When you head to the tackle shop, all those crazy jig colors you see are as much about catching you while you’re shopping as they are about catching fish. Most fish have mediocre-at-best eyesight, and they’re triggered to bite by a combination of factors. On the other hand, crappie have excellent vision, and they’re primarily sight feeders.
The most effective jig colors for crappie will depend on the water you’re fishing. Natural or muted colors and anything translucent work quite well in clear water. In dark or stained water, bold solid colors and black perform best. No matter the water you’re fishing, chartreuse and white are also winners, so much so that some crappie anglers only use these two colors.
Read on, and we’ll cover everything you need to know about the most effective jig colors for crappie fishing and share some tips to help you select the perfect jig colors for crappie, whether you’re fishing in clear water, stained water, day or night.
The Best Crappie Jig Colors – Chartreuse and White
When it comes to crappie fishing, there are two colors that you can rarely go wrong with in any scenario, and those colors are chartreuse and white.
These colors work well because they mimic the natural colors of most forage in any body of water. Chartreuse may look like a wild color on the surface; underwater, that ultra-bright green color tends to mimic the look of the baitfish in the area.
This holds true whether you’re fishing in clear or stained water, which is an important distinction. Most lure colors look one way in clear water but look entirely different in stained or dirty water. Chartreuse is one of the only colors that will reliably catch crappie in virtually all water conditions.
Another color that reliably catches fish in practically any environment is white. Think about all the different baitfish out there and their colors. Virtually all baitfish have some white or light silver in their coloration, and it performs reliably for almost all species, mimicking the bait in the area.
White also offers the highest contrast you’ll get when fishing in dirty water, making it easy for sight feeders like crappie to key in on your bait.
Related article: Best depths to fish for crappie
Most Effective Jig Colors – Clear Water
While chartreuse and white are proven killers, there are endless colors that the fish in your area may be keying in on. When you’re fishing in clearer water where crappie are getting a good look at your bait, you’ll want to offer the most natural presentation possible.
In clear water, colors that mimic the area baitfish, anything natural-looking, and translucent colors are usually the best options to entice crappie. Some anglers like to add a bit of flash to their jigs, either with a glitter trailer or mylar skirt.
For clear water, reach for these colors:
- Dark green
Most Effective Jig Colors – Stained Water
If you’re fishing water that’s dirty or stained, visibility diminishes significantly for all fish. Even sight feeders like crappie have difficulty honing in on bait, so it’s best to reach for the bolder colors in your tackle box in these conditions.
Contrast becomes critical when fishing in these conditions, which is why chartreuse works so well. Bold solid colors will provide more contrast than translucent ones, and both dark and bright colors seem to work well. Two-tone jigs also perform well in stained water.
When fishing in these conditions, opt for a jig with these colors:
- Hot pink
- Neon orange, green, or yellow
When fishing stained or muddy water, it can be helpful to perform a quick test with a bunch of different colors. Rig each of them up, and drop them into the water. Whichever lure remains visible the longest as it sinks is usually a great jig to start with.
Related article: Best rod action for crappie fishing
Why Jig Color Is So Important When Crappie Fishing
The vast majority of fish have only mediocre eyesight, and some can’t discern colors at all. The average fish can see about 15 feet away with excellent visibility, and that diminishes depending on water clarity. Crappie, bass, and many other freshwater fish have rods and cones in their eyes and can discern color and contrast between lights and darks.
Crappie, in particular, seem to be primarily driven by their eyesight, as evidenced by their feeding habits. There will be days where you can’t get a single bite with a particular jig color when fishing in an area you know is holding crappie. Meanwhile, you’ll light it up as soon as you switch to a jig in a different color.
Subtle Variations Can Yield Results
One of the cool things about fishing jigs is most of them are made up of several components, allowing you to switch out aspects of the jig as you wish. The crappie seem so dialed in on color in some waters that even slight variations can produce results.
If you’re fishing a jig head with a trailer and a skirt or some flash, that’s at least three different opportunities you have to mix and match different colors. Sometimes, an identical rig with a white skirt will catch better than one with a glow skirt. When you’re shopping for jig components, try and buy colors that complement each other and may work well when mixed.
Be Ready for Anything
The best advice for any crappie angler is to always be ready for what the situation dictates. Crappie can be finicky creatures, and they certainly won’t bite anything you throw in front of them like more voracious predators will. But, if you’re on them, and you give them what they’re looking for, they’re going to bite every time.
When crappie fishing, I find myself changing out my jigs for different colors than virtually any type of fishing. If you feel you’re on the fish and can’t seem to trigger a bite, a simple color change can be all it takes.
Of course, to be able to do this, you need to have those colors with you. This doesn’t mean you need to carry an entire tackle shop with you every time you head to the lake. But, it’s a good idea to keep jigs in a few sizes in a myriad of different colors with you.
What color jig is best for crappie during spawn?
Crappie spawn during the spring and into the early summer depending on their environment, and during the spawn, crappie are at their most aggressive. During the spawn, the brightest and boldest colors tend to produce the best results. You’ll want to use colors like neon green, hot pink, chartreuse, neon orange, red, and gold when fishing the spawn.
What color jig for crappie fishing at night?
Visibility drops significantly at night, which means you’ll want to reach for colors you’d use when fishing stained water in the daytime. Opaque colors that are bright, light, or dark all work well at night, as they offer some contrast, even in low light conditions. Glow colors also work well at night, especially during the spawn.
What size jig head for crappie fishing?
The ideal jig head size for crappie fishing depends on several variables, including wind, tide, casting distance, and bait presentation. Heavier jig heads allow for farther casts and work well in stronger tides, but they don’t present as naturally as smaller ones.
Most crappie anglers find the ideal jig head size is 1/16-ounce. If fish are holding in deeper waters, or the tide is strong, a larger jig head up to ¼-ounce may be used. Jigs as light as 1/32-ounce can be used to deliver the most natural presentation for finesse techniques.
Updated: January 13, 2022