Animals and fish survive with the assistance of their unique and keen sensory abilities. In the aquatic environment, where sight can be often compromised, extrasensory abilities must be built into an organism to find food and avoid predators. And anglers can use special lures to take advantage of these extrasensory organs and bring more fish to the boat. 

For years, the tackle industry has figured out ways to appeal to every possible sense that largemouth bass have — to encourage more strikes. From color and scent to sound and vibration, millions of lure combinations will coax more bass onto the line. 

But the tackle industry has only recently tapped into ways to fool crappie, the various colors and scents. Chicky Tackle Systems out of Texas is marketing a series of crappie jigs called Rockport Rattlers. The jigheads contain small rattles to appeal to the most-developed sensory systems in fish. . 

Crappie, bass and other fish detect sound and vibrations in the water by their lateral line and inner ear. Fish can locate prey without seeing the first scale by using these sensory abilities.  

“The bass-fishing guys have big success with rattling baits for years,” said crappie pro Whitey Outlaw. “The Rockport Rattlers have paid off for me.”

While few lures target crappie and other panfish, Bill Lewis Lures makes a smaller version of its popular Rat-L-Trap that some anglers will use for crappie. Guide Kevin Davis of Black’s Camp is one.

According to Davis, bass anglers around Santee Cooper started catching some giant crappie on ¼- and 1/2-ounce Rat-L-Traps, so he started casting some of the smaller versions, and crappie found them very appealing. 

“I will use either a 1/4- or 1/8-ounce Rat-L-Trap, and I like to cast them in the depressions where they bed during the spring,” Davis said.  “Pull them as slow and steady as you can. They will pounce all over it!”

A rattling lure triggers enhanced sensory responses and the reaction strike anglers are looking for. It really doesn’t matter if the fish is hungry or not. Anglers just need the fish to strike in order to put it in the boat.