Crappie fishermen have so many choices and options it can be confusing. So many different grub and body styles are available that one champion angler has developed specific criteria for when and how to best use each style.
Whitey Outlaw of St. Matthews, a former Crappie Masters national champion and winner of many major tournaments, has developed a plan for using the basic body types of crappie jigs including the curlytail, Roadrunner, hair, Slider and tube bodies and styles. He uses each for maximum success under different conditions.
“I’ll preface this by emphasizing that jigheads are also essential to crappie fishing success,” Outlaw said. “The size and weight of the jighead will determine depth and speed, if casting, of the lure. But the bodies provide the action, color combinations, vibration and flash crucial to success.”
“I go to the curlytail grub when fish are finicky about biting,” Outlaw said. “When they’re not chasing lures, the curlytail action helps make them bite by enhancing the action. I also really like this grub when I feel I need to have a minnow trailing a jig, it creates a good combination. My favorite way to fish this type body is by spider-rigging in front of the boat.
“With a Roadrunner body I like the flash and vibration of the blades,” he said. “Active crappie during spring can’t resist them. The blades will increase the number and aggressiveness of bites. They are ideal for dingy and muddy water because of the flash and vibration from the blades. The Roadrunner can be fished at any depth, and I will use it any way a jig can be fished by casting, vertical-jigging, spider-rigging in front and long-line trolling behind the boat. I frequently trail a minnow on a Roadrunner. It will work with about anything.
“I use hair jigs when the water is cold, and there is not much movement from crappie,” Outlaw said. “When crappies are somewhat inactive, they are looking for something that just swims past without a lot of action, vibration or flash. Just think of offering a simple, easy meal in terms of how and when to present this lure. When the water is cold and the crappie metabolism is low, this is my ‘go-to’ style. Whatever presentation method I use, I keep the speed slow.”
“I’ve used the Sliders with paddletails for many years and still rely on them,” he said. “These lures are ideal for vibration and movement. They are very versatile and work well casting, spider-rigging, long-line trolling, and (they) are my favorite for use in shallow water under a cork with a jighead. A minnow added to a Slider body works very well. I may use a minnow with any of these bodies but a Slider type is excellent for adding a minnow.”
The tube body is probably the most used of this entire group, and I like this style all year, and it’s the most-versatile style on the market,” Outlaw said. “Almost all crappie anglers have these in their boat because they are universally effective in terms of situations. If I had to pick one type to use all the time, it would be the tube.
“Other styles are often more-effective in terms of quality and quantity of crappie caught depending on conditions,” he said. “Tubes will usually catch fish and may be the best choice on any given day. But the factors of different action, vibration, flash and movement can make any of the others better at times.”
Outlaw said other considerations go with this discussion.
“Change color patterns frequently to find the best pattern on a given day,” he said. “Don’t get locked into one body style if you are not catching crappie. Experiment and you’ll eventually hit a home run.
“Crappies will bite at some point during the day,’ he said. “Grub and body styles, along with color and jig style and size, are the keys to unlock the door to crappie fishing success.”