"Rock's Crayfish"
Created and Tied by Rock Wilson
Drawings and text by Rock Wilson ©
Photos by Jim Birkholm

Thanks for use permission!

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Fly Tying Terms

Rock's Crayfish

Materials List:
Hook: Tiemco 300 Size #4 or #6.
Eyes: Burnt Mono or prefabricated.
Mandibles: Pheasant tail fibers, olive or dyed wooduck mallard flank tips.
Antennae: Peacock herl or moose mane.
Body: Medium chenille; olive, tan, or variegated.
Claws: Chenille; tied, glued and spun.
Tail: Chenille; looped.
Thread: 6/0 matching chenille.

I make up a batch of claws ahead so when I begin tying I don't have to stop each time to allow them to dry. To prepare claws:

( 1.) Unspool a card of chenille. I use an entire card of medium chenille (15 ft.) which will yield about 16 pairs of claws.

(2.) Double a 3 in. section.

(3.) tie an overhand knot and,

(4.) cut to length.

(5.) Claw proportion should be inch for the pincher and inch for the loop. Repeat until all claws are made.

Steps (1)-(5)

(6.) Claws are then dressed or dipped in head cement.

(7.) Only the knot and pincher portion of the claw should be dressed with cement.

(8.) Lay them on a piece of plastic to partially dry. Allow claws to dry until they are tacky to the touch or almost dry.

Steps (6), (7) and (8)

(9.)Then grasp each side of the pincher between your thumb and forefinger and roll it. This will mat the chenille tightly together making the pincher round. Roll the very tip into a point. This will give a realistic look to the claw and prevent the tips from fraying out when the fly is cast repeatedly. Repeat with other side and allow to completely dry.

(10.) The claws will look like this when finished and dry.

Steps(9) and (10)
Fly Construction:

1. Place hook in the vice. Begin the thread at the eye and wrap back to the barb creating a thread base on the shank of the hook.

Step 1

2. I use 40 or 50 lb. Test mono to create the crayfish's eyes. Cut a three inch piece and figure eight on the hook shank above the barb.

3. Stand the mono up and place a few wraps around the base so they stand upright. Trim to about inch.

4. Carefully light each mono eye stalk one at a time. The mono will burn quickly, so be prepared to blow it out quickly before it burns down to the shank of the hook. This takes a little practice. If it burns to far start over and try again. A butane lighter works much better than matches.

Steps 1 through 4

5. The mandibles (or nose of the crayfish) are created with 10 pheasant tail fibers. Lay fibers between eyes allowing about inch of the tips to extend over the bend of the hook. Tie down and clip excess.

Step 5

6. The antennae are made of two peacock herls from an eye feather. These herls are pointed on the end and look more like real antennae. 2 heavy moose mane hairs may also be used. Moose mane is more durable. They should be the length of the shank. Lay them in between the eyes next to the pheasant tail fibers and wrap.

Step 6

7. The body is begun by attaching medium chenille and wrapping forward to the eyes. Take two wraps around the front of the eyes under the mandibles and antennae and then back down the shank to the 2/3 point. Tie off, but do not cut off. The completed body will take about 2 feet of chenille. Since the body is created with continuous wraps of chenille a Renzetti type rotary vice makes creating the body much easier. Hand-over-hand wraps will also get the job done. The chenille can also be tied-in in sections since the final layer will cover everything underneath.

Steps 5, 6, and 7
8. Move the thread forward wrapping over the chenille towards the eyes to about the 1/3 section of the shank in preparation for attaching the claws.

Step 8

9. Move the thread forward wrapping over the chenille towards the eyes to about the 1/3 section of the shank in preparation for attaching the claws.

10. Select one of the prepared claws and locate it on the side of the body with the knot next to the mono eyes and tie in. The arm should move freely from the tie in point. Any excess, behind the 1/3 tie in point, can just be tied in as part of the body.

11. Tie in the second claw on the other side and move the thread back to the eye. Wrap the chenille forward around the claws not over them. You want them to move freely in the water. Notice that the crayfish's body is rectangular. They are more short and thick than long and thin. You create that shape with the wraps of chenille. The thorax is slightly thicker than the abdomen but not much. Play with he proportions until they look right. Finish the abdomen at the eye and tie the chenille off but do not cut it off yet.

Step 10

12. The tail is formed by looping the chenille and tying off first one side and then the other. If you have crowded the eye simple push the chenille back with your thumb and forefinger. You may wish to take a wrap or two of the chenille around the base of the tail before tying it off at the eye. This makes the transition between the abdomen and the tail more even. Whip finish and glue.

Steps 10 through 13

After the crayfish is finished the hook can be turned upward to make the fly more weedless for a slow bottom strip. If you have questions you can reach me at The Troutsman in Traverse City Michigan. Call 616-938-3474, or email your questions or comments to me.

Finished Fly

~Rock Wilson

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