The Ragin’ Craven was originally developed as a permit fly that could be fished both on the drop and the retrieve. See, most permit flies are to be dropped in front of the fish, and act like a crab as they drop, but lack the movement and profile to entice a grab after the fly hits the bottom. I have never had a permit eat a fly once it touched the bottom, although they generally will eyeball the hell out if it and it gets a bit frustrating. Therefore, I went to work to come up with a fly that would drop like a crab pattern, but then have the movement and profile to morph into a shrimp or other flats critter once on the bottom, allowing the angler a chance to move the fly without blowing his cover. The Ragin’ is my answer.
As a happy side effect, I have since discovered that the Ragin’ is a great fly for bonefish. I have used it with great success in Florida, Belize and Mexico, and the fact that you can fish the same fly to both permit and bones makes it a no brainer when fishing flats that harbor both species. A good friend of mine has even caught tarpon on it, and I have it on good authority that the Ragin’ is deadly on redfish as well. One of the most unexpected targets for the Ragin’ has been Striped Bass on the east coast. I’m not going to argue with this fly and it’s ability to interest a variety of species, I’m just happy that it does!
Editor’s Note: We’re pretty sure that Charlie’s pattern will fish equally well for freshwater species such as Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, Trout, and Carp.
- TMC 811S #1/0, #2, #4, or #6
- 3/0 Tan Monocord for fly FLY
- 6/0 TAN DANVILLE FOR WEED GUARD
- Medium lead eyes when using size #1/0 hook
- Small lead eyes when using size a #2 hook
- Extra-small lead eyes when using a #4 or #6 hook
- ONE STRAND BLACK AND ONE STRAND ROOT BEER KRYSTAL FLASH, DOUBLED OVER AS SHOWN.
- TAN CRAFT FUR
- CHINESE NECK HACKLE TIPS, CREE OR BARRED GINGER.
- CREAM COLORED MEDIUM RUBBER LEGS COLORED WITH MARKERS.
- Tan Craft Fur in a dubbing loop.
- colored on with a black permanent marker
- 12 pound test Mason Hard Mono.
Attach lead eyes three eye lengths back from the hook eye with figure eight and post wraps.
Form a thread base to the bend of the hook and tie in one strand each of black and root beer krystal flash at the center of their length.
Fold both colors of krystal flash back toward the bend, doubling them over to make four strands off the bend. Wrap over the krystal flash so that it points slightly down.
Comb through the craft fur to align the fibers and remove some of the under fur.
Pull some of the under fur from the comb and
…dub it onto the thread then wrap it at the bend to form a ball. This ball will help to spread the mouthparts in the next step.
Cut a clump of craft fur from the hide and remove the under fur, leaving only the long guard hairs.
Clump the guard hairs together into a brush…
…and then measure them so they are equal to one hook length.
Roll the craft fur around the dubbing ball…
…and tie it down with three or four tight thread turns. The thread will help to distribute the craft fur all the way around the hook.
Pull the butt ends of the craft fur to the base of the lead eyes and trim them off there. Secure the butt ends with a couple layers of thread, taking care to keep the underbody smooth.
Select and oppose two cree neck hackle tips.
Measure them so they are equal to the shank length.
Tie the hackle tip claws in so they are opposed at the bend of the hook.
Top view of hackle tip claw tie in.
Form a long (8 inch) dubbing loop at the bend with the tying thread. Place the dubbing loop in the material spring or somewhere out of the way while you complete the next few steps.
Move the thread back one third of the distance between the bend and the lead eyes and tie in a single strand of rubber legs with two X-wraps.
Tie in two more strands of rubber leg material, evenly spaced as you did above. Move the thread to directly behind the hook eye.
Cut two long (3″) clumps of craft fur from the hide.
Place the craft fur clumps in the dubbing loop with the long ends all to the same side and the majority of the under fur between the thread strands. I find it helpful to use a Dyna-King dubbing whirl as its weight helps hold the fur in the loop.
Cut the long ends off of the craft fur on the bottom of the dubbing loop as pictured above.
Spin the dubbing whirl to create the craft fur noodle.
Begin to wrap the noodle at the bend of the hook. Try to make two wraps slightly overlapped at the bend.
Continue forward with the noodle making two wraps between each set of legs, perhaps three between the first and second sets, as this will help form the ultimate body shape after trimming.
Wrap the trimmed portion of the noodle around the eyes being sure to cover the space between the eyes on both the top and bottom of the hook.
If you’ve been living right, you’ll run out of dubbing directly behind the hook eye. If not, let the dubbing loop un-twist, remove the extra dubbing and tie off the loop. Whip finish and clip the tying thread at the eye.
Use a Tiemco dubbing brush to comb out the fibers on the body. Don’t worry about the direction of the fibers, just concentrate on freeing the trapped fibers first. Once this has been completed, brush all the fibers toward the bend of the hook.
Trim the hook point side (now the TOP) of the body into a humped shape by making one clean cut from the eye toward the center of the body and another from the center toward the bend.
Turn the fly over and trim a groove along the hook shank between the legs, leaving the long fibers along the sides. This will help the fly to ride point up in the water.
Completed body shape after trimming.
Using a Sepia colored marker, make four bands across the top of the body (hook point side).
Make five or six stripes on the legs by pulling all three on a side tight and running the marker tip along them.
Make three or four bands across the long craft fur mouthparts with the sepia marker as well.
Color a black eye spot on each side of the body at the bend as shown.
Color a red band on the end of each leg.
Take two three-inch strands of twelve pound Mason hard mono and even the ends. Pinch them in a pair of Tiemco De-Barb Pliers to flatten the ends.
Place the fly back in the vise with the hook point down and start the 6/0 tan thread right behind the eye. Put the flattened ends of the mono up through the hook eye and bind the ends down with several wraps of thread.
Turn the hook over in the vise so the hook point is now up, fold the long ends of the mono back over the body and bind it down on top. Whip finish and clip the thread.
Cut the mono spikes so they reach to the back of the hook bend. Bend the ends of the weedguard just in front of the hook point and flatten the tips with the de-barb pliers. Apply head cement to the thread wraps at the head.
Finished fly, Top View.
Finished fly, Bottom View.
Finished fly, Side view
Charlie Craven was one of the tiers featured in the premier issue of Hatches Magazine. Charlie owns and operates Charlie’s Flybox in Arvada, Colorado. His shop’s website is filled with excellent step-by-step tying tutorials, news, a photo gallery, and a host of other useful features.