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How To Tie: The Keel Crab

Difficulty: difficult

75% difficulty

Time: 15-20 minutes

65% timely

Cost: expensive

expensive cost
About these metrics

Imitates: crab

Target species: permit

Where to fish: flats

Notes: Video version is a blue crab, change colors and size to match any crab. Keel gets fly down fast and straight.

About the fly:

Part Merkin Crab, part Avalon keel fly, permit seem to appreciate the little bit of extra work that goes into the Keel Crab. We originally started tying this fly in sand & gold for fishing Indo-Pacific permit with Jono Schalles in Exmouth. We’ve transformed to sand & ginger with blue legs for our permit in Key Biscayne and the Florida Keys. Like all good permit flies, the Keel Crab is heavy and will bolt right to the bottom when presented in front of a hungry fish. The brass beads on the keel not only add weight to the fly, but also make the fly sink straighter and allow the crab to sit in an aggressive position.

Tying the body underneath, as opposed to traditional Merkin style on-top of the hook shank, shows a picky permit what seems to be a natural crab shell. The Keel Crab can be scaled down for smaller Caribbean permit and bonefish. Using a plier with flat jaws, such as the Dr. Slick Barb Plier, makes it easy to flatten the ends of the eyes and mono before tying them in.

Helpful tools/additional materials:

Brush out, clean up fibers:
To flatten tie-in tips of mono and eyes:
Better alternative hackle to the Keough:

Recommended ties:

How To Tie: Bruce Chard Permit Choker Crab

Difficulty: difficult | Time: 15-20 minutes

Imitates: shrimp, crab, ambiguous/something tasty

Target species: bonefish, permit

How to Tie Flexo Crab

How To Tie: Flexo Crab

Difficulty: difficult | Time: 15-20 minutes

Imitates: crab

Target species: bonefish, permit


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