Fly Fishing ... Crappies and Streamers PDF Print E-mail
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    Black Crappie, IGFA World Record All Tackle – 5 pounds
April 21, 2006 / Private Lake – Missouri, USA

White Crappie, IGFA World Record All Tackle – 5 pounds, 3 ounces
July 31, 1957 / Enid Dam – Mississippi, USA

Indiana’s Crappie Record – 4 pounds, 11 ounces
1994 / Private Lake – Jennings County
 
  The black crappie (Pomoxis nigromaculatus) prefers clear water with an abundance of submerged aquatic with a sandy or muck bottom.  The white crappie (Pomoxis annularis) is more adoptable to stained water and silt bottom.

Crappies are sight feeders – their eyes are large and set high on their head.  They also hear well and are easy spooked (a quiet and careful approach is essential).  Their food base will consist of plankton, insects, crustaceans and minnows.

In the spring, crappies will start to spawn when water temperatures are between 60 to 65 degrees.  The male crappies heads into shallow water areas with dense weeds and fan the nest.  The female crappies will arrive to deposit the eggs.  An adult female crappie may spawn several times during a season and deposit up to 300,000 eggs.  Spawning crappies are very reluctant to eat or strike a fly.

During the pre-spawn and post-spawn, crappies will position on the first break out from nesting area and are very aggressive and vulnerable.  Crappies tend to gather and move in loose groups.  As the water warms, they start to migrate to deeper water.  While a group of crappies can be located on the bottom the lake – their tendency is to suspend over or next to structure.

In the late fall, crappies will return to shallow water to gorge themselves for the coming winter months.

Streamer Patterns
I have caught crappies on dry flies, wet flies, and nymphs – but the most productive fly pattern has been the streamer.  Crappies love to eat minnow as much as I love eating banana cake with white frosting and topped with vanilla ice cream.  A streamer provides the appearance of a minnow and the retrieve needs to mimic that of a minnow moving through the water.

The Clouser Minnow is my first choice and being weighted helps keep the fly down in the strike zone.  The Bucktail Streamer and Zonker Streamer are also excellent patterns.  The length of your streamers should range from 1 to 2 inches (size 10 to 6).  If you are getting strikes and not hooking-up – do not hesitate, switch to a smaller length streamer.

Favorite color combinations for the Clouser Minnow and Bucktail Streamer are chartreuse / white, yellow / white, olive / white, black / orange and the Mickey Finn.  White and chartreuse Zonker Streamer are solid producers.

Equipment and Setup
A hooked crappie is not known for blazing speed and powerful runs – but turning their flat body to create resistant making them difficult to move and creating an opportunity for the hook to tear free from their paper-thin mouth.  Therefore, you don’t need specialized equipment.  My preference is a 5 weight fly rod, disc-drag reel and floating weight forward fly line.

For shallow water situations a 4X fluorocarbon taper leader and tippet will get the streamer down to attract their attention and draw strikes.  When crappies are suspended 5 to 8 feet deep, I’ll add a sink-tip leader (12 foot length of sinking line with loop to loop connection; Class II – 1-1/2 to 2 inches per second or a Class III – 3 to 4 inches per second) to the fly line and use a 3 foot length fluorocarbon tippet tied to the fly.  These two setups allow me to stay in contact with the streamer and detect light strikes.

Approaching Target Areas and Retrieves
I like to use the wind to slowly drift my canoe into to targeted areas.  This gives me a quiet approach to avoid spooking the fish and allows me to cast with the wind.

The key is slowly moving the streamer through the water while maintaining just enough contact to feel a strike (strikes are light and usually just a tap-tap-tap).  The hand-twist retrieve and a short strip-pause retrieve have worked well.  The hand-twist retrieve will keep the streamer continuously and slowly moving through the water.  The strip-pause retrieve consist of 4 to 6 inch strip then employing a 2 to 3 second pause, this gives the streamer an erratic action.  Count down your presentation, this allows you to know exactly the depth you are fishing and return to that depth when you catch a fish.
 
     
 
Clouser Minnow, Yellow / White
Hook – Mustad 3366
Sizes – 6 to 10
Thread – White
Eyes – Black Bead Chain
Tail & Body – Dyed White Bucktail
Wing – Dyed Yellow Bucktail over Gold Krystal Flash
Head – White Thread
 
     
 
Bucktail Streamer, Olive / White
Hook – Mustad 9672
Sizes – 6 to 10
hread – Black
Tail – Silver Krystal Flash
Body – Silver Holographic Tinsel
Belly – Dyed White Bucktail
Wing – Dyed Olive Bucktail topped with Peacock Herls
Head – Black Thread
 
     
 
Bucktail Streamer, Mickey Finn
Hook – Mustad 9672
Sizes – 6 to 12
Thread – Black
Tail – Dyed Yellow Bucktail
Body – Silver Holographic Tinsel
Lower wing – Dyed Red Bucktail
Upper wing – Dyed Yellow Bucktail
Head – Black Thread
 


 

 
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