I have spent the last season experimenting with several variations of one of my favorite warm water flies, the James Wood Buck Tail. By changing body and wing colors, I have created fly patterns that imitate other species of immature warm water fish. That’s making the big assumption that the yellow and blue combination is taken by the fish as a baby sunfish!
Assuming that's the case I changed the color scheme to imitate other species of juvenile fish. Looking through a bin under my fly tying desk containing old odds and ends I found an old card of black and white variegated chenille. It dawned on me that this color combination could imitate an immature black crappie, a species of fish that is very prevalent in my local waters. The first of a series of James Wood Buck Tail variations was born!
To create this pattern, I changed a few things up. For starters, I went back to the hook I was using when I first tied the original fly, the Mustad 3366. At some point, I strayed away from this hook preferring to use a slightly longer 3x or 4x hook. After coming across a few older flies in a forgotten fly box, I think I prefer this more compact version. To tie the Crappie Bucktail, the yellow chenille body is replaced with a variegated black and white chenille to mimic the black and white color of a crappie. I also replaced the white bucktail wing with a mixture of white and black tail fibers from a monga ringtail. Monga ringtail may be an exotic tying material for most folks so feel free to use a mix of white and black bucktail. I chose the monga because the fibers are much softer and will provide more movement in the water. For the head of the fly, the blue chenille was swapped out for black. And there you have it, the Baby Crappie Bucktail.
Fish this pattern the same way you would the original James Wood Bucktail. In one season of testing, I can tell you that the Crappie version of this unusual warm water fly is just as deadly as the original. If your not familar with the James Wood Bucktail you can read about it here.
Next up in this series will be variations to imitate baby large and smallmouth bass, pumpkinseeds, pickerel, perch and a few more. Stay tuned...
Pattern Recipe: The Crappie Bucktail
Hook: Mustad 3366 size 6
Body: Black and white variegated chenille (medium)
Wing: Mix of black and white tail fibers from a monga ring tail
Head: Black chenille (large)