Tying the Strong Arm Merkin

Tying the Strong Arm Merkin
Dave Skok photo

Hook: #2 Mustad Signature Series S71

Thread: Cascade 210 denier – cream – (or Danville Flat-Waxed Nylon)

Weight: standard Wapsi lead dumbbell eyes, x-small, mounted opposite the hook point-side of the shank. Paint the eyes and thread with nail polish that corresponds to the intended crab color.

Claw/Arm: Large (4mm) Cascade Ultra Chenille, white, knotted, trimmed, burned to crab claw shape, with one tip longer than the other. Mark with permanent markers and allow to dry. As shown: neon orange, golden olive, and brown Sharpie pens.


Dubbing/Underbody: Scrap sparkle yarn mixed 1:1 with white rabbit fur, dubbed loosely and combed/brushed rearward. Make sure to clear any excess dubbing that might obscure the claw.


Collar: Whiting Hen Saddle feather, white/cream, wrapped and then trimmed on the bottom (trim dumbbell side).


Carapace: Sparkle Yarn, tied in figure-eight style, 2 bunches at a time, trimmed to curved and tapered shape – white and cream shown.

Legs: 3 Silicone legs, knotted between yarn bunches - clear with orange tip and olive with black flake shown.

Glues: Thin cyanoacrylate (super glue); thin acrylic resin.


Steps:

//content.osgnetworks.tv/flyfisherman/content/photos/Merkin-Fly-Step-1.jpg

1. Put a #2 S71 hook in the vise and lay a multi-layer base of 210 denier thread near the hook eye and back some. The thicker thread base helps keep the eyes from spinning around the shank, as well as lifting the weight away from the shank for better keeling.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/flyfisherman/content/photos/Merkin-Fly-Step-2.jpg

2. Firmly attach the lead eyes with figure-eight and parachute wraps with a dose of thin super glue along the way. Th eyes should be placed on the top side of the hook (away from the bend), about 1 to ½ eye-length back from hook eye. Tie off. I paint the lead eyes with an appropriate color nail polish and let them spin on a drying wheel. Painting is optional, but it looks nice. Please use adequate ventilation should you choose to paint the eyes.


//content.osgnetworks.tv/flyfisherman/content/photos/Merkin-Fly-Step-3.jpg

3. Make a single-turn Surgeon's Knot with a loop of Large (4mm) Cascade Ultra Chenille. Pull the loop tight with the tips of stout scissors. Cut the loop on an angle to make two tips of unequal length. The longer (top) claw tip should be about 1/3” to 1/2” long. Leave an inch of material to form the arm.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/flyfisherman/content/photos/Merkin-Fly-Step-4.jpg

4. Burn claw tips to shape with a lighter or candle flame and let cool. Mark claw and arm with permanent markers and let dry.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/flyfisherman/content/photos/Merkin-Fly-Step-5.jpg

5. Firmly tie in the pre-knotted and pre-colored arm/claw assembly so that the longer claw tip faces down. (And, therefore up, when later inverted.)

//content.osgnetworks.tv/flyfisherman/content/photos/Merkin-Fly-Step-6.jpg

6. Inject acrylic resin in between the two strands of chenille and around the tie-in point.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/flyfisherman/content/photos/Merkin-Fly-Step-7.jpg

7. Hold to shape, angling slightly down towards the hook bend, and cure in place. Do not be random or sloppy about the angle and straightness of the claw as it has great impact on how the fly swims and sinks.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/flyfisherman/content/photos/Merkin-Fly-Step-8.jpg

8. Inject resin in to all three corner areas of claw.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/flyfisherman/content/photos/Merkin-Fly-Step-9.jpg

9. Hold claw open to “V” shape (about 60 degrees) and cure in place.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/flyfisherman/content/photos/Merkin-Fly-Step-10.jpg

10. Make numerous wraps of thread back over the glued portion of arm and then back to tie-in point.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/flyfisherman/content/photos/Merkin-Fly-Step-11.jpg

11. Loosely dub yarn/rabbit mixture on to the thread and wrap the dubbing around the tie-in point, and back on to the arm, and then back up the shank to just past the hook point. Quite a bit of loose dubbing is required.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/flyfisherman/content/photos/Merkin-Fly-Step-12.jpg

12. Brush back the dubbing around the glued arm. Make sure to pull out any excess dubbing that might obscure the claw.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/flyfisherman/content/photos/Merkin-Fly-Step-13.jpg

13. Wrap back over the dubbing a few turns and tie in a Whiting Hen Saddle feather, just in front of the hook point. Wrap touching turns until you run out of feather.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/flyfisherman/content/photos/Merkin-Fly-Step-14.jpg

14. Pull the hackle down towards the hook point while simultaneously wrapping the thread rearward, as you would for a wet fly beard. Continue back until in line with the hook point and then smooth out the remainder of the shank with numerous turns of 210 thread.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/flyfisherman/content/photos/Merkin-Fly-Step-15.jpg

15. Return the thread to the hook point area and invert the hook. Figure-eight on a bundle of 2 pieces of sparkle yarn (white and cream, as shown), to the hook-point-side of the shank, directly next to the hackle collar. The yarn tie-in point is directly in line or just in front of hook point. It is very important that the first yarn bunch be locked to the shank in a very solid fashion. It is even more important that the yarn be attached on the hook point-side, NOT the dumbbell side.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/flyfisherman/content/photos/Merkin-Fly-Step-16.jpg

16. Advance your thread a few turns and repeat with additional yarn bunches, leaving a little space between each application for the addition of legs. Depending on the lead eye size, it will take 4 or 4 ½ or 5 bunches of yarn to fill the shank of a #2 Mustad S71.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/flyfisherman/content/photos/Merkin-Fly-Step-17.jpg

17. Whip finish, once complete.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/flyfisherman/content/photos/Merkin-Fly-Step-18.jpg

18. Straighten the bunches so that each color stripe is in order.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/flyfisherman/content/photos/Merkin-Fly-Step-19.jpg

19. Hold the far-edge yarn strands out and trim with curved scissors on a mild curve. The yarn should be shorter near the lead eyes and longer near the hackle. Stout, serrated, 5” scissors work best for this operation.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/flyfisherman/content/photos/Merkin-Fly-Step-20.jpg

20. Repeat for close side.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/flyfisherman/content/photos/Merkin-Fly-Step-21.jpg

21. Clear any snarls in the yarn body with a dull bodkin.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/flyfisherman/content/photos/Merkin-Fly-Step-22.jpg

22. Comb out the yarn body with a fine-toothed comb, so everything is neat and clean.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/flyfisherman/content/photos/Merkin-Fly-Step-23.jpg

23. Trim excess fuzz off both edges.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/flyfisherman/content/photos/Merkin-Fly-Step-24.jpg

24. Trim off bottom of hackle (lead eye-side).

//content.osgnetworks.tv/flyfisherman/content/photos/Merkin-Fly-Step-25.jpg

25. Take 3 silicone legs and knot them between yarn bunches, one at a time, with a simple overhand knot. The 3 legs should fit nicely in between 4 or 5 yarn bunches. Make sure the legs are coming out from within the yarn, not above or below.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/flyfisherman/content/photos/Merkin-Fly-Step-26.jpg

26. Trim the legs to the length of the yarn carapace, or slightly longer.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/flyfisherman/content/photos/Merkin-Fly-Step-27.jpg

27. Apply thin super glue to the head and to the exposed thread along the top of the yarn body. Allow a little glue to soak in to the yarn body and leg knots.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/flyfisherman/content/photos/Merkin-Fly-Step-28.jpg

28. Apply thin super glue to all exposed thread on the bottom and to the clipped hackle area. Add a little extra glue to the yarn body nearest the shank.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/flyfisherman/content/photos/Merkin-Fly-Step-29.jpg

29. Inject small amounts of thin acrylic resin in to the yarn edges, precisely where the legs come out.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/flyfisherman/content/photos/Merkin-Fly-Step-30.jpg

30. Hold your legs exactly where you want them and set them in place with the light. It's easier to do one side at a time.

31. Catch permit.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

Recommended for You

The fly fishing communities in the U.S. and Belize are mourning after twin slayings that occurred on what appeared to be a routine guide trip on Sunday, June 23, 2019 in a shallow lagoon near San Pedro, Brazil. Industry

Fly Fishing Community Stunned by Twin Slayings on Belize Saltwater Flat

Fly Fisherman Online Staff - June 27, 2019

The fly fishing communities in the U.S. and Belize are mourning after twin slayings that...

Chip's Monster Magic. Designed in Saskatchewan's pike paradise - works anywhere. Fly Tying

Fly Tying Chip's Monster Magic Fly

Dwayne 'Chip' Cromarty - January 15, 2016

Chip's Monster Magic. Designed in Saskatchewan's pike paradise - works anywhere.

Fly Fisherman's documentary Industry

Fly Fisherman Magazine Documentary Recognized by Outdoor Writers Association of America

Fly Fisherman - June 24, 2019

Fly Fisherman's documentary "One Path" was recognized with two awards.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Casting Backhand in Tight Quarters

Casting Backhand in Tight Quarters

A backhand cast is when you use your backcast to deliver the fly.

Black Beauty

Black Beauty

Master fly tier Charlie Craven discuss the tools and materials needed to tie the Black Beauty.

Fly Fishing for Taimen in Mongolia

Fly Fishing for Taimen in Mongolia

Finding giant Mongolia taimen and a state of enlightenment.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

George Daniels offers his advice on which types of fly-fishing leaders are best for the most common applications you'll encounter on the water. How-To

Picking the Perfect Fly-Fishing Leader

George Daniel - January 22, 2018

George Daniels offers his advice on which types of fly-fishing leaders are best for the most...

Fly-Fisherman Editor Ross Purnell shares his top five best trout fishing destinations in the world. Worldwide

5 Best Trout Fishing Spots in the World

Ross Purnell, Editor

Fly-Fisherman Editor Ross Purnell shares his top five best trout fishing destinations in the...

American River California United States

American River California

MIchael Wier - March 23, 2017

American River California

See More Stories

More Fly Tying

Read Fly Tying

Water Boatman Fly

Charlie Craven - September 16, 2016

Read "Boatman Fly" to learn how to tie this neat fly!

Tweaking the Adams Fly: one of the most compelling things about tying flies is that no matter how long you've done it or how many flies you've tied, there are always little tricks you learn as you go. Fly Tying

Tweaking the Adams Fly

Charlie Craven - July 26, 2017

Tweaking the Adams Fly: one of the most compelling things about tying flies is that no matter...

If you are careful with these details, you'll have perfect dry-fly hackle you can be proud of. Fly Tying

Neat Vertical Dry-Fly Hackle every time

Charlie Craven - June 29, 2017

If you are careful with these details, you'll have perfect dry-fly hackle you can be proud of.

See More Fly Tying

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.