Need help fishing crabs [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Need help fishing crabs

09-07-2007, 08:11 AM
I need to do something to get my crab technique up to the point where I can enjoy fishing them. I seem to do just fine with shrimp flies, but my crabs pretty much go undetected, with meybe a third spooking, either on landing on when the fish comes up to it.
The obvious answer is to go out with a crabfly-savvy guide; if someone knows one on North Andros (or maybe locally??) I'm game to book a day with them. Failing that, what steps should i take to elevate myu crab fly game?

09-07-2007, 09:47 AM
Hi Josko
What crabs are you talking about? Merkins or something else?

The normal way to fish a crab is first to get the fish to see it by moving it and then letting it fall to the bottom. Sometime a very slow strip works.

Problems that you maybe having are possibly spooking the fish with a splash but the most common problem is the fly spinning when being stripped. This is caused by a badly tied fly and/or the wrong knot when tying it on. Always use a loop knot.


09-07-2007, 10:20 AM
I've tried small merkins, felt crabs, 'beady eyes' and maybe a half dozen other common crab flies. Pretty sure they don't spn when retrieved. I thought the game was to let them sit and just barely twitch when a bonefish is approaching, as opposed to the more vigorous stripping of shrimp flies.

09-07-2007, 11:34 AM
I've had great luck with crab flies in situations where I could 'set up' the crab in the lane, particularly in 'rest areas' behind the slightest coral head mound or channel end near the target area the fish are invading - mangrove inlet, etc.

When the fish are coming I cast into the area where they will likely slow a bit and wait until they arrive. I plan for the fly to have sunk seconds before they arrive. At that time I give the crab teeny twitches to complement any current or slightly more suggestive short strips if no current... never big strips for me and crabs.

In fact I will let them "walk" when the current is right using the line tension to pull them along and this has been very effective when in the approach lanes.

Permit... I need more practice :D

09-11-2007, 12:00 PM

Crab flies can be fished several ways, but the most common is a "do nothing" approach. One strip so the fish sees it and then let it sit. If you've got a good sight on the fish you should be able to see it change attitude/direction/speed when you strip. That's the sign that he's seen it and you can let the fly sit.

DON'T MOVE IT WHEN THE FISH APPROACHES. That can spook them. Instead, wait for the fish to tip up on the fly and then give a slow, smooth strip. If you don't feel any resistance when you start to strip, STOP. The fish may be studying your fly.

The other way to fish crabs is to give them a very slow strip, like a crawl. This is best when the fish are picky and biting "shy" (short, quick pickups). That way you can feel when the fish pics up the fly. Remember, slow means sloooow. You want the crab to crawl, not swim up into the water column. This can work great for smaller fish in schooling situations when it's hard to pick out which fish is following the fly. Baby bones, like baby tarpon can bite a fly and spit it quicker than you'd expect, so you have to feel for the take.

I love fishing crabs, but it does require a very different approach than shrimp or streamers. Mostly you have to be able to sight-hook the fish with crabs, which means good visability (bright sun) or tailing bones.

Hope this helps.

09-11-2007, 06:06 PM
Thanks Bonehead, that's the kind of info i was looking for. At what point would you pick a crab fly over a shrimp fly for bonefishing?
Funny thing is, ve had decent luck with permit, fishing Merkins 'by the book', but I must be doing something wrong when it comes to bonefish. Maybe it's the fly patterns. What would y'all recommend as a good 'learning crab fly' for fishing North Adros? I've ben using Dick Browns 'beady crab' , tan, size 4, but am game to try any other recommended pattern. I'll have plenty of time to practice this fall.

09-12-2007, 08:08 AM
Josko -

I use a turneffe crab but replace the foam with a tuft of mottled marabou because the foam takes longer to tie. Small sizes.

Bob Berquist ties a nice turneffe with elk hair.

The marabou is tied in thick and short and moves like crazy even when not stripping. They gobble it up in Acklins.

10-03-2007, 10:04 PM
At what point would you pick a crab fly over a shrimp fly for bonefishing?

Um... first of all if the bones aren't taking the shrimp flies, or seem to be noncommital. Also, if the bones seem to be shy but are feeding in a situation where a more visible fly is desirable, a crab fly generally makes a bigger target, and is much easier to see without moving it.

Next, if there are other fish around that love crabs: permit, triggerfish, mutton snapper, etc. Baby tarpon also love baby crabs, though you'd have to upsize tippet.

Finally, I just love the take on a crab fly. It's sight-hooking at its best: Cast, strip, stop, the fish tips up, looong strip, fish on! Yup.