Norman's Crab

bastard crab

This is my latest version of Norman's Crab, which first appeared in my book Fly Fisherman's Guide to Saltwater Prey. I simplififed the original Norma's Crab a bit by removing the grizzly hackle claws and tying in the legs all at once rather than one at a time. The pattern is extremely effective on bonefish in many different habitats. The fly has many good characteristics.

  1. It is a quick and easy tie that requires only a few materials. You can easily tie a bunch of flies in preparation for a trip.
  2. It lands softly, so is a great pattern for tailing bonefish or bonefish in skinny water that are not tailing.
  3. The materials move all on their own, so the angler doesn't need to give a lot of action to the fly. The rabbit body undulats with the least bit of water movement, as do the sili legs. Simply slow stripping enough to keep a tight line so you can feel the fish pick up the fly is all that is needed.
  4. Merely changing the colors of the materials makes this fly equally effective on light and dark colored bottoms.
  5. The fly can easily be sized up or down, but the size 4 version is eaten aggressively by all sizes of bonefish, so that is the size I typically tie. I'm more likely to change the size or weight of the eyes for different water depths than tie this pattern on different hook sizes.

I tie this pattern in dark tan or brown (shown) for dark colored bottoms and light tan for light colored bottoms.


Hook: Mustad 34007, size 4
Thread: Pink Danville flat waxed nylon
Eyes (weight): Medium stainless steel beadchain (use heavier eyes for deeper water)
Body: Light tan, dark tan, or brown zonker strip (color to match bottom)
Legs: Sililegs. Sand with Orange and Black flake for light colored bottoms; Barred Orange with Orange and Black flake for dark colored bottoms
Weed guard (optional): 30 pound mono


  1. Tie in the beadchain eyes on the side of the hook shank opposite the hook point.
  2. Move the thread to mid chank and tie in the Sililegs on the hook point side of the shank. I tie the legs in all at once using a figure-eight wrap so that they splay upwrads in all directions.
  3. Moce the thread to the hook eye and tie in a piece of zonker strip. The zonker strip should be long enough to extend to just short of the hook point. Tie in the zonker strip so the fur is laying back toward the hook point.