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Upper picture: Side by side comparison of the natural eyed eggs and the cross-eyed egg pattern. Lower Picture: Side by side comparison of the natural eyed eggs and the four-eyes egg pattern. The common availability of eyed eggs for fish food is a compelling reason to tie and fish realistic looking eyed-egg patterns like the Cross-Eyed Egg and the Four-Eyes Egg. Also, for their size these flies can be heavily weighted, yet keep a realistic size and look, making them candidates for an anchor fly on the point of a two-fly nymph rig. The idea for the flies came about because published field observations show that trout, regardless of species, tend to use and reuse the same area of the stream to make redds. In this process, the eyed eggs of late fall to winter spawners are dug up by early spring spawners. In turn, eyed eggs from early spring spawners are dug up by late spring spawners. A wildcard is possible presence of the sequential Summer through Fall spawning of various salmon species, again leading to eyed eggs from early salmon spawners being dug up by later salmon spawners. Finally, the possibility of off-season spawning of feral hatchery trout can also be in play. Adding to the spawning events are the times that eyed eggs are released into the drift by run-off or storm-induced rising water levels that can scour the redds. This analysis indicates that eyed eggs are potentially present and available in the drift, off and on, for up to 6 months of the year. Fishing the Cross-Eyed Egg: Because the eyed egg is dug up by spawning trout, who are also laying fresh eggs, I fish the Cross-Eyed Egg as the point/anchor fly in a two or three fly nymph rig. For the dropper(s) I use a pattern representing a live-egg such as a Moe egg or a bead. Because digging up redds also releases dead eggs, as well as fungus-colonized or moldy eggs from previous spawning activity, I also will try an opaque pale-colored pink or yellow-orange Glo-bug representing dead eggs. For moldy eggs -- a nuclear egg or chartreuse-colored Glo-bug or chartreuse bead. I may add a veil to these patterns because in nature moldy eggs often have a veiled look. Getting the fly down to near the bottom of the stream where the fish are usually holding is also important for success. These weighted egg patterns are an effective way to get that done and keep contact with the flies on a Euro-nymphing rig. Before fishing, I try to determine the effective color of the local eggs present in the river at that time by asking local fisherman, screening the drift or reading guidebooks. Egg color can also be determined empirically by changing the egg color until an effective color or color combination is found. A video that documents the availability of eyed eggs as fish food, reviews the size and color of natural eggs used to set the design of these flies as well as how to tie eyed egg patterns is posted at youtu.be/Bj48hBp59LE Cross-Eyed-Egg Fly Recipe-- for a 5 mm finished diameter trout egg Size of the finished Cross Eyed-Egg. Web-published measurements show that water-hardened trout eggs are commonly 5mm+/- 1mm. In medium-sized spawning salmon and steelhead, the eggs are about 5-7mm on up to 9-10 mm in Chinook. Hook: Firehole egg hook 637 size 14-18; Scud hooks, size 14 -16, like a Tiemco 2457 or 2487. Thread: Semperfli Nano-Silk 30 denier. Use orange color for the fly tied in the video or to match the dubbing color being used. Tie in thread just ahead of the middle of the hook shank, a little bit towards the hook eye. Cross Weight: For a 5mm egg: As shown in the video, make the monofilament (mono) dumbbell weight consisting of two 1.5 mm tungsten beads on a 4 mm wide piece of 10lb test Maxima. For larger size eggs, the cross weight length is scaled up to be about 1mm less than the finished diameter of the egg. Weighting variants: 1) Blood dot variant -- Substitute blood-red colored 1.5 mm tungsten beads for the black beads. 2) Three weight variant -- Not realistic looking but if desired for extra weight, add another 1.5mm tungsten weight just behind the hook eye and then tie the standard Cross-Eyed Egg pattern behind it. The third-bead can give the impression of a pair of eyes in some views of the fly. 3) Tie the Four-Eyes Egg variant which uses two mono-dumbbells made about 7mm wide for a total of four 1.5 mm tungsten weights on a 5mm finished diameter fly Egg color and texture determined by the dubbing: I generally use a medium-textured sparkle dubbing to match the local natural-egg color I’m trying to imitate. I use a dubbing that tends to radiate out when spun to make a translucent dubbing brush (and finished egg) rather than a dubbing noodle when spun. Dubbing I use for the most common natural egg color is Sybai Fine Flash, yellow-orange color, or Spectra #35, a yellowish orange (used for tying in the video). For pink eggs, I use Ice Dub, hot pink, or Sybai fine super-UV dubbing, bright pink, or Spectra #41. For the dead-egg look, I use Spectra #9 , pale pink or Spirit River Lite-Bright, peach color. For imitating fungus-colonized eggs, I use Arizona Diamond Dubbing in Chartreuse +/- a veil. As you know, there are a lot of suitable dubbing colors out there and these colors are not the only solution. Yarn Ball: Make a roughed-in yarn ball by looping the dubbing brush in a serial figure-8 pattern around the hook shank. Fold back the hook eye side of the yarn ball with one hand and whip finish. Fluff up and groom the yarn ball into a spherical shape using a piece of Velcro. Then pull up the longest dubbing fibers and trim them with scissors and then pull down and trim again. The goal here is to end up with a roughly 5 mm diameter sphere imitating the size of the typical trout egg.
