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Crayfish

By Barry Ord Clarke

Materials List:

HOOK: Mustad R74 # 2
THREAD: Dyneema
UNDER BODY: Dark Hare’s ear Antron dubbing
OVER BODY Foam sheet coloured with felt pens and

coated with Bug Bond

LEGS: E-Z Body coloured with felt pens and

coated with Bug Bond

CLAWS: E-Z Body coloured with felt pens and

coated with Bug Bond

FEELERS: Stripped cock hackle quills
BEARD: Natural buck tail
EYES Fly Eyes
TAIL: 3 Ring neck cock pheasant neck feathers
RIB: Dyneema


Tying instructions:

When I first developed and tied this pattern I used epoxy as the coating for the legs and body, but this took ages to dry, each leg and claw having to be supported and turned, throughout the drying process. With BB I can now tie this pattern without concern for drying time.

Tying realistic patterns such as this cray fish requires not only a good deal of time and patience but also a whole load of discipline. The great abstract masters in art, such as Picasso, Mondrian and Rothko, had life drawing classes every day of the week. This was not because they needed them, but because the discipline of these masters was such, that they understood that the practice of drawing or painting from life, as perfect as possible, increased their understanding for light, form, space and the materials they used. I have found over the years that tying, not only realistic patterns but the discipline of trying to tie flawless patterns, without compromise, of as near perfect proportions as possible, dramatically increases your overall skills as a fly tier, for all types of patterns.

This fresh water lobster is not as common in Scandinavia and central Europe, but as some of you may know, the English fly fishing squad suffered a disastrous tournament some years ago in Australia, because of the lack of this little “feller” in their fly box. Fishing with crayfish in the USA is something else, there you can find at least a dozen good standard patterns that no large mouth bass fisherman would be without. The pattern illustrated is an exhibition fly, and is by no way a fishing fly, it is way too detailed and takes far too long to tie. But with the techniques shown, you shouldn’t have any problems with adapting them to tie simple robust crayfish for fishing.


Step 1

Secure the streamer hook in the vice, keeping the hook shank as level as possible.


Step 2

Attach your tying thread behind the hook eye and

wind it back until the thread hangs perpendicular to the

hook point.


Step 3

Cut a small bunch of natural buck tail, an even mixture of white and brown. Level the tips in a hair stacker and tie in for the beard.


Step 4

Now cut some short lengths of E-Z Body material

for the claws and legs. The claws are made from Medium

and the legs from small.


Step 5

First for the claws. While holding the E-Z Body in your left hand, attach your tying thread and make about 10 tight turns to form the first joint in the claw.


Step 6

Now take your BB or super glue.


Step 7

Apply a small drop on to the whippings and bend the joint to the required angle, before you cure with your UV lamp. If you do this you don’t need to fiddle around with whip finishes. Remove the excess tying thread. You can then cut the centre of the E-Z Body to form the claw. Once you have done this you can coat the claw with BB and cure again with the UV lamp.


Step 8

Now do the same for the next joint.


Step 9

And the third claw joint is finished. Remember to leave enough E-Z Body material so you can secure it to the hook shank.


Step 10

Repeat the process and make claw number two.

I like to give the cray fish a little character by making one

claw larger than the other.


Step 11

When both claws are finished you can position these on each side of the beard.


Step 12

Tie in both claws so that they are facing a little

inwards and down. You can secure the claws at the base

with a drop of BB.


Step 13

Now you have to make the eight legs. For this you need small E-Z Body tube. I have found the best way to seal the feet end of the legs is to place the end of the tube in an E-Z hackle plier, as shown. Then very carefully with a lighter melt the end of the tube. This will weld the tube together and seal the end. Repeat on all eight legs.


Step 14

Follow the instructions for the earlier claw joints,

again for all eight legs. I have made the legs in pairs, each

pair a little different in size and a different angle.


Step 15

Tie in your first pair of legs pointing forwards directly behind the larger claws.


Step 16

You can now tie in the next two pairs of legs as shown.


Step 17

The remaining pair of rear legs should be tied in pointing backwards.


Step 18

Select two large cock hackles and strip off all the fibres to make the cray fish feelers.


Step 19

Before you tie in the feelers, trap them one at a time between your finger and thumb nail and pull them through, like you would with scissors on the ribbon of a present to curl it. This will give the feelers the perfect upwards curve. Tie them in on top of the beard curving upwards and outwards.


Step 20

Apply dubbing to the tying thread and make a

tapered body with dubbing in between the legs.


Step 21

Cut and colour a length of foam. I use the sticky back foam that is used in fly boxes. The shape should be that of a tie.


Step 22

Place the foam on top of the hook shank. Once positioned correctly tie down in front of the rear pair of legs. Make 5 or 6 wrappings of tying thread for the rib.


Step 23

Once the first rib is secure lift the foam and dubb between the rear legs. These small balls of dubbing will form the segmented body. Finish with the tying thread behind the rear legs.


Step 24

Directly behind the rear legs make the next rib.


Step 25

Lifting the foam, apply another small ball of dubbing to the hook shank for the next segment. Tie down the foam with the next rib.


Step 26

Repeat this until you have the whole body

dubbed and segmented.


Step 27

The dubbed underbody should look like this.


Step 28

The feathers for the next step are located on

the neck of a ring neck pheasant.


Step 29

Select three of these feathers of the same size.


Step 30

Remove the excess foam from the tail and tie in the first peasant feather at a 45 degree angle as shown.


Step 31

Tie in the next pheasant feather and the fan tail should be complete.


Step 32

Tie in the next pheasant feather and the fan tail

should be complete.


Step 33

With waterproof pens you can now colour your cray fish.


Step 34

Trim the mono stems of your fish eyes to a point as illustrated, approximately 1 cm long.


Step 35

Push the fly eyes into the foam at the point of the head. You don’t have to secure these now the coat of BB on the shell back will do this later. Just make sure you coat around the eyes when you apply BB to the shell back.


Step 36

Your cray fish should now look like this.


Step 37

Take your BB with the fine tip and begin coating the segments. This should be done one at a time and then cured.


Step 38

You can then coat the rest of the shell and legs,

taking care not to get any BB on the dubbing.


Step 39

And last but not least bend your feelers backwards and your cray fish is finished.


Step 40

Crayfish.