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Some good Crayfish Patterns & Theory

jamie shard

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....Early in the summer, the young crayfish are an inch or less long. They are usually light in color and inhabit shallow areas near cover. This time of year, I like to fish areas of current near expansive rock flats with patterns like Theo's Dream, Clouser's Crayfish, or similar small imitations. Because these crayfish are so small and light, they are occasionally swept away in the current, so fishing a #8-10 crayfish imitation in early summer is productive for trout, bass, panfish, and carp. As the summer progresses and the crayfish grow, increase the size of your imitation. Crayfish molt several times a year, and when they do, they are vulnerable. As crayfish grow, they shed their hard exoskeletons that become too small, leaving them defenseless with soft shells for a few days until their new shells harden. Because younger crayfish grow so rapidly their first year, this can happen eight or ten times a season. They also cannot swim well with a soft shell or use their claws to defend themselves against hungry predators. While they progress through this phase they are aggressively eaten by fish simply because it is less work. A crayfish full of fight with a hard shell and nasty claws takes time and energy for a fish to tackle. A molting crayfish is dinner in one gulp. A soft-shell crayfish is lighter in color than one with a hard shell, so fish patterns that are lighter in color than the crayfish you see to imitate this vulnerable stage....




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Guest rich mc

i have used small clouser darters tied by stuart . they are size 8-10 made with orange and brown calf hair with tungston eyes . the hairy fodder has a long list of success and so does the woolly buggers in orange and olive colors.

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Guest Don R



Not a fly fisherman (yet) but I did enjoy reading about our friend the crayfish. There's no doubt that smallies love 'em and now I know a little more about 'em :)


My personal choice are the Yum green pumpkin 2.5" crawfish.....but I highly suggest using something else. That way there will always be some for me at the store.


It's been a long day of sun,wind and fishing :blink:


Don R

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I was on a small stretch of the DuPage Monday and saw quite a few crayfish. The interesting thing about them was their size. They were HUGE! They had to be 4" long, the claws were probably a third of their size, and they were a light tan. Since the dark green moss has already taken hold on the bottom, these guys were easy to spot.

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I liked the input reference on the 'CRAWDAD'! I have been a long time supporter of crayfish patterns, and in LATE summer months, I use it as a 'last resort' when top water dosn't produce. The 'crawdad' has proven over and over that it should have a place in any fly fisherman's vest pack! Thanks for the info as I learned a thing or two about colors to emulate the molting crawdad...


As a side note, I have caught a few of the 'whiskered' friends while throwing the 'dads':) ...i didn't see them listed in the article....


James D.

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