I recently took a fishing trip on the Eleven Point River in southern Missouri. As always I did my home work to find out what flies I should stock up on, everything I read said to make sure I had crawdads in my fly box. So I ordered myself a half dozen in the recommended sizes and I am glad I did. If you haven’t fished the Eleven Point it is one of Missouri’s finest rivers and you should give it a try. Not only is the fishing great but the river is picturesque. I not only discovered a beautiful new river but I learned that crawdads are not just a bass fly, trout go crazy for them. They can be a huge source of protein for big trout. The key to fishing them is the same as any other fly. You have to fish them in their right environment.
Knowing the crawdads environment will help us fish it properly therefore increasing our fish count. The crawdad is capable of in living in a diversity of habitats but prefer calcium rich waters with rocky bottoms and areas of vegetation for camouflage and concealment. They can be found in rivers , streams, ponds and lakes. The largest concentration are found in the midwest mostly due to the water temperatures. When water temperatures drop into the low 40’s they become inactive and will even borrow into the river or lake bed. Knowing all this helps us know where and when to fish them.
We also should know a little about how they move. When the crawdad is scavenging for food he is slowly crawling/scooting, this is how they spend most of the time moving. When they feel threatened they slowly back up while raising their claws, or they can swim for cover quickly. Knowing this can help us in our presentation. I suggest using sinking lines to allow for a horizontal presentation path. I prefer a 4-6 inch strip retrieve with pauses that allow the fly to sink back down to the bottom. To suggest a foraging crayfish use a slow hand twist retrieve to creep and skip the fly above the bottom. Takes can be subtle with this method so set the hook on anything that seems suspicious. In the end do what ever lands you a fish.