Merkin Crab Fly Pattern | Steelie Bros Fly Company

The merkin crab fly pattern

The merkin crab fly has many variations, this pattern is our variation on this classic crab pattern that we have honed fishing for redfish off the coast of South Carolina. This pattern is a very simple and quick tie which is great if you need to whip up a dozen for your box. Many crab patterns will tie in rubber legs with the body but we have found that as you fish them the legs tend to wrap around the hook bend and impede proper movement of the fly. This fly is most affective fishing in tidal marshes during a flood tide while redfish are trolling for crabs and other goodies among the reeds.

Crab Fly Materials

Materials Needed:

Hook: Stainless Steel Salt Hook I prefer Mustad Sz2- Sz4

Thread: 6/0 UNI-Thread I prefer a contrasting Hot color compared to the body

Tail: Tan Marabou and Grizzly Hackle Tips

Body: Poly-Bear Fiber Tan (EP Fibers work as well)

Eyes: Black Lead eyes medium

Weed Guard: 30lb Mono

 Step1 fly pattern

Step One: Start thread behind the eye of the hook. Tie in Mono weed guard 3-4 head spaces back. When tying in the weed guard use the natural curve of the mono and tie it so it curves downwards. Wrap over the mono towards the eye of the hook but stop one head space behind the eye of the hook.

Step 2 Crab Fly Pattern

Step Two: Wrap back to where you tied in the mono weed guard and tie in the lead eyes using a figure eight wrap pattern. Tie the eyes so they are on top of the hook shank so when the fly is in the water it will swim hook point up.

Crab Fly Pattern step 3

Step Three: Wrap back to the bend of the hook and tie in one small plume of tan marabou. Trim excess marabou and cover with thread.

Crab Fly Pattern Tail

Top Of Fly Crab Pattern

Step Four: Tie in a grizzly hackle tip on both sides of the marabou. We tie ours so that the darker "outside" of the hackle tip will face up when the fly is in the water. This will give the fly a darker more defined pattern.

Body of Crab fly pattern


Step Five: Cut a 5-7" long pencil thick clump of poly-bear fiber (or E.P fibers). Tie in the first clump just behind the tail with 1/2"-1" on the far side of the fly. Make two wraps to secure the fibers to the hook while the fibers are parallel with the hook, then turn the fibers so they are perpendicular to the hook shank and utilize a figure eight wrap pattern to secure fibers in that direction.

Top View Body of Crab Fly Pattern

Step 6: Cut the excess fibers on the near side of the hook leaving 1/2"-1" of material.

Redfish Crab Fly Pattern

Step 7: Advance the thread a few wraps and repeat steps five and six. Continue adding fiber clumps until just behind the lead eyes. Usually 4-6 clumps will fill the space depending on density and spacing of fibers.

Head of Crab Fly Pattern

Step 8: Advance thread in front of lead eyes continue wrapping up until where you stopped wrapping at the weed guard. Pull the mono weed guard down and build a thread head in front of the weed guard and whip finish.

trim on crab body

Trim Crab

Step 9: Trim excess fibers with a decreasing angle towards the eye of the hook on both sides.

Diamond Trim Redfish fly Pattern

Step 10: Cut the fibers at the bend of the hook to give the body a diamond or triangular shape. Do a final trim to clean up any excess fibers on the sides, top and bottom of the fly.

Merkin Crab Fly Pattern

Step 10: Seal the entire thread body on top and bottom. We prefer Loons line of UV Sealants


Now if you're wondering why we don't cut our crab bodies in a round shape like you'll see when searching crab patterns, we have found that a round crab body doesn't fall in the water column the same way an actual crab would as it flees. Rather the round crab pattern falls flat and bobbles as it drops. The triangular/ diamond cut body shape falls more rapidly with the head first and the tail trailing, and we have found this to be the most productive shape when fly fishing for redfish.

So go tie a few experiment with some colors and have some fun!