Crappie fishing is a very rewarding sport. Both black and white crappie are very popular and sought after catches even despite their small sizes. Why they are traditionally caught on spinning tackle or a live bait setup, many may have forgotten that some of the most effective ways to get them to bite can be presented on a fly rod.

Once you learn how to fly fish for crappie, it may be the only approach you try from then on. Does it work? Yes. It works well. In fact, many of the traditional baits used for them on conventional tackle are actually just these lures anyways. A lot of the jigs, plastic minnows, and other presentations just wear a different name although they are the same. This alone should give you confidence.

There are many reasons why a person may want to target these species specifically. For one, they taste delicious served deep fried with the skin on. They are also a very great way to get started learning how to use your tackle. This is because they are not very big but will put up a respectable fight for their size. Catching crappie is a great way for you to start figuring out your tackle and becoming familiar with how everything works together for success. There are a few things you need to know before you start.

What Is The Perfect Fly Fishing Crappie Setup?

Crappie with a fly lure in its mouth being held by an angler.

There really isn’t a perfect setup but there are ones that are pretty effective. As with everything in the fishing industry, everything is a compromise. You will not need over a thousand dollars of professional fishing equipment to get started hammering crappie on them.

The setup you need to use is very basic. It doesn’t have to cost very much either. Just like with using spinning tackle, using a fly rod and reel technique is pretty easy. You don’t even really need a rod at all. If you have a stick and some patience, you can be just as successful in your catches. Generally speaking, you want the tackle to be absolutely tiny. Its needs to be ultralight gear.

You do not need to put that trout rod away. You may already have one laying around. If not, they are on the much cheaper end of fishing tackle . Make sure to go with gear that is in the ultralight power class. Also, make sure that the action of the blank is pretty soft. This will allow you to feel your bait better. They naturally feed upwards because their eyes are on the tops of their heads. This means that sometimes, they will lift the bug off the bottom instead of giving the line any resistance.

They are extremely light and delicate biters too. Having a rod that is at least nine feet long will greatly help with casting distance. Crappie are not line shy at all so feel free to use a slightly stronger leader for sensitivity. To choose the right lure, you want to first consider that they naturally feed on minnows. Consider throwing presentations like a gummy minnow or other minnow imitations. Color selection is usually pretty easy as well. All you have to do is match the hatch. Sometimes, even this will not work so you may be forced to throw marabou jigs or other similar presentations that do not look very natural.

Location – Why It Is The Most Important Factor

The location of the fish is so very important. For crappie, it is much more important than it would be for other species. Finding the fish is the hardest part. Once you do this and master learning how, everything else is pretty easy. One thing that is interesting is how these fish travel. They will often pick out a certain spot in the pond or lake and bunch up really tight onto a tree, a branch, or other brush piles. They are structure and cover fish. They hate being out in the open water if they can help it.

This may have something to do with their size. They do not get very big at all so they never get removed from a predator’s dinner menu. If you can find the brush pile or the right tree, the hard work is over. They love to lie in wait to ambush the baitfish as they swim by. In cold water, most individual schools will be very lethargic and its hard to get them to bite. These will be the times where you will have to do some vertical jigging. In warmer water, they will chase and hit a faster-moving presentation.

Waters that do not have a lot of submerged structures make what structure that it does have that much more important. Always be sure to hit the submerged trees especially if there is only one in the water. It is very easy to understate how important being in the right spot is. It is not like you can just go absolutely anywhere in a body of water and catch a limit. It just doesn’t work that way. You can also increase your success by going out at the right time of the year. The best time to go after them is in spring well into early summer or during the pre-spawn phase. When the fish start to spawn, they move up very shallow and they are much easier to catch. This is when you should target them the most.

How To Catch Crappie By Fly Fishing – Methods

Man casting a fly rod into the water at sunrise.

How you decide to present the bai has a lot to do with how your fishing. If you are fishing from shore, you want to take very long and accurate casts. You want to hit all the sunken trees, all the weedlines, the drop offs, the rocks, and every other vertical structure you can.

Many bank fishermen can bu successful but it boils down to location, yet again. If you have a boat and are fishing in water to deep to stand in, it never hurts to get right on top of the fish and locate them on your sonar or thermal imaging. Fishfinder electronics are helpful for locating tightly packed schools closer together.

If you don’t have electronics, you will have to do some guesswork but it is not the end of the world. Vertical jigging is a great way to take a limit off a very basic rig. Alternatively, you can choose to wade instead, especially during the pre-spawn and spawning stages. Wading allows you to go where you want to go and the shallow water almost guarantees higher chances of bites. Always remember to set the hook correctly. They do not get the nickname papermouth for no reason.

