Crappie eat a variety of things, including insects, zooplankton and any fish small enough to slide down the hatch. Small golden shiners are deadly and definitely the bait of choice for many crappie fishermen across the country.

But the way anglers utilize shiners is not exactly the same, and some methods can put more fish in the boat than others. 

For their size, crappie have large mouths and are capable of shoving a fairly chunk of food into their traps. Sometimes, they do eat larger fish, but that not generally the case. Crappie at both ends of the spectrum — 10 ounces and 3½ pounds — are more likely to eat smaller-sized bait than a big, jumbo minnow.

Crappie pro T.C. Lloyd of Hartsville, S.C., likes to used small crappie minnows on bare hooks, especially during the summer. 

“Fish don’t seem to prefer a large bait during the summer,” Lloyd said. “We have much better success on smaller baits.” 

But it isn’t always just a plain, minnow either. Lloyd will often tip a pink or chartreuse jighead with a minnow during the spawn season and any time when seem to react to a bright-colored approach. Once in a while, Lloyd takes that to a different level.

“We will sometimes soak our minnows in chartreuse Pautzke Fire Dye. We will use the dye-colored minnows if they are working better than the silver ones. On some days, the dyed minnows are deadly over the natural colors,” he said.