Favorite Panfish Flies: Part One: Streamers

Part one of Noah’s three-part series on panfish flies.

Small panfish will take almost every thing that moves and is colorful, but if you want to catch slabs consistently you have to fish flies that are designed for panfish. Big panfish eat meat, and streamers are a great way to catch slabs consistently. These five patterns are all fantastic streamers for panfish, producing in every environment. They are also pretty quick and easy to tie. They are overall great flies. Enjoy!

Pink Punch

If I had to pick one fly for my panfish box this would definitely be the one. I created this great warmwater fly in August of 2012 and have fished it in small streams,  lakes, and quarries.  Fishing for greenies, sunnies, ‘gills, crappie, and perch, I’ve never found a spot where it would not produce. Here’s the recipe:

Thread: Pink or Black 6/o
Hook: # 12
Bead: Silver Conehead
Tail: Pink Marabou or pseudo marabou
Body: Fluorescent Hot Pink UV Ice Dub
Collar/veil: Fluorescent Hot Pink UV Ice Dub (touch dub it to get a nice scruffy collar)
noah's favorite streamer for big panfish

Pink Punch

Nice crappie that slammed the Punch

This is a great fly and my absolute favorite to fish.


Noah’s Minnow

The Noah’s Minnow is a great fly for panfish, bass, and even trout, and definitely one of my favorites. It is especially good for wary fish in clear water.

Thread: Any color of 6/o
Hook: # 12
Eyes: Black or silver bead chain
Tail: Marabou, crystal flash (opt.)
Body: Wrapped marabou same color as tail

Olive with some Krystal Flash in the tail. This is also a great little streamer for trout (Conner caught his biggest brookie on one of these, a fourteen incher in northern MN).


Flash Bugger

The flash bugger is a good fly for aggressive panfish, and in stained water conditions. You can tie them in many different colors to match your fishing conditions.

Hook: #12
Thread: 6/0 any color
Bead: 1/8″ copper
Tail: 1 generous plume of marabou (any color)
Body: Eztaz (any color)

My favorite Flash Buggers

 DNA Mini Clouser

The DNA Mini Clouser is a great fly for big bull bluegills, and especially crappies. Big panfish eat meat, and the profile and shine of the DNA Frosty Fish Fiber looks almost exactly like a small minnow. They’ve got cool transparency and look really nice in the water.

Thread: Black 6/o UNI
Hook: #8-12 wet fly
Eyes: Black or silver bead chain
Over wing: Chartreuse DNA Frosty Fish Fiber, tied on bottom of shank
Under wing: White DNA Frosty Fish Fiber, tied on top of shank

These are all great flies for panfish, and quick and easy to tie.

Redear(?) that slammed a #4 Meat Whistle tied on a saltwater hook! Slab panfish want meat, and streamers are a great way to consistently hook the big ones.

Tight Lines,



Morning at the Quarry

On a Friday morning we packed the van and headed to the Quarry. There is something magnificent about the Quarry. All those abandoned granite pits filled with water, just waiting to be fished. Over a half dozen quarries for fishing are home to numerous bass, large and small, with high cliffs, rock piles, and deep water.

High cliffs, rock piles, and deep water

We first go to quarry 11 for bass. I tied on a Braden’s Crayfish and started fishing. Then I heard Braden yell “Fish on!” so I run over there and Braden has a nice 12″ bass.

Braden and I move to fish off some cliffs. Braden catches another bass, a 8″ this time. I move down some more, cast, and then I have one on. A nice 8″ largemouth.I cast some more and hook into strong 12″ largemouth.

 Then we pack up and move to quarry 13 and fish for a short time with no luck, so Braden and I hit the trail and walk to 18. Braden and I got there and wet our lines and caught plenty of sunnies. I saw a crappie so I cast to it and he bit it, but I set the hook to soon. So I cast again and he bit it again, but I waited to long to set the hook. I cast one last time, and he was on. He fought for about 30 seconds and then he spit the hook. Conner and Grandpa also caught lots of sunfish. We all got some at 18.

Tight Lines,


A Broken Rod, Bass, and Granite

Friday morning started out with a bang. Noah and I were fishing (and catching a few) bluegills from the canoe, and Braden was picking up a few small bass from the shore. I put Noah into position to cast to the end of a dock, and I turned to see Braden’s little five weight doubled over.

“Big bass!” he hollered.


