Those of you who read every inch of The Mission magazine would have seen the piece on the invasive Red Swamp Crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) in the upfront CHUM pages of issue 40. Those of you who don’t, should, because there are some very funny and informative bits and bobs in those shorter sections.

The invasive Red Swamp Crayfish (Procambarus Clarkii) is native to the southern United States and now can be found in inland waters on all continents except Australia and Antarctica. It easily reaches high densities, becomes an invasive species, and causes severe ecological and economic impacts, such as preying upon native plants and animals, and transmitting diseases to other aquatic species.
Read the report from Cape Nature by clicking here.

My brief research informs me that it was introduced in Kenya in 1966. From there it has been introduced to South Africa in 1982 and it has now made its way into the Western Cape in the Olifants River system. There it joins its compatriots the Large Mouth and Small Mouth Bass which have the genetics to feed heavily on them as they do in their native USA. I’m sure the indigenous Clanwillam Yellowfish will learn to feed on them pretty soon too. This – the smallies and clannies – is where it becomes interesting to South African fly anglers.

When I first saw the report it reminded me of a pattern I saw years ago and triggered interest because I often go bass fishing on the island of Cyprus. This same invasive kreef was introduced into Cyprus’s inland reservoirs. I had often seen dead specimens and claws on the banks so I tied a few up for my trip there.
I can’t find the original pattern but remember it being a design of a very creative Japanese fly tier. I liked the pattern because it is simple to tie, sits hook point up and looks quite realistic.

Here’s the step by step from what I remember of it based on the originals I examined and tied years ago.

1.     Hook – 1/0 to 2/0 Owner worm hook.
Red thread
Red felt sheet – The primary ass type seems to work well.
Red chenille
Red wool or similar
Tungsten dumbbell
Small plastic bead chain
Red bucktail
Copper crystal flash

  1. Tie in the tungsten dumbbell on top of the hook shank just behind the eye to flip the fly hook point up.
Swamp crayfish fly tying
Step 2:

3.     Tie in a few strands of bucktail and two strands of copper crystal flash at the bend for feelers.

Swamp crayfish fly tying
Step 3

4.     Cut a shell back out of the felt to fit the length of your hook.

Swamp crayfish fly tying
Step 4

5.     Tie the shell back in at the tip so that you’ll be able to fold it back towards the hook eye.

Step 5: Swamp crayfish fly tying
Step 5

6.     Tie in the plastic bead chain eyes just below the shellback.

Swamp crayfish fly tying
Step 6

7.     Create an underbody with the red wool. Make sure the head is thicker than the tail section. Create pincers as shown.

Swamp crayfish fly tying
Step 7

8.     Tie in the pincers just behind the bead chain eyes.

Swamp crayfish fly tying
Step 8

9.    Tie in 6 legs, 3 on either side on the head part. You can use 8 as per the reel thing and for fish that can count.

Swamp crayfish fly tying
Step 9

10.     Tie in a long piece of chenille between the legs and the tail body and wind this up to the bead chain eyes and back spacing the legs between the wraps to stand out at 45 degrees to the hook shank.

Swamp crayfish fly tying
Swamp crayfish fly tying
Step 10

11.     Tie in a piece of 10lb mono just behind the legs, this will be used to wind back to the tail to create a segmented tail body. Fold the shellback over the legs, body and tail body and tie it off just behind the dumbbell eyes.

Swamp crayfish fly tying
Step 11

12.      Wind the mono back in even turns up to the dumbbell eyes and secure it with thread to create a segmented tail body.

Step 12

13.      Cut the legs and pincers to size and burn the tips to secure the chenielle and for a more natural tapered look.

Swamp crayfish fly tying
Step 13

Even though some images show a bright red crustacean they often have darker patches which can be added with a black marker or using different colour felt..

Swamp crayfish fly tying
Various shades of swamp crayfish


  1. Theseare awesome Pla! Thanks for the SBS, these look fun as hell to tie, and the final product looks bang on!

    • Thanks Dre, they’re cool little tie and often wonder how well they’d work with adjustments as a mud prawn or maybe it should stay a crawdad! .


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