Fly Fishing for Crappie 2023-Tips,Techniques & Flies

Fly Fishing for crappies is both a challenge and a treat. Crappies are social fish and will thrive when living in schools. A crappie’s diet consists of a number of minnows, crayfish, and plant-eating insects like Kribs, mayflies, and caddisflies. This makes fly fishing very successful for crappie anglers who are seeking to catch the smallest fish in your area.

Crappies are here and they are hungry! Cane poles, jigging rods, and best fishing line for crappie. When water temps rise, don’t wait for them to come up into shallow waters like we always do. Crappie moves into shallow water to be a few weeks earlier and Panhandle lakes will be a few weeks later. Crappie likes to lay their eggs on lily pads, dollar pads, branches of fallen trees, cypress knees, and boat docks. Fly fishers will want to get as near these items as possible.

When water temps rise to the low poles, often more than 12 feet long, in the 60s, crappie moves into shallow water to be a few weeks earlier and Panhandle lakes will be a few weeks later. And fly fishermen will want to get their flies as close as possible when hunting for crappies!

Fly Fishing for Crappie


Where To Find Early Season Crappies

Early season crappies are both difficult and exciting to catch. They do not consistently hold in the same places as other species. They prefer shallow water objects like fallen trees, lily pads, and reed beds. They will hold along the edges of weed beds in steeper areas where the current moves slowly even though at varying depths. Focusing on weed lines will allow you to locate fish who are actively feeding while the sun is still high in the sky. If you are a shore-based angler, good places to look for crappies include weed lines within casting distance of the shore and fallen trees. Watercraft anglers can also put out structures along current edges or take advantage of submerged timber if you can get there early enough in the spring.

As the crappie begins to spawn in spring, they will begin to move into shallow bodies of water to spawn. The shallow bays of ponds and lakes will be one of your best places to find active crappies. They prefer warmer water and will start feeding early, sometimes before other warm water species do. Shallow bays lined with grasses and surrounded by thick vegetation will be prime locations for crappie anglers. Those that fish from shore can also catch crappies using their casting ability around fallen trees and weed lines. While lake trout are often thought of as the “target species” in Kansas lakes, crappie and other panfish make up more than half of all fish caught here!

Finding crappies this early in the season will be challenging.  To find the fish, you’ll need to search for the right structure on the water.  This should include fallen trees, reed beds, shoreline rocks, and weed lines. Wherever crappies are present in these areas, they will likely stay around this area during their short feeding period because it is an excellent place for them to take shelter from predators like bluegill and largemouth bass. If you want to maximize your chances of encountering crappies while they are still actively feeding you will want to stay on the water during their peak feeding time which is in the morning and evening hours between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm every day during spring.

Fly Fishing Gear

Fly Fishing Gear

Fly Rod

When it comes down to it, the ideal fly rod for crappies is a 3-weight rod, but a 4 or 5-weight works well too. Keep it light since crappies typically bite lightly and a light setup makes it easier to identify a strike. For most applications, a floating line will be the best choice, but if the crappies are particularly deep, you might want to try a sinking tip line to get your fly down near the fish.

It doesn’t matter what your fly fishing method is, to catch crappies you will need some type of fly rod. And let me tell you, there are a lot of options out there! From the most basic beginner’s fly rod to super high-tech bodies and guides, there is something for everyone’s particular needs. But if you are looking for the best option on the market right now, I would check out my top pick below.

Fly Line

I can get away with using a floating fly line for 99% of my fishing because crappies are found in the shallows in the early spring. On a very rare occasion in late winter or very early spring, I may switch to a sink tip. If the fish are holding deep, I may switch to a complete sinking line. My flies for these early-season fish are nymphs or little streamers that a four-weight can readily handle. I make every effort to resist the want to go lighter and choose best fishing line for crappie to more catching crappie .

Crappie Flies

Crappie flies are more effective during the hot months of summer when the fish move into deeper water. During this period, wet flies are a better choice because many crappies fill their stomachs with minnows and other aquatic insects.

