The Shape of the Fly Is Also Important

The silhouette of the fly is the next important factor when designing a crawdad imitation. Many crawdad flies are tied with the claws extended to the sides in a defensive position. This might be correct for a stationary crawdad, but when a crawdad is drifting or even fleeing, which is how the bass often see them, their claws are folded together and trailing behind their bodies. Also, flies tied with the claws placed out from their bodies have a tendency to spin during casting or retrieving; these patterns look very unnatural in the water, and will twist and tangle your leader.

The fleeing action of the fly will trigger strikes even from non-feeding fish. Don’t believe me? Just play with a cat using a toy on a string. Jiggle the toy and pull it away slowly, and the cat might act bored, but whiz it by him, and he’ll pounce in a blink of an eye. That is nature’s predatory response in action.

Our Fly Grows Appendages
Adding Legs to Our Crawdad

Smallmouth bass–fishing guru Tim Holschlage preaches about including important triggering stimuli in a fly. That includes using bits of bright and unnatural colors in the pattern to make it stand out from the real bait. How many chartreuse-and-white zebras have you seen in the wild? Stand out from the crowd with predators around, and your days are numbered. Adding touches of fluorescent color in the legs or claws of your pattern will help distinguish the fly from the many real crawdads in the area. Color can also accentuate the motion of the fly and make it look like it is moving more than it really is. This means that you do not have to strip the fly as fast to make it appear to be moving quickly, thus keeping it in the strike zone longer.

The author is a pro at designing bass flies, and using them to catch fish!

I was a river rat for smallmouths when I lived up north, and now I’m hooked on shoal bass in Georgia. Crawdad imitations have always been first on my list of go-to flies. On many fishing websites, I go by the screen name of crawdadcraig; this is because I have developed an affinity for designing crawdad patterns, and I am always looking for a better mousetrap—or crawdad imitation.

I think that the Crawdad Craig has all the right pieces. I have used this pattern to catch trophy smallmouth, spotted, and shoal bass, plus plenty of large carp and brown trout. If you’re hunting for big river fish, tie Crawdad Craigs. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Finishing the Crawdad Craig

Craig Riendeau, who lives in Georgia, is a top fly fishing bass guide. He is also a top-flight pattern designer; his flies always catch fish. To learn more, and to purchase the Riendeau Ringers mentioned in this article, go to his website,

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