When I began reading Terry and Roxanne Wilson’s book entitled “Crappie Fly Fishing: a Seasonal Approach, ” I began to think about the late Ray Fincke of Kansas City.
Back in the 1960s, Fincke was one of the primary forefathers of Midwest finesse fishing for largemouth bass. He was also the proprietor of Kansas City’s finest tackle shop, where scores of talented bass anglers, crappie anglers, temperate bass anglers and trout anglers regularly gathered to exchange tidbits about their tactics. And Fincke was the most versatile angler of them all. He was amazingly handy at wielding a casting rod, fly rod and spinning rod. What’s more, he was a master casting rod, fly rod and spinning rod builder and designer, as well as an artist at tying and creating flies and jigs. During the last 20 years of his life, he became a passionate crappie angler, and, in fact, the week before he died on Mar. 15, 2011, at the age of 74, he caught the biggest crappie of his life.
To my chagrin, I don’t recall any of Fincke’s tales about fly fishing for crappie, but I think that Wilsons’ book would have intrigued him, and he would have had several copies of them displayed on one of the shelves in his tackle shop. I also think that scores of other anglers will be captivated by what the Wilsons have written about pursuing crappie with a fly.
This paperback book encompasses 111 pages in a six-inch-by-nine-inch format. The text is enhanced with 52 photographs and illustrations, as well as a useful index.
In the eyes of many anglers, fly fishing is seen as a rather esoteric and quixotic endeavor. But in the eyes of the Wilsons, fly fishing isn’t an arcane and impractical way of catching fish. In fact, the Wilsons say it the most enjoyable way to fish — especially for crappie. What’s more, they write: “There is no conventional-tackle presentation that cannot be replicated with the fly rod, most often in a superior manner with more productive results.” For example, the Wilsons even proclaim that a fly rod is a dandy tool to employ while trolling for crappie.
There is a 13-page discourse about equipment, examining rods, reels, lines, strike indicators, waders, float tubes, boats and other ancillary items.
The Wilsons penned many words about how and where to locate crappie in rivers, oxbows, bayous, farm ponds, streams, natural lakes and reservoirs during different calendar periods and water temperatures. Thus, the pre-spawn, spawn, post-spawn, pre-summer, summer, fall, and winter periods are thoroughly examined. They also examine phenomenons such as turnover and thermocline. They even delve into night fishing.
As they catalogued the various seasonal locations and foraging habits of the crappie in a variety of waterways, the Wilsons provide details about what flies to employ. Besides their detailed analysis about where and when to use particular flies, the Wilsons explain how to properly present these flies to crappie throughout the year.
There are 14 pages that focus on seven fly patterns, including explanations on how to tie them and how to present them to the crappie. One of the flies is Wilson’s Squirrel Spin, which is a fly that sports a No. OO Colorado spinner blade, barrel swivel and split ring that is attached to the bend of a No. 4 Mustad 3366 hook. In addition to the spinner, this fly features a flashy body made of Quick Descent dubbing and ultra wire; its gills are made from red chenille; it sports a squirrel tail wing and a small cone head. The Wilsons often use their Squirrel Spin to troll for suspended crappie.
The Wilsons reside in Bolivar, Missouri, but their angling pursuits aren’t limited to the Ozark region. Across the past seven decades their piscatorial exploits with fly rods have ranged from the Boundary Waters along the Canada-United States borders to Pelican Lake and South Long Lake, Minnesota, to the bayous of the southern states to Lake Okeechobee, Florida, and beyond.
Amato Books of Portland, Oregon, published Wilsons’ book in February, and it can purchased at www.amatobooks.com for $19.95. Amato Books’ telephone number is 800-541-9498. It is also available at Amazon.com.
For more information about the Wilsons see: www.thebluegillpond.com, and their crappie book is for sale at their Web site, too, as well as their books entitled “Smallmouth Bass Fly Fishing: A Pratical Guide” and “Bluegill Fly Fishing and Flies.” In the weeks to come we hope to post a blog about their “Largemouth Bass Fly Fishing Beyond the Basics.”