“Andy Packmore at Fishing Tackle Unlimited mentioned a fly that reds never refused,” said Scott Null, a fishing guide that specializes in sight fishing for redfish. “I’d heard that line many times and dismissed it. I already had my favorites. Still, any time successful fishing trips came up, Andy would invariably comment that they were eating the good old Redfish Crack. I’d ask what the heck it was and he’d just grin and say it was a little something he’d come up with. I never pressed him on it because, like I said, I had my boxes full of things that worked.”
Then Null hit a slump, a really bad slump. His confidence flies were failing at a miserable clip. He finally swallowed his pride and “begged” for the recipe and tied several in a matter of a few minutes.
The next day he took several of the flies with him to see what they would do, if anything. “I started poling and hunting. The first redfish was headed away, likely having already sensed the skiff. It was a low-percentage chance, but I tossed the fly in front of him anyway. And he ate it. Cool. I took a photo with the Crack hanging from his lip and sent it to Andy. His response, ‘I told you.’”
Nearly every other red that morning followed suit. If he landed the fly even close to where it was supposed to be they ate it. “I can’t honestly say whether it was the fly or just the mood of the reds on that day, but whatever it was I had my best tally in quite some time. I was sold.”
So what does Redfish Crack look like, and what makes it work?
The large head pushes water so it presence can be felt even in off-color water or when the cast is a little off target. The head and banded tail provide contrast making it more visible. The tail moves and breathes with the slightest twitch. “The dang thing just looks like something that needs to be eaten.”
It’s also versatile. “I look at it as more of a style of fly than any particular strict recipe. I’ve used most every color combination you can think of. Typically I tie it on a size-4 hook, but my box has them from size-8 all the way up to a 1/0 tarpon style hook for those big bull reds in the Louisiana marsh. It can be tied un-weighted, with beadchain eyes or lead, depending on your situation.”
The basic recipe…
Hook – #4 Mustad 34007
Thread – olive or dark brown
Eyes – beadchain, small lead dumbell or none, depending on the situation
Head – reddish olive Enrico Puglisi (EP) streamer brush with legs
Tail – tan extra select craft fur over-wrapped with orange cactus chenille
1 -Attach the eyes (if you choose to use them). Wrap the thread to the bend of the hook.
2 – Attach a small bunch of craft fur and touch it with a thin glue or head cement over the thread.
3 – Two or three wraps of medium cactus chenille over the thread holding the craft fur.
4 – Tie in a 3″ section of the EP brush just in front of the chenille and work the thread back to the eyes. Wrap the brush towards the eyes. With each wrap pull the fibers back to keep from binding them with the next wrap. Don’t fret too much about it as you’ll fix any bound up fibers in a minute. Secure the end of the brush which should end up tight to the eyes or the eye of the hook.
5 – Whip finish and coat with head cement.
6 – Use a bodkin to pick out the bound EP brush fibers.
7 – Use a dark brown permanent marker to bar the tail.
“EP has a wide variety of dubbed brushes from one half inch wide up to five inches,” says Null. “I’ve used them all to create various sized Crack flies. All you need to do is change the hook size to make it proportional to the brush used and overall size of the fly. Another option is to use EP fibers for the tail on larger flies since the craft fur will be a bit too short. The EP fibers don’t move as seductively as craft fur, but they’ll work if you need a longer tail.”