Crappie Candy

The Crappie Candy is not just an awesome fly for catching crappie on the fly, but is also a favorite pattern for targeting shad on the fly as well. In my version, I omit the marabou tail found on the original and replace it with kip tail. I like to tie it with bead chain eyes as I can fish for shad with it using a polyleader or sink tip line, and if the bite is slow early in the season, I can tie a float on to my leader two or three feet above the fly and work over and around structure for crappie and bluegill. When targeting pan fish with the Crappie Candy, my favorite option is to use the fly as a dropper on a hopper-dropper setup. I tie a small, bright colored popper on as my hopper and either swing the tandem rig over or near structure. If you will only be targeting shad with the Crappie Candy and will not be targeting crappie, I would tie this fly pattern with 5/32 hourglass eyes to make sure the fly gets down in the shad’s face quickly.

This fly is definitely a St. Johns River Favorite shad fly.

Crappie Candy

Crappie Candy Fly Pattern:

Hook: Size 8-10
Thread: 6/0 Uni Thread
Tail: White Kip Tail
Flash: Flashabou
Body: Uni-Floss
Throat: White Kip Tail

I like to tie this pattern in orange, pink, yellow, and chartreuse. The tail can be tied in to match the color of the body as well. However, keep the throat white as that simulates the light underside of most minnows.


St. Johns High Tie Minnow (Shad Fly)

The St. Johns High Tie Minnow is an excellent shad fly pattern to target shad on the fly in the St. Johns River. It is tied with bead chain eyes so the fly rides hook tip up, which keeps it from hanging up in the grass or muscle beds. This makes this shad fly a St. Johns River Favorite. As the name tells, the wing is tied in “high tie” style which presents the fly to the shad in a slightly different way to other minnow patterns. I believe the aggressive posture of the high tie wing makes this fly pattern look more like a small baitfish or shrimp diving for bottom to avoid danger. It is particularly successful at taking shad when fished near bottom using a sink tip line or polyleader, where it bounces through cover looking for a place to hide. While I tend to use a figure-of-eight retrieve with most shad flies, I will mix it up when fishing this fly and use some quick, short strips to help add to the illusion of bait looking for cover.

In addition to being a great fly for shad on the St. Johns River, it has also taken quite a few other species. Panfish such as crappie, bluegill, and sunfish of all types have been caught using the St. John’s High Tie Minnow. I have also taken smaller 1-2 pound bass in good numbers. Most of these species have been caught on this pattern when fishing higher in the water column by using the fly without a sink tip or polyleader. I have also caught small gar and decent size catfish using it.

St. Johns High Tie Minnow

St. Johns High Tie Minnow Pattern:

Hook: Size 6
Thread: Red Danville’s Flat Waxed Nylon
Underwing: White Kip Tail (tied short on the bottom of the hook)
Flash: Flashabou (color to match the upper wing)
Top Wing: Kip Tail (color of your choice, tied in a similar fashion to the underwing)
Eyed: Bead chain
Note: Be sure to build a small bump of thread before tying in the wings as well as making thread wraps behind the wings once tied in to ensure it stands up and stays there. My favorite colors are orange over white and pink over white.

California Shad Fly #10

This shad fly is part of The Pfeiffer Collection.

This is the tenth of eleven California shad flies in the collection originally found in the booklet How to Catch, Bone and Cook a Shad produced by the California Department of Fish and Game. While this fly resembles other palmered hackle, oval tinsel body styled flies like the California Shad Fly #5, Russian River Shad Fly, the Shad Fly, and Hayden Shad Fly, the fact that it omits the chenille or yarn makes it an easier fly to tie and a winner in my book. I omit the use of embossed tinsel and rather wrap the body using common silver embroidery thread that can be found at fabric stores which makes it even easier to tie. Replace the bead chain eye with an hour glass eye, and tie it in either orange and white, or pink and white and you have a St. Johns River Favorite shad fly as well.

California Shad Fly #10

California Shad Fly #10 Pattern:

Hook: Size 4, 3x long
Thread: Red Danville’s Flat Waxed Nylon
Tail: Red Hackle Fibers
Body: Silver Embossed Tinsel (I chose silver embroidery thread)
Hackle: Palmered White Saddle Hackle
Eyes: Bead chain

The Hayden Shad Fly

This shad fly is part of The Pfeiffer Collection.

The Hayden Shad Fly is an excellent choice for the St. Johns River and while the original calls for red yarn and a yellow hackle, I tie it with a white hackle with pink yarn, white hackle with orange yarn, orange hackle with white yarn, or pink hackle with white yarn. These colors are great producers, but mix colors up and see what works best for you!

Hayden Shad Fly

The Hayden Shad Fly Pattern:

Hook: 6, 2x long
Body: Medium Silver Oval Tinsel
Wing: Short hank of florescent yarn
Hackle: Sparse Saddle Hackle

Joe Zimmer’s Shad Fly #2

This shad fly is part of The Pfeiffer Collection.

This is another one of Joe Zimmer’s shad flies and this is a very durable fly, especially if the tail and wing are tied as instructed in the video. I have had good success on the St John’s River with this pattern tied with a pink wing and white tail, or a orange wing and white tail. Customize the color combinations to fit your river.

Joe Zimmer's Shad Fly

Joe Zimmer’s Shad Fly #2 Pattern:

Hook: 8, 3x long (I chose 2x)
Thread: Pink 6/0 Uni-thread
Tail: Craft Fur in a color of your choice
Body: Silver Tinsel
Wing: Craft Fur in a color of your choice

Note: I have had good success with this pattern as tied above or by flipping the whole thing over by tying it with an hourglass eye. When tied with an hourglass eye, it is essentially a synthetic Clouser Minnow. I often trade the silver tinsel for a color Flashabou that matches the wing. This shad fly is definitely a St. Johns River favorite in either variation!

St John River variation of Joe Zimmer's Shad Fly