Dennis Collier Fly Illustration - Copyright Dennis Collier 2015Articles

DC's Doo-Dad

Click here for the DC Doo-Dad recipe and tying sequences.
By Dennis P. Collier

Bleached exoskeletal remnants littered the bankside shallows of Colorado's Tarryall River; grim evidence of the carnage which night marauders had wreaked on the resident population of crayfish in this small, food-rich stream. The slab-sided twenty-inch rainbow - Doo-dad firmly anchored to its jaw and ripping line from the reel - offered further validation that land-bound mammals are not the only ones that find this member of the lobster family a desirable menu item.

The good news: There is hardly a puddle or rivulet of unpolluted liquid on the planet that doesn't have at least a few of these armor-plated crustaceans crawling around in the detritus. North America alone is host to more than half of the five-hundred-plus known species. And, where fish are equally present, you can take it to the bank they will be packing on the pounds with crayfish as part of their diets. For the angler wanting to enhance their fly fishing pleasure, stripping this key ingredient for a Cajun Jambalaya along bottom structure spells "bon appetit" in fish language.

While most bass fishermen have long been versed in the virtues of fishing "dads," for some reason their trout fishing counterparts seem less-in-tune with the rod-bending opportunities provided by dangling a good "mudbug" pattern from the end of a stout leader. As an avid streamer fisherman for more than a few decades, I have to admit that I was also slow on the draw, and only in recent years have I included crawfish patterns as an integral part of my trout fly collection. Today, I wouldn't be caught dead on a favorite lake or river without them.

Mudbugs live in a hard external carapace which necessitates an occasional molting in order for the crustation to grow. It is also commonly accepted among "those-in-the-know" that given a choice, fish prefer to dine on the freshly molted soft-shelled versions - which, with fly design in mind, exhibit lighter coloration than those whose exoskeletons have re-hardened between molts.

A Squirrel of a Different Color

My personal fly tying experimentation with crayfish patterns has run the gamut, but it was not until inspiration prompted me to come up with something new for a tying demonstration, that I introduced dyed pine squirrel strips into the mix. Not that the squirrels are too happy with the concept, this wonderful contribution to fly tying and fly fishing has been around for several years; however, it is only recently that Wapsi, Inc., added pre-cut and dyed full-skins to the offering. Take my word for it; these skins are premium in quality and quantity of material, and well worth the price. Their "crawdad orange" strips now create the visually distinct clawed appendages on my mudbug look-alike.

The Doo-dad incorporates another of my favorite fly tying materials: Hareline Dubbin, Inc., Extra Select Craft Fur. I have used this synthetic product in numerous streamer fly designs for years. It is easy to work with; rugged in use; fluid in motion, and lends itself well to having visual embellishments added via magic marker. In this case "root beer" colored Craft Fur forms the body and tail components of the fly. The Doo-dad is an impressionistic fly pattern designed more with action in mind than exact replication. To date, it has done a fine job in accomplishing the objective.

I personally tie the Doo-dad on short-shank, return eye, salmon hooks in order for the inverted, upturned eye to clear the tail and facilitate easy knotting to the tippet. Gold or Black barbell eyes are tied on top of the hook shank and glued to counterbalance the fly; thus encouraging the fly to ride hook-point up during use. As a result, you can bounce this fly along the bottom with minimal likelihood of snagging. Crayfish flee from danger by traveling in reverse with quick flicks of their fan-shaped tails. Fish the fly in similar fashion and the Doo-dad will pulsate to life with every movement.

Crayfish are most active during the low-light conditions of dusk and dawn, heavily overcast days, and of course, the dark of night. For nocturnal feeders - such as big brown trout in search of an easy meal - the absence of light is like a neon sign on an "all you can eat" roadside diner. To me, this is a siren's song to rig the rod with a nice juicy Doo-dad and enter the dark realm of predator and prey. See'ya on the water!

Back to Articles...