Register now on PaFlyFish.com! Login
HOME FORUM BLOG PHOTOS LINKS


Blog > Fly Tying > Fly of the Month: Ritt's Fighting Crayfish

Fly of the Month: Ritt's Fighting Crayfish

Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 03/27/2011 (5157 reads)
By Alan Ritt

Ritt’s Fighting CrayfishThere are times when I just don’t feel inspired to sit down and tie more of “the same.” Whether “the same” means flies others and I have tied for years, or it means patterns I’ve conjured up and like to think of as more or less mine. The point is a change is needed.

During one of these restless periods a decade or so ago I was thinking to myself that I didn’t fish nearly enough large flies. You know, the ones regularly hanging from the jaws of those fish in the pictures of each day’s newest instant hero. Not that I felt like I should be that hero, but sometimes you just want a shot at a larger fish. Another streamer or leech pattern just wasn’t what I was craving though. I wanted something more interesting. My mind gravitated to the crayfish.

Though there were a lot of effective crayfish patterns around, I wasn’t convinced there weren’t improvements to be made. I needed a pattern that would swim, crawl or rest in a realistic posture and was snag resistant enough to fish around cover where crayfish are commonly found. The details of the trial and error are entertaining stories of their own (like the version that, though heavily weighted, floated in the surface film).

Suffice it to say I did come up with a pattern that has been extremely effective for many species of fish and in many types of water and fishing conditions. The pattern incorporates the hard shiny carapace and multitude of legs, antennae and other appendages of the natural. It has lots of movement in the water, even when not being actively manipulated. The hook not only rides up, but the posture of the fly places the hook eye down and the bend up in the water column to make it relatively snag free even without a weed guard (or fish guard as I think of them). And unlike all other crayfish patterns I’ve seen, the main arms and claws do not lay limply behind the fly as if it was dead, but are held high like a natural warding off a predator and collapse behind the fly when stripped just as a live crayfish holds them when swimming.

I’ve used this fly myself to catch trout, largemouth and smallmouth bass, bluegills, crappie, bullheads, silver salmon and bonefish. Others have told me of catching carp, walleye and pike as well. Below is the recipe, vary the color to match the crayfish in your local waters (there are many variations) and let me know how you do! My flies are available on MyFlies.com and also my own web site has patterns and information on my tying demo appearances, lessons, guide services and flies as well as my contact information below.


Colors:

Brown
Hook – Daiichi 1730
Weight – plain lead dumbbell eyes
Antennae – Root Beer Krystal Flash
Eyes – Black round rubber
Claws/Arms – Brown or olive foam claws on brown barred round rubber arms
Carapace – Mottled Brown Thin Skin
Underbody – Brown Yarn
Body – Mud Brown Crawdub SLF
Legs – Brown dyed grizzly hackle palmered through body and dubbing brushed out
Rib – Brown Ultra Wire

Orange
Hook – Daiichi 1730
Weight – plain lead dumbbell eyes
Antennae – UV Orange Krystal Flash
Eyes – Black round rubber
Claws/Arms – Orange foam claws on orange barred round rubber arms
Carapace – Mottled Orange Thin Skin
Underbody – Orange Yarn
Body – Burnt Orange Crawdub SLF
Legs – Orange dyed grizzly hackle palmered through body and dubbing brushed out
Rib – Hot Orange Ultra Wire

Olive
Hook – Daiichi 1730
Weight – plain lead dumbbell eyes
Antennae – UV Gray Krystal Flash
Eyes – Black round rubber
Claws/Arms – Olive foam claws on olive barred round rubber arms
Carapace – Mottled Olive Thin Skin
Underbody – Olive Yarn
Body – Gray Olive Crawdub SLF
Legs – Blue dyed grizzly hackle palmered through body and dubbing brushed out
Rib – Blue Ultra Wire

Softshell
Hook – Daiichi 1730
Weight – plain lead dumbbell eyes
Antennae – UV Gray Krystal Flash
Eyes – Black round rubber
Claws/Arms – Tan foam claws on tan round rubber arms
Carapace – Tan Thin Skin
Underbody – Cream Yarn
Body – Softshell Crawdub SLF
Legs – Barred medium ginger hackle palmered through body and dubbing brushed out
Rib – Gold Ultra Wire

Salmon/Steelhead Hot Orange
Hook – Daiichi 1730
Weight – plain lead dumbbell eyes
Antennae – UV Orange Krystal Flash
Eyes – Black round rubber
Claws/Arms – Orange foam claws on orange barred round rubber arms
Carapace – Opal Mirage sheeting
Underbody – Orange Yarn
Body – Fiery Blood Red Jorgensen Salmon/Steelhead SLF
Legs – Hot orange dyed grizzly hackle palmered through body and dubbing brushed out
Rib – Hot Orange Ultra Wire

Olive Mantis Shrimp
Hook – Daiichi 1730
Weight – plain lead dumbbell eyes
Antennae – Olive Pearl Krystal Flash
Eyes – Black round rubber
Claws/Arms – Olive foam claws on olive barred round rubber arms
Carapace – Mottled Olive Thin Skin
Underbody – Olive Yarn
Body – Fall Green Olive Jorgensen Salmon/Steelhead SLF
Legs – Olive dyed grizzly hackle palmered through body and dubbing brushed out
Rib – Hot Chartreuse Ultra Wire

Yellow Snapping Shrimp
Hook – Daiichi 1730
Weight – plain lead dumbbell eyes
Antennae – Olive Pearl Krystal Flash
Eyes – Black round rubber
Claws/Arms – Red foam claws on yellow round rubber arms
Carapace – Mottled Yellow Thin Skin
Underbody – Yellow Yarn
Body – Highlander Jorgensen Salmon/Steelhead SLF
Legs – Chartreuse dyed grizzly hackle palmered through body and dubbing brushed out
Rib – Hot Chartreuse Ultra Wire

Tying Instructions:

Fighting Crayfish
Pinch the barb and mount the hook in your vise with the forward portion of hook shank horizontal. Start the thread behind the eye of the fly and wrap back to the bend at the 1/3 point on the hook shank. Mount the lead barbells on top of the hook shank, leave enough room to tie off the carapace, rib, and form a head.

