A Fly Fishing Magazine Unlike Any Other
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photo courtesy of Dun Magazine

This crab pattern, created by Del Brown, has probably accounted for more fly caught permit than any other pattern.  This is not a realistic crab pattern, but acts more like a real crab compared to other patterns.  This fly can be a little time consuming to tie at first, but the techniques are not complicated.  This fly has launched a tying style appropriately called “Merkin” and can be applied to many other materials.  There is a little art to shaping the body of the fly.  The shape should resemble a rounded teardrop.


Hook: TMC 811S 1/0 - #6
Thread: Chartreuse flat waxed nylon
Weight: Plated lead eyes
Tail: Brown barred neck hackle
Flash: Pearl Flashabou
Body: Tan craft yarn
Legs: Square white rubber legs
Garnish: Red permanent marker


First - Attach the thread near the hook eye, and lay down a thread base. Return the thread to two eye lengths from the hook eye and attach the eyes.

Next - Move the thread back to the hook point and prepare four neck hackle feathers, matching them by length and width and removing the webbie feathers. The prepped feathers should be just slightly longer than the shank of the hook.

Next - Take 2 of the feathers and set them one on top of another. Attach these 2 feathers to the far side of the hook with the curve facing away. Take the remaining 2 feathers and set them on top of each other and mount them on the near side of the hook with the curve facing you. This will create a ‘reverse prayer’ shape to the tail.

Next - Attach three strands of Flashabou by folding them over your thread and tying them in on the top of the shank at the front of the tail. Trim the flash in irregular lengths slightly longer than the tail.

Next - Cut several pieces of craft yarn to a length of 2 inches. Tie in the first piece at the base of the tail with the material sitting on the top of and perpendicular to the hook shank. Use x-wraps to secure the yarn.

Next - Repeat this above step with each bunch touching the last to just behind the eyes.

Next - Build a smooth head in front of the lead eyes and whip finish.

Next - Take the fly out of the vise to trim. Press the yarn between your thumb and index finger and make the first cut up from the edge of the lead eyes towards the tail making a wedge. A curved set of scissor can be handy. Repeat on the other side. Make sure the back end is rounded towards the tail.

Next - Place the fly back in the vise with the point up. Stretch a piece of rubber leg material across the bottom of the fly between the yarn strand. Wrap the rubber leg tightly around the hook shank and tie a square knot in the leg to secure it to the shank. Make sure you don’t trap any of the fibers. Start at the hook bend and evenly space rubber legs up the hook shank.

Last - Color a wide red band on the rubber legs, stretching the legs as you apply the marker. Trim the legs so the tips are red. Coat the thread body with a thin super glue to hold the legs in place and make the fly much more durable.

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