Black VS. White Crappies


Crappie are a native species to North America, existing in healthy numbers throughout nearly all of the lower 48 states. They also reside in parts of southern Canada. They are known in different parts of the country by different names.

Here are some of the names you may hear them go by: Black/White Crappie, Speckeled/Bachelor perch, calico/strawberry/oswego bass, papermouth, dirty sunfish, sacalait (sa-ca-lay from your friends in Louisiana),

There are two typical varieties of crappie: white crappie and black crappie. Both can be found living in the same waters, often schooled up together. They can both be caught using the same lures, bait, and tactics. Black and white crappie share the same general body shape, but differ slightly in coloration and markings:

🐟 Black Crappie: Primarily silver/slightly gold with black speckled markings all over, and they have 7 or 8 spines on their dorsal fin.

🐟 White Crappie: Mostly silver, but have only faint vertical bar markings on their sides, and only 6 spines on their dorsal fin.

Crappie can grow up to 20″ long and weigh 5 pounds, but the average size is around 1/4 – 1/2 pound and 8 to 12 inches long. Crappie over 1 pound are considered a prized catch.

Mature crappie feed primarily on aquatic insects, baitfish, worms, and small crayfish.


One of the most critical steps in catching crappie is finding them. Crappie move around throughout the year as the spawning season comes and goes and as water temperatures fluctuate. They also have some key habitat requirements that remain constant.

Crappie Tend to Love Structures: Underwater structures like weed beds, rock piles, fallen sunken trees, and dock pilings are places where crappie spend most of their time. They either hovering above, around, or under their favorite areas. For crappie, structure provides safety from predatory birds and larger fish like northern pike. It also offers a reliable source of food such as smaller bait fish that seek out structure for similar reasons.

Crappie also like Deeper Waters: Unless it’s spawning season, crappie favor deeper water making them harder to find, generally 10 to 15 feet deep. Deep water maintains a more consistent temperature than shallow water, which in turn means more stable living conditions.

While crappie prefer deeper water, they don’t go straight to the bottom, which can make locating a school of fish somewhat challenging. Rather, they hang suspended at various depths in the water column. Fishing tactics and strategy come into play here, and most anglers use electronic fish finders to make finding schools of crappie easier.


You don’t need fancy or expensive gear to catch crappie. Since crappie aren’t the largest or toughest fighting fish, like a carp, you’ll encounter, just about any fishing rod setup will work. You’ll want to avoid fly fishing rods and stick to Carbon Fiber or bamboo, and usually keep the weight on the lighter side. Here’s an overview of the rods best suited for crappie fishing.

Telescopic Crappie Poles: If you like the idea of the classic cane pole, but want the advantage of modern materials, a graphite or fiberglass telescopic crappie pole may be just what you need.

For many crappie fishing techniques, very long rods are required to fish effectively. The idea is that the further you get your bait or lure away from the boat, the better your chances are of hooking a fish before scaring the entire school away. Modern crappie poles come in lengths from 8 feet all the way up to 20 feet. Telescopic crappie poles, like the B’n’M Black Widow, collapse to a relatively small size, making them easy to transport and store when not in use.

Telescopic crappie poles are a good option if you plan on doing a lot of bank fishing, especially in heavy brush. They can also be used effectively from a boat for spider rigging, which we’ll cover later. One of the main advantages of a long crappie pole is that they often have a very sensitive tip that helps you detect the most subtle crappies.