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The Pan-Handler
By Tim Lunceford aka MOturkE

Someone may have already invented this pattern, but I came up with it while experimenting with Krystal Flash and dubbed it the Pan-Handler. I've used this pattern for a couple of years and have taken many bluegills on it. I decided to try it on crappies this winter and it was clearly a great fly for them as well. I usually forget to add weight to the hook shank and the photos here are no exception. It's best to add weight to catch the crappies, but the gills won't care in the least. I attribute the fly's success to its colors and reflectivity.

Materials for Pan-Handler:

    Hook: Wet nymph hook (Mustad 9671 size 10 shown).

    Thread: 3/0, Black.

    Weight: Several wraps of lead wire, if legal.

    Body: 4-5 strands of Peacock herl.

    Tail, Wing Case and Wing: 6-8 strands of Pearl Krystal Flash Wing Material.

    Note: Pearl Krystal Flash is chartreuse when it's wet and everyone knows crappies like that color.

Instructions - Pan-Handler:

Step 1

1. Start thread on the hook and wrap back to the bend.

Step 2

2. Select 6-8 strands of Krystal Flash at least three times the length of the hook shank. Tie one hook shank length of Flash over the hook bend for the tail.

Step 3

3. Tie the Peacock herl onto the hook in front of the tail.

Step 4

4. Wrap the thread over the flash to the center of the hook shank.

Step 5

5. Wrap the body to the center of the hook shank. Lift the remaining Flash material up and wrap the thread forward to the eye. Then wrap the body to just behind the eye and secure with a couple of thread wraps.

Step 6

6. Pull the remaining Flash over the body to form a wing case and secure it just behind the eye.

Step 7

7. Pull the remaining Flash and Peacock back over the body to form a wing making sure the herl lays in with the Flash. Tie a tapered head at the eye and whip finish.

Step 8

8. Trim the wing just past the hook bend. Apply glue to the tapered head to finish.

How to Fish the Pan-Handler:

When fishing for bluegills I cast the fly near the weeds and wait several seconds for the fly to drop a few inches below the surface. I give the fly a few small tugs and then stop, wait a few seconds, then tug again. Usually you'll only tug the fly the first time before a gill grabs it. Retrieve and repeat as needed.

When fishing crappies I use the weighted version. I cast into the deepest part of a channel and leave the fly to sink for several minutes. Then I begin to slowly retrieve the fly in about 6-8" strips by raising the rod tip slightly. Drop the rod tip and pull in the slack line, wait a bit for the fly to settle and then raise the rod tip again. I've found the crappies are very subtle when they take this fly and so they're difficult to detect. That's why I use the rod tip technique; I can watch for tension in the line and the hook is already beginning to set itself this way. If there's a fish on then I continue to raise the rod tip and strip set the hook.

My last trip out I intentionally went after crappies. I caught over a dozen crappies on this fly in a couple of hours and took six of them home for dinner. One bit of information that helped me hook the crappies was that they feed up. This means they're not likely to take the fly while it's dropping, but when you're raising your rod tip the fly rises and the crappie will likely take it then.

Good Luck and Enjoy Pan-Handling! ~ Tim

About Tim Lunceford:

Tim spent nine years in the U.S. Air Force, with three years working on the F-117 A Stealth Fighter, and is a veteran of Desert Storm. He lives and fishes from his kayak around Kansas City, Missouri. He's been married 23 years and is the father of four kids - three have Fragile-X syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes retardation and autism. He now works as a Heat and Frost Insulator for Local Union #27 in K.C and teaches Youth Sunday School class. Tim also enjoys web design, graphics and digital image manipulation, watercolor painting, playing guitar, and writes contemporary Christian songs, none of which have been recorded,...yet.

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


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