I know a while back we were discussing catching crappies on the fly and the
types of flies we were using to accomplish it. Being an avid crappie fan, I
started making notes of the flies mentioned and their effectiveness. The one
pattern that has emerged is in the colors of the flies that are talked about
as being "The Crappie Fly of Choice" is in they coloration. About 98% of the
flies are either white or, at least, very light colored.
I'm still not exactly why this is. I know (from my pre fly fishing "bobber
days") that they feed primarily on live minnows, preferably a light colored
shad. But I also know they will take a white grub, a light colored maggot,
and one day, when we ran out of bait, we tied a very small hank of a white tee
shirt (yes, I caught hell from my mother, until she saw the stringer..) on the
hook and just kept reeling them in!
We have a saying around here: "If their bitin' they'll bite on anything. If
they're not, then your better off staying home!" I've noticed over the years
that there's a lot of truth to the statement. We either catch a lot of them
or none of them. It's seldom that we catch one or two. We also have a "time
rule": 15 minutes per hole. This means that if we haven't caught any crappie
within 15 minute, it's time to move to a new fishing spot.
I've noticed three important aspects involved in crappie fishing: Weather
Patterns, the fact that crappies seem to move frequently, and crappies are a
"schooling" fish. As far as the weather, stable patterns lasting at least 3
days seem to produce the most fish, although the hour or so just after a storm
we have caught a lot of them grabbing insects that were knocked into the
water. As far as their movement, I know they have their regular summer and
winter areas, but they also seem to move around a lot within those areas.
Just because you caught them in a place one week does not mean you'll catch
them there next week! The one good aspect of crappie fishing is the fact that
they do have a tendency to school, which means that if you catch the first
one, chances are, you catch a mess of them!
One of the better aspects of crappie fishing is that they can be taken wet or
dry. The patterns that I use are pretty basic: my favorite is the "Albino Royal
Coachman", which is a normal coachman tied entirely in white except for the
peacock herl. This can be tied as either a wet or a dry (I prefer the
traditional dry pattern). Another fly that seems to work well is a white or
pink wooly bugger. Tied on an 8 or 10 hook and, occasionally, embellished
with a little tinsel, they work great for a submerged pattern. Other patterns
I use once in a while are the Janson Minnow and a Wool Headed Twister Tail
(no, I don't put a plastic Mr. Twister on my hook).
So this winter, when your tired of tying all of those #22 nymphs and #26
'skeeters, tie up a few crappie flies. Keep them medium in size (generally 6
to 12), light in color (white, pink, light green) and (one of my secrets and I
have no idea why they seem to work better), use gold colored 3x or 4x extra
If you've found a pattern that works for the crappies in your area drop
me a line at FritzFratz@aol.com.
~ Randy Fratzke