When it comes to fly fishing for crappies, there are two main considerations. Firstly, whether you’re fishing wet or dry flies, and secondly how far offshore the fish can be found. During the summer months, most crappie populations are found in 10-30 feet of water. Many of these fish live in the deeper parts of lakes and ponds, hence why they are often harder to find on a bank. Queen crappies require cooler temperatures than standard steelhead fish; they prefer temperatures around 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 Celsius). The best time to catch this species is from mid-April through May or from early September to late September.

Fly Fishing Techniques

Finding a new spot to fish is always exciting but when fishing for crappie shoreline weed beds in the early spring it can feel like you are starting from square one. As the water begins to warm up you’ll notice that the water table is beginning to thaw out. Large pieces of wood, brush, leaves, and other debris may begin to slowly rise to the top of the water.

Staying on top of the current fishing crappie shoreline weed beds can be very productive. Weed beds are usually quite easy to discover and locate in the early spring. In general, I prefer to present my fly to the deep water side of the bed and allow it to sink to the bottom. After making your cast watch where your line enters the water for any suspicious movement by crappie. It’s not uncommon for crappies to inhale the fly as it sinks below the surface of the water or in deep holes or depressions in underwater structure

Crappie killer fly pattern

I’m going to assume you’re using one of the most popular fly patterns for crappie – maybe a woolly bugger or a seal fur leech. If you don’t have a favorite pattern, try and match the size to the type of fish you expect to catch. This may mean picking up larger flies than you’re used to using, but they can still be effective when they find fish. There is nothing more important than getting the right fly pattern. This information will help you select the most appropriate patterns and tackle to catch those tasty big fish.

what size and color flies for crappie

Crappie is a notorious chaser of minnows and other small fish, so don’t be surprised if your flies get nibbled! The most productive colors for me have been white, pink, and (of course) chartreuse. The flies I use for crappie range from size 2 to size 12. I lean more toward the higher end of this range. The crappies are simple fish. They do not require you to purchase anything particular. Our favorite sizes to fish are small streamers between sizes #8 to # and 12. Sizes #10 to #12 soft hackled flies and nymphs are ideal.

Can you use a fly rod for crappie?

For crappie fishing, you’ll need something with a lot of flex and some serious action — at least in the rod department. A four-weight, 7-foot (or longer) medium-action rod will do the trick. A 7-weight would be better suited for crappie fishing in salt water; however, 6-weight will work well if it’s not too windy out. Fly rods have pronounced positive feedback and are built to connect with fish on those small, fast runs. You don’t need a lot of additional weight or backbone to reel the fish up or put them on your hook — just enough power to get them into the boat. Jigheads are molded in specific weights, typically 1/16 or 1/32-ounce for crappie lures. Using lead dumbbell eyes, flies in this weight range or lighter can be tied. So long as the fly imitates the size and profile of a minnow the type of bait you’re using will determine how much weight you need to sink that hook.

A crappie fishing fly rod and reel combo will work well in most situations. A 9-foot, 4-or 5-weight fly rod and 8- or 9-foot, 4- or 5- weight best fishing line for crappie will usually give you the best combination of casting distance, action, and fish catching capacity. This rod will be responsive in casting but may not withstand the abuse of time spent trolling over rocks in shallow water or wading into slack water. You might have to upgrade the reel if your favorite fishing spots consist of shallow water where bank erosion can damage your reel’s spool; this is where an inexpensive 2- to 3-pounder can help improve your fishing performance on all types of structures associated with shallow water.

Final Thoughts on Fly Fishing for Crappie

Fly Fishing for Crappie is not a bait and switch tactic, where you catch small fish to sell for larger fish. It is all about enjoyment and love of the sport, and keeping the fish you catch for dinner. Learn how to fish for crappie, or if you have tried keep learning the techniques and you will become a pro at this sport! Crappies are fun to catch on just about any gear, but they’re also great to catch on the fly. You’ll need smaller flies than you would for bass, but this will help with fish control, and make it easier for you to feel for the bite. Give crappies a try this spring and you won’t be disappointed!

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