I have been wondering about dead drifting various crayfish patterns as for trout here on Wyoming's Green River. Do you think I ought to tie up Crayfish colored buggers or would I be better off using Near Nuff Crayfish and/or Dead Drift Crayfish patterns (or something else)? I guess I am just not sure the more complex crayfish patterns are worth my time. If they are I would be happy to sit down and crank some out. Thoughts?
If I am fishing during the crayfish molt, I'm usually fishing Haddon's Dead Drift Crayfish. It is an effective fly. However it is a pain to tie, so I buy mine.
Using a multi-colored Woolly Bugger or some sort of variant is not a bad idea. In Ralph Cutter's book, Fish Food, he mentions dead drifting buggers as an effective way to catch trout. A fly that he uses quite a bit is called the Goblin. It is a Woolly Bugger variant.
Dan, IMO buggers & crayfish specific patterns both work for imitating crayfish.
Buggers can imitate many things that various fish species eat. As long as you weight them appropriately for the waters you intend to fish, & get them near the bottom, they'll work fine.
However, for my own purposes, I've gotten away from tying anything but simple patterns for crayfish. Most of what I now tie are adaptations of "flats" type flies popular with Bonefish or Redfish anglers. These type patterns are often used to imitate various shrimps & crabs, and many resemble crayfish in general shape.
Patterns such as the Squimp, tied in crayfish colors are what I now use, and they've worked as well as the more complex crayfish patterns I've tried and are much easier & less time consuming to tie. I no longer bother worrying about shell backs or 2 claws on a pattern. I've not found that the fish care either way, and as long as they eat the simple patterns, I'll prefer to tie them.
I'd say tie your own, only because crayfish flies are my favorite flies to tie. There are so many different ways to make them and with so many different types of materials. I make some pretty nice ones if I do say so myself. Don't have any pics of them on their own right now but you can see the undersides from the picture below. They are at the bottom left of the box.
Just watched a youtube on the Near Nuff Crayfish.... aYe!
Not something I would tie. There are much simpler versions in wool if you ask me.
Big thing to me is a mottled brown/olive color and get them to sink pretty much flat. Other thing is to watch the stripping. Crayfish tend to sprint up to 4' maybe then rest and sink for a bit then another sprint.
The simple versions I have tied and have fished are more about making the suggestion of a crayfish in shape, color behavior and then play keep-away with it. Show it to the fish, then make the fly 'swim' like it is swimming for its life in sheer terror.
Hard part about the version I tie out of wool yarn, marabou, a saddle and a turkey tail slip for a shell back is tying in 2-4 small clouser eyes on top of the shank and spacing them to sink the fly almost flat and add width the the body at the front end of the crayfish.
There's a very good article by Dave Whitlock in this month's Flyfishing & Tying Journal that's very much worth a read.
One of my favorite patterns is a black & olive bugger. I usually tie them with a black tail, olive body and black hackle. It's also worth tying some with both black and olive marabou in the tail. I like to add flash and a conehead to them but I don't think you could go wrong with eyes either.
I like Whitlocks and Pat Cohens crayfish flies and have a hybrid I like.
that said, for trout, one that works awesome is a super simple fly.
Weight it with nonlead wrapped on the shank, or bead chain eyes near the eye of the hook.. Then tie in a length of turkey tail feather fibers so they stick out behind the hook. now tie in either marabou, or webby hackle fibers so they to stick out behind the shank about 1 shank length. Ive seen a few guys use squirrel tail dyed orange/yellow/brown/blue/tan for this as well... Now palmer the body with chinelle (brown or olive work well) and with a webby hackle feather (you can replace the chinelle with dubbing too). Now just fold the turkey tail over the top of the fly. As you pull it up through the maribou or webby hackle fiber sticking behind the hook, those fibers will splay to the sides at about a 45 degree angle.
Tie it off and add a layer of fleximent, epoxy or UV resin (I used to use fleximent but now just use CCG hydro for this fly) to the turkey fibers and head.
It's a super simple, nicely ugly fly that could probably look like a million things (like any bugger)... I dont know the name, it was just labeled "crayfish" in a local fly shop when I was a kid...
Oh, this was tied hook down, so I've always done it that way, but you could do it hook up as well...