I have, until recently mostly ignored crappie as here in Fl they tend to lie deep. But in the winter they come into shallower water. Does anyone have any patterns or techniques, or is this mostly a spinning rod game?
I never target them specifically, but sometimes get them as an unintentional "bonus". Usually I am using smaller Clousers, Deceivers, and bluegill bully spiders.
If it is spawning time in the spring, you can catch them in water so shallow it is barely covering there backs(or seems so).
Like bass, crappies tend to be structure or cover oriented when they're shallow. At least that seems to be the case here. I've heard of folks catching them shallow, in open waters during insect hatches, but that's an occasional occurrence. They're opportunist too, just like bass, and they like to be places where they can ambush whatever happens by & also escape from bigger predators. The bigger ones seem to feed heavily on smaller fishes & crayfish, but I have caught some bigger ones that had a lot of insect remains in their stomachs.
I've never felt I had to use special flies to catch them, but have caught them on a wide variety. I usually keep it simple when targeting them.
The largest crappie I ever caught was in a water supply pond, used to supply water for washing sand & gravel & for making concrete. That fish was 18" long, and hit a 2/0 size bass popper. Most I've caught have been 12" or less, and in the tidal creeks I fish it's more usual to catch them 8" or less.
Here's some flies I like to use:
One of my favorites!
Various Flashy Flies with or without spinners:
Clouser Minnows, tied with small brass barbell eyes or bead chain.
Polar Flash Clousers, again light weight & appropriate size hooks, 8 to 2.
Small Rabbit Strip patterns:
Various Shad & Steelhead type flies work great on all types of panfish;
Simple feather wing streamers. White with some flash has worked well for me, but I'll use other colors too, including black.
"Bonefish" or "Flats" type flies that imitate shrimp or small baitfishes. There are scuds, grass shrimp & small crayfishes in many or our waters, and Crappies will feed on them, as will the Perches & Sunfishes.
As flymoron already mentioned, they will take a bully spider. Chartreuse works best for me. However, my favorite fly for panfish (bluegill and crappie) is the Briminator with the following:
- Olive tail using the fluff from any olive hackle feather
- Olive or green dubbing,
- Gold bead chain, and
- Pheasant feather hackle collar. http://ultralightflyfishing.com/foru...hp?f=94&t=2353
With this Briminator pattern, I've caught LMB, crappie, perch, sunfish and bluegill. If there's fish in the water, they seem to be interested in this fly.
When Crappies are deep I do very well with bead head nymphs fished on the bottom with a twitch. In the summer evenings as they come to shore to feed can't beat Gurglers in the dark! When they are spawning I think they will hit just about anything! As has already been said the rest of the time find the structure especially wood and you'll find fish . At this time you want to suspend your fly and very little motion is needed!
"I was born to fish" Lee Wulff
"There's more B.S. in fly fishing then there is in a Kansas feedlot." Lefty Kreh
" It ain't over till it's over." Yogi Berra
"Your not old,you've simply acquired a patina." Swirlchaser
I've always had great luck using flies with a marabou tail, ala the flies in BigJim's pictures. At least up here in Michigan, crappie target minnows as a prefered prey, and the marabou provides a profile and action that is very effective.
I know crappie like plastic grubs and minnows, so anything that will resemble a plastic grub with a tail, should work, anything that resembles a minnow will or should work, black and chart is a good color to start with but they are picky critters, so a wide variety of colors covering the entire spectrum, from dark to light/white, hot pink, orange, etc., will work on some days and not others. An orange bead head and the some other color(s) on the body may work today but not tomorrow, or any color combo may or may not work on any particular day.
Google plastic grubs and you'll find some/lots of color combos and go from there.
Crappie are pushovers for a fly when you do find them. As has been stated, they are structure oriented and can be found near the surface in open water during some hatches. They will sun themselves in shallow water in the morning sun. I have caught crappie on just about everything I use for gills. One thing that is very unique about these fish is how softly they bite. They are notorious for taking your fly and swimming at you with it. Bites can go completely undetected. sight fishing to them will prove this. An insanely deadly way to catch them is with an indicator. You can dangle a micro bugger and small nymph into structure. A little surface ripple helps give natural action. Or you can do a tiny twitch. Anything, and I mean ANYTHING diferent with the indicator can mean a bite. Sometimes ites as subtle as watching it ride the ripples and then suddenly a ripple goes over it.
Also, once you find one, theres likely to be more. In some cases, many, many more!