Hackle Crab

bastard crab

The Hackle Crab is a fantastic fly for tailing bonefish. It lands lightly, the hackle causes the fly to drop slowly, and the hackle and legs give life to the fly with minimal action from the angler.

This fly was featured in Fly Fisherman's Guide to Saltwater Prey, but since the book was published I've started tying the fly in tan and light brown, which has proven effective for tailing bonefish.

Recipe

Hook: Mustad 34007, size 4 or 6
Thread: Danville flat waxed nylon, color to match the hackle
Weight: Medium (size 4 hook) or small (size 6 hook) stainless steel beadchain
Eyes: Burned 40 pound monofilament
Body: Tan (light colored bottom), brown (dark colored bottom), or green (seagrass bottom) hackle.
Legs: Sililegs. Sand with Orange and Black flake for light colored bottoms; Barred Orange with Orange and Black flake for dark colored bottoms; green with black barring for seagrass bottom.
Weed guard (optional): 30 pound mono

Instructions

  1. Tie in the beadchain eyes in front of the hook eye, on the side of the shank opposite the hook point.
  2. Move the thread to the hook bend.
  3. Tie in the burned mono eyes.
  4. Tie in the hackle.
  5. Move the thread to the middle of the hook shank and tie in the legs.
  6. Move the thread to the hook eye.
  7. Palmer the hackle around the hook shank. Be sure to make a couple figure-eight wraps around the beadchain eyes. This helps to soften the splashdown of the fly.
  8. Tie off at the hook eye.
  9. Trim the hackle flat on the side of the shank opposite the hook point.