It’s crappie time my friends,
If you’ve never fished for crappie with a fly
rod, then you’ve really missed something.
In my opinion, crappies, and other panfish, are
the ideal fly rod quarry for the following
reasons; There are plenty of them.
They are almost everywhere.
They are scrumptious! They are incredibly willing
to smash your fly (most of the time) and do
Unless you live in Alaska or Hawaii, chances are
good that you live within one or two hours from a
body of water than has crappie in it.
Crappies are seasonal migratory predators.
I won’t go into their seasonal habits here
because that is a subject unto itself.
Suffice to say it helps to know your quarry.
It’s pretty simple for most of the year.
If you find ’em..you’ll catch ’em.
The notable exception is summertime, when
crappies get moody, sulk and suspend in open
They frequently get lock-jaw at this time and
will even refuse a live minnow dangled right under
their nose! You don’t need a $1000.00 fly rod to
catch crappie (or in my experience, any other
A $19.99 Wal-Mart special will catch just as many
crappies as an $850.00 outfit from G.
For crappie, you want to go light.
A 6-1/2 to 8-1/2′ 2 or 3 weight fly rod is
perfect for crappie.
If you want to chase crappie during the summer,
you may want to move up to a 5 weight rod with a
sinking line, to get your fly to the depths
All you need is a single action reel, and it does
not have to be an expensive one.
Next, you will need a WF2F, or WF3F, or ST fly
line, or maybe a DT5S for summer.
Top it off with a 5′ tapered leader (crappie
are not line-shy, so a long leader is not
necessary) and a 4X or 5X tippet, and your almost
ready to go.
If you need to learn how to fly fish, I’d like
to recommend the premier website for all things
fly fishing http://www.flyanglersonline.com/.
Here you will find all the information you need,
and then some, for learning how to properly fly
fish, find your quarry, and make and maintain your
There are thousands of proven fly patterns there,
with complete directions and step-by step
instructions for tying them.
There is also a forum where you can ask us any
questions you want.
A few accessories are nice to have.
If you fish from a boat, and plan to crappie fish
all year, a good depth finder is a necessity.
You’ll want a landing net, because crappies
have very tender mouths and can tear-off easily.
For the same reason, a floating fish basket or
live well is good to have, because crappie can
tear off of a stringer easily.
You’ll need a lantern for night-fishing.
If you don’t have a boat, you might want to
look at the various models of Belly Boats, or
They are great for crappie fishing in still
Now, for the most fun part of flyfishing
selecting your flies.
You have two options: You can look for a supplier
that ties the patterns you want, or you can do
what the rest of us do, and tie your own.
This is as much fun as fishing! Crappies aren’t
very picky on patterns.
Any small streamer or bucktail pattern that
resembles the local baitfish will work to some
Some good classic patterns to try are the
Black-Nosed Dace, Black Ghost, Nimrod Bucktail,
Ballou Special, Baby Brook Trout, Nine-Three,
Susan Postmaster, Iris #2, Small Wooly-Buggers,
Creek Chub, Goldie, jr., Olive PSS, Alewife,
Spectra Streamer, Muddler Minnow, or any streamer
pattern tied on #10 or #8 streamer hooks,
especially if they are in the crappie’s favorite
colors of white, yellow and chartreuse.
While most streamers will take crappie, two
patterns are of special note.
The first is Bob Clouser’s outstanding
all-around pattern-the Clouser Minnow.
This fly catches anything that swims, in fresh or
salt water, that eats minnows.
It has a fantastic action in the water, is
durable and is almost a can’t fail pattern.
No fly box is complete without several of these,
in various sizes and colors.
If I could only have one fly to fish with, this
would be it, hands-down.
For crappie, you’ll want it in a size 10, in
yellow, chartreuse and white.
It has the added advantage of riding hook-up, so
it is somewhat weedless for fishing in cover.
The other pattern worth special mention is Al
Campbell’s unbelievably successful Crappie
This fly is the ultimate bait for crappie.
They will hit this fly when they will ignore even
It can be tied in a variety of colors.
My favorite colors are fluorescent green and
chartreuse in the spring, fall and winter, and
yellow in summer.
I always put a little white on them because white
seems to trigger strikes.
You will normally find crappie around some kind
of structure, mostly in 8-10 feet of water, except
Next time you want a mess of fish for the
deep-fryer, try flyrodding for crappie.
You may never be the same, again! Happy fishing!