I hopped out of the canoe, and ran over as Braden landed this dandy. Snapped a few pictures and Braden removed the big black leech pattern from his grizzled jaw. By northern standards, this is a nice fish, especially in this lake. The impaired water quality, short growing season, and lots of meat fishers takes its toll on the big ones. The majority are under ten inches. So when you find a bigger one, enjoy it.

The next part of the day brought us to a favorite spot, a large nature preserve full of abandoned water filled quarries. The biggest one is barely an acre, and over a hundred feet deep. Half a dozen of these ponds are stocked with trout, but the draw is the big bass. Huge bass up to five pounds that thrive in the shallows. I honestly wonder how many stocker rainbows survive their first year. The quarry hasn’t changed much since it was active. Huge grout (big blocks of rejected granite) piles still adorn the shore, and a derrick, complete with fly catching cables, towers over the ponds. Despite all this, the area is still has a somewhat pristine air to it. Aspens and oaks are thick between the quarries, and the water is crystal clear.


The first quarry we stopped at is filled with an over eager population of big green sunfish. Grandpa, Braden, and Noah each caught around twenty in a short time while I tried to coax a large bass to eat my fly. Not hungry. The visibility was amazing, down to around twenty feet. I could almost count the spots on a small rainbow that swam by. The next pond was a bit larger and shallower, and where we’ve had our most consistent bass fishing. There is a cliff on one side where you can cast easily and sight fish to bass all day. I caught a respectable twelve incher and a smaller one on a big articulated streamer. Then tragedy struck. The fly became snagged deep on a rock, and I pulled a little too hard trying to free it. Snap! My eight weight cracked in half. Huge bummer. It wasn’t amazing quality, but it worked to throw the bigger flies.

We stopped by two more quarries without any fish worth mentioning. At the last one I tried dredging for trout with streamers. I walked out on a cliff and peered into the water. I could see the boulder strewn bottom, about twenty feet down. I let my streamers sink, a big conehead and a Noah’s minnow. I started bringing them in and a big rainbow came out of nowhere and flashed my flies, only to retreat to the depths as quickly as he appeared. I had similar experiences with three more fish, but no eats under the bright mid-day sun.

In the evening I got a chance to play with Noah’s new 4 weight Cabela’s Custom Glass Rod. I had a blast fishing with this tiny rod for big bluegills. The bluegills attacked my gurgler with fury. You can feel every pull and tug right up through the cork. The fish put a great bend in it. For its size (6′ 6″) it cast pretty well, although it can’t handle much more than a big dry or cast very long distances. The roll casting was amazing. I can see why some guys are really into glass.




2011 Year in Review

2011 was a great year for us. We caught tons of fish in many different places and had lots of fun doing it. Here is a brief overview.

The Quarry

One of our favorite things about fly fishing is discovering new places. This year we found a gem. There is a park a short drive from our grandparent’s cabin full of old granite quarries stocked with trout (food for the monster bass) that also hold bass and sunfish. It has become one of our favorite places to fish. Because of the deep, cold water, the bass will stay shallow even in the heat of summer.

 The Cabin

Our grandparents have a spot on a lake in central MN, and we spend a lot of time fishing there in the summer.

Lake Michigan

Sunrise salmon fishing was awesome…

Trout in the Driftless Area

We hit the Driftless a few times this fall for some great spring creek trout fishing in the bluffs of SE Minnesota, a few hours from our house. Camping, tricos, and rising trout. Good times.

Arkansas and Missouri Tailwaters

Over Thanksgiving week we fished the Little Red River in Arkansas and Lake Taneycomo in Missouri. The fishing was great. We caught lots of fish on dries in Missouri.

Little Red River with Greers Ferry Dam in the background

Lake Taneycomo (Missouri) rainbow caught on a Cdc BWO Comparadun

Winter Trout

On New Years Eve day we went to Iowa. It didn’t really seem like winter. 45 degrees and no snow.

Tight Lines,

3 Brothers Flies



8-29…Big Gills on Poppers- A Weekend at the Lake

Headed up to our cabin last weekend and had a great time fishing with Grandpa. On the first night the evening topwater fishing was excellent. Noah and I caught lots of crappie and bluegill, some of them pushing nine inches, on little cork poppers.

