Some Really Good Crawdad Flies
By Mike Hogue

What the heck are crawdads?

Crawdads are fresh water crustations which are of the same genetic order as lobsters and shrimp. ( I flames please I'm not a biologist.) In freshwater crawdads will range from an inch to up to 3-4 inches in length. Crawdads are about a 1/4" to about an inch wide. As crawdads grow they molt and their skin splits. The newly molted crawdads are called softshell crawdads and are a favorite food of smallmouth and brown trout. During the mottling process the cawdad's colors will change to match the surroundings. For example if the crawdad is surrounded by olives, his color will change to an olive color. The most common colors are gold, dark brown,olive and orange.

Typically most crawdad baits ( used by spin fishers) are much too large. Smallmouth in particluar will at times feed entirely on a diet made up of crawdads and have a decidely strong perference against crawdads with very large pinchers. It is my opinion that one of the reasons that the woolly bugger is so effective is that it resembles the crawadad.

Most crawdad patterns aren't fished deep enough nor do most fly fishers correctly mimic the hopping motion in which the cawdad travels. Also crawdads are night feeders and are inactive during the main part of the day light hours. For these reasons, most folks give up on these patterns without giving them the chance that they deserve.

Fishing Notes:

Most crawdad patterns are tied all wrong. A frightened crawdad hops with his tail rounded back toward him (think of frozen shrimp in a box). Crawdads are primarily nocturnal and become most active when water temps hit 60+. The best colors match the water and the rocks. The best time to fish them is on overcast days, afternoons from late spring until early fall. I like to cast them down and across through rock piles, sometimes I hop them with a long strip and a pause. Another technique is to raise and lower your rod tip.These two are the only ones which work for me.

My Favorite Crawdads

I developed this pattern about 7-8 years ago with the help of my friend, Reverend Bob (Mike) Lake. The Reverand is a native of California and used to run the Central Iowa Fly Fishing Club Meetings I used to attend when I lived in Des Moines.

At our meetings we sell fly materials to each other to cover the cost of our meetings. Sometime ago, Rev Bob came across a motherload of trevic blanket material. This material is called furry foam and is a synthetic cloth which is fuzzy and bonded to a thin foam core. If you can find a pair of Wells Lamont insulated gloves (blue ones) at the hardware store, the lining is furry foam. Anyway, for years I've teased Rev Bob that he picked up the trevic blanket at a sleazy motel while he was on a Jimmy Swaggert road trip. Rev Bob didn't think this was very funny........In honor of cheap motel blankets and Rev Bob I bring you...................

Reverend Bob's Crawdad (AKA Clouser Crawdad)
Hook: Mustad 79580 sizes 4-8 ( 8 is the best size)
Thread: black 6/0
Pinchers: Bronze flash a bou and copper or black crystal flash over split fox squirrel tail
Body: med chenille
Overbody: strip of furry foam tied in at tail and secured to body with med wire. Can mark back w/magic marker for mottled colors
Hackle: saddle wrapped in back 30% of body

Wrap whole under body with lead wire.
Favorite colors : olive, tan, grey, lt. purple, orange.
Tying Instructions:

1) Tie in squirrel tail. Tail=hook shank.

2) Split squirrel tail and wrap like you would kip tail figure 8 wrap around each half.

3) Tie in sparse bunch of crystal flash in unequal pieces....this imitates the antannae....a couple should be longer than the tail.

4) Cut a strip of furry foam 1/4" by 1". Cut strip to a point. Tie in point.

5)Tie in chenille and hackle.

6) Wrap chenille to hook mid-point. Wrap hackle and tie off.

7) Fold and strech furry foam and secure with 2-3 thread wraps.

8) Tie in med wire. Wrap chenille forward. Tie off. Pull back over top, wrap with wire and tie wire off. Cut back strip so that a small tab sticks over the eye.Dave Whiltock came up with this fly a few years ago. Most fly fishers are familar with the same pattern tied as a sculpin. In fast current, this fly is a killer hopped between big rocks. I've slayed
tons-o-smallies with this one!

Near 'Nuff Crawdad
Hook: Mustad 79580 sizes 4-8, 3366 size 2
Thread: black 6/0
Pinchers: Bronze flash-a-bou and copper crystal flash over grizzly chicken marabou ; 2 split round dyed grizzly body feathers tied on opposite sides.
Body: med chenille
Hackle: soft saddle hackle wrapped full body...tie in tip first
Eyes: xsm, sm & med non-toxic or lead dumb bell

Basically an eyed wooly bugger with a splayed hen tail. Tail is tied crisscross with the feathers pointed out over the bend of the hook. Favorite colors tan, olive, brown, orange. I use varigated chenille ( tan/brown, olive black & orange/black ) for the body. You can dub the body, but since you tend to lose these by busting off..why bother? You can also add rubber legs in the tail for feelers. The splayed tails come from mutuka or Hoffman Chick-a-bou pieces which are body feathers from the male grizzly chickens.


For more Info Contact:

Mike Hogue / Badger Creek Fly Tying / 622 West Dryden Road, Freeville, NY 13068

Phone: 607-347-4946