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ARCHIVES: Chicone’s Detonator Crab

Drew Chicone shows how to tie his favorite crab fly for the tarpon flats.

[by Drew Chicone]

WITH THE CONCENTRIC COILS OF FLY LINE PILED NEATLY AT MY FEET, I gently grasped a loop of line and my latest fur-and-feather creation in my left hand. Slight increases in speed interrupted our smooth drift as the guide quietly poled us ahead. Poised and ready for action, I scanned the panorama of glassy, gin-clear water for any evidence of tarpon.

A tennis ball–sized crab caught my attention as it passed the boat in the water beneath my feet. My focus was immediately drawn to the vibrant shades of blues and reds that outlined its legs and claws. Guardedly, the diminutive crustacean floated out of sight, navigating with sparing movements in an effort to remain unnoticed. A confident, ticklish feeling welled up inside me as two lumbering shadows appeared in the distance. With nervous anticipation, I observed the lead tarpon gracefully gulp the crab from the surface.

Locating the hook on my fly, I pinched the delicate marabou and stiffened rabbit-strip claws in my hand, and then cast to my target. In seconds, the line became tight. Water errupted violently as the Goliath fish burst into the air as though set into motion by an explosive device. After jumping several more fish, we knew we had a winning pattern, and the Detonator Crab was born.

Like the floating crab that drifted past my feet, the Detonator Crab is designed to hover and move ever so slightly in the current. Although the materials are relatively commonplace, the tying technique and order in which they are applied give the fly its lifelike appearance and movement in the water. Tying the first few materials in place on top of each other creates a compact ball that splays the claws. This configuration causes them to kick or flare when stripped through the water. The kicking movement, along with the natural current of the water, activates the supple marabou plumes that enshroud the head and claws. The fibers are held in the forward position with a couple bunches of EP Fibers.


Drew Chicone is the author of a fine book, Feather Brain: Developing, Testing, & Improving Saltwater Fly Patterns (Stackpole Books). For more information about Drew, go to his website, www.saltyflytying.com. To view more of Derek DeYoung’s art go to www.derekdeyoung.com.