Fishing curly tail jigs under bobbers has long been a technique utilized by crappie spin fisherman. The same technique is equally productive when targeting these fish with a fly rod, especially when fish are finicky and will not bite a stripped in fly. There are two ways in which to mimic this technique when fly fishing for crappie.
Early in the season, we will rig up our rods as if we were nymphing for trout. A strike indicator is placed on the leader anywhere from 18” to 48” up from the fly. We will put a small Peacock Bugger or Krystal Bugger at the end of the leader. Sometimes it is wise to fish tandem with a smaller buggy pattern dropped off as well. B Creek nymphs, soft hackles, or standard nymph patterns can all be used. We start by targeting brush piles. Cast over brush piles and just let it sit. The fly will suspend over the pile and the hackle and marabou will slowly undulate in the water. If you are not getting strikes, twitch the fly line every so often. This technique also works very well for fish suspended in open water. These fish are harder to find, you have to look for surface activity or use an electric fish finder.
If strike indicators aren’t your thing, the same technique can be achieved by fishing a popper with a bugger dropped off the back. Use a shorter leader, something in the 7 to 7.5 foot length. Tie a piece of light fluorocarbon or monofilament from the popper’s hook shank and 18” to 24” back tie you bugger. Fish it the same way you would the indicator rig.
Using this technique with a fly rod will greatly increase your catch rate, especially when the crappie are finicky. Don’t be surprised when you catch plenty of bream and bass as well when fishing this method.