Published Jun 20. 2006 - 18 years ago
Updated or edited Nov 12. 2020

Favorite Dad

In Virginia, the rivers are full of crayfish. Author Michael Smith AKA Rybolov 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. That may be why Skip's Dad works so well there.

This Bass Liked my Dad

Back under my rock

Melanie Smith - Michael Smith

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

Michael Smith

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

Catfish catch

Catfish face

Michael Smith
Dad With Copper

Feather claws

Random Array of Dads

Secure Dads Wear Pink

Melanie Smith

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:

Skip\'s Dad
Pattern type: 
Wet fly
Skip Morris
Size 6 to 14, 2X or 3X long
Tan, Brown, or Rusty Brown 8/0
Barbel Eyes
Dub a nose of dubbing from 1/3 of the way around the bend of the hook to the flat of the shank
Natural 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)
Light olive or brown haretron dubbing
Pheasant tail fibers pulled over the dubbed body
Fine copper wire
Skill level/difficulty: 

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


The trail

Michael Smith
Side Stream at Turkey Run

Across the Potomac

View of the Bank

Michael Smith

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

Michael Smith

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


Melanie Smith - Michael Smith
Spot the crawdad


Michael Smith


Martin Joergensen's picture

George, There are...


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.


Anyway you could inc...

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

Martin Joergensen's picture

Dan, If you read ...


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


This fly is called S...

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

Great looking fly. ...

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

rybolov's picture

Yeah, winter is a ba...

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

Dear Michael I lo...

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

rybolov's picture

Definitely try it fo...

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.

Hey Michael, Iam lo...

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

Well done, Mike. Th...

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!


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