The creation of the MOAD
When I was a youngster, I had this weird facination with crawdads.
They seemed to be everywhere and all fish ate them and it just seemed like the fly tying world would have capitalized on that fact. But when I began searching there were very few crayfish patterns to be found, and even fewer that were actually effective. The obsession with creating the ultimate crawdad began one day while sitting on a high boulder overlooking a crystal clear pool of a high country lake in AZ. I was taking a short lunch break while I watched as two larger than normal rainbows cruised slowly over the rocky bottom below, slowly meandering back in forth in no particular direction. Suddenly the bigger one stopped. Its tail tipped up for a second, then a puff of mud from the stream bottom appeared as it scooped up something invisible from the bottom of the pool.
It paused for a second then rejoined his partner and continued cruising along the rocks. Moments later both fish stopped alongside a small boulder and did the same maneuver, this time both fish digging headfirst into a pile of small rocks and gravel. Crawdads. Again. I had seen this behavior before. As I watched these fish cruise I counted no less than 7 of these “crawdad” stops between the two before I got busy re-rigging my setup. I had seen smallmouth do this time and again on one of my favorite home rivers. In fact, it was a common occurrence there.
The days of pure frustration trying to catch these fish is what eventually led to the creation of the MOAD crawdad. This wasn’t the first fly I had developed for a special purpose but it was definitely the best at that time. It took several seasons to perfect and I’ve been fishing it for over ten years now. Even though I made it for very particular fish in specific situations, it works everywhere. I use it on bass in AZ and have caught browns in Montana. For some reason channel catfish love this thing. I’ve even dangled it under an indicator in stillwaters.
A word on color
In a world of “match the hatch” mentality, this isn’t always the best route. Crawdads will actually change color depending on their habitat at the moment. They also change colors depending on season. I’ve even noticed that they will be one color in one part of the river, a few hundred yards downstream they’re another. The point of all this color changing is camouflage for survival. I want my fly to be seen which is why I carry a variety of colors. Not so much to match the naturals but to contrast the bottom in a natural way. So in addition to the olive and brown look-alikes, I also use an all-black version for sandy and light colored areas and use the bleached out tan version for darker river bottoms. With 47 different colors of AZ Simi Seal and counting, combined with several colors of dyed pheasant tail available, the possible color combinations would seem endless, or at least enough to keep you busy at the vise.
For the full story on the MOAD development, check out the latest edition of FlyTyer magazine.