Part Thirty-four

Randy Fratzke

Crappies and Light Colored Flies

By Randy Fratzke


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.

Black Crappie

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 long hooks.

If you've found a pattern that works for the crappies in your area drop me a line at FritzFratz@aol.com. ~ Randy Fratzke

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