Are you searching for the best crankbaits for crappie?
As a bass anglers oftentimes we think of crappie as baitfish and we are looking for lures that imitate them to catch more bass.
So, when we go fishing for crappie we tend to downsize our presentation and choose soft plastics or worms.
However, we need to remember that these fish too are predators and will react to a reaction style bait such as a crankbait.
In fact, crankbaits are a great way to weed out those small crappie and get onto those larger more aggressive ones.
With that being said, let’s take a look at what we think to be the top 5 best crappie crankbaits.
The Best Crappie Crankbaits 2020 – My Top 5 Picks
Here is a quick preview of our top 5 favorite crankbaits for crappie.
Please scroll down further for more details/videos on each crankbait.
- Rebel Tracdown Minnow Fishing Lure
- Rapala Ultra Light Crank 3
- Strike King Bitsy Minnow Bait
- Rapala Tail Dancer 05
- Rat-L-Trap Lures
Why choose a crankbait?
So you are looking in your tacklebox for a good crappie lure, why do I think you should choose a crankbait?
For one reason, depth control.
We know that crappie are schooling fish and thus tend to be in the same area. That is why crankbaits are so effective in catching them because with the same lure you don’t change the depth.
For example, let’s imagine that you catch a crappie on a crankbait that dives to a maximum depth of 5 feet.
Next, simply cast in the same area and you will most likely catch another one. Fishing with these baits makes it easier because once you catch one fish, you no longer need to figure out the depth.
Simply throw the same style crankbait and keep slinging the fish in the boat. It can be that easy.
Another thing to keep in mind when choosing the right crankbait is the wobble. Flat sided crankbaits such as lipless ones have a tight wobble.
Short fat ones such as squarebills have a wide/slow wobble. Many times crappie will have a certain preference choosing one over the other.
With that being said, oftentimes it is best to have one of each category and experiment to see which ones the fish want.
The Best Crappie Crankbaits
Rebel Tracdown Minnow
The first lure to add to our list is the Rebel Tracdown Minnow.
This minnow is available in a number of different sizes for all kinds of fish, but when fishing for crappie, I would choose the 1 5/8 inch, 3/32 ounce option.
Now, how to fish this lure?
This particular lure is called a track down minnow, which means it doesn’t float, but it slowly sinks. It sinks at about a foot a second.
Having that in mind the best way to fish it is to throw it out there and allow it to sink to the appropriate depth.
For example, if you think the fish are holding up around 3 feet down, wait 3 seconds before you start your retrieval.
One of the best things about this lure is its action. It perfectly imitates a dying baitfish and can be fished in a similar way you would fish a jerkbait.
So, after you cast it out and allow it to sink, bring it back to the boat with a jerk, jerk, pause action.
Keep in mind that when fishing in colder water a longer pause has proven to produce better results.
Also, remember that crappie tend to like slower presentations, so if you find yourself catching a lot of other kinds of fish such as bass or walleye, you might have to slow things down.
The best part about this lure is that you aren’t limited to catching crappie, it can also be an effective lure in catching bass and trout.
Take a closer look at the action of this lure in the following video:
Rapala Ultra Light Crank 3
The next on our list of the best crappie crankbaits is the Rapala Ultra Light Crank 3.
This lure measures just 1 1/2 inches long.
I know what you are thinking, that is one tiny crankbait, but don’t let its size fool you. This lure will catch crappie, good-sized bass, large walleye and everything in between.
Who knew such a small package could give off such a big wobbling action and entice fish to react.
The long bill allows this lure to dive down to a depth of 8 feet. One of the best ways to fish it is to vary your retrieve.
Either bring it straight back to the boat, a stop and go action, or a yo-yo retrieval will get fish’s attention and get results.
Another feature I like about this particular body design is that it floats.
So, if you are fishing around cover and you feel like you are going to get snagged on the bottom, pause your retrieval and the bait will slowly come to the surface.
Lastly, it is not limited to catching crappie, many times this lure will produce results when bass or other larger fish are feeding on smaller baitfish.
Let’s take a closer look at the Rapala Ultra Light Crank 3 in the following video:
Strike King Bitsy Minnow Bait
You thought the previous lure was small, wait until you see the Strike King Bitsy Minnow Bait.
This crankbait is just 1.25 inches long and weighs .125 ounces.
Obviously, this goes without saying, but when fishing with such small lures for crappie always make sure you are using an ultralight reel and an ultralight rod.
As you can see from the picture, the bill is much like a square bill and it has that downward noise body design.
That means that this lure isn’t designed for going down deep, but rather it is a shallow running crankbait designed to be fished when these fish are in shallow waters.
One of the best things I like about fishing with this lure is that it will definitely weed out the larger crappie from the pack.
So, if you are tired of a bunch of small crappie, tie on a Strike King Bitsy Minnow Bait and start catching those larger more aggressive one.
Once again, you are not limited to catching crappie, you can have success catching both panfish or bass as well.
You May Also Enjoy Reading: The Best Ultralight Spinning Rod For Crappie Fishing
Rapala Tail Dancer 05
If you are after big plate size crappie you need to try out the Rapala Tail Dancer 05.
This lure is 2 inches long, weighs 3/16 ounces and can dive up to 9 feet deep.
Wait, but Wes, this isn’t a crappie crankbait, this is a bass crankbait!
Yes, I know it is quite a bit larger than others that we have discussed in this post, but let me tell you, there is no way better to weed out those smaller crappie, than with a larger profile bait.
What I like most about this lure is the action. Unlike a squarebill that has a short and fat body, this lure has a long narrow body.
This body design helps to give it a wide wobbling action that perfectly imitates an escaping minnow that crappie can’t help, but resist to grab it.
Sometimes crappie prefer a slow wobbling action over a tight fast wobble. When this happens make sure you have the Rapala Tail Dancer in the boat.
During the springtime when crappie can be found in the shallow water or in the summer when fishing deep waters, you need to have a Rat-L-Trap Lures on hand at all times.
This is a 1/8 ounce lipless crankbait that is available in a number of different colors. Over the years this lure has proven itself to be deadly when fishing for crappie.
Because it is a tiny lipless crankbait it won’t dive very deep, which makes it perfect when fishing in shallow waters.
However, if you are trying to get down deep to where you think some fish might be holding up you can put a split shot on your line a foot or two up from your lure.
This will help you to fish those deeper areas.
Another great tactic for catching these fish is to troll for them.
Trolling a lipless, deep diving or any other crankbait can help you to locate crappie. Once you understand where they are, you can fish that area for more fish.
Lastly, remember one of the amazing features of this lure is the rattle.
This rattle can act like a dinner bell for crappie and draw them to you particularly when they are more aggressive.
So, take advantage of this rattle and start catching fish.
The Rat L Trap isn’t limited to open water fishing, it also can be very effective on the ice. Simply drop it in a hole, vertical jig it and bring fish to you.
You May Also Enjoy Reading: How To Fish A Rattle Trap – 5 Tips Every Angler Must Know
What are the best crankbaits for crappie?
Many people think it is the smallest one that will produce the best results, but as you can see from the list, crappie will take a bigger bait.
In fact, depending on the season and how aggressive the fish are, I like to fish with a bigger crankbait.
The important to remember is that these fish aren’t just baitfish they are also predators.
So, pick up yourself a variety of different crankbaits and get out there and start catching some.
Now it is your turn. Please share your experience with us in the comment section below. What have you found to be the best crappie crankbaits?