line makes swimming small grubs, tubes, and crappie swim jigs a blast. We tie in three or four feet of 5.8--pound Raven fluorocarbon  leader using back-to-back uni knots. The Avid can bring big fish with delicate mouths through timber and tall weeds with a light, braided line.

A lot of companies make 2-inch plastics that excel at triggering crappies. We use Kalin's and Yamamoto grubs a lot, along with 2-inch Gulp and Berkley Power Bait swimbaits and Southern Pro Crappie Stingers. Little shad bodies, 2-inch soft jerks, grubs with paddle tails, mousie-shapes — all kinds of plastics work for this. But Mary likes a grub. She has confidence in it and that makes her pretty darn good with it.

Grubs on jigs. Works for everything. Smallmouths and largemouths, crappies and bluegills, pike and muskies, steelhead and lake trout.

If you know how to present a jig on a grub, you'll never go hungry in the wild. When the boys get on the radio way up north and sing the collective "we can't catch a lunch fish" blues, out come the jigs and grubs. I'm not going hungry up there.




We let the big crappies go, but took plenty of images for future In-Fisherman magazine pieces.bUsing a controlled swim for crappies, showing all the current plastic options, is probably something we'll cover in detail (again) before long.

6 Arc of Slabs, Northeast Mississippi

Like the Bordeaux region grows world-class wine grapes, the Arc of Slabs is famous for producing giant crappies. Grenada, Sardis, Enid, and Arkabutla — it's a tossup which of these reservoirs might be best for giant white crappies during March and April. Jigging in brush and spider-rigging are the best bets. Wading, too, at times. Contact: Guide John Woods, 731/334-9669; Guide John Harrison, 662/983-5999.

2 Lake Erie, Ohio

The best opportunities are between Port Clinton and Vermilion, says Ohio fishery biologist Travis Hartman. Many marinas and backwaters have excellent crappie fishing in the spring, peaking in late April to early May, and occasionally in the fall. Good open-water spots are East and West harbors and Sandusky Bay. Check connected rivers, too. Lots of fish to 12 inches, with 14-inchers not uncommon, Hartman says. Craig Lewis of Erie Outfitters says Lake Erie is a surprisingly overlooked crappie fishery, considering the numbers of fish caught, up to 18 inches, as big as any in the state. Contact: Erie Outfitters, 440/949-8934; Ohio DNR, dnr.state.oh.us.

4 Reelfoot Lake, Tennessee

Guide Billy Blakley says the crappie forecast for the 'Earthquake Lake ' is excellent for 2013, with average fish running 1 to 11„4 pounds and catches up to 23„4 pounds. The lake contains both black and white crappies. From March through May, spider-rig and jig around underwater wood, and jig around exposed cypress stumps. The bite picks up again in the fall. Top-notch lodging and food at Blue Bank Resort. Contact: Guide Billy Blakley at Blue Bank Resort 877/258-3226, bluebankresort.com.

7 Weiss Lake, Alabama

The crappie outlook is very good for 2013, reports Alabama district fisheries supervisor Dan Catchings. Samples indicate one, and possibly two, strong year-classes of crappies in 2010 and 2011. Expect good numbers of harvestable-size fish from the 2010 spawn this spring, with the 2011 year-class contributing to the fishing in mid- to late 2013. Fishing picks up in February as crappies move shallow. March through early May is best, with April being the peak. Contact: Guide Richard Green, 859/983-0673, or book through Little River Marina and Lodge (256/779-6461); Guide Mark Collins, markcollinsguideservice.com, 256/779-3387.

8 Kentucky Lake, Kentucky / Tennessee

Anglers look forward to the 'Crappie Capital ' living up to its name in 2013, says guide Steve ­McCadams. Expect numbers of quality fish with a shot at slabs over 2 pounds. While action during the spawn in late March into April is outstanding, don't overlook May and June, when stable lake levels and weather patterns find crappies concentrating around fish attractors at midrange depths, he says. Contact: Guide Steve ­McCadams, stevemccadams.com.

