I came up with this pattern a while back; a few of you suggested submitting it to the Fly Of The Week. One of my friends asked me to make them a crayfish pattern, and this is what I came up with.
I use this fly as a retreating crayfish, stripping a little line at a time. The head is weighted so the tail end jerks up and back, while the claws point downward. You shouldadjust the colors and hook size to imitate your local crawdads.
- Body: seal brown
- Claws: pheasant tail
- Shell: Swiss straw
- Rib: amber wire
- Eyes: lead barbells
- Mouth/antenna: reddish brown marabou
Wrap the barbell eyes in a figure eight pattern, locking them to the hook
Wrap the marabou tips so they are about level with the hook shank, length is up to you, I prefer them a little longer...
Take the Swiss straw, unfold it, refold to desired shell width, I folded it twice here, pierce the center with the hook point so it can lay flat, a couple wraps will hold.
Dub the head, and build up a forward section, I prefer to attach the wire now; you may find it easier to attach the wire after the claws are on. The wire should be about to the tip of the hook...
Grap a clump of pheasant tail fibers about the thickness of your barbell eyes, I prefer to take both clumps from the same side of the feather. I think the color matches better this way. Make sure all of your fibers are facing the same direction, (they all arch up, or all down) otherwise they are harder to work with, and won't resemble claws. Attach them to the sides of the hook, in line with the eyes, after a few wraps you can adjust them downward a little.
Finish dubbing the body, no need to be shy, the fish don't seem to mind if their food is a little meaty, just remember to keep the taper towards the eye.
Carefully fold the Swiss straw back over the body, it should slip fairly easy without tearing back over the hook tip, use your wire to create the first segment right behind the claws, it should fall about in line with the barb, or tip. Put 3 more segments in, progressively smaller, ending at the eye, tie off, and break the wire away.
Play with the tail, wrapping under, and above, until your happy with the angle, add just a touch more dubbing with your whip finish to "finish" the fly, trim the Swiss straw to the desired length, and you're done. Don't forget to use head cement with your whip finish.
I know crawfish don't have eyes that resemble anything like these, but fish still go after it.
You can use head cement to strengthen the Swiss straw if you want. Also if you use a permanent marker before coating it, you can give it a more realistic looking shell.
Another option is to pull some of the dubbing out around the body, makes legs.
One more option, if you bend the hook a little before you start tying, you can achieve that slightly bent curve real crayfish have while retreating. A warning though, plan your bend too close to the eye, and it won't look right, too close to the bend and you lose your gap.
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