Monday, December 10, 2018

Fly Tying- McCabes "Plus" Crayfish

McCabes "Plus" Crayfish

The original version of this fly was shown to us many, many years ago by our good friend and sales rep Jerry Darkes. It was designed by a guy named George McCabe from up in the Cleveland area and he originally designed it as a carp fly.

We started tying them and using them around here on both carp and smallmouth and sure enough, it was every bit as productive as Jerry told us. I do believe that we used them on our Lake Erie smallmouth trips as well back in the nineties. We started selling so many of them that we had to farm them out to a production house for custom tying!!! Unfortunately, we aren't currently having them done as the supplier flaked out on us but we're hoping to get them back in the shop eventually.

This is a "version" of that original fly that I tweaked a few years back and have been fishing locally with great success. We'll call it the McCabe's "Plus" Crayfish as it is certainly based on, and inspired by the original. When Flymen Fishing Company came out with their shrimp and cray tails, I just had to put them to use somewhere and this was a perfect match. I have said often that I don't normally come up with patterns of my own, I just steal patterns and tweak them a bit!

Thought I'd share this one here as we sit inside thinking of warmer weather. Hope that you give this a try! It's really a great pattern and when you do, let me know how it goes.

Brian Flechsig- December 2018

McCabes Plus Crayfish Recipe:

Hook: Umpqua U-Series U301 (or any equivalent 3X Nymph)- Click Here
Thread: Doesn't matter- use whatever you are comfortable with- Click Here
Tail: Fish Skull Shrimp and Cray Tails- Large- Gold- Click Here
Atennae: Moose Mane- Click Here and MFC Speckled Sexi-Floss- Orange- Click Here
Carapice (if that's a word): small tuft of Rabbit from a Black Barred Zonker Strip- usually gold variant or grizzly hare's ear- Click Here
Body: Medium Chenille- usually Olive but you can use any color you want- Click Here
Claws: Fox Squirrel Tail- Click Here
Eyes: Enrico Crab/Shrimp/Crayfish Eyes- Click Here
Hackle: Grizzly Saddle Feather- Click Here or Click Here (of course tons of options here as well)

This fly can of course be tied in just about any color combination that you want!!

1. Insert the hook in the vise. I then "score" the hook just a bit behind the eye. This is of course optional but it does seem to help hold the Flymen "Tail" in place alot better and prevent it from spinning. You may have seen me do this on the Plantation Crab as well and it really makes a difference. 

2. Tie in the Fish Skull Shrimp and Cray tail just behind the eye of the hook using plenty of wraps of thread. Make sure the "fan" of the tail is pointing upwards (you'll flip the hook in a bit). Glue it with your favorite super glue, then continue more thread wraps over top.

3. Add 5 or 6 turns of lead wire behind the Cray Tail and wrap your thread back to the bend.

4. Tie in your "bunch" of Moose Mane fibers at the bend of the hook. I suppose the length of these is somewhere around 1 1/2 to 2X the length of the shank in total. Then repeat the process with 3 strands of the Sexi-Floss. I usually make these just a bit shorter than the Moose Mane....for no scientific reason at all.

5. Cut off a small "tuft" of Rabbit from a Zonker Strip and tie it in right there at the bend of the hook as well. It should be very short, maybe a 1/4 to 1/2 inch or so. This is what I called the "Carapice" in the video which I'm not even sure is a word. I might have made it up? It's basically the nose of the crayfish but sound more scientific if you call it something more sophisticated. Here we will go with "Carapice".

6. Now tie in the chenille, also at the bend of the hook. The lash down should run you right up to the base of the lead wraps and you can leave your thread there.

7. You will now wrap the "head" of the crayfish with the chenille. I usually get about 3-4 wraps here with one in the middle, creating a bit of bulk. You want this to be somewhat of a ball shape so that the claws and eyes flare out over it a bit. Tie off the chenille but don't trim it. You will use the remainder to wrap the rest of the body.

8. Now flip the hook upside down in your vise. (I suppose if you have a rotary vise you can just rotate away). Take a bunch of Fox Squirrel and tie in your 1st claw on the side closest to you and wrap over the butts. 

9. Tie in your 2nd claw with another bunch of Fox Squirrel on the opposite side. Using a "horizontal pinch" will help keep this in place. You will see that the ball of chenille that you built up there will help flare these claws out just perfectly.

10. Basically the same step, you will now add the eyes. One at a time, near side then far side. They should ride just above the claws and extend back to just about even with the bend of the hook.

11. Wrap your thread over the butts of the squirrel and the mono stems of the eyes real well and then glue it up. I always glue here as otherwise, the claws and eyes may pull out. This fly is going to catch you a mess of fish and we want it to hold up. Your chenille is still hanging right in front of the original "ball".

12. Tie in your grizzly saddle hackle feather by the stem. You tie it in by the stem to give a semblance of taper so that the adbomen tapers as you get to the tail. You may have to play with at what point on the feather that you tie it in to give the desired bugginess and taper. 

13. Wrap the remainder of the chenille up the hook shank to just behind the eye and tie it off and trim. This forms the abdomen of the crayfish.

14. Palmer the saddle feather up the hook shank....Wooly Bugger style! Tie it off and trim just behind the eye of the hook.

15. Whip finish a few times using your fingers or whip finish tool. Throw a little cement on there if you like and you are all set!

Give it a whirl and let me know how it works for you!

Watch the Video:

Mad River Outfitters/Midwest Fly Fishing Schools

Fly Shop, Fly Fishing Guides, Hosted Fly Fishing Travel, Schools, Classes and more!

813 Bethel Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214