The quarry was the destination of choice on Friday. Unfortunately, the fishing was pretty slow. The bass were lethargic, and very hesitant to even look at our flies. All of us ended up catching some bass, but nothing like past days. The biggest was a 12 incher, but I lost one (as usual) that was much bigger, maybe 15 inches. The sunfish were a bit more cooperative. Grandpa hammered them, and the rest of us caught our fair share as well.

Saturday brought more bluegill and crappies. Noah and I took the canoe out and found schools of fat crappies feeding on minnows that were rising to a minuscule hatch. Many crappie were to be had, and we even had the chance at catching the elusive tailing carp, but I couldn’t get a long enough cast in before he stopped tailing. Braden was pounding the perch on shore with a little streamer, with some bass mixed in as well.

Once in a while, we put down the fly rods and head to a nearby river to chase some catfish. I know, it isn’t fly fishing, but it is fun in a ridiculous sort of way. Memories of sitting on the bank being baked by the sun on a ninety degree day and catching catfish after catfish come into my mind. Usually, the catfish are really biting this time of year, but today we only picked up a couple. A recent flood had changed the structure of the river, and our favorite hole, which probably doesn’t exist anymore, did not produce like it used to. While everyone caught a fish, Grandpa got the prize for the most fish, with two. That should tell you something about the action. Next we are off to a blue ribbon trout stream and some camping. Stay tuned.


Quarry Park Bassin’- 7-29-11…Day 2

The bass fishing was alive at Quarry Park on Friday morning. To make things even better, we got it all to ourselves.


After paying a small park fee we hit the trail. With a few bug bites, we arrived at the first quarry. Before the rest of us could even set our stuff down, Noah was already pulling in a 1 lb. bass, his first on a fly rod. This is the first fish Noah has caught on a fly he tied. It ate a bunny bugger, basically a rabbit strip tail and palmered rabbit strip body with bead chain eyes. I bushwacked to the other side of the quarry and pulled in a nice bass. It wasn’t huge, but it put up a great fight.Braden stayed in pretty much the same spot catching as many little bass as he wanted and taking tons of pictures……


After about two hours of fishing and a picnic lunch, we headed to the quarry we fished on our last trip. The hike was about a quarter mile, and we soon arrived. Noah picked up some small bass on a “Noah minnow”, and I got some on a brown flash bugger. Braden caught a few, too. It is lots of fun to sight fish to these bass, and occasionally you will see some rush from the other side of the quarry to devour your fly. After a few fish I decided to walk to the other side and try to catch that big bass I had seen last time I was here. The same scenario played out. I hooked a smaller one while fishing from a ten foot dike, and just as I pulled him out of the water, he popped off. A splash the size of a bowling ball erupted as this huge bass engulfed the little one. He was there, and he was hungry. I hollered to Braden to grab the 8 weight I had hauled along to chase this pig. I rigged with a 4″ Bunny Bug (Barry Reynolds) and 25 lb. shock tippet. I was ready. I crawled down the steep, boulder strewn bank, and waited. The bass was making circles around the edges of a deep hole with some timber and rock piles. I threw the fly to a spot where the bass had passed a few minutes before and let it sink. Sure enough, two minutes later he came to the spot I was at. My heart started pounding. When he was about three feet from the fly I picked it up and gave it two deliberate strips, and paused. He finned over, and stuck his nose to it for what seemed like eternity, and BANG, he sucked it in. It is amazing how quickly a 4″ fly can disappear in a large fish’s mouth. I was not in a great position to set the hook, but managed to get a firm hook up. I was stoked! The fish turned as soon as he felt the hook, and dove along a rock, making the reel scream like crazy. There was no stopping him, but he stopped me…. He pulled out line, dove quickly under a rock, and cut the line! I screamed in dismay. I was heartbroken. Man, that was a nice fish. He put up a great fight for the short time he was on. There was not going to be a second chance today, so I grabbed my other rod and made my way back to the others.


A five pounder lives in the back left corner

A nice park worker directed us to another quarry where he had seen some sunfish on his break, so we decided to pack up and head over there for the two hours we had left. This quarry was a little smaller than the other too, and had a steep rock slope on one side. A cable from a derrick that had once hauled granite stretched across the quarry. Noah immediately caught a decent sunfish, and so did Braden. Then Noah pulled in a bass just as Braden caught a nice sunfish for a double!


Grandpa also nailed a few fish…

Grandpa gets a nice one!

All of us caught a few more, mostly sunnies and small bass. Around four we packed up and made the short hike back to our car. An amazing day of fishing!

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