Illawarra Flyfishers Club

Leather Crab    

Text and Photos by Steve Chatterton

Hook Mustad 34007 size 2 to 6
Thread Any colour, but cotton is better than silk type threads
Body Flat, natural leather and 5 minute epoxy
Weight A strip of flat lead sheet
Eyes Burnt monofilament bent in the centre

Natural coloured leather sold at craft shops is what I use and from a piece costing around $10 you have enough material for around 100 flies.

I have found that the best way to proceed is:

i)  Save the crab profile image (pictured, left) onto your computer by right clicking on it and selecting the "Save Picture As" option. Insert it into a new Word document and you will be able to adjust it's size easily.
ii)  Increase or decrease its size to suit the hook you are using - the actual size that you cut your crab is determined by the hook size. The distance from point "A" to point "B" should be equal to 90% of the length of hook shank you are using measured from directly behind the eye of the hook to the start of the bend of the hook.
iii) Transfer it onto a new page and then print it onto label paper
iv) Stick the label directly onto the flat leather
v)  The label not only provides you with the crab outline but it holds the leather stiff whist you cut the crab out
vi) Once that's done simply peel the label off the cut out crab

Tying Procedure

1a) Pierce the cut out crab at point "A" with the point of the hook and push the whole leather crab all of the way along to the eye of the hook.

b) Now prepare the hook by wrapping thread along the middle 2/3 of the hook shank. Tie off the thread and trim the tag end. You need thread on the hook shank so that the lead weight has something to bind to. 

c) Cut a flat piece of lead and fold it along the dotted line over the hook shank with the tag ends facing toward what will be the rear of the crab. You may need to experiment with the size of the lead used as too much makes the fly too heavy to cast and with too little the fly wont hold the bottom. Apply a little epoxy to the hook shank before squeezing the lead into place. Before going on make sure it's at right angles to the bend of the hook.

2a) Now remove the fly from the vice and push the point of the hook through point "B". Put the fly back into the vice.

b) Apply liberal amounts of epoxy to both sides of the lead.

c) Slide the butt end of the prepared eyes between the bottom of the lead and the leather with the eyes themselves facing out between the claws.

d) Fold the top of the crab over and gently massage the epoxy so that it uniformly fills the whole cavity between the top layer and bottom layer of the fly. Hold in place whist the epoxy goes off.

e) Colour the top of the fly with permanent markers and then seal the top of the fly with epoxy. Don't paint or seal the bottom of the fly as the pale natural leather colour is a good approximation of the belly colour of a natural crab.