What Size/Color Lures Are Best for Crappie?

  • By: thunder3
  • Date: September 16, 2022
  • Time to read: 6 min.

Crappies, in all their speckled goodness, are as elusive as they are tasty. Knowing where they abound is quite important, but knowing how to catch them is even trickier. With size, color, safety, and so many other factors to consider, how do you know what lures are best for crappie-fishing?

The best size lures for crappies are 1/16 ounce (1.8 grams). As for the color, lures with warm colors like red, orange, yellow, and chartreuse are more effective in clear waters because they’re more visible, while fluorescent and darker-colored lures work best in murky waters for the same reason.

Different anglers and experts have their go-to tools for making a great catch, but what size and color of lures help reel in a  massive haul of crappie? Many even wonder if there are specific sizes, colors, or shapes of lures that crappie favor. This article will explore that in great detail to give you the best shot at a bigger catch.

Note: most links in this article are Amazon.com Affiliate links, see Affiliate Disclosure, thank you.

What Size of Lures Is Best for Crappie?

Determining the size of lures best suited for crappie will require you to take their features and preferences into consideration. These fishes are rather small-sized with thin mouths, hence their nickname, ‘Papermouth.’

Crappie are freshwater fishes that like to stay about four feet away from the surface. While they aren’t line-shy, this penchant for subsurface feeding makes them elusive and tricky to catch.

Mature crappies predominantly feed on small prey in their natural habitat. Minnows are a strong favorite for this type of fish, so it only follows that a suitable lure for them would be around the same size as a minnow. This is why lures with a minnow head attached typically perform better when angling for crappie.

The size of lure best suited for catching crappie is a 1/16 ounce (1.8 grams) lure. The most successful crappie lures are often within the ⅛, 1/16, and 1/32 ounce (3.54, 1.8, and 0.89 grams) range, with the most popular being the 1/16 oz (1.8 grams) types.

Many crappie anglers testify to reeling in crappie more easily and in large numbers when they use lighter lures. Heavier lures don’t do well because they sink fast past the surface-feeding range of crappies.

The lure isn’t the only thing you need to keep light when angling for crappie. Your fishing gear should also be lightweight.

Going for heavier gear will put you at the risk of ripping out the hook from the fish’s mouth. The paper-thin mouths of crappie make them poorly suited for larger, heavier hooks. As such, using bigger, more rounded hooks when fishing for crappie will only result in missing bait and no caught fish on the hook.

Sickle hooks of sizes 2 and 4 are best recommended by experienced crappie fishers. These hook sizes hold on to minnow bait securely while latching onto the roof of the mouth.

What Color of Lures Are Best for Crappie?

To adequately answer this question, we need to take a closer look at how crappie perceive color. This way, you’ll thoroughly understand why certain lure colors are better suited for crappie angling than others.

So without further ado, let’s talk crappies’ color perception capabilities.

How Crappie Perceives Color

Crappies, like other panfish, are sensitive to color. This is because color and movement are part of the parameters they use to isolate and catch prey. Their eyes have specialized visual cells that help detect and distinguish light.

Fish eyes have rods and cones, meaning they see more than just black and white. They can perceive color, albeit differently from humans due to their biological composition and the surrounding water’s refractive abilities. To be specific, the way fish sees color depends on:

  • The water temperature
  • Their depth
  • Turbidity
  • Light concentration
  • Timing

Now that you have an understanding of how crappie perceive color, let’s find out their favorite colors.

The Best Lure Colors for Crappie

While crappies do not have a preferred color, they tend to favor warm colors like red, orange, yellow, and chartreuse in clear water and on bright days.

As such, the best color of lure to use when crappie-fishing depends on the weather and lighting conditions. The point of using colored lures is to improve visibility, so different conditions will require different colors for premium visibility.

In clear water, natural colors that mimic the color of prey, like brown, green, and orange, will make a good lure.

On the other hand, fluorescent or dark-colored lures are perfect for cloudy days or in murky waters where transparency is low, as they’re more visible to the fish in these conditions. An opaque, dark-toned lure will be in high contrast against the greatness reflected from the clouds or the murkiness of the water.

You could also opt for two-toned lures with contrasting colors. Examples of these contrasting color combinations are:

  • Black and Chartreuse
  • Brown and Fluorescent Purple
  • Brown and Green
  • Brown and Orange
  • Orange and White

Colors in the middle of the spectrum like blue, green, and yellow are less likely to be absorbed when light intensity decreases in deep water. This means that crappies can see these colors even when there isn’t much light penetrating the water.

In stained waters, bright warm colors make a great choice. Colors that appeal to crappie in these conditions include:

  • Orange
  • Red
  • Chartreuse
  • Opaque white
  • Metallic gold
  • Bronze

Because colored lures appeal to visibility, using green or brown hues in waters rich in algae will be invisible to crappie, making your chances of making a catch very slim.

Will Colored Lures Work at Night?

Put simply, yes. Colored lures are effective at night, especially at dusk and dawn because crappie tend to feed most in low light. You just need to ensure that the lure’s color stands out in the dimly-lit waters so the fish can see it.

Basically, any colored lure with a definite outline for improved visibility is recommended. Even better are the glow-in-the-dark lures that give off a fluorescent green glow. That is sure to attract all the crappie within a foot radius.

You might want to avoid transparent or translucent lures when its dark because they’ll likely be incognito to the fish, which translates to little-to-no catch. Reflective lures are a hit-or-miss situation because they’ll either scare the fish or attract lots of them if they mimic a minnow 一 it all comes down to the lure design.

Because of the low lighting, fishes like crappie tend to rely not only on sight but also on movements. They are more likely to bite if the lure seems to be moving, so it’s a great idea to invest in lightweight lures that mimic the natural movement of crappie prey.

What is Our Favorite Crappie Lure?

All the above factors considered, a small variety of different colored minnow baits is our favorite crappie lure with lightweight jig heads. Selecting a soft plastic that can be attached to different riggings can be the most versatile approach in case you choose not to use jig heads.

The more realistic the minnow, the better your chance of getting bites on your pole. Small minnows can be jigged across the bottom or troll-fished in a school presentation.

We do prefer natural-colored minnows. However, you should adjust the color depending on the time of day; that is why you need multiple colors.

In our experience, crappie have a lower reaction to scent when compared to fish like walleye, but you should still try some scent on slow days to turn on the bite.


When going crappie fishing, pick out light gear, pile on the minnows, and ditch the heavy hooks. Remember, crappie love contrasting colors when they can see them! Invest in the best gear, and you’ll get a good haul of crappies in return.

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