Crab Zoea Larvae © Dennis Gamboa

LOOKING FOR AN EARLY SEASON PATTERN for chasing sea runs and coho? My go to fly is no other than the Crab Larvae.

Crab Zoea Larvae

One of the very first larvae fly patterns that I was introduced to was by local resident Andrew Redmont, a master angler and innovative tyer well respected in our fishing community. His original crab larvae pattern was not only simple, but also the most productive fly I have come across for hooking west coast fish.

I have been tying this pattern commercially for close to a decade now and this design is far by the best pattern for early and late season Cutthroat and Coho. The basic foundation of this fly can be tied in numerous colours with orange being the most productive of the many color schemes I have played with. Though the very first runs of this fly were tied with popular fluorescent orange liquid/larvae lace, Lagartun’s new Flatbraid proves to be an even better substitute for forming the body of the fly.

Crab Life Cycle

Dungenous crab flourish along the entire west coast of North America, from Alaska to Mexico. The female crab can lay up to 2 million eggs depending on their size and location. Larvae patterns are an ideal go to fly because the eggs hatch late winter/early spring depending on water temperature and region. The larvae emerge first into the water as prezoeae, but molt quickly (within one hour) to the first zoea stage. For 4 months these spined zoea are distributed by ocean currents. They migrate offshore and alongshore during late winter and the winter-to-spring transition period seeking out appropriate habitats for settlement such as inshore intertidal and subtidal areas, which are often estuaries with freshwater entry.

Crab Larvae

Patterns should have thin long or spherical bodies to imitate the carapace. Deep water imitations are best weighted with Tungsten shrimp bodies which will mimic the prominent vertical outgrowth on the back. Various kinds of ribbing material can be used for segmentation, from flat tinsels, v-rib and spanflex (superfloss). This pattern works best when tied with very sparse wings. Polar bear was the original, but Faux bucktail and Snowrunner fibre are also very effective because of their translucent like properties.

Soft grizzly webby hackles are best to mimic the tail/legs and the collar is also kept to 1 – 2 wraps. Dyed speckled hen saddles are also a good substitute when grizzly saddles are limited. Antennae/spines are kept long, extending at least 2 – 3 inches past the hook bend.

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Crab Larvae ~ Classic Orange originated by Andrew Redmont

  • Hook: TMC 8089, Mustad C47sd or Umpqua U 401 sizes 4 – 8
  • Thread: Danville 6/0 Fluorescent Orange
  • Tail: Orange grizzly saddle
  • Body: Large gold holographic tinsel
  • Rib: Fluorescent Orange liquid lace or larvae lace
  • Wing: Sparse white polar bear and one strand of orange Krystal flash ‘V’ out over the top
  • Collar: Soft orange grizzly hackle
  • Head: 2 ton epoxy or UV resin

This is only one of his many versions that he uses.  Andrew Redmont is also a Fly Fishing and Fly Tying Instructor at Sea Run Fly & Tackle.

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Crab Larvae ~ Orange – redressed by Dennis Gamboa 

  • Hook: Partridge Attitude Extra or Sea Prince 4 – 8
  • Thread: Danville 6/0 Fluorescent Orange
  • Tail: Orange grizzly saddle
  • Body: Lagartun orange Flatbraid
  • Rib: Gold holographic tinsel
  • Wing: Sparse white polar bear and one strand of orange Krystal flash ‘V’ out over the top
  • Collar: Soft orange grizzly hackle
  • Head: 2 ton epoxy or UV resin

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Crab Larvae ~ Chartreuse

  • Hook: Partridge Attitude Extra or Sea Prince 4 – 8
  • Thread: Lagartun 95 D chartreuse
  • Tail: Chartreuse grizzly saddle
  • Body: Lagartun chartreuse Flatbraid
  • Rib: Small silver holographic tinsel
  • Wing: Sparse white polar bear and one strand of chartreuse Krystal flash ‘V’ out over the top
  • Collar: Soft chartreuse grizzly hackle
  • Head: 2 ton epoxy or UV resin

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Crab Larvae ~ Pink

  • Hook: Partridge Attitude Extra or Sea Prince 4 – 8
  • Thread: Danville 6/0 Fuchsia
  • Tail: Pink grizzly saddle
  • Body: Lagartun Pearl Mini Flatbraid
  • Rib: Fuchsia or pink super floss or spanflex
  • Wing: Sparse white polar bear and one strand of fuchsia Krystal flash ‘V’ out over the top
  • Collar: Soft pink grizzly hackle
  • Head: 2 ton epoxy or UV resin

Crab larvae custom sizes available at Sea-Run Fly & Tackle.

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For more information on our Dungenous Crab visit the British Columbia Fisheries & Oceans web site.

Fly Tying Classes by Andrew Redmont and Dennis Gamboa are available throughout the season at Sea-Run Fly & Tackle.

Dennis Gamboa
Partridge PRO-Team
Lagartun PRO-Staff
Flymen Fishing CO/CFT
The Fly Box
dgamboa@shaw.ca

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