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The Cassius Cray


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This is a cray recipe that I concocted about three years ago looking for a cray pattern that was hook up, used simple materials, and relatively easy to tie.

Its unique characteristic is that it mimics the crayfishs defensive fighting posture when threatened.

This fly is proven on smallies and trout, and even a carp. Not necessarily a searching pattern, I love throwing it as a changeup to likely holes in fall, after hits on other flies have slowed, or into the head of a spillway or fall under one or two indicators. This fly consistently lands my largest fish of the season.

This fly is NOT difficult. Try it. The only tricky parts are splitting the squirrel tail at the hook bend, and working with three loose material at the middle of the fly. Freely sub material you have for those I list. Grey squirrel tail, for example, works just fine.

 

Hook: Streamer 4x long size 2-6

Thread: 6/0

Weight: dumbell eyes

Claws: Squirrel tail

Prop Legs: Very stiff, heavy mono, at least 40# test.

Shellback: Swiss straw

Legs: Webby hen hackle

Body: chenille

 

Tie in the eyes on top, near the hook eye and then flip the hook over, as in a clouser.

Now tie in the squirrel tail clump at the hook bend and divide it evenly as if tying a Wulff wing.

Next tie in the mono legs on either side of the fly.

The swiss straw goes on next followed by the hen feather and the chenille.

Move the thread to the middle of the hook.

Wind the chenille to the thread, wrap the thread to secure the chenille and continue wrapping the chenille to the hook eye. Let it hang from a hackle plier.

Now wind the hen feather to the mid point and tie it off.

Stroke the barbules to the sides and bring the swiss straw over top tying it down at the midpoint to make the cephalothorax.

Wrap the thread over the swiss straw to make the segments of the tail as you bring the thread to the hook eye.

Tie off the chenille and straw at the eye.

Trim the swiss straw longish, whip finish, glue and spread the tail. Trim if necessary.

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"Is this the one you were tying at the Urbana Library get-together? I didn't get a good look at it then, but the finished product looked good from across the table."

 

Yep. And very much looking forward to tying some more in Blooomington this Sunday for everyone to check out and try. Also, I'm including some in the fly pack I'm donating for the Blowout auction.

 

Also, thanks for the compliments folks.

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Ben,

 

Thanks again for this one. I am going to make some craws based on your design using furry foam instead of the straw and some of Terry Dodge's copper flashy stuff instead of the hen hackle. I have a question about those mono legs. Between them and the dumbell eyes, does the craw maintain that nice standing position in the water? I have another idea how to get the effect by tying the mono like sled runners.

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Ben,

 

Thanks again for this one. I am going to make some craws based on your design using furry foam instead of the straw and some of Terry Dodge's copper flashy stuff instead of the hen hackle. I have a question about those mono legs. Between them and the dumbell eyes, does the craw maintain that nice standing position in the water? I have another idea how to get the effect by tying the mono like sled runners.

It does maintain that standing position - which is the main aim of the fly. It can also be done by subbing rooster hackle for, or along with, the hen hackle. The runners would work for sure and you could probably get away with much thinner stuff than 40#.

Originally I used just the hen w/out any mono props, and they worked fairly well but the fly was prone to lilting in the water, or rolling over with some current.

I've never worked with furry foam, but be careful of adding too much bouyancy to the fly. You want it to get down without being a chuck-and-duck rig, and the claws and webby legs do create a good amount of surface area and subsequent drag as the fly drops through the water column.

Let me know how things come out.

I think there are some streamlined versions of this recipe that would be effective for when you need some crays and need 'em quick. They would be more impressionistic You could probably do the whole body with cactus chenille and an unsegmented shellback pulled over the whole thing, or perhaps none at all- at which point you begin making some variations of a tube-fly-which I am getting into lately. I am also experimenting with mohair yarn as a body material. It creates a great 'halo' effect and makes knockout wollybuggers but is generally underutilized.

The keys, I think, are the squirrel tail claws (note the contrast produced by the barring and light tips)and the dumbells.

Anyway, speed was a design criteria of this recipe-and while not a 5 minute fly, it's not 15 either. Its hard to sink a lot of time into a fly whose job it is to scratch along a rocky river bottom. That, I think, is the great paradox of the crayfish fly period.

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Ben, I simply uploaded your posted photo to Photobucket.com, resized it to "large", something like 400 x 600 pix and then re-posted. I'm sure your SLR has an adjustable resolution or you can play with it using any number of photo editing software.

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