Monday, August 27, 2012

The Dead Drift Crayfish

Truckee River Crayfish
(Truckee River crayfish)

A few years back during a random time-wasting YouTube session, I stumbled on Andy Burk's page.  After checking out a few tying videos I came across one about a dead drift crayfish pattern tied by Tim Haddon.  At the time, I had never tried fishing a crayfish pattern dead drifted so I thought I'd give it a whirl and tied up a few.  Last September on the Truckee this pattern proved itself to be a good one for me.  After using it on other rivers, such as the East Walker, it has found a home in my box.  I typically fish this pattern as the top fly on an indicator set up with a smaller bug such as a baetis trailing.  It serves as a great attractor and even if the fish aren't enticed to take the cray it'll get their attention.  Anyway, I'm headed back to the Truckee next week and tied up a small arsenal of these and thought I'd do a tying segment on it.  Here it goes!

(A barely hooked EW brown that fell for a dead drifted crayfish)
Crayfish eating EW Brown

Hook:  Tiemco 5263 #8
Thread:  Danville black 6/0
Eyes:  Small bead-chain
Weight:  Lead wire .025
Antennae:  Crawfish orange rabbit fur and turkey tail
Flash:  Root beer krystal flash
Claws:  Black-barred crawfish orange rabbit strips
Shell-back:  Mottled thin skin
Rib:  Black wire, size medium
Body:  Blend of burnt orange and olive dubbing
Hackle:  Saddle hackle, ginger color

1.  Wrap the thread back to the point where the barb starts to flare up.

2.  Tie in the bead chain eyes on the top of the hook by cross wrapping them.  Make sure to lay down enough thread wraps to firms lock those eyes into place.

3.  Wrap in about 20 or so turns of lead wire and push it back as close to the eyes as possible.

4.  Coat the thread wraps with some glue (such as Fleximent or Loon Hard Head) and wrap thread over the lead to secure it in place.

5.  Tie in a clump of rabbit fur out the back of the hook.

6.  Next, cut 3 or 4 fibers from a turkey tail off and tie them on one side of the hook shank.  Repeat this for the other side as well.

7.  Then tie in 4 or 5 strands of krystal flash.

8.  Cut out a piece of think skin that is just a little bit wider than the eyes and just a little bit longer than the hook shank.  Taper this piece down and trim it so that it looks like the shape of a coffin.

9.  Tie in the wider end of the piece of thin skin behind the eyes.

10.  Hand blend up a bit of burnt orange and a bit of olive dubbing.  This is a good color scheme for the Truckee River crayfish.  (See the above picture)

11.  Dub the head of the crayfish by cross wrapping it through the eyes.
DDC 10

12.  Cut 2 rabbit strips that are about an inch long.  I like to cut points on the ends of the strips going out the back, but that is just purely aesthetic.  Then tie in a strip on each side of the hook shank.  Make sure to tie them as close to the eyes as possible.  This helps flare the claws out as it drifts in the water.
(Top view)
DDC 11
(Side view)
DDC 12

13.  Wrap the thin skin over the head of the fly and secure it with a few turns of thread.  Then pull it back out of the way.
DDC 13

14.  Tie in about 4 inches of wire for the rib on the side of the hook shank.
DDC 14

15.  Prepare a ginger hackle feather and tie it in at the base of the stem.
DDC 15

16.  Dub a body of the same orange/olive blend.  Gradually taper down the body as you move forward.
DDC 16

17.  Palmer the hackle forward and tie off.
DDC 17

18.  Cut the top fibers of the hackle off so the thin skin has a flat place to lay down.
DDC 18

19.  Pull the thin skin over and tie off.
DDC 19

20.  Counter wrap the wire to secure the thin skin and the hackle
DDC 20

21.  Whip finish and done!
(Top view)
DDC 22
(Side view)
DDC 21

This fly isn't a 1-minute tie but if you tie it right, it is very durable and should last through many fish.  Play with the color combos too.  The original pattern uses more olive colors than the one I tie, but customization is one of the beauties of fly tying.   Tie up a few and add them to your box!

Stay fly,

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