The membranes of the lips are so thin that they can rip from the hook if you are too brutal on the set. Always remember to set the hook with a little slack in the line to prevent tearing the hook out of those fragile mouths. In every case, your bait should always be designed to fish the depth you want to achieve. For example, do not use a topwater if the fish are very deep. Do not use a diving bait if the fish are shallow or suspended. This sounds pretty obvious but it is so easy to get carried away.

Even with letting the lures drift with the current instead of actually working the strike zone. That can work if the fish can see it. If they cannot, do not bother. This is usually how you catch trout and char. There are a few different methods one can utilize to be effective. All of them have their place whey are to be used as well as avoided.  You should always experiment to see what works for you.

1. Topwater Drifting – Riding With The Current

Just the first one of these is the drift. The drifting technique is what many would traditionally think of when using tackle like this. You give the rod a good cast, let it go, and let the current sweep it away. It is a great way to imitate water bugs, insects, and even frogs on the water’s surface. Aside from that, there isn’t much more to it. This is extremely effective when the circumstances are right. This can only be used when the fish are up shallow though. This will be the only time the fish will be able to see it.

Drifting can be very effective when the current is mild to moderate but it loses its effectiveness in huge waves. The only negative thing about it is that it requires their being water current to start with. If you are fishing a farm pond or somewhere else, everything may be dead still and there i no way to use this method. Still, in water with current, you can expect to be very effective in shallow water or the spawn.

2. Float And Fly Rigs – For Keeping At The Right Level

The next method that is popular for this species is the float and fly rig. The float and fly is a rig that is traditionally thrown on spinning tackle and few others ever throw them without it. This can be used to keep the bait from sinking beyond a certain depth. This is very useful for when they are suspended at a certain depth range and you need to put it right in front of their faces.

This a great one when the fishing is incredibly slow. This is one for enticing bites in the coolest waters. This technique will require patience to use. This is not a very fast method. It is more for when you need to stay in one spot and really pick it apart. All you need is a bobber and a little patience.

3. Casting And Retrieving – Just Reeling It In

Another way is cast and retrieve. This is usually a lot less popular in many cases but when done right, it works incredibly. You give it a good cast and then pull the line in with your hand at a steady pace. How fast or slow you go is up to you. Faster usually provides better fishing during the warmer temperatures. Because of this, we suggest using a bait that is designed to be retrieved.

Something with appendages that swims if you can. Casting and retrieving work very well to cover a lot of water quickly. It is a great method of finding the fish. Many patterns are popular to retrieve. Patterns like the gummy minnow, the clouser minnow, and the floating craw. This one is also very easy.

4. Vertical Jigging – For Anglers With A Boat Or Kayak

Another very popular and common way of slaying limits is vertical jigging. You would typically do this with a spinning rod but it will still work just as well if not better. It will only work on a boat or another fishing platform. You get on top of the brush and drop the jig into the strike zone. You can just as easily attach two, three, or even four or more of the best crappie jigs on one line for a chance to catch a multiple on each cast. Catching multiple fish on any cast is always a fun thing to experience.

Not many people choose to use this method because they didn’t know you could on fly tackle. This is a great technique to pull out in a pinch if you are confused about which method to go with. The only downside is that vertical jigging requires a boat, kayak, or other mobile fishing platform. Because of this, it will not be available to all anglers. All you need to do is get on the brush pile.

To Conclude – You Can Catch A Ton Fly Fishing

There are just so many ways to catch these highly tenacious and highly tasty species. Of the available methods, one of the most effective approaches can be utilized once you learn how to fly fish for crappie. It does not take a lot of effort to learn and once you do, you can certainly catch more fish when you go out. Many of the conventional crappie baits are just similar lures anyway and one could almost wonder if this is on purpose. Thankfully, you do not need to sacrifice a left lung and a kidney to get started. Regardless if you have a stick or a very expensive ultralight fishing setup. Both catch crappie. Finding where they are is the most difficult part of the entire process. Make sure to hit that structure! Try casting to those weedlines while you are at it. Give some patience to the sport.

If you like this post, don’t forget to leave a comment below in a reply so we can keep the conversation going! Questions, comments, anything! Let’s chat! You can help other people with your comments!

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    1. David Moore says:

      It is almost always possible to catch crappie from shore. In saying that, I am having trouble understanding what you are asking. Can you explain your question a little more?

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