Fighting Crayfish
Re-mount the hook with the rear portion of the hook shank horizontal, wrap the thread to a point approximately 1/3 around the bend of the hook and attach the antennae. Add a small ball of dubbing over the tie in point.

Fighting Crayfish
Tie in the round rubber leg eyes on either side of the dubbing ball. If you have a rotating vise, the following steps may be easier with the fly turned hook point up. Tie in the carapace along the bottom of the hook. Tie in the pre-prepared claws (see separate steps at the end), one claw on each side of the fly.

Fighting Crayfish
Tie in the yarn and form the underbody from the lead dumbbells to the eyes. Figure 8 the yarn around each arm to help keep them spread. Figure 8’ing the claws and tying the claws in behind hook point will help keep the claws from fouling on the hook point.

Fighting Crayfish
Dub a figure 8 around the base of the arms. Tie in the rib in front of the arms with the long end extended over the front of the hook. Bend the wire back so it extends past the back of the hook and wrap back over the wire toward the arms. Doubling the wire over will help lock it in when tied over the soft underbody. Tie in the saddle hackle.

Fighting Crayfish
Finish dubing the body. Figure 8 dubbing around the dumbbell eyes. Palmer the hackle forward and tie it off between the hook eye and the dumbbells. Trim the hackle off the top of the fly (bottom of the hook). Pull the carapace forward over the top of the fly (bottom of the hook) and tie off between the hook eye and the dumbbells.

Fighting Crayfish
Reverse wrap the wire and tie off. Form a neat head and whip finish.

Fighting Crayfish
Trim the hackle near the lead eyes off the bottom of the fly. Using a nylon dubbing brush to avoid cutting the thread and hackle stem, brush out the dubbing to form a shaggy, flowing fly body that mixes with the palmered hackle.

Preparing the Claws:
Fighting Crayfish
Prepare the claws (I do this in batches ahead of time) by cutting appropriate size squares of foam. Thread a section of round rubber through a needle and using the needle pull the doubled length of rubber arm through the foam from edge to edge. Cut the round rubber loop to release the needle. Add a small drop of super glue to the short ends of the rubber right at the base of the foam, gently pull the rubber back toward the foam to draw the glue inside. Don’t pull the rubber ends all the way into the foam. After the glue has dried trim the glued ends of the rubber short and trim the sides of the foam to form a rough triangle. If a two-tone claw is desired, color it at this time with a permanent marker.

Al Ritt has written articles Fly Fishing and Tying Journal and Hatches Magazine. A a member of Trout Unlimited, a member of the Federation of Fly Fishers and a life member the Federation of Fly Fishers Fly Tying Group. Apperared at numerous fly shops and expos including The Fly Fishing Show in Denver CO, Somerset NJ and Pleasanton CA, the International Sportsmans Expo, the FFF Annual Fly Fishing Fair, New Mexico TU Fly Tying Expo in Albuquerque NM, East Idaho FFF Fly Tying Expo in Idaho Falls ID, Black Canyon Fly Fishing Show in Montrose CO and more. He is also the Brand Manager for PEAK Fishing, a manufacturer of premium quality fly tying vises and equipment and bamboo rod planning forms.

For more about Al you can find him at www.alrittflies.com and at MyFlies.com here.
  Send article

Navigate through the items
Previous article Fly of the Month: Sulphur Emerger Fly of the Month: Quill Gordon Crippled Real Wing Next item
The comments are owned by the author. We aren't responsible for their content.
Author Thread
j_man
Published: 2011/3/28 11:23  Updated: 2011/3/28 11:23
Joined: 08/30/2010
From: Mechanicsburg, PA
Comments: 78
 Re: Fly of the Month: Ritt's Fighting Crayfish
This is a great fly Al emailed me the pattern a few years back.
gemiller
Published: 2011/3/28 20:07  Updated: 2011/3/28 20:07
Joined: 06/13/2008
From: Pine Grove
Comments: 184
 Re: Fly of the Month: Ritt's Fighting Crayfish
Really neat fly, I've never seen that before. I'll be giving that one a try!
flyfishermanj
Published: 2011/3/29 21:24  Updated: 2011/3/29 21:24
Joined: 09/13/2006
From: SW PA
Comments: 1584
 Re: Fly of the Month: Ritt's Fighting Crayfish
Very Nice!! Gonna have to tie a few of theses.

JH



Site Content
Login
Username:

Password:

Remember me



Lost Password?

Register now!
Stay Connected

twitterfeed.com facebook instagram RSS Feed

Sponsors
Polls
Will you be fly fishing this autumn?
Yes 95% (139)
No 0% (0)
Thinking about it 4% (6)
_PL_TOTALVOTES
The poll closed at 2014/10/31 17:56
1 Comment





Copyright 2014 by PaFlyFish.com | Privacy Policy| Provided by Kile Media Group | Design by 7dana.com