Home Fly Fishing

Whose got the old bay?

BacklashBacklash Posts: 880 Officer
Having been unsatisfied with merkin style crab imitations to imitate our main forage for permit, blue crabs, I set out to create my own blue crab fly.
Gamakatsu SL12S 1/0, rattle chamber in the abdomen, top of carapace made w/ 10oz fiberglass cloth, wet out with epoxy resin.
I'd eat em.





  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Posts: 4,631 Captain
    Great looking bugs... but remember a crab pattern not only has to look like a crab - it has to swim or dive like a crab or it won't get much attention.... That's why the Merkin is so popular - not because it looks like a crab, but because it dives like a crab....
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
  • Permit RatPermit Rat Posts: 2,283 Captain
    lemaymiami wrote: »
    Great looking bugs... but remember a crab pattern not only has to look like a crab - it has to swim or dive like a crab or it won't get much attention.... That's why the Merkin is so popular - not because it looks like a crab, but because it dives like a crab....

    Ditto to what Bob said. That pattern is more lifelike, so maybe it would be effective on the retrieve, if crawled along the bottom. Use the hand-twist retrieve for more uniform movement of the fly and less "jerkiness" (from stripping), which is something an unsuspecting crab doesn't do.
  • BacklashBacklash Posts: 880 Officer
    Yes, absolutely.. I nailed the behavioral aspect of it prior to tweaking the appearance of it. I went through 6 prototypes which were the same premise, but looked not nearly as blue crabby. I have one permit caught on one of the prototypes, so I'm thinking the increased realism is not going to hinder the effectiveness.
    It sinks totally level, with the claws out and upward in a defensive position. The hackle that represents the swimmers even swims.. The legs move a bit on the sink as well. But the claws going up defensively, that's the deal sealer to me. It definitely makes you do a double take in the water.
    It does crawl sideways across the bottom very convincingly, but I had no intention of fishing it that way. Need to add weedguards if I do that..
  • saltybumsaltybum Posts: 1,670 Captain
    So how do you fish it if it doesn't get nailed while sinking?

    An SBS would be nice for that crab too!
  • BacklashBacklash Posts: 880 Officer
    Idk Salty... I'm hoping it always gets popped on the initial sinking presentation.
    I created the pattern specifically for a 'secret spot' where I discovered big permit come up in skinny water to feed when the tide lets them.
    The area is full up of blue crabs, mostly adult crabs. When the perms get in there hey start feeding with reckless abandon, they get in their sides like flounder to access the shallow waters, then stop suddenly and they're tailing with 1/2 their bodies out of the water. I've seen them eating crabs most guys would consider too large for tarpon bait, more sized for human consumption... So yeah, the point is that when they are in there, they are fired up and jump on baits... So I designed the pattern to seal the deal on the sink...
    But you guys all bring up a good point, when they don't eat, then what?
    I need to add weed guards. It'll fish great on the bottom, but not with the exposed hook.
  • BacklashBacklash Posts: 880 Officer
    Does anyone think that a "hook up" position would benefit this pattern?..
    I'm thinking in terms of the crawling retrieve... But I think it'll effect how it sinks.
  • saltybumsaltybum Posts: 1,670 Captain
    Make one hook up and send it me and I'll test it for you on redfish.
  • Permit RatPermit Rat Posts: 2,283 Captain
    Backlash wrote: »
    Having been unsatisfied with merkin style crab imitations to imitate our main forage for permit, blue crabs, I set out to create my own blue crab fly.
    Gamakatsu SL12S 1/0, rattle chamber in the abdomen, top of carapace made w/ 10oz fiberglass cloth, wet out with epoxy resin.
    I'd eat em.

    I'm late to this party......you're in the Upper Keys, so I don't know......but in the Lower Keys, you'll probably find that there are far more spider crabs in a permit's stomach, than blue crabs. That's why my Rat more imitates a spider crab than anything else, plus, it can be crawled over the bottom a little more "believably," if you know what I mean. In addition, in the wild, they're a lot easier for permit to catch!

    FYI, periwinkles and/or hermit crabs were also prevalent. Blue crab carcasses were pretty scarce.....BUT...as we all know, permit are wild creatures and therefore have to be opportunists and take what they get, when they can, sooooo.......

    Edit: I would think that a "hook-up" position on a fly would be preferred for any species with a inferior mouth, like permit, bonefish, redfish and all the drums/whiting, etc.
  • BacklashBacklash Posts: 880 Officer
    I've been bogged down the last week with folks visiting from Montana. The skiff was pulling tour boat, reef trip, and snorkel boat duties...

    Alright Salty, lemme get a chance to get back on the vice and I will.
    PM me an address..

