Crazy Dad Fly Pattern
By Todd Moncrief
- Hook: TMC 200R #4-#8
- Thread: 6/0 or 140d, color to match
- Eyes/Weight: Brass Hourglass Eyes, med through x-small
- Body: Sparkle Leech Dubbing or Wapsi Crawdub
- Legs: Sili Legs
- Wing: Bucktail, kiptail, or deer hair
Tools: The only uncommon tool used here is the Dyna-King Dubbing Whirl. You can get by without one, but your flies will not look as good nor fish as well, and the Crazy Dad will not be as easy to tie as advertised, which is one of its strong suits. A true rotary vise is also very helpful.
Notes: I’ll cover the most effective colors further below, but for the photos I’ve used Pumpkin Sparkle Leech Dubbing, Camel/Orange Fire Tip Sili Legs, brown kiptail, and camel Uni-Thread.
The Crazy Dad is our most popular (read: best-selling) smallmouth fly and one of the most requested patterns for impromptu tying tutorials at the shop, so it’s only natural that it debuts what will hopefully be a regular series of online tutorials. What makes the Crazy Dad such a great fly? It’s easy to tie for tyers and inexpensive for buyers. It sinks quickly but is easy to cast, and rides hook-up for no snags. It wiggles and breathes, comes in many different colors, and is very durable. And it catches fish!
Smash the barb and place the hook in the vise right-side up. Cover the first quarter-inch of hook with thread and tie in the hourglass eyes on top of the shank with criss-cross and figure-eight wraps. Leave a hook-eye length space in front of the hourglass eyes. Soak thread wraps with Zap-a-Gap.
Continue the thread down the shank to just above the barb. Wrap a medium-sized clump of dubbing right at that point to make a ball. This will keep the legs spread and, if you pick a bit of dubbing out, imitate the mouth parts of a crayfish.
Tie in three Sili Legs just ahead of the dubbing ball on the near side of the hook. Repeat on the far side. If you are using Hot Tip legs, you must measure so the color change begins where you want. I like about three-quarters shank length from the tie-in point.
Form a dubbing loop by doubling the thread with your off-hand and wrapping the working thread over the base to just in front of the legs. Try to make the loop about two hook-shanks long. Wrap the working thread forward to just behind the hourglass eyes. If using a rotary vise, half-hitch the thread and rest it on your bobbin hanger.
Insert a dubbing whirl into the bottom of the loop (you can use a paper clip or hackle pliers, but it’s much easier with a spring-loaded dubbing whirl.) Tease out sparse clumps of dubbing and insert them into the loop so that the thread bisects the breadth of the dubbing. Do not try to cram a lot of dubbing in the loop. It should take you about three sparse clumps to fill the loop.
When you have the loop full of sparse, evenly spaced dubbing, spin it until the dubbing is locked in and you have a nice, even dubbing rope. The key is to spin it tight enough to lock in the fibers, but not so much that the fibers get trapped under each other. If it’s not shaggy enough for you, rub a bodkin up and down the rope or scrub it with a stiff brush.
Begin wrapping the rope just in front of the legs. If you have a rotary vise, it’s much easier to hold the rope above the hook and rotate the vise itself. Either way, use your off hand to tease the fibers away from the hook on each half-wrap. This ensures a very shaggy, buggy looking crayfish that breathes well in the water.
Continue wrapping forward to just behind the hourglass eyes and tie off the excess thread from the dubbing loop. If you still have dubbing in the loop, unspin the whirl and pull out the excess with your fingers. If you run out of dubbing before you reach the eyes, make another loop and rope and continue until you reach the hourglass eyes. With practice, you’ll become pretty good at eyeballing the loop size and amount of dubbing you need to do it in one shot. If your body is not shaggy enough, pick it out with a bodkin or give it a good scrubbing with a piece of velcro.
Turn your vise so the hook point rides up (or remove and re-insert the hook) and move the thread in front of the hourglass eyes. Prepare the wing material: If using deer hair, use a stacker. If using kiptail or bucktail, even the tips by hand. Either way, don’t stack the tips completely even– we want it to look a little bit rough. Use just a bit more hair than it takes to cover the back of the fly. Measure so the tips extend no more than a hook gap beyond the bend of the hook. Tie the wing in just behind the hook eye.
Gather the wing material together, bring the thread under and behind the hourglass eyes, and take a few medium-tight wraps around the wing. This ensures the wing stays against the back of the fly and also tames the flare you get when using deer hair. If your thread doesn’t quite match the color of the wing, you may want to use clear mono thread for steps nine and ten.
Bring the thread back under the hourglass eyes and whip finish behind the hook eye. Trim the wing butts just beyond the hook eye and soak all the wraps with Flex Seal or head cement.
Snip the legs so they extend about a hook length beyond the bend of the hook (use your scissor tips as a caliper.) Done!
Use a long leader on a floating line or a short leader on a sink tip. And please use a loop knot– the Crazy Dad will sink faster and have more crawdaddy action! Bump and crawl on the bottom, squirt like it’s scared, or just let it sit and breathe. It’s up to you to find out how the fish want it that day
The color combo in the photo tutorial is our number one Crazy Dad pattern. Next is probably the olive, especially in clear water. The orange back/barred legs is a good fly in murky water. Purple and pink is remarkably effective in all water conditions. Truth is, with all the available colors of Sparkle Leech Dubbing, Crawdub, and Sili Legs, we haven’t had time to try all the possible color combinations. And I’m sure you bassin’ folks will recognize these dubbing colors: watermelon, june bug, motor oil…? Keep in mind that smallmouth aren’t the only fish that like to eat freshwater lobster. We’ve caught largemouth and spotted bass, trout, carp, and of course, goggle-eye and every specie of sunfish in the Ozarks on the Crazy Dad. And it’s our most effective pattern for early season white bass– you know, when you still have to wear waders and you wish you had brought your fleece gloves when the sun goes behind the trees? Oh, and don’t be afraid to tie some on stainless hooks for your next bonefish or redfish trip!