Fly Fishing For Crappie – Techniques, Gear, and Flies

Fly Fishing For Crappie – Techniques, Gear, and Flies

Fly Fishing For Crappie – Techniques, Gear, and Flies – Crappie are an excellent fly-fishing target, and, oddly, you don’t see them more often. They’re a very popular panfish that’s usually caught with ultra-light spinning gear. Crappie lures frequently resemble flies that we fly fishermen use all the time. A basic spin casting marabou crappie jig is made using an ultra-light jig, chenille, and a bit of marabou.

Variety of Crappie

Crappie is divided into two species. Crappie, both black and white.

Because Black crappies are the most common fish in my area, the information following is tailored to them. However, white Crappie are similar enough; in my opinion, the techniques and flies listed below should work just as well when flying fishing for them.

When and where should you go crappie fishing?


When it comes to seasonality, spring is by far the most convenient time to go crappie fishing. This is especially true if you’re wading or fishing from the beach (as most fly anglers do). In addition, Crappie goes to shallow water to mate in the spring, making them easy fly fishing targets.

Crappie season comes in well between ice out and more popular sport fish species opening if you’re a warm water angler. During this time, the season for gamefish such as bass, pike, and walleye is usually closed. So you are making Crappie the ideal fish to brighten up an otherwise dreary fishing season!

It’s a different story if you reside near a body of water where trout can be found. The arrival of shallow-water Crappie coincides with some excellent spring trout fishing. Anglers who are dedicated to trout fishing may have to give up some trout time to pursue Crappie.

So, where do you go in the spring to catch Crappie? Crappie are triggered to spawn when the water temperature rises to a certain level. When temperatures reach around ten °C (50°F) – 15°C (60°F), they will begin to migrate inshore, with breeding activity peaking around 20°C (68F). Wait for two or three days of warm, bright weather to see the most activity from the fish. Then, during early spring, a day or two of chilly, gloomy weather will drive Crappie back into deeper water.

Look for regions that warm up first since they’ll seek out this warmer water to spawn. Crappies can be found in calm back bays or dam overflows in the spring (look for warm surface runoff, not dams that release water from the dam’s base). It’s also a plus if the water is protected from the wind.

The remaining months of the year

You’ll have to look for deeper water for the rest of the season. The majority of the year, black crappies are found in open water or near deeper structures. When chasing Crappie in the summer and fall, having a boat is a significant advantage. Looks for structure, especially huge branches and downed trees. They can also be seen suspended in the water column or in proximity to dense plants. Weedless Flies are excellent when fishing in dense foliage.

Selection of Crappie Flies

Crappie are not picky eaters, and they will take a wide variety of flies. Even so, I’ve discovered that throwing streamers is the most successful approach to catch Crappie. Because they eat a lot of small baitfish, this is the case.

There’s no need to get too technical while choosing flies. The most fruitful fly patterns for me have been woolly buggers, seal fur leeches, and marabou leeches, which make up the majority of my crappie fly box. In the picture at the top of this post, you can see a small pink BH seal fur leech, a fantastic crappie fly pattern!

Crappie love to approach their prey from below. Therefore, you want the fly to be above the fish while you’re delivering it. Floating lines and light-weighted flies are great for streamer fishing.

White, pink, and (of course) chartreuse have been the most fruitful colors for me. Crappie flies range in size from size 2 to size 12. I prefer the larger end of the spectrum.

If you’re unsure what flies to use, look at what spin fishers are using and match the size, profile, and color to whatever lure or jig they’re using to catch fish. Of course, you may also skip this step and match the hatch of whatever baitfish are in the water you’re fishing in.

Crappie eats bugs, too, even though I’ve had the best results swinging streamers. With spin fishers, float (bobber) fishing is a popular and efficient strategy, so nymphing with an indicator will also work.

As the water warms up, dragonflies, damselflies, and other nymphs become more active, and crappie feast on these insects. Nymphs that mimic these and other insects found in the water body where you’re fishing will be successful.

Given that you’ll most likely be fishing for Crappie in the spring, you can end up in the water with a lot of ground drainage. In addition, worms are a common feed item for almost all fish species and are washed into the water by spring rains.

Use a balanced leech fly under an indicator to nymph for Crappie while simulating a minnow rather than an insect. Unfortunately, this strategy is particularly deadly early in the season, when the fish are more passive.

Crappie, as previously stated, loves to stroke victims from underneath. This makes them ideal candidates for targeting topwater flies. You’re more likely to get a fish to take topwater later in the season (i.e., warmer weather) than earlier in the season.

Equipment for Crappie Fly Fishing

There’s no reason to spend a lot of money on crappie fishing equipment. Even entry-level fly gear is tolerant when it comes to the flies used and the fish themselves.

Fly Line and Fly Rod

One of those Fly Fishing Combo Starter Packages (Amazon Link) (the ones that include the fly line, fly reel, and fly rod, as well as occasionally a few flies!) is more than enough to get you started fly-fishing for Crappie. A simple beginning trout fly rod will suffice. However, if you have the funds or want to upgrade your equipment, go ahead and do so!

When it comes to crappie fly fishing gear, you’ll want to go light. After all, these aren’t salmon, but panfish! There’s no need to be concerned about crappie dragging you into your backing or snapping your line. They are, nevertheless, tenacious fish. On light tackle, a 10′′ plus Crappie (which is by no means a monster) will put up a good battle.

Crappie can be caught with anything from a three-weight to a six-weight. The more light-hearted you are, the more enjoyable the fights will be!

Streamers are more effective than dries in catching crappies, even though they are smaller fish. Streamers, unlike dry flies, require a rod with a little more punch to cast properly. Larger flies are more difficult to throw with lighter rods. So, if you’re going to throw larger bead-head woolly buggers (about size 2), go with a weight of 5 to 6. A rod of this size can also be used for smallmouth bass.

A smaller rod in the 3-4 weight range would do if you’re only going to throw size 8-10 leeches and buggers and want a specialized panfish rod.

Tippet and Leader

I don’t go all out here. I tie on a couple of straight feet of 8lb mono or fluoro. If I want to go a little deeper, I’ll use fluoro, and if I want to keep the fly closer to the surface (or even aim for topwater activity! ), I’ll use mono. I prefer the flour because it has a little more bite resistance, plus there are a lot of hammer handle pike in some of the crappie fishing places I visit that are looking for a streamer.

In terms of landing them, You can land Crappie by hand, but a standard-sized trout networks just as well.

Lewis Mark is a vastly experienced fly fisher. His encyclopedic knowledge of fly tying has led to start blog on fishing. He also review Fishing equipment based on his knowledge and experience.