Email a Friend The Merkin Crab
By Jason Akl

When Del Brown originally tied the Merkin Crab there was absolutely no way of knowing that this simple yarn fly would revolutionize saltwater flyfishing. Fly anglers use to have less than a 20% chance at getting Permit to actively respond to flies and even less of a chance to have a fish bite. Del Brown and guide Steve Huff created the Merkin Crab and with it showed the angling world that Permit fishing on fly tackle could be done effectively and efficiently.

To the untrained eye the Merkin Crab, for lack of better words, looks unskillful. The tying techniques and materials used in this pattern seem simple, drab, and almost as if time passed them by. Upon closer inspection, what Del Brown created with the Merkin Crab is a fly that combines realism with motion to become one of the most devastating flies the saltwater world has ever seen.

First, the Merkin Crab has a uniquely oval, tapered shape that imitates typical crabs found throughout Permit waters; while at the same time allowing the fly to fall quickly to the bottom so that the fish may pick it up quickly in the water. The materials chosen for this fly: webby hackles, yarn, and rubber legs “breathe” when they become submerged in the water. This undulating motion helps the fly look alive, as if it were a real crab poking and prodding on the ocean floor searching for food, and thus enticing even the most lackadaisical of fish.

The Merkin Crab has fooled Permit the world over and not having multiple copies of this fly in your fly box will severely hinder your chances of catching the Permit of your dreams. Take the time to stock up on these exciting little critters, you will thank yourself later.
The Merkin Crab
Step 1 1. Start this fly by securing the hook into the vise securely and attaching the thread behind the hook eye. Using figure eight wraps of thread tightly bind down the dumbbell eyes behind the hook eye. Enough thread pressure and wraps should be applied to these eyes so that they will not rotate around the hook shank.
The Merkin Crab
Step 2 2. Clip a small bunch of white marabou and bind it down to the top of the hook shank so that it extends off the back of the hook approximately the same distance as the size of the hook gap. On to the sides of this marabou tuft tie in two badger hackles. Watch the natural curve of the feathers, you want the tail to splay outwards when finished so make sure to keep this in mind when you start placing your hackles for the tail.
The Merkin Crab
Step 3 3. Cut three two in sections of rug yarn, 2 tan and one white. Start with the first tan section and tie it onto the hook shank with figure eight wraps of thread. Try and position it as close as possible to the tail so that very little of the hook shank will be seen. Repeat this process with the white section and then the second tan piece of yarn. Once you have the three pieces of yarn in place tie in one of the sections of white rubber legs, again using the figure eight thread wraps.
The Merkin Crab
Step 4 4. Continue this process of tying in three yarn sections followed by one rubber strip, until you reach the back of the hook eye. Ideally you should use a total of 9 sections of yarn (6 tan, 3 white) and 3 rubber strip pieces.
The Merkin Crab
Step 5 5. With all the yarn tied in place you can now fly whip finish the thread and cement the head. Once the head cement has dried start cutting the body of the fly down so that it has a small oval shape to it, with the front being tapered towards the eyes. Watch out so that you do not clip any of the rubber legs off during this shaping process. With a permanent red marker color the tips of the white rubber strips. Finally, with your bodkin, tease out the yarn strips that are left a little bit to give the fly a denser appearance.

Back to Top

Click photos to enlarge
The Merkin Crab
Products for this fly:
Tiemco TMC 811S Hooks
Uni 6/0 Tying Thread
Spirit River Real Eyes
Wapsi Round Rubber
Wapsi Select Marabou Plumes (12 Piece)
Whiting Bugger Packs
Lafontaine's Tri-Lobal Yarn
Click Here to buy this fly!
30 Day Money Back Guarantee