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  1. #1

    Default Developing a Crab Fly

    I've been home recovering from a neck spinal fusion, so I've spent considerable time at the bench tying flies. One idea I wanted to develop is a crab fly pattern, but I didn't want to copy something already out there. I avoided how-to videos and only looked at the local shop's offerings to make sure nobody else was already making what was in my head. They weren't, so off I went working by trial and error to develop my crab. After making a couple of dozen slight variations, I have settled on a few that deviate very little other than size. The "normal" crab is a size 4 hook, and I also tied smaller size 6 and 8 versions. The small ones don't offer much room for adding claws, but I think they'll work with the reds, black drum and sheepheads. All sizes hop along the bottom with claws/eyes raised in a defensive posture. I'm calling it the Taco Crab for what I consider obvious reasons.


    The larger #4 hook crab is about 1 1/4" across and moves enough water to get the attention of nearby predators. The #6 crabs skip the claws in favor of some maribou feelers/antennae.


    This little #8 hook has a body just 3/4" wide and should cast on the 4 weight pretty well.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Developing a Crab Fly

    They look good. About the only crabs that I tie are the yarn type. I was told years ago, by a reputable FL Key's guide that many crab patterns look good to us, but rarely function well, and don't look natural in the water. He said that the movement was a lot more important than all the details, like legs & claws.

    At that time the 2 most used were the Merkin, and the McCrab and the McCrab was a pain to get them to fish correctly. So, I've just stuck with tying yarn crabs.

    How does that weed guard work for you? I used those a lot in the past on bass flies and found they pushed the fly away from the fishes mouth too often. So, I went to using the two prong mono type instead, or the folded wire guards. The wire pushes sometimes too, but they've been the best for the nastiest snags.

    Another guide showed me that many tie the two prong so they either stand up perpendicular to the shank, or set back at an angle towards the hook point, requiring that they be compressed. He showed me to tie them so they're angled forward, and up so that they deflect off the snags and leave the hook gap open. That's been the best approach I've used.
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  5. Default Re: Developing a Crab Fly

    How does it drop?twist ? straight dive? since they drop butt first I'd paint the lead eyes to match the body color so as not to confuse the eaters that it is a four eyed crab...or color it like an egg sack orange perhaps...if it drops right, without twist on drop or strip I'd use it for Permit

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  7. #4
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    Default Re: Developing a Crab Fly

    I think that if you can come up with the right knot like a jam knot that will thread an open loop through the eye perpendicular to the eye that should be about as real as it gets. I trust you'll update this thread with result reports

    Anywhere can be the land of great expectations, broken dreams, or paradise found, it's all up to you.


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  8. #5
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Developing a Crab Fly

    Nice effort.I can only say that with Crabs you have to "match the hatch" as every location has a variant.There's no such thing as a Generic Crab pattern IMHO.

  9. #6

    Default Re: Developing a Crab Fly

    Thanks for the feedback guys! I am out of action for now, recovering from neck fusion surgery and limited to tying and dreaming about the water, but as soon as I can paddle again I'll post results. I am hoping sometime in March I will get the green light from my surgeon.

    To respond to the concerns or questions:

    I have tested the crabs in water and they (so far) sink correctly and hop along the bottom the way I want them to. Each time I try a different "shell" shape, I try the first finished fly to ensure it is moving somewhat realistically. I have been surprised with how well they have performed. To this point I have been trying to develop a pattern that looks decent and swims upright. There have been a few trials that did not swim, so they were ditched in favor of those that did. My first designs had legs and swimmers placed more realistically but they didn't help the lure movement at all. When I moved all the "extras" to the rear, it cleaned up the swimming pretty well. I don't know how the pattern would do in fast strips, but in my area visibility is limited and requires short little strips, which seem to allow for decent looking movement.

    I know there are lots of crab types and colors out there, and the patterns I am making reflect some of the juvenile crabs I have seen in the area. The "taco" colored variety is close to most of what we have in the flats, but we also have lots of the leopard colored ones offshore. I think the huge spadefish that gather near upwellings would jump on that pattern, but for now it's just a hunch.

    The flat I have in mind usually has some reds moving slowly, nosing through the grass and algae to scare up little shrimp or crabs. Visibility is only about 12 inches, so I get glimpses of fins but can't usually pick out clean fish shapes. This limited visibility results in hard eats and hooking the fish with the mono loop has been very successful. The vast majority of fish get hooked deeper in the mouth because they hit hard and try to swallow the bait before I can even come tight on the line, but I can see how clear water might require a less intrusive style to make the fly weedless (if it is needed at all). The algae that is common here is so fine that the mono loop has been the only effective weed guard for me.

    Painting the lead dumbells is something I need to add to the process, thanks!

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  11. #7

    Default Re: Developing a Crab Fly

    Last night I tried a leopard pattern of juveniles I've seen in a few areas. If I were a fish it would be eaten, but it remains to be seen how the fish like them. One fly is upside down to show the belly coloration.


  12. #8
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    Default Re: Developing a Crab Fly

    Looking good there, Prof. Salt. I haven't fished crab patterns very much. One of the podcasts, Bite Me Podcast, talks about fly fishing differences in Texas with the lower coast being more about crabs and the upper coast more about shrimp. Interesting, still I've cleaned enough redfish here on the upper coast to know they love crabs. Probably find more lower-mid sized blue crab parts than anything, but if the tides are right, redfish go nuts for fiddler crabs up here. The oyster reefs here are loaded with crabs, juvenile stone crabs and a bunch of other types. Turn over a clump of shell and 3 or 4 will crawl out. I just never liked tying crabs so I avoid fishing them. If you looking around the redfish fly fishing universe, I'd say way more people fish crab patterns than don't
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  14. #9

    Default Re: Developing a Crab Fly

    Here's hopes for a quick recovery so you can report to us what the fish think.

  15. #10

    Default Re: Developing a Crab Fly

    Good looking crab. Only thing i would change is the weed guard. Use a single piece of 30lb hard mono and tie it in so it points strait up and is a little higher than the hook point. Otherwise fish it and let us know how it does.

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