How to tie the Keel Crab. 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.
Keel Crab Materials:
- Hook: Gamakatsu – SL12S 1/0
- Thread: Ultra Thread 210 – Tan
- Eyes: Brass Dumbbell Eyes – Gold Lg
- Crab Eyes: EP Crab/Shrimp Eyes – Pearl Black Lg
- Tail: Strung Marabou – Ginger
- Claws: Keough Tyer’s Dry Fly Cape – Bleached Grizzly
- Keel: Mason Hard Type Nylon – 20 lb.
- Beads: Cyclops Bead Eyes – Gold 7/64″
- Body: EP Fibers 3D – Sand
- Legs: Fly Enhancer Legs – Light Blue/Pumpkin
- Weedguard: Mason Hard Type Nylon – 20lb.