Lure of the Month: Boogie Shad 5
by Terry Madewell
The first crappie I caught on a crankbait, so many years ago, was a ‘happy accident.’ I was targeting largemouth bass, but the diminutive size and realistic forage profile of that lure tempted a big crappie to eat it. My next cast was to the same target and another slab loaded on. After that second cast I was mentally ‘crappie fishing’ and enjoyed a productive, slab-catching morning.
Good lures catch fish and lures with the right size, action and profile can morph into highly productive lures for multiple species.
When one of those species is crappie, and that lure catches lots of crappie in sizes larger than many other lures, fishermen take notice.
The July 2023 Lure of the Month is the Boogie Shad 5, a 2 ¼-inch crankbait developed by Walleye Nation. The lure was originally designed to target a specific niche for walleye on Lake McConaughy in Nebraska. Walleye Nation co-owner William McGannon said the design of the lure was to target early-season walleye hanging out over the tops of trees. It met that goal, but the lure has now an exciting life as a slab-slayer in the crappie fishing world.
McGannon said they’re receiving photos from fishermen around the country with crappie caught with the Boogie Shad 5.
“We felt like this specific lure had design qualities to appeal to multiple species,” he said. “We designed it with a large bill and small body size to produce the action needed to catch walleye, but it’s excellent on crappie.”
Fishing guide Capt. Scott Lillie, from Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee, loves to target wintertime walleye on the headwaters of Chickamauga Lake on the Tennessee River. When summertime hits, however, he switches over to the lower end of Chickamauga, near Chattanooga, Tenn., to target big crappie.
Capt. Lillie said the lure is crazy-good at catching crappie, particularly during the summer months.
“I keep detailed records and during the pre-spawn when longlining jigs is the norm, once the water temperature reaches 55-degrees crappie begin to consistently bite this crankbait,” Capt. Lillie said. “I’ll run a couple Boogie Shad 5’s off planer boards, along with jigs fished traditionally, and the cranks not only catch crappie, but the average size is noticeably larger. As the water warms, the crankbait bite gets better and by early summer I’m fishing eight crankbaits off planer boards and smokin’ the slab crappie.”
“As the water warms, the bite gets better and by early summer I’m fishing eight
crankbaits off planer boards and smokin’ the slab crappie.” ~ Capt. Scott Lillie
Capt. Lillie said his record-keeping supports two interesting patterns. One is that these crankbaits don’t catch as many short fish, those under the 10-inch legal size, on the lakes he fishes. The other supports his big-crappie confidence in the lure.
“I catch bigger crappie on the Boogie Shad 5 compared to fishing jigs when the water temperature is elevated,” he said. “I target creek channels, humps and ledges that drop into deep water. I’ll run four planer boards off each side of the boat with Boogie Shad 5’s, targeting area where schools of shad are located along these underwater features. Crappie are going to be around forage during the summer. This tactic is labor intensive, but the payback on big crappie is worth it.”
Capt. Lillie gets out early to take advantage of the low-light opportunity to capitalize on aggressive crappie foraging, but fishing success is not limited to time of day.
“Crappie can be boat shy but using planer boards enables me to present the lures away from the boat, and I adjust the line length to target deeper water as necessary,” he said.
Capt. Lillie said by following forage and working the right bottom features, this pattern holds through the fall until the water temperature again cools below 55-degrees.
Capt. Lillie said during the spring spawn, or anytime crappie congregate on a specific target, the Boogie Shad 5 is lethal when cast and retrieved.
“It’s a floating bait at rest, and I can slow roll the bait, creeping it along in a stop-and-go retrieve and target spawning fish,” he said. “Cast and retrieve works anytime fish are following forage in a relatively shallow, confined, and identifiable area.”
I’ve learned to keep an open mind about crappie-fishing. They’re a game fish for a reason, and while a small and delicate profile is often excellent, don’t under-estimate a slab-crappie’s killer instinct to maul a crankbait like the Boogie Shad 5.
Terry Madewell of Ridgeway, S.C. has been an outdoor communicator for more than 45 years. He holds a degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Management and has a long career as a professional wildlife biologist/natural resources manager. He’s passionate about sharing outdoor adventures with others.