    Rick, what do you mean by a spider crab? You mean the ugly channel clinging crab? That's the only thing I've heard referred to as a "spider crab" round these parts for the last 20+ years.. But those things are big.

    I do believe we have a much more concentrated blue crab population up here, with the freshwater influx.
    The particular areas I'm targeting the perms in, they are loaded up with blue crabs. Areas where freshwater creeks are emptying into mangrove/grass lagoons. That's what the permit are eating. I've observed it for over an hour, a few different times (My wife and daughter love to go in these areas with long handled dip nets, and free-net big blues for garlic crab dinners over a newspaper tablecloth).

    So, like I said earlier, I've already bagged one perm on one of the prototype flies. It has the same design with the hackle legs & claws, but didn't look nearly as realistic. That fish was hooked neatly in the corner of the mouth, and ate the fly immediately upon presentation.
    I'll try a few hook up-oriented, but I think it's going to screw up the sinking presentation. The bottom crawl on my current pattern is very, very convincing, but the exposed hook is obviously an issue.
    The pattern is not weighted, per se. The only weight is the hook, the rattle, and all the epoxy resin that wet out the 10oz fiberglass cloth, and the underlying dubbing. It sinks beautifully, and makes a very natural sound when it hits the water, much quieter than heavily weighted patterns.
    I'm pretty stoked about it.. I wish I had more time to go after them..
    I'd love to see a pic of your pattern Rick.
  • Permit RatPermit Rat Posts: 2,283 Captain
    Here are some small spider crabs......can't believe you haven't seen them on hard rocky bottom. I have snorkeled all my permit flats at one time or another. BTW, these would also include the arrow crabs and decorator crabs. I don't think the permit care.

    I apologize for the conditions of my Rats....they were in my box for years (decades!) and both flies have already taken a permit. I don't have any new ones handy. Since 1985-86, until 1991, ALL of my flats caught permit (about 2 dozen) have fallen to the Rat. On several days I have caught 2 and once I caught 3. My avatar is the second of 3 permit caught that day.
  • Permit RatPermit Rat Posts: 2,283 Captain
    Note that a head is almost non-existent. This is the problem that everyone has encountered when trying to duplicate the fly.....their (fly) heads are way too big. I don't know if it matters or not, but after catching several fish on the pattern, I didn't want to mess with success.

    Also note that the material does not extend much beyond the bend of the hook. Permit have seemed to "nip" at spider crabs, grabbing them by one leg and getting them off the bottom before inhaling the thing. I don't know this for sure, but earlier flies, like Ragland's Puff, I believe garnered a few short takes.
  • BacklashBacklash Posts: 880 Officer
    Thanks Rick, for going into detail there.
    I have seen them on some of the OS flats around Pennekamp, which do hold permit... but never that small, which probably means I just plain ol' didn't see them. I can see where your fly would defiantly get it done when they're (permit) looking for those guys.

    Here's a GoogEarth snapshot of an area typical of where I tied up my blue crab for:

    It's all thick, lush turtle grass bottom. You can see the freshwater creek run offs. The prop scars are from commercial blue crabbers going into the shallows for years. These places are loaded up with blue crabs. The permit wait on the edges (can't see them out there) for the tide. Then they flood the flat (sometimes on their sides) and jump on big blue crabs.
    It's more like fishing tailing bonefish, but they're pretty fired up and very aggressive at times.

    I was supposed to go today and give it a whirl. But a clients new mahogany bartop and spraying gloss clear coat on it took precedence.
    Someday :(
  • BacklashBacklash Posts: 880 Officer
  • REDFINREDFIN Posts: 73 Deckhand
    Like !! :fishing
  • Permit RatPermit Rat Posts: 2,283 Captain
    Backlash wrote: »
    Ragland... He ran a Sidewinder skiff too right Rick?

    Yes he did for a while, but not a Shipoke....his was more like Huff's and Lee Baker's skiffs. (in fact, his might have been one of Lee's old boats, but don't know for sure) He then traded it in for a super skiff. I remember I almost ran him down, on the west side of the Marquesas, one early AM, as the sun was just clearing the tops of the mangroves and was in my eyes. We're talking 35 mph. and my boat came to rest about 15 feet from his! That Super skiff was dark blue and you absolutely could not see it against the dark mangroves with the sun in your face. I apologized profusely and being Nat, we then had a laugh over it, while his clients changed their underwear.
  • BacklashBacklash Posts: 880 Officer
    Yeah, his was part of the same order of 12, 1978 hulls from Canada as my Sidewinder was (original Carl Navaree's fished by George Hommel).
    The crabs are now out of my spots, and the permit are on the Ocean Side.. Oh well, at lease I had a blast in RMNP for a while
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