If you ask the top crappie anglers in the country what their most effective presentation is, and you’re certain to hear one common theme from the majority of the respondents – some combination of panfish jigs and soft plastic.
That may seem weird to many, considering how effective at times live bait is, or how many giant crappie are caught each year trolling micro cranks. The reality though, is that for the vast majority of crappie guides, tournament anglers, and even everyday die-hards, you just can’t beat a jig and plastic for versatility, efficiency, and effectiveness. Not only do plastics catch numbers of crappie, but they also trigger strikes from the biggest slabs in the lake.
Here are three styles of panfish jigs and combinations that you should never be without.
1. Marabou Jig
Although it’s not a plastic, it would be remiss not to include the venerable marabou jig on any list of crappie killers. Marabou is actually the soft downy feathers from a chicken, and when submerged, it creates a flowing, undulating action that is more lifelike than any other material. Marabou panfish jigs like the Punisher Lures Crappie Slayer are excellent when hopped around stumps, skipped under docks, or even tipped with a minnow under a bobber.
2. Tube Jigs
Probably responsible for more crappie catches than any other artificial, the secret to the micro-tube’s success is its versatility. They come in literally hundreds of colors – making “matching the hatch” a breeze, and their spiraling fall is like catnip to curious crappies. Tube jigs like the Johnson Crappie Buster Shad Tube can be effectively casted, jigged, or fished under floats, and they’ll catch crappies from south Texas all the way up onto Lake of the Woods, Minnesota’s famed crappie factory.
3. Jig And Paddle Tail
Relatively new to the crappie plastics scene, the pogy or paddle tail plastic has been responsible for massive limits and multiple crappie tournament wins in recent years. Crappie, particularly trophies, are almost exclusively minnow chasers, and there’s not much that looks more like a minnow than a paddle tail like the Panfish Plastics Paddle Tail swimming easily through the water column. Jig and pogy combinations work great when trolled, casted, or even vertically jigged.
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