All About Fly Fishing!

Big Joe's Crayfish

Tied By Ian Colin James

crayfish fly pattern

Ian Colin James Says:

"I created this fly in 1982 when I needed a realistic pattern for fishing smallmouth in gin clear water.

"In smaller sizes it will take carp, crappies, rockbass, redhorse, brown trout, rainbows and speckles.

"It is a consistent pattern for catching drum (sheephead) and quillback carpsucker.

"It fishes best, as most crayfish do, when it is bumping the riverbed. I never weight the fly as I feel it hampers the action of the pattern. I do however attach a small split shot to the leader about 5 inches from the fly. You need to get the fly down deep to catch fish.

"It is named after my father."

Hook: 9761 size 4 (Range: 4 to 8) (If you can find them the Fenwick Triple Sharpened HC80 streamer/nymph hooks code: HQ-SN2XL, are the best to use. They hold a point longer than any brand I know. Once you start using them, it is hard to switch to anything else.)
Feelers: Ringneck pheasant tail and pearl Krystalflash
Claws: Jungle fowl or well marked speckled hen saddle snipped into a "V"
Thorax: Medium width fluorescent red chenille
Body: Medium width beige chenille
Legs: Black or natural red rooster over the fluorescent red chenille only.
Back: Brown plastic raffia
Rib: Copper wire
Tail: The tag from the back, trimmed

Tie the thread on at the bend of the hook
Tie in a few strands of the Krystalflash and the pheasant tail fibers
Tie in the raffia
Tie in the claws (one on each side.)
Tie in the rooster feather by the tip
Tie in the fluorescent red chenille
Wrap the thread along the shank to a spot just above the hook point
Wrap the fluorescent red chenille to the thread and tie it down
Trim the excess chenille (You now have formed the thorax.)
Palmer the feather to the spot where the chenille stops
Tie it off and trim the excess (You now have formed the legs.)
Tie in the copper wire for the ribbing
Tie in the beige chenille
Wrap the thread to the eye of the hook.
Wrap the beige chenille, tie it off and trim the excess (You now have formed the body.)
Pull the raffia over to the eye of the hook
Tie it down, but when you trim the excess, leave about a 1/4 of an inch sticking out over the eye. This will form the tail.
Wrap the copper wire along the beige chenille and the brown plastic raffia, to form the body segments.
Take two extra turns of the wire over the thread wraps holding down the tail.
(If you don't do this, the fish can tear the tail off quite easily.)
Tie off the copper wire and trim the excess
Whip finish the fly BELOW the tail
Trim the tag of raffia (the bit you left for the tail) into a crayfish tail shape
Put a small dab of head cement onto the whip finish
Sharpen the hook and go fishing.

If you want to make the pattern more durable than it now stands, coat the raffia in head cement or clear nail polish. I'm not a fan of this as I feel the fish can pick up the scent and they will refuse the fly.