I am challenged when it comes to catching crappie (white perch). I keep working on new and better tactics in the hope they will help me overcome my lack of talent. As a result, I have developed a repertoire of fly fishing tactics that I think are helping. Most of those tactics have been shared with me by real crappie aficionados so I don’t mean to claim credit for them all.
I often fish without an indicator for crappie, even though it’s an effective tactic, for one primary reason, the constant hang-ups in brush and timber. If there is no indicator on the leader, then to unhook from a submerged stump, branch, etc. an angler can simply run his rod tip down the line and push the fly loose. If an indicator is on the line, the indicator won’t go through the guides and it’s not like you can just remove the indicator because you may not be able to reach it or at the very least it would be very awkward to access and remove the indicator. In my opinion, it is better to burn daylight keeping the fly in the fish’s face rather than burn it de-snagging flies. For the same reason I tie crappie flies on aberdeen hooks or microjigs with soft bendable hooks. If the snag is too deep to run the rod tip to it, then if I have 8lb tippets I can often bend a hook out of a snag but still break it off easily if I’m forced to.
Recently I started using wool/yarn indicators because they will pull through the guides allowing me to run the rod down into the water to de-snag flies. I mainly fish with 1/100 to 1/124 oz microjigs, which will easily suspend under a wool indicator. I don’t use my most expensive rods for crappie fishing. If I did I might be less inclined to risk running the rod down to unhook a cheap crappie fly.
I use a constrictor knot to tie the wool onto the leader. I haven’t heard of anyone using that knot for that purpose but it is easy to tie in the bight and once it cinches down, it will only get tighter, it won’t loosen up.
Wool indicators I am sure won’t float heavy jigs or flies but 1/100 and 1/124th oz microjigs suspend under them well. As for doubts about using such small jigs for crappie flies, I find they work well enough, they certainly cast extremely well and they do catch big fish, like this big channel cat below that took a 1/124th electric chicken:
And the nice slab below didn’t mind the small size of the fly either.
Or the one below: