This week’s Throw Back Thursday Fly is Gary LaFontaine’s Floating Flex Crayfish.

LaFontaine's Floating Flex Crayfish |

LaFontaine’s Floating Flex Crayfish is another of the flex-style flies highlighted in LaFontaine’s Legacy (2008), by Gretchen and Al Beatty.

It’s difficult to see in the image above, but there are pheasant tail fibers sticking out on both sides to represent the crayfish pincers.

Gretchen and Al describe a “Yo-Yo Technique” to fish the fly as follows:

The angler places a buoyant, floating fly on a short leader (3 or 4 feet at the most) and ties it to a full sink line. When cast into the water, the line sinks quickly to the bottom, pulling the floating fly with it. After the line comes to rest on the bottom with the fly suspended above it, the angler starts the retrieve. Each strip part of the retrieve pulls the fly lower in the water column, but the pattern’s buoyancy causes it to rise when the angler pauses. The strip/pause retrieve causes the fly to dip and dive (yo-yo) in the water; it drives fish crazy when presented under the right conditions.

LaFonaine’s Legacy, page 87

For complete tying instructions how to tie the fly, be sure to pick up a copy of LaFontaine’s Legacy. Just follow the link below.

I’ve known Gretchen and Al for several years and they are truly masters at the vise! In fact, Al is the 1999 recipient of the FFI Buz Buszek Fly Tying Award, an honor for any fly tyer! And Gretchen was honored with the same award this year (2019). I must say, it is well-deserved! In addition, both were awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013 from Fly Tyer magazine.

In 2016 while I was attending the Western Idaho Fly Fishing Expo, Al offered to provide a fly for my Throw Back Thursday Fly post. I took him up on it and the Lady Heather Double Wing was published in March of that year.

At the 2018 Western Idaho Fly Fishing Expo, Al offered to give me a box of flies he and Gretchen tied for their LaFontaine’s Legacy book. I couldn’t believe his generocity. I said “thanks for trusting me with these. I’ll be sure to publish them in future RiverKeeper Flies TBT posts.”

And here it is.

This is a brief quote I used in the Lady Heather Double Wing post:

“Gary LaFontaine became world famous for his innovative trout fly patterns. But his life was cut short when he died of ALS in 2002. His final designs, however, were left in the caring hands of friend, author, and professional tyer Al Beatty, who proceeded to tie and photograph LaFontaine’s final set of undocumented patterns to create this book. Here are full-color photos and instructions on how to tie each of LaFontaine’s last designs, showing each step in detail. This is a beautiful book, essential to every fly tyer, that is also a loving tribute to an innovative sportsman.”

If you’d like to purchase their book, it will provide more background for each of the 26 listed flies, along with the fly pattern sheet and tying directions.

Another option is to purchase a Kindle edition for information about tying the flies.

Other LaFontaine featured flies include the Lady Heather Double Wing, Antron Bi-VisibleBead Head Marabou WormDiving BWO Egg LayerDiving Egg Laying Midge, Drowned TricoDrunken Sailor,  EZ2C CaddisEZ2C MayflyEZ2C MidgeEnchanted PrinceEZ2C StoneflyFlex DamselFlex Dragon, Flex SculpinFluttering Stone, and the House Fly.

Enjoy…go fish!

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