Black Crappies on the fly [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Black Crappies on the fly

07-03-2009, 05:33 PM
Anyone had any consistent luck with crappies on the flyrod?

After the spring Cape Cod striper trip, as summer arrives and the trout in the local put-and-take venues start getting stressed, I pull out the float tube and mess with the panfish.

Every year, I marvel at the beauty and strength of the lowly pumpkinseed. From my float tube on a two-weight rod, they are a blast. And every so often, a bass will take the little yellow foam spider, or a bass or pike will take one of those little keychain-size pumpkinseeds or bluegills that manage to suck in the fly.

Today, I float-tubed a small pond in the middle of a large wetland area. My quarry was the pumpkinseed and bluegill, but NYS DEC information said the pond also contained black crappie.

The panfish were numerous but seemed stunted; all in the 4-5" range. I guessed the pond doesn't get much fishing pressure and must not contain any/enough predator fish. I couldn't find the nesting areas where I would hope to hook some bigger ones. It's hard to cover a lot of ground with my Outcast FatCat. It's "faster" than my regular innertube-type float tube, but no substitute for a canoe when prospecting new water.

Anyway, I caught all the little fish I cared to catch and decided to drag the fly (a floating yellow sponge spider) across the middle of the pond on my way back to the launch... I was too lazy to change to a streamer or damsel nymph. After just a short while, I hooked a fish. It was a black crappie. I thought it was just a fluke that a crappie would hit a dragged surface fly. I stopped where I was and casted back to the spot where I hooked the fish.

For the next hour or so, I caught a crappie on probably 8 out of ten casts. They were slashing at the sponge bug as it floated. I finally gave up as I was getting hungry and desperately needed to download several cups of processed coffee.

I'm thinking of returning tomorrow and taking some home for a fish fry. But you know how THAT goes... I'll probably get skunked if I return.

I don't know much about crappies, but I was under the impression they were primarily minnow eaters and difficult to catch consistently on the flyrod. Has anyone had any experience with them?

Good fishing,

07-04-2009, 04:20 PM
Great report :cool: Panfish are a blast!

I don't generally target crappies but I always enjoy it when I stumble across them because you can often catch a bunch if you stay on them. When you find some big ones they fight pretty good too. They usually seem quite willing to participate but are sometimes hard to hook because of the way they swipe at the fly. I've had good luck with foam ants/spiders, woolly buggers and rabbit strip flies. The last time I found some crappies I was using a black rabbit strip fly and I ended up cutting off the heavy mono weed guards because they seemed to be making me miss a lot of fish. I think I caught about 8 in a row after that. Lots of fun!


07-05-2009, 08:45 PM
I didn't go back to the pond with the crappies... the weather was finally nice today -- no thunderstorms in sight-- so I went to a small lake I've fished a few times.

My quarry were the pumpkinseeds and bluegills. I put my Super Fat Cat in at a different spot and tried some new territory. I didn't have much luck finding the larger panfish, but I caught a LOT of small ones. I also found a stretch of shoreline that held some smallmouth bass.

It was a pleasant surprise to hook a couple of decent ones. It's funny... after catching dozens of tiny panfish using the little two-weight rod, having a 10-12" smallmouth grab the fly actually startled me. Some of the larger ones didn't seem to realize right away that they were hooked. When they finally figured out what was happening and turned on the afterburners, it was a rush. I love to see them jump! :biggrin:

I have one day of vacation left. Just a 30% chance of afternoon thunderstorms tomorrow, so I'll be out in the tube in the morning. A couple of the rivers I wanted to try are still high, fast and off-color due to all the rain this week. I'll have to hit one of the local lakes again.

Good fishing,

07-06-2009, 04:53 PM
Bob, great reports! Sorry we didn't fish together more on the Cape. Hope you did well. I had my bewt May/June for the past 10 years on quality.

Trout fishing is NW PA is still excellent with the cool days/nights. As the water warms, it is smallmouth/muskie fishing in the early a.m. I have yet to catch a muskie on the fly, but this might be the year.

I'll be back on the Cape after Labor Day.

07-21-2009, 08:01 AM

I've been taunting the crappie this summer. My son's favorite pond has a good population of crappie and it's a good way to spend some time with him.

I've been having good luck with small white and chartreuse streamers about 1.5 inches long tied on a #2 saltwater hook. The flies were originally intended as saltwater baitfish attractor patterns but I've found they work well on the minnow-loving crappie. I tie them with a silver braid body and a chartreuse over white wing made of craft fur. The heavy hook and craft fur should combine to make a near neutral density fly that sinks slowly when not retrieved. Many strikes come as the fly sinks slowly.

The most productive retrieve I've found is to make slow 4" strips, with pauses. Most strikes are very light as I think the crappie just inhale the fly and there is no firm strike. One key is to keep the rod tip in the water and watch the line/leader for any change in tension or direction. Also, be sure to watch the fly. If it disappears, it is because a sneaky crappie has sucked the fly into it's mouth without even a tug on the line. Strike fast or the crappie will spit out the imitation.

Of course, the occasional yellow perch or bluegill will take this fly as well. In fact, bass and pickerel will take the fly if you use a more aggressive retrieve.

Have fun,