J. Stockard Pro Tyer: Tim Morales, Caladonia MI

Well, with spring break behind us and vacation season right around the corner, here’s one for all of you heading to warm and sunny tropical destinations.

Ever since I started tying, I’ve been mesmerized by realistic flies. The problem is, a great many of them are very tedious to tie and just way too time consuming to fill a box. On my travels to Denmark I came across a wide variety of realistic shrimp patterns that were overall not terribly time consuming to recreate and looked stunning both in the vise and in the water.

Since then, I have tinkered with my own realistic patterns. Some of my ideas have worked while many have not. With fishable realistic flies, the key for me is to bring about just enough realism while still making them practical and quick enough to produce. While I found a great many realistic shrimp patterns, I really couldn’t find many realistic crab flies. So, my project began to create a fishable realistic crab.

All in all, I feel that this pattern satisfies my desire for a realistic fly that is still fairly simple to tie. I hope you all enjoy this tie as much as I do.

Thread: 8/0 white
Eyes: Easy Shrimp Eyes
Legs and Claws: Kiley’s Exo Skin
For my own crab I am using a size 6 Ahrex NS156 Traditional Shrimp hook
1. Before I even put the hook in the vise, I prep my legs and claws by knotting them to create joints. Cut the exo skin into thin strips about an one and a half inches long. You will need six legs and two claws per fly. For the legs, trim the tip to a thin point. Claws will have a “v” shaped section cut out of one end. Once you have your strips of exo skin cut, begin to knot them in whatever way works best for you. I personally use a pair of needle-nose tweezers. Legs will have two joints and claws will only need one. You will also need a shell back. For this, I usually cut the exo skin into a sort of football shape but you can use pretty much any shape that you like. The shell should be slightly larger than a quarter
2. From here you may place your hook in the vise. Begin by applying a small thread base and then attach your dumbell to the top of the hook with tight figure eight wraps and then apply a small bit of liquid superglue to secure.
3. Now invert your hook so that the point is on top. Wrap your thread just slightly onto the bend. From here apply a small ball of dubbing and then place your eyes on top of the hook. Secure them with some nice firm wraps. After tying down the eyes, apply another small ball of dubbing.
4. Now take your two claws and tie them down one at a time to either side of the hook. It is okay if they fold towards the eye slightly since you will apply another ball of dubbing that will force them to stay pointed back. Make sure to tie down tight and trim close.
5. As previously stated, apply another ball of dubbing after securing your claws. At this point it gets pretty straight forward. Tie down a set of legs on each side of the hook followed by another ball of dubbing until you get to the hook eye.
6. At this point, take some superglue gel and apply a small amount to the top of the fly(be aware the top of the fly is technically the bottom side of the hook since you want it to ride hook point up). You want the superglue to run the length of the body. Now press your shell back firmly into place and hold it there for about 10 to 15 seconds until the glue sets.
I hope you all whip up some sweet-looking crabs in the following weeks. Please feel free to tag me on instagram @t1mb3an
Have a fantastic May!


  1. Very nice. Clever, simple and it looks good. I too play around with ways to tie without committing two vise-hours to every fly, and simple methods of keeping the hook point up…as you may have seen and as you’ll see again in an upcoming article. I like the look of this crab and I think it could work well for surf perch, stripers in the surf, & other saltwater gamefish. I have a bunch of pink packing foam that’s used where I work which looks identical to what you’re using here, and I think some thin pieces of that (squished out so all the air is out of it) might even work for the shell and leg slivers…gonna try it! Thanks Tim, nice pattern.

    – Mike

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