Welcome to Panfish

Part Three

Crappie Fun On The Fly

by Randy Fratzke

Want to try your hand at catching crappie with your fly rod? These abundant, aggressive, and plentiful pan fish are as fun to catch as they are good to eat. Known by a myriad of local names such as slabs, silver sides, and paper mouths, they are found throughout the US and southern Canada. The best part of crappie fishing is the fact that they can be found almost anywhere, in streams, lakes, and ponds, right along with many other species of pan fish. The other thing about them is they have a tendency to stay in schools, so if you catch one in an area, it's likely your going to catch a lot more.

In streams casting is almost not necessary. The crappies are usually foraging along the bank. They use almost any structure for cover, and prey on small minnows and flies. In this situation I use the standard drift method of fly fi shing, casting upstream and allowing the fly to drift or float past the structure, stripping line as the fly comes downstream. Lake and pond fishing is a little different and may require a boat or float tube to get you to the fish, but here again, you can usually find them during the golden hours in the shallows feeding.

Ok, now I have you setup with the when, the where and the how of crappie fishing so I guess I need to let you in on what to use for flies. I've noticed over the years crappies have a tendency to lean towards the lighter colors of flie s, the best being pink and white. This is probably due to the fact that their main diet is small minnows. I tie a lot of small Clouser style minnows in white and pink patterns. The best I've found is a light tan top, a pink center strip and a white be lly. Because of the upturned hook of this style of fly, it also has less chance of getting snagged.

The other fly I use a lot of is what I refer to as an "Albino Royal" which is a Royal Coachman pattern tied with white thread, white tail, and white hackles. I still use the regular Peacock herl for segmentation and tie them on hooks ranging from #8's to #18's. I fish it as a dry fly, especially on lakes and ponds, letting the breeze push it across the water. Crappies will also go after almost any terrestrial pattern offered, depending on what your area has to offer, so look around and see what's hatching or hopping at the time.

You also have to keep in mind the other, larger, species are feeding at that time, so you have to make some choices. As I said earlier, I usually lean towards the light-weight equipment, but I'd hate to try and count the number of tim es I've lost my fly and tippet to hungry bass and northern pike while fishing for crappies. Keep it in mind and watch for future articles on how to go after these larger species.

Randy Fratzke

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