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Crappie Candy
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Crappie Candy
By Al Campbell

What kid hasn't caught a crappie on a jig suspended below a bobber? That's a deadly way to catch a mess of crappie anytime. It's still the way I do it when I take my grandsons fishing for these tasty panfish.

When I'm fishing alone or with another flyfisher, I like to use a fly rod to chase crappie. It isn't easy to cast a jig with a fly rod and somehow it just doesn't feel right to use a jig on a fly rod anytime, so I decided long ago to convert some of my favorite crappie jigs into crappie flies. It wasn't hard, and the crappie seem to like the flies as good or maybe better than the jigs, so I think I won this contest.

Crappie like to hang around submerged structure like boat docks, sunken trees and old tree trunks that remain after a dam is built. Dropping a fly near a good piece of structure and letting it sink often brings immediate strikes. Since structure is a good place to get tangled up, be sure to use a rod and leader stout enough to handle the task of turning a fish bent on the idea of wrapping your leader around its favorite hiding place.

This fly can be tied in a variety of colors. I like chartreuse and fluorescent green colors in the spring and yellow later in the summer. White is a bonus color I almost always add because I have found it to be a trigger color on nearly all my crappie flies. It must look more like something to eat if it has white in it.

This fly is a combination of a clouser minnow and a shwapf. If you have read my beginning fly tying series, you know about the shwapf, and most fly tyers know about clouser minnows. Both are killer flies in their own right, but the combination is crappie candy. They just seem to like to eat these flies.


Hook:   Straight eye streamer hook, size 8 to 12, any brand will work.

Thread:   Fluorescent green Danville Flymaster Plus.

Tail:  White marabou.

Body:   Fluorescent green wool yarn and chartreuse crystal flash

Wing:  White bucktail.

Eyes:  Silver or brass bead chain (the kind you find on light fixtures)

Tying Steps:

1. Secure a set of bead chain eyes to the hook with figure 8 wraps as shown. A drop of super glue will keep them from shifting on the hook.

2. Tie on a short tail of white marabou.

3. Invert the hook in the vise.

4. Tie on eight to ten strands of chartreuse crystal flash.

5. Secure the crystal flash all the way to the tail.

6. Tie on a strand of fluorescent green wool.

7. Leaving the thread at the tail, wrap a body of fluorescent green wool.

8. When you have the wool wrapped to just behind the eyes, bring the thread forward while keeping upward tension on the wool.

9. Take the thread over the hook in front of the wool and behind the eyes.

10. Then tie the wool off and trim.

11. Pull the crystal flash over the body.

12. And secure it behind and in front of the eyes.

13. Next, flare the crystal flash back over the body with your thumb and tie it off behind the eyes. Try to get the crystal flash to flare around the hook.

14. Trim the crystal flash just behind the hook bend.

15. So far, your fly should look like this.

16. Flip the hook over in the vise.

17. Even the tips of a small group of white bucktail hairs in a hair stacker. Measure the hair to extend halfway between the hook bend and the tip of the marabou tail.

18. Secure the hair behind and in front of the eyes as shown.

19. Trim the excess hair near the hook eye, build a nice head, whip finish and cement.

20. Your finished fly will ride in the water with the hook pointed up like this:


Live minnows are light on the bottom and darker on the top just like this fly is. Since crappie favor eating minnows, they also favor flies that look like minnows in the water. That's why I add the bucktail to this fly. It makes the fly look more like a minnow than it would if everything was one color.

If you live near crappie water, try this fly the next time you go fishing. You'll quickly discover that perch, bass and pike like the looks of crappie candy too. You might even catch a few big bluegills if they inhabit your favorite crappie lake.

Oh, by the way, this fly is a killer for early season trout in clear lakes. I guess trout like to eat minnows too. ~ Al Campbell

For more great flies, check out: Beginning Fly Tying, Intermediate Fly Tying and Advanced Fly Tying.

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