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Crawdads: Trout love em’ and we love em’

Freshwater crayfish, known by dozens of different scientific names, can be found worldwide (600 species), and trout love em’ 

By Skip Clement and video by Peter Collin

A crayfish from a North Carolina stream – photo by Crystal Cockman University of North Carolina.

Many great anglers of the fly will be quick to point out that trouts prefer eating pencil eraser size fast food – something like 70% of the time. Nymph awhile and you’ll agree.

Yes, all would agree, but tuna toast-point sandwiches are always on the table and plate size filet mignon is not always on the table. You’d have to admit, given your druthers as a carnivore you’d prefer the steak. However, they’re just not as plentiful as big decimal points on toast.

However, I can remember seeing more than many crayfish in Western Pennsylvania streams during my 30 years of fishing there. In some waters, you could pick a pail full from a 5-foot circle. They were not Tasmania size of 13-pounds Astacopsis gouldi (record) by any measure, only pinky finger size – some bigger and some smaller.

NOTE:Worldwide, freshwater crayfishes are a diverse group of decapod crustaceans/Decapoda, phylum Arthropoda. There are many scientific names, but trout don’t know that. For example, the predominant freshwater crayfish in the Southern Hemisphere is scientifically referred to as Samastacus spinifrons.

Without prejudice

If a trout were introduced to New Zealand from Idaho or vice versa, either would recognize and attack ANYTHING that looks like and swims like Astacidea. Why? It’s a high protein food source, and riverine piscados know that their calories burned are always replaced and added to manifoldly if they eat that “thing.”

Tying and excuses

Fly tyers like me, without the professional skill of tying exactly, without the patience of tying exactly, without the resources to obtain exotic furs to tie exactly can easily slip into the belief that fish don’t care about “exactly.” Too, that folks like me, unable to tie like a pro are quick to say that some pros tie a fly for its appeal to them.

Well, none of those points mentioned above is worth teething about

There are a lot of things about a crayfish fly that make it fail and that make it work. For example, things can go wrong if you can’t cast worth a diddle, you’re at the wrong address, or don’t know how to swim it. In any one of those scenarios, you’ve shortchanged yourself. Horrors to admit, but you may have tied a fly as unattractive to a trout as an Andy Warhol Campbell’s Tomato Soup can would be?

As simple as you can get and as potent as need be. Peter Collin’s crayfish.

Time for a Blessing

With some remaining rubber on my tires, it’s shareable without hesitation that looks like will work just fine. My only needed lesson there was stumbling onto the Wolly Bugger in the late 60s when on a business trip that brought me to Harrisburg, PA. There, fishing in a stream someone locally recommended, I chanced upon an author of a now-famous fly, respectively Russ Blessing and Woolly Bugger. Of course, I didn’t know he and the fly would become famous, but neither did he.

He gave me an Olive Wooly Bugger to try, and it caught trout when I had not been catching trout. Decades later, I learned to tie the Wooly with all its possibilities.

BTW, Blessing out-fished me two to one, at least. He was a better fisherman, and that truth is now and again more than we like to admit.

What is it?

The Woolly Bugger fly itself does not look like anything found in a coldwater fishery of the riverine type, but it apparently looks like a lot of things, especially to pescados like Oncorhynchus mykiss. I never leave home without a dozen.

There are a gazillion vids on tying the crayfish, I look for the easy way out, always. This Collin version ties fast. You can substitute legs used in the vid with ultra chenille, a trick learned from Ruben Martin: Tie an overhand knot to represent a joint and burn the end to a darkened point. You can even tie the legs in whenever. Too, mono ribbing could be on your substitute list, as well.

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