In the big picture of freshwater fall fishing, all the attention goes to trout, salmon, and even bass. Yet, they are one very underrated species that will give anglers some grin-worthy nibbles; the crappie. Although, you don’t need to rush out for new bait to get yourself one of these mottled fish!

And while most bass lures are universal to capturing yourself a cooler full of these little guys, you might want to look at what the best lures are for the fall crappie season.

1. Paddle Tails

Whether you love a soft plastic or swimbait, set one of these on your line and mimic some bait fish. In fact, many enjoy the thrill of slowly drawing out crappies from structures, and this is one of the best ways to do so, with the natural movement of a paddle tail in the water.

Oh, and speaking of baitfish, you might want to stick to what the crappies are feeding on, shads, minnows, and perch. So, when it comes to bait selection, pick something with these color schemes or shapes.

But don’t overcompensate with the size; for crappies, a two-inch or three-inch is good enough. On the other hand, if you’re going for multiple species, including bass, opt for a three-inch. Anything bigger is just too much. 

2. Spinners

Here’s one for fishing in the mid to late fall. When the forage begins to decay, crappies tend to shift into deeper areas where there is still structure. Cue the inline spinner bait!

The effectiveness of this bait will depend on the surroundings because, in the fall, it has a few pros and cons. 

The pros are that the bait sinks to deeper depths, and while the fish become more sluggish with the advancement of winter, the bait can be cast closer to them. Secondly, with spinners and slower fish, you will want something with an almost stagnant retrieval to entice them to strike, and spinners allow for precisely that. 

As an alternative to decaying forage, spinners can be cumbersome and hook up to everything. You could go for a dressed spinner with a buck or squirrel tail covering the hooks. This layer of protection, in turn, minimizes snagging or collecting fall foliage. But it could also reduce the chance of clipping the small lips of a crappie, so use discernment. 

Therefore, when deciding if this is the best bait for you, gauge the waterway and surrounding area because there could be something else on this list that might work a bit better to get those crappies.

3. Skirted or Feather Jigs

Alas, combining all the best qualities of the spinner and swimbait, these dressed jigs are an undervalued pick for the mid to late fall. 

The feathered layer, or tentacles that partly cover the jig hook, allows the bait to pass through areas of dying water forage with less likelihood of catching an unintended passenger.

Yet, their appearance and the technique applied in the presentation make these jigs a deadly contender. From slow retrieval aping baitfish to vertical jigging in deeper water and around structures, these jigs will lure out even the most skeptical crappies.

This is why it’s one lure you should get this fall!

4. Crankbait

If there is one bait that you simply must use, it’s the crankbait. Whether your goal is crappie or bass, this is the undisputed king of fall catches. 

From early to late fall, collect a variety of these in various diving depths, and your fish counts will tell the rest of the tale. In early fall, stick with something that dives up to six feet for denser forage and with a smaller hook size to navigate the structures where the crappies are hiding. Mid-fall means a switch up to mid-range diver between 15-25 feet. Lastly, late fall brings out the deep diver, as the crappie can be found in bodies of water as deep as 40 feet and hovering around structures.

When deciding on crankbait selection, the depth should be the top consideration, as well as fatter-shaped bodies or shad-types being a beloved pick. However, playing to the senses will also increase bites; go for something that makes noise and has a natural wiggling appearance. Fishing in the fall is already hard enough, but these attributes will give you the upper hand. 

A Final Thought

Nevertheless, crappie may not be the biggest of the potential fall targets, but they present an entertaining catch. And when you mix bass into the mix with them congregating in the same areas, you never really know what will be on your line. 

Moreover, these are some of the best fall baits to try out. But some other good mentions go to soft plastic grubs with curly tails, soft plastic grubs with tentacles, small metallic and flashy spoons, worm harnesses, and even a classic worm and hook, all being great alternatives. 

What baits do you use to target fall crappies? Please let us know in the comment below!