Skip to content

It’s Cray — The November Bug of the Month

When we were considering what “bug” to name as our November Bug of the Month, we tossed around some different ideas. Bigger meal choices came to mind, November being the month for big meals and all. We finally landed on the Crayfish (aka Crawfish, aka as Crawdad) as our Bug of the Month.

The 4-1-1 on the Crayfish

Technically speaking, crayfish are freshwater relatives to shrimp and lobsters. They are most often found on the beds of rivers and streams or swimming in short bursts. Since they aren’t particularly great swimmers, they prefer to stay deep and near cover where they are difficult for fish to find.

Crayfish are predatory scavengers and will eat almost anything that is organic. Where logs and stumps are present, anglers are likely to find these freshwater crustaceans.

Crayfish range in color from a mottled brown, to olive, and to a reddish brown. Fly patterns should mimic this color range. Anglers should turn over rocks or seine the river to check for size and color of these crustaceans.

How to Fish It

Some great tips — including Euro nymphing techniques — for fishing crayfish imitations.

Anglers can present this pattern in different ways.  The keys to an effective presentation is to get the pattern to the bottom, get a good dead drift, and be ready for a strike anywhere through the drift!

When fishing runs and riffles, cast across slightly upstream and strip the pattern back to you with the pattern in the shallows. Crayfish typically are not strong enough to swim upstream, so when they do try, their swimming is in short bursts – and for brief attempts.

Make sure the fly is bumping the bottom. 

Another technique is to cast cross current, make an upstream and let the fly sink. The current will drag the line and crayfish imitation downstream. At the end of the drift, when the pattern swings up in the shallower water, give the pattern some twitches and strips. The takes on the swing can be very aggressive.

One thing that anglers should keep in mind is that when crayfish are threatened or startled, they try to scurry away. If the threat persists, they turn and try to dart away with hard tail thrusts and their pinchers raised in a defensive position. Imitating this darting motion with quick strips can get aggressive strikes.

How to Tie Crayfish Imitations

Hans Mylant takes us through steps to whip up the Stanky Leg. (Never in ten years of blog writing for Angler’s Covey did I foresee writing that sentence!)

A brown Wooly Bugger has been a great imitation of a fleeing crayfish. This classic pattern remains one of the top choices.

The Clouser Crayfish is another go-to pattern.

Watch This Space

Coming up, we will have videos on tips and techniques for fishing the crayfish imitations. And Hans Mylant will be tying up some productive patterns for our local tailwaters.

New to fly tying? Take our Fly Tying 101 class offered throughout the next few months! Want to hone your tying skills? Check out our Fly Tying 201 class. Want to just hang out with other tyers for a couple hours? Join us on Wednesday night, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., as set up our vises, share some stories, and spin some patterns with a small group of tyers on Open Fly Tying Night.


  1. Jim Mann on November 9, 2022 at 11:17 am

    The biggest mistake that I see anglers making when fishing a crawdad pattern is they are constantly stripping the fly (common issue with all streamers). Bringing the fly to a COMPLETE stop on the bottom should be part of the presentation. Often the trout picks up the fly off the bottom or when it is popped on the bottom… work it 🙂

    • Vince Puzick on November 10, 2022 at 6:53 am

      Great point, Jim. They scuttle along the bottom — anglers may lose a few patterns in the rocks when they are working it correctly.

  2. David Jaroscak on December 7, 2022 at 9:46 am

    It seems to me that the Clouser Crayfish that is tied in the youtube video should be tied inverted (hook up). The idea of a crayfish pattern is that they pend most of their time on the bottom in dead drift or retrieving along the bottom in short bursts. In either case, having that hook barb down as in the video would equal just one cast before snagging it on a rock or branch.

Leave a Comment