The photographs show the Chain Cray and the clawless Chain Cray variant. These flies have a total length, including claws and legs extended to the rear, of 2 inches (50 mm) Recipe Hook: Firehole 570 size 1 to 2 – or other wide-gap jig-hook with a shank length of about 20-25 mm. Thread: Ultra thread 140 denier Woodduck color or similar beige to pale yellow-orange thread Tail/fins: Dumbbell eyes plated gold or brass. The dumbbell is lashed to underside of the jig hook where the shank bends up to the hook eye to make for a keel effect that helps to keep fly upright. Hook Shank Weight: Zero to four straight pieces of 0.20 to 0.35 inch lead wire lashed to sides and underside of jig hook shank to promote inversion. Vary the lead size as needed to impart the heft needed to make the fly bottom-bounce at a dead drift in the local water conditions. Lobster Claws: One lobster claw clasp comes attached to the chain with each necklace chain. So a piece of chain and a lobster claw clasp from two chains are needed to make one clawed fly. I use: Item# H20-4525CH. 0.4mm serpentine chain: https: //www.firemountaingems.com/itemdetails/H20-4525CH Its also possible to buy the lobster claw clasps (item# H20-1448FX) from Fire Mountain Gems and attach them with a twist of stainless steel wire to a piece of chain. If you go with the clawed variant, the claw and chain assembly is lashed with the claw facing-out to the rear of the fly. Lash-in one clawed chain on either side of hook shank near hook bend. I tie in the claws so that the tip of claw ends up about ¾ to 1x as long as the hook shank. No Claws Variant: Apparently experiments by Berkley Tackle Co., as reported in the book “Pure Fishing”, found that clawless crayfish lures had twice the strike rate of clawed lures. See (https://www.bassresource.com/bass-fishing-forums/topic/74922-crawfish-and-their-claws/) I could not find a copy of the book, so I could not confirm this report yet --but the variant does work for trout. I also tie this variant in lighter weight version with some or all of the appendages made of Uni-Flexx camel color split in half. Antennae: Uni-Flexx camel color. Split roughly in half using a razor blade. Split roughly in half using a razor blade (See this done near the end of this video: youtu.be/ogBM06cUYFA). I do this to increase the flexing motion when fished. The antennae are lashed-in facing towards the rear of the fly parallel with the claws and one antennae on either side of the hook. I tie them in to end up about 1.5x as long as the hook shank after trimming. Carapace Dubbing: Flies shown are dubbed with a mix of one part Cohen Cray Zee Olive added to two parts Cohen Stone Ground Mustard. Dubbing mix is applied to the thread coated with wax by rubbing the thread with a fluffed loose ball of dubbing along its length. If needed add sparse pinches of the dubbing mix by dabbing it into the wax coat along the length of the thread where there are dubbing gaps. The thread is then rapidly spun by a grasping the neck of bobbin on between two fingers and snapping the fingers past each other. This spinning action is allowed to continue until the thread and dubbing are spun together to form a noodle. As the thread spins you can even out the noodle by rubbing the dubbing from the thick to thin parts. The longer the bobbin spins the tighter the noodle will be so adjust the time to suit your taste. If desired, you also add extra fuzziness to the dubbing noodle by taking the fluffed up ball of dubbing and rubbing it along the dubbing noodle. This so-called “Static cling” method seems to help transfer and keep the fuzz in place. Dubbing shape: The fly is dubbed thick at the hook bend to represent the carapace of the crayfish with the legs protruding out. The dubbed body then tapers from near the middle of the carapace and continues to taper on across the abdomen towards the hook eye and dumbbell weight. First pair of legs: 0.4mm gold necklace chain (all legs are same source as the claws) tied in extra long compared to natural to enhance impression of swimming crayfish. The first legs are tied along the lashed-in lead wire on either side of the hook shank and point out towards the rear of the hook along with the claws and antenna. These legs are tied long compared to the natural to add heft to the fly, distribute the weight across the fly, balance out the dumbbell weight at the other end of the fly, as well as increasing the theatrical expression of a swimming motion when fished. Second through fourth pairs of legs: 0.4mm chain tied in long compared to natural to enhance flexibility and the impression of a swimming crayfish. These legs are tied using the figure 8 method and tightly dubbed thread to lash-them-in at right angle to the hook shank. The legs are bunched in the first third or so of the hook shank starting at the hook bend and embedded in thickened dubbing wrapped and built up to represent the carapace of the crayfish. Note that as the fly is fished, the to and fro action of casting seems to loosen the legs such that they will fold back towards the rear of the fly as it is retrieved with a swimming-like motion. Abdomen Ribbing: Ultra-wire large amber copper-wire tied in at the rear of the carapace after the last pair of legs, the body dubbed, and then the is wire spiraled forward over the abdomen dubbing to near the dumbbell weight to give it a segmented look. Abdomen Dubbing: As the last set of legs is lashed on to the shank using the figure 8 method start to taper the dubbed body by wrapping less and less of an ever-thinning dubbing-noodle around the hook. Whip finish. __________________ Variants: Common color variants: Rusty brown, reddish orange, golden light brown, golden beige and an uncommon variant, electric blue. Of course, if in doubt about the color to use, match the local crayfish. That said, some crayfish closely match the color of the substrate and trying a fly in a contrasting color may work better. I also tie this pattern in lighter version with all of the appendages made of Uni-Flexx camel color split in half. Fishing the fly: I fish it as a bomb anchor fly on a two-fly Euro-nymphing rig. As described above, set up the weighting of the fly for bottom-bouncing dead-drift through the head of pools in rock-bottomed streams. The sought after effect is to give the fly the “touch and go” look of a retreating cray swimming away; (2) use a low amplitude jigging/swimming motion to lift the fly off the bottom and then let it settle back down to bottom every 2 feet or so in a deep pool; and, (3) set up the weight of the fly so it will bulldoze along a muddy or sandy bottom of pool to simulate a retreating cray with claws to the rear in a strategic withdrawal. As crayfish have been either inadvertently or intentionally introduced into other trout-bearing river systems in the west, it seems that the usefulness of cray patterns is seemingly going to increase over time.