By Nick Simonson
The art of lure making and fly tying results in a good deal of B flies and seconds that, after a few tries on the water are relegated to the bottom of the box, and are filed away for future reference, simply because they failed to connect with the trout, walleye or bass they were intended for. It might be a matter of time and place, but more likely, they just didn’t have the right stuff. It’s a process of trial-and-error that plays out at the vise each winter and is tested on the water each spring and summer.
One simple pattern that has never had to worry about collecting dust in my tacklebox, or in those of the anglers I tend to gift it to by the dozen at Christmastime, or other special occasions, is a single-ingredient jig that simply cannot be stopped on the water. Again this spring, as the members of my boat picked through packs of prespawn crappies, these colorful little fish-catching gems were passed around between us, and my never-ending supply suddenly started to look sparse by the end of the trip.
Made out of necessity on the vise over a week one spring in my early tying days, when one of my favorite tackle companies shut down production of the 1/8-ounce version I used for smallmouth bass, the Krystal Flash jig quickly evolved into a crappie catcher (in 1/16-ounce size) that also did double duty for smallies and walleyes, not to mention white bass. Its beauty is in its simplicity, and beyond the thread used to secure the flash to the collarless jighead, it’s a one-ingredient lure.
For the dozens of youth I’ve instructed in my spring fishing course, it has become a staple in their tackleboxes as well, due to the fact that it is easy for beginners to tie, but more so for its fish catching allure. While the action photos of it stuck in the side of a slab crappie’s mouth clearly suggest how easy it is to create, the simple process to craft the jig hammers that message home. Here’s what it takes.
Krystal Flash Crappie Jig
1/16-ounce collarless jig
To start, lock the jig firmly in the vise and form a small thread bed adjacent to the head of the jig, not going more than seven or eight wraps back from the ballhead (Figure 1). Tie in 10-15 strands of krystal flash on the top half of the hook shank. Secure the krystal flash with more thread wraps so it is firmly in place, again not going further back than eight wraps (Figure 2). Rotate the vise (or flip the jig over) and tie in a second set of 10-15 strands of krystal flash and position the flash around the bottom half of the hook shank (Figure 3). Secure the material in place with a few more wraps, whip finish and trim the thread and any excess materials near the jig head with a scissors, then add a drop of head cement for posterity, if desired (Figure 4).
For crappies, I like to trim the tail to about a hook-length-and-a-half by pulling on the krystal flash material and cutting in the desired spot (Figure 5), that way it can be used with or without bait. Keep some tension on the krystal flash fibers as you cut, and it will fan out in a nice delta on the finished product which will pulsate more freely in the water (Figure 6). The key is to not go too far back with the thread wraps, and make sure of the tension while cutting, to get the desired look and effect in the water.
With a dozen or so under your belt, you should be able to crank out 20 to 25 in an hour and be well on your way to a season’s worth of these simple, fantastic jigs that can be modified with the color of jighead and flash materials that do best on your specific crappie waters. With a selection of them available at your disposal (share with your fishing buddies if you like), there’s no doubt your crown will sparkle, as king of all crappie catchers…in our outdoors.