My Favorite Dad

Published Jun 29th 2006

A crawfish pattern for bass, trout, panfish and even catfish


This Bass Liked my Dad -
This Bass Liked my Dad
Back under my rock - Crawdads will typically hide under rocks
Back under my rock
Well, since it's just been Father's Day, I figured I would introduce the world to my favorite dad. His name is "Skip's Dad" and he hails from the mind of Skip Morris. I was introduced to him via Joe Cornwall's "Fly Fishing Warm Water Rivers".

Here in Virginia, the rivers are lousy with crayfish. I went last week to the South Fork of the Shenandoah, and in a meter-square area along the shoreline, there had to be at least 30 crayfish in it.

Light colored - Notice how light this dad is and remember that when selecting colors
Light colored
I fish this fly with either a floating line and 10-foot leader or a clear sink-tip. I cast quartering downstream on a tight line like a steelhead swing. Either use 5-inch quick strips or 30-inch slow strips, I've had success with either.

Michael Smith originally posted this pattern on our discussion board under the handle Rybolov, but we found it so good that it deserved its own article. You can read the original post here.

Sunfish like dads too - This nice specimen--a redbreasted sunfish--picked up the Favorite Dad
Sunfish like dads too
Catfish catch - A catfish caught on a Favorite Dad crawfish pattern
Catfish catch
Catfish face - A typical bottom feeder and an obvious target for a crawfish pattern
Catfish face

Dad With Copper -
Dad With Copper
Feather claws - Glad Those Chelae (claws) are Made of Feathers
Feather claws
Random Array of Dads -
Random Array of Dads
Secure Dads Wear Pink -
Secure Dads Wear Pink

Sometime when I get around to it, I'll start dead-drifting Skip's Dads under an indicator.

Recipe, partially stolen from Joe's book:
HookSize 6 to 14, 2X or 3X long
ThreadTan, Brown, or Rusty Brown 8/0
WeightBarbel Eyes
TagDub a nose of dubbing from 1/3 of the way around the bend of the hook to the flat of the shank
TailNatural reddish/brown pheasant tail fibers tied in two bunches and split with dubbing to resemble small claws. (Dads with small claws are easier prey for fish)
BodyLight olive or brown haretron dubbing
ShellbackPheasant tail fibers pulled over the dubbed body
RibFine copper wire

One of my local waters is the Potomac River, it's about a 20-minute drive. I go to a little park area known as "Turkey Run". In June and July, the water is a very comfortable bathtub temperature and the current is slow enough that you can wade safely up above your waist.

The Potomac Heritage trail travels right up the banks of the river for miles in either direction and is used by hikers, runners, and families with dogs. Below Turkey Run, the river slows as it enters a small impoundment. A series of rock islands and submerged plants form a phenomenal nursery for smallmouth food.

View it in Google maps.

If you go, be careful because they will lock you in after dark.

Park sign - Sign giving you some information on the Turkey Run Park
Park sign
Scenery - During summer, Turkey Run slows down to a trickle
The trail - A steep trail switchbacks from the parking lot down to the river
The trail

Side Stream at Turkey Run - The rocky bottom of side streams such as this make excellent crayfish and baitfish habitat
Side Stream at Turkey Run
Across the Potomac - At this point, you can almost walk to the other side if you
don\'t mind getting wet
Across the Potomac
View of the Bank - View of the Bank Looking Downstream. Skip\'s Dad works wonders when the water is low and clear.
View of the Bank

Reaction to Skip's Dad can be varied.

I've felt smallmouth nibble at it gently as they suck it up off the riverbottom. When I get gentle takes, I start fishing with a slow, long strip.

Paul the Unabomber - Paul said he liked the whole \'Unabomber only uses bamboo\' look
Paul the Unabomber
When I find that the fish are slamming the Dad hard, I start using quick 5-inch strips, just enough of a pop so that I see the end of my line jerk.

Sometimes I've cast and had large smallmouth take the fly on the very first strip. It's happened enough that I get the slack out of the line as fast as I can.

Don't forget to let the Dad hang below you in the current. You'll catch bass when you let the fly hang and then give it a couple quick strips.

