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  • Writer's pictureWill

Fly Tying SBS: The Combover Crab

The second in our series of step-by-step fly tying posts and a great fly to boot! One of my all-time favourite types of fishing is chasing tailing Bonefish in ankle-deep water, and this fly is one I have been reaching for increasingly in recent times. When tied correctly, the fly lands softly and swims straight. It also looks very realistic, closely resembling the Mangrove Crab which is abundant down here. It's also safe to say, the fish certainly agree.

So, on to the fly. 'The Combover Crab' was designed for fishing over rocky or grass bottoms on low tides, primarily targeting tailing Bonefish and Triggers. The E.P. brush helps the crab land softly,

with the craft fur adding a degree of movement, even when fished static. The red tips on the claws also help the crab standout on against the bottom.

We tie these in sizes 2 and 4 on the Owner SSW or Gamakatsu SL12 Short. Typically, paired with a medium bead chain or X-small lead eyes depending on the depth we are fishing. You could also tie these lighter, swapping the eyes for a lead wire body if required.

Check out the SBS below and let us know what you think!

Step 1).

Another quick and straightforward fly, let's jump in. The materials are:

-Owner SSW straight eye size 4

-Medium black bead chain

-Mono or brown thread

-Sand E.P. Shrimp Dub Brush

-Tan original E.P. fibre

-Sand Craft fur

-Bonefish tan barred and speckled crazy legs

-Brown and red Sharpie

-Mason hard mono 16lbs

Step 2).

- Start by mounting the hook in the vice. Lay down a base of thread and capture in the bead chain eyes, leaving space in front to finish the fly.

- Once complete, add a dab of glue or U.V. resin to the bead chain and advance the thread towards the barb of the hook.

Step 3).

- Now to make the claws. Cut off a length of E.P. fibre. I aim for around 1/4 of a pencil diameter. Take the length of E.P. fibre and cut it in half, resulting in two sections, each around 6 inches or longer.

- Fold an overhand knot into each section, aiming for the knot to fit in the centre of each of the two sections (similar to the photo above).

Step 4).

- Now it's time to form the claws. Trim the E.P. fibres down to a length that is suitable to the size of the crab you are tying. Some of this is a personal preference; however, I tend to tie a smaller claw to avoid the fly spinning when stripped.

- Take a bodkin or scissors and splay the fibres on one end. I will then add a dab of glue or U.V. resin to fix the claw in a splayed fashion. Now, grab your red Sharpie and colour the tips of the claws to give an added attraction point and help the fly stand out. Leave the claws a few minutes for the Sharpie to dry.

Step 5).

- Measure up your claws and tie in. Aim for the claw to be roughly the same length as the hook shank. Make sure the claws are tied in evenly and angled up, mimicking a defensive pose.

- Splay the claws by adding a base of thread behind the claws and around the base of the claw. Add a dab of glue or U.V. resin to help keep the claws splayed, even when stripping the fly.

Step 6).

- Tie in the E.P. brush in front of the claws. Advance your thread forward and leave it halfway up the shank of the hook. I use this as a marker for where I will tie in my first set of legs.

- Work the E.P. brush up the shank of the hook, wrapping in close touching turns until you reach your thread.

- Tie off the E.P. brush and tie in your first set of legs. Make sure the legs are even and level, in line with the shank of the hook.

Step 7).

- Take your thread and advance it forward, towards the bead chain eyes. Continue wrapping the E.P. brush forward in touching turns until you reach the bead chain. Secure the E.P. fibre and clip off. To finish, tie in your second set of legs, the same as your first set.

- Take a bodkin, brush or velcro and run it through your dubbing brush. The aim is to pull out any trapped fibres and add volume to the body.

- Once the trapped fibres are removed, take your scissors and shape the fibres into a more crab-shaped body, removing any long fibres and prepping the body for the next step.

Step 8).

- Trim off a small piece of the base fur from your craft fur patch. We are looking for the thick, stubby fibres that extend the length of the body. The aim of the craft fur is to cover over the top of the body, acting as the carapace, whilst also adding a little extra movement when the fly sits static.

- Tie in your craft fur clump, making sure the fibres are thinly splayed over the body, covering the dubbing brush fibres below. Trim away any long fibres and shape the craft fur to fit the body.

- Lastly, take the brown Sharpie and mottle the craft fur, creating a more natural look to the fly. From there, the fly is more or less complete. All that's left is to tie in your weed guard, whip finish and trim the legs. I prefer the legs a little shorter on this fly; however, it is down to your personal preference

Step 9).

- There you have it, the finished fly. We fish this fly with long, slow strips, effectively crawling the fly along the bottom. Let the fish swim on to the fly before starting your strip, and be ready to set the fish if you feel your line beginning to tighten.


Tie up a few of these in a mix of different colors and sizes for your next flats fishing adventure. We are sure they won't disappoint!

Tight lines,


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