All the Crays

The UV Chewy Crayfish pattern is a great year-round pattern on the Yellowstone and Madison rivers as well as our local lakes. Its lifelike movement, silhouette, and softness draw many species of fish—they like to chew on it for an extra second or two, allowing time to set the hook. This is one of those patterns you need to have in your box.

Crayfish live in and around rocks and debris; their action when escaping is to force their tails downward to propel themselves backward through the water quickly. The crayfish you’ll find in southwestern Montana vary in size from 2" to 6" and can be tan, olive, rusty brown, almost orange, red, and blue. In the molt, they are pale green and their shells are soft. Believe it or not, the fish know the difference.

After many years of tying crayfish, I’ve learned that simple is a good way to go. This fly is fun and easy to tie even though it looks complicated.

1. 285 Dai-Riki hook, size #8 to 10
2. .25 lead wire
3. Orange marabou
4. Flex Floss, brown or black
5. Chewy Skin, light olive
6. Rabbit dubbing, light olive
7. Silicone sheet, olive
8. Grizzly marabou, olive
9. Stretch Magic cord, .005
10. UV dubbing, light olive

1. Start with a natural bend hook to create a good shape of a laid-out crayfish.
2. Applying proper weight is essential to sink the fly quickly. Wrap the .25 lead wire from the bend to two-thirds of the way up the shank and tie it down very well.
3. At the hook bend, tie in orange marabou that is half the length of the shank. Then tie in two pieces of brown or black Flex Floss. Use the same length of the shank for the antenna.
4. Tie in the light olive Chewy Skin and taper to a point.
5. Dub in some light olive rabbit and build up, starting to shape the head a quarter the length of the shank.
6. Tie in pre-cut silicone pinchers toward the bend of the hook.
7. Tie in two olive grizzly marabou feathers. Then wrap in and tie off. Close palmer style.
8. Tie in the .005 Stretch Magic.
9. Make a dubbing loop and apply UV light olive dubbing. Spin until tight; then wrap the rest of the shank to the eye and tie off.
10. Pull material over the entire body and tie off at the eye of the hook.
11. Wrap the Stretch Magic to create segments on the body, and tie off.
12. Cut two triangular notches out of the tail for the desired crayfish look.
13. Last, brush out the UV dubbing and add eyes with a permanent marker. The fly is now complete.

Enjoy fishing this fly all year long!

“Big Willy” Self is the assistant manager at Montana Troutfitters and a resident lake and fly-tying expert. He began tying flies at age six, basically coming up with his own patterns. He enjoys spending time introducing newcomers to the sport he loves.