In Southern Queensland, the warm summer months and increased water temperature creates heightened activity amongst many estuarine and bay species, including crustaceans. Crabs in particular, are commonly preyed upon by many species from bream and snapper to tuskfish and cobia.
Estuary cod is a prominent species in the bay and estuary and they just adore crabs. Cod are a major candidate for flyfishers using this month’s pattern, the Crazy Crab. However, it will soon be apparent after fishing this fly that a broad array of species will find the Crazy Crab irresistible.
There is a huge array of crab species within the waters of Southern Queensland. From small purple and black specimens scurrying amongst the rocks lining the foreshore to large, tasty blue swimmers well offshore, crabs come in numerous sizes, shapes and colours throughout our waters and all can become a food source for an array of species.
If you investigate the stomach contents of any demersal species, you are likely to find the remnants of crabs they have eaten recently. Crabs offer a much larger food source for many species than we realise. However, few anglers use them for bait or use the numerous crab patterned flies on offer.
For a predating fish, crabs can be fairly easy to find and relatively easy to secure, compared to many other food sources. Estuary cod just adore them and if you find a rock wall with crabs in residence then it is a safe bet that there will be quite a few quality estuary cod patrolling. Snapper are another species that respond well to crab patterns however most estuarine and many bay species will attack a well-tied crab copy.
This month’s pattern is a very simple yet durable pattern that has produced the goods over the years. It is a little similar to a pattern I did mid 2007 in QFM called the Quickie Crab, yet has some variations. It can be tied in numerous sizes and can easily be weighted to get it down deep, even in a moderate current. The array of colours is endless however due to the broad array of crab species on offer that sport an assortment of variations in colour. As such, you do not need to try too hard to match any particular species too closely.
Crabs spend much of their time close to the rocks or the bottom so fishing your crab slowly in this zone is more likely to produce a solid hook up.
The materials list for this pattern should be available at any good fly tying supplier however you will probably be able to source many of them, or substitutes, from a decent craft shop. I have chosen the Mustad C70S D hook pattern as it has a slightly turned in point for ease of penetration and is exceptionally strong with a tempered bend. This is extremely important as any species with the jaw power to crush a crab will soon make short work of an inferior hook. Other good substitutes could include the Gamakatsu SL12S, Tiemco 800S or Mustad Hoodlum (even though it has a very minor offset).
The main body of the Crazy Crab is formed using the loop side of some Velcro although I have seen the hook side used for the belly at times. After some serious use, the fibres of the loops will pull out and the crab may take on an almost furry appearance, however this just seems to improve its productivity. You may even choose to tease out the fibres a bit before use.
The two claws are represented by Hen Cape Hackles, however any hackle will suffice. The style, colour and the weighting of the eye can also be changed to suit your requirements. If extra weight is required to get the pattern down deeper, or for fishing it in stronger currents, then you can wrap the hook shank with some lead wire or even put some lead tape sheeting between the two Velcro dots.
Any rubber legging material will suffice and there are numerous colours and styles to choose from. I like to use this flat rubber as I find that it moves a lot more in the water. Tying a knot in each end makes it look a little more realistic but more importantly it also creates more leg movement in the current, even when the fly is at rest.
You may even like to use a Sharpie marker to make the back of the crab look like it is mottled or perhaps use a different coloured Velcro dot to start with. There is a lot of scope for experimentation with the basic pattern.
Place the hook securely in the vice and attach the thread with a jamb knot at the start of the hook bend. Cut two matching hackles almost as long as the hook shank and tie the butt of one in at this point, on the side of the hook, with the curvature facing outwards, away from the hook. Repeat with the second hackle on the other side and whip finish.
At this same point, on the back of the hook shank, secure your eyes with a series of figure-of-eight wraps until secure. Whip finish and leave the remainder of the thread.
Take a rubber leg and tie this evenly around (half on each side) the hook shank so that it is secure. Repeat with the other two until you have them on fairly evenly, producing three legs down each side of the shank. If you are having trouble with the rubber undoing at the knot, palmer your thread forward and secure each piece of rubber with a series of wraps. Otherwise, trim away the remaining thread.
(View from above) Stick one of the Velcro Dots to the underside of the hook shank and then position each leg evenly as shown. The Velcro dot will probably already have an adhesive base to secure each leg to and make this easier.
Mix up a small amount of 5 minute epoxy and coat the base of the dot. A thin even coat is all that is required. This will allow the next Velcro dot to adhere securely to the last, which increases the durability of the pattern.
Hold the two Velcro dots securely together, back-to-back, until the epoxy has set. Ensure the legs remain in the desired position whilst doing this. Knot the end of the legs at the desired point and then trim away the remaining legging material. Add a little vinyl cement to the thread securing the eyes to increase durability. Your Crazy Crab is now the tastiest crustacean in the ocean.
|HOOK:||Mustad C70S D #2/0|
|THREAD:||Flat-waxed nylon – fiery brown|
|CLAWS:||Hen Cape – furnace|
|EYES:||Brite Pupil – gold/olive large|
|LEGS:||Tiewell Flat Rubber – black|
|BODY:||Wapsi Crab Coins 7/8” tan|
|ADHESIVE:||Devcon 5-minute epoxy|