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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.
This fly was originally created by Lance Egan, and is one of the best attractor patterns Ive ever fished. It's flashy, bright, and effective. I love fishing this as my lead fly, then drop to something a bit more realistic behind it. My favorite flies to drop behind this are the RS2, Pheasant tail, or black beauty. All of which can mimic midge or Baetis pupa and emergers quite well. So this fly can also be tied with a glass bead, and I believe originally it was created this way. However I like using brass beads here because it gives the fly a bit more weight, and I really like using this as my lead fly, to help other flies sink better. The flashiness of this fly really helps attract trout up to it, but many times I find they will strike the tailing fly instead of the rainbow warrior. This does not mean its not effective, just the opposite. It is very effective to get the fish moving out of their hole, to come take a look, but they elect to strike the less visible, and more realistic fly trailing it once they are close. As always I am listing all the materials used on this fly. Hook: Firehole sticks #317 in size 18 Thread: Veevus 10/0 in Red Tail: Natural Pheasant Tail Fibers Abdomen/wing case: Large sized Pearl Tinsel Dubbing: Tan Laser Dubbing Head Cement: Hard as Hull Original
I have recently stumbled upon a nymph pattern that is called the squirminator. I would post the link but it seems like I am unable to do so. A quick google search can find it for you. The fly uses a tentacle off of those rubber toys that you can get at the dollar store, a jig hook, and egg yarn. People say that it is a good attractor, but looking at the video posted on the orvis website, I thought that it could be a nice uncased caddis imitation with a few tweaks. I used an egg hook, olive dubbing, a Hungarian partridge feather, and a green tentacle for the variation. Constructive criticism is greatly appreciated, tight lines.