9 Kerr (Buggs Island) Reservoir, Virginia/North Carolina

Numbers of crappies from 1 to 13„4 pounds with a chance for 2- to 3-pounders. Once the spider-rigging bite wanes in shallower creek channels by April, action turns to jigging deeper brushpiles. Contact: Guide Bud Haynes, 434/374-0308; Guide Keith Wray, 434/635-0207; Bobcats Bait and Tackle, 434/374-8381.

3 Lake Eufaula, Oklahoma

This shallow reservoir boasts numbers of crappies in the 2- to 3-pound range, with 37-fish limits common. In spring, the action is shallow, doodlesocking flooded buckbrush in high water, or working rocky banks and brush cover in low water, says guide Todd Huckabee. Crappies move to deeper brush later in spring. Contact: Guide Todd Huckabee, toddhuckabee.net; Guide Barry Morrow, barrymro.com; Blue Heron Bait and Tackle, 918/334-5528.

5 Lake Fork, Texas

Numbers of slabs from 11„4 to 21„2 pounds tend to get overlooked in this lake famous for lunker bass. Mid-May through June is guide Terri Moon's favorite time for crappies, when the fish head to brushpiles and bridge abutments in 20 to 24 feet of water. Pitching Fork Tackle's Live Baby Shads on 1/16-ounce jigs is a top option. Ivan Martin and Rick Loomis also guide clients to Fork's crappies in November and December, when fish are on points and in deeper brush. Contact: Guide Terri Moon, 903/383-7773; Guide Ivan Martin, 918/260-7743; Guide Rick Loomis, rickloomis.com; Lake Fork Marina for lodging, food, and tackle, lakeforkmarina.com.

1 Lake of the Woods, Ontario

The Woods is top-notch for black crappies to 16 inches, says In-Fisherman contributor Jeff Gustafson. Many crappies on this massive water have never seen lures, so once you find them, the numbers and quality are second to none, he says. Action starts in mid-May, with fish moving to shallow areas with cover. After spawning in early June, target them on weedflats in 6 to 10 feet of water. Float-and-jig combinations excel. Also try small suspending jerkbaits and swimming marabou jigs. Contact: Guide Dave Bennett, davebennettoutdoors.com, 807/466-2140; Guide Jamie Bruce, brucescanadianangling.com, 807/466-7134.

10 St. Johns River, Florida

The stretch of the St. Johns River south of Lake George offers outstanding fishing. Crappies from 2 to 3 pounds are caught regularly, with average catches well over a pound. This was the scene of an In-Fisherman television episode that airs this spring. Weedflats hold fish that can't resist tubes fished under a float. Or troll channel edges using jigs or minnows. Contact: Lodging at Castaways on the River, 352/759-4522, castawaysontheriver.com; Guide Steve Niemoeller, 386/846-2861, cflfishing.com.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Popular Videos

How to Make the Best Memories During Family Camping Adventures

How to Make the Best Memories During Family Camping Adventures

Creating family memories that last a lifetime often occur in nature and creating an experience the entire family can enjoy is as simple as finding a campsite, putting up a tent and sleeping bags and being prepared with a list of Stanley products that make you a camp cook with little effort.

Why Kayak Size Matters: What to Consider When Purchasing a Kayak

Why Kayak Size Matters: What to Consider When Purchasing a Kayak

In this video we discuss what you should consider when deciding what size kayak you should purchase. Things like how you will store and transport your kayak as well as where you will be fishing the most are all important considerations.

Follow Your Dreams

Follow Your Dreams

Inspired by passion and Stanley, Thomas Allen talks about his dream to make a career working in the fishing industry. Dreams don't come true without being surrounded by people who not only see and understand your passion but consider your dream as their own and see the same endgame. The most important people in your life make your dreams a reality.

See All Videos

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the In-Fisherman App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top In-Fisherman stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All In-Fisherman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now