This is Paul's first day ever with a flyrod, and once he can cast 10 feet and strip line, Skip's Dad gives him a good day on the river.

He'll be back.

Another shot of the same fish - The fish from the beginning of the article
Another shot of the same fish
Setup - My setup for Turkey Run: Old bamboo rod I refinished, floating #8 steelhead line (WF with a longer back of the taper for better line control at longer distances), and a flybox with Dads

Spot the crawdad - A good mouthful for any bass. 4-inch crayfish like this are very good at defending themselves against predators. The bass prefer the smaller Dads.
Spot the crawdad
Boil - The Boil is a Smallmouth. Bamboo in the Foreground.

User comments
GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
Submitted May 29th 2011


There are no plans for adding further instructions right now. This is an old article from an outside contributor, and I doubt we can urge the aouthor to supply step-by-step instructions. The fly is fairly simple, and by studying the images and the materials list you can basically figure out how to tie it. Maybe something will emerge, so keep an eye out.


From: George · gorlowitz·at·  Link
Submitted May 28th 2011

Anyway you could include instructions. Not that good at tying so would appreciate the help

GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
Submitted March 2nd 2010


If you read the first paragraph, you will notice mention of both Skip's Dad, Skip Morris and Joe Cornwall. So... we knew! ;-)


From: Dan Reese · dmreese·at·  Link
Submitted March 1st 2010

This fly is called Skip's dad. It was first created by Skip Morris. There is a video on this fly by Joe Cornwall @

From: Clyde · cepullen·at·  Link
Submitted July 21st 2007

Great looking fly. With the hook up it will work almost anyplace. Thanks for the great recipe. Clyde

From: rybolov · rybolov·at·  Link
Submitted January 21st 2007

Yeah, winter is a bad time for fishing crayfish... they all are in hibernation.

As a side note, Joe Cornwall put tying instructions (sequential pictures and a movie) for Skip's Dad on his website at

From: jason · jason.lowe1496·at·  Link
Submitted January 21st 2007

Dear Michael

I love the fly, I am sure it will work over here in England. I will give it a go next summer.

Great photos

j. Oxford UK

From: rybolov · rybolov·at·  Link
Submitted October 5th 2006

Definitely try it for the Wels, probably in a larger size. I've been experimenting with #4/0 Skip's Dad for largemouth bass, so I figure that would work well for larger catfish.

From: Dada · lopfree·at·  Link
Submitted October 4th 2006

Hey Michael,
Iam looking forward to test Your Dad......I looks like pretty good...Our rivers are full of american crayfish which was imported twenty years ago and our barsch, zanders and wels.
And Wels ll be the most interesting..... Thanks for inspiration d. form Czech

From: Joe Cornwall · joe·at·  Link
Submitted June 30th 2006

Well done, Mike. The Skip's Dad is an awesome fly indeed. Try it in small sizes down to a size 10 or even 12 for trout and panfish in clear water. Carp love it too! Later in the year as summer fades to autumn, up the size and fish it more aggressively. Also, I suggest using red barbell eyes early in the season, but unpainted eyes as July gives way to August and finally gold eyes as September melts into October. It's a subtle effect, but it mimics the natural changes in the color of the crayfish population (at least on the Midwestern creeks I fish). Tight lines!

Comment to an image
From: Angelo · angelofade·at·  Link
Submitted November 14th 2006

Wow ok thats cool. Well i go fishing in my pound in my neighborhood, we have bass, bass, bluegill, catfish and croppie. I usually a shakespearke rod for them though

Comment to an image
From: Rybolov · rybolov·at·  Link
Submitted November 13th 2006

Believe it or not, I caught another one just like this from the same hole. And then a couple of weeks later, I caught a 3-foot-long monster out of a place just a little bit upstream. And all of them were on the Skip's Dad.

GFF staff comment
Comment to an image
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
Submitted November 13th 2006


This fish was caught using a fly: the pattern mentioned in the article, a crawdad imitation. Click on the image to read more.


Comment to an image
From: Angelo Harris · angelofade·at·  Link
Submitted November 13th 2006

nice fish what type of bait did you use

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