Saturday, November 28, 2009

Tying Flies (Crayfish)

It is winter. I keep hoping that it was a bluff, but I am pretty sure its here to stay. I did a 6 hour cold weather day on the East Gallatin the other day. It was nice to get out and pursue my quarry, but freezing your ass off all day for 2 average sized fish isn't doing it for me like it did last year. Don't get me wrong, I'll still do it, but I don't obsess about getting on the water at all costs like I did last winter. I am a bit more selective about when and were I go.

The classic flyfisherman off season activity is obviously fly tying. I am essentially a rookie, but over the past 9 months have put together some of the basics. I am mostly a big fly guy at this point. I tie a lot of streamers and larger nymphs. I copy patterns that I really like but my favorite thing is to take styles and techniques that I have learned and to create my own patterns.

Recently I have been brainstorming an easy yet realistic crayfish pattern. There are some pretty real looking patterns out there but many look very difficult to tie. I have heard that many people do well on just a plain brown wolly bugger fished as a crayfish. So I came up with a cray fish pattern that is basically a wooly bugger with a few modifications. Crayfish swim tail first so if you are going to strip them they need to be tied head towards the hook end, tail toward the hook eye.

So here is a step by step for my original crayfish pattern. Now, I am not claiming that this has never been tied before, but I came up with this on my own without knowingly copying anything else, so it is my original design.


Hook: Mustad 9672 Size 4 Streamer Hook
Thread: Big Fly (Black)
Body: Chenille (Dark, Brown Rust)
Eyes: Large Lead Eyes (1/20 oz)
Tail: Marabou (Burnt Orange)
Hackle: Strung Saddle (Natural Furnace)
Legs: Sili Legs (Fire Tip, Pumpkin Orange)

Place the hook in the vice and start thread. Make a good thread base and work thread to the bend of the hook.

Tie in marabou. Length should be about the same as hook length.

Separate the fibers with a few thread wraps to create the appearance of separate claws.

Tie in dumbell eyes on the top-side of the hook. (This should make the fly swim hook up) Tie eyes in about 1/3 the way from the hook bend to the hook eye. Tie in with tight figure 8 wraps. Fix in place with small drop of glue.

Move thread foward and tie in rubber legs.

Move thread back to the bend of the hook and tie in chenille and strung saddle hackle. Then move the thread back to the front of the hook. Be sure not to bind down the rubber legs.

Wrap the chenille foward over the lead eyes and carefully around the rubber legs. Tie off.

Wrap hackle foward and tie off. Extend extra feather foward past eye of the hook.

Color Lead Eyes black with a Sharpie

Finish the head. Apply glue or head cement and...there's your crayfish!

This fly should fish hook up. This will allow for deep presentations into weedbeds and other trout cover and should result in fewer snag ups. I hope this will fish well deadrifted or slowly stripped across the bottom. I am thinking big browns, Lower Madison...I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I have been out here and there the past few weeks. No real fish stories to tell but I have taken in some awesome scenery. I love the fall and the spring seasons. There may be nothing better than being on a river in the fall, the leaves ablaze with colors, your breath visible in the morning air, the spray of your line as you double haul to the far bank. Big fish or small fish, lots of fish or no fish, this is what makes fly fishing so spectacular.

Late October, East Gallatin River

Whitetails beneath the Bridgers

Sunset north of Bozeman

Shields River sunrise

Crazy Mountains from the Shields