My standard lake fishing rig, a Olive Mohair Leech and a #16 Hare & Copper, are exceptionally effective. So effective that for some years I carried a fly box that only had these two flies in it. Most fish took one or the other provided I got the presentation right. Get the fly down to the fish’s level without the fish seeing the fly hit the water or sink and there was an exceptionally good chance of getting a take.
Cruising river fish were the same. In slow water, especially where there is plenty of weed growing, the Leech and the Hare & Copper combination is likely to get a take.
Despite the success of the Leech & Hare & Copper combination, the Fish-Skull CrawBody and conversations with a couple of mates made me consider a fresh water crayfish fly. This consideration turned into a year long project to create the perfect freshwater crayfish fly, which I have written about in “In Pursuit of the Perfect Freshwater Crayfish Fly”.
The end result was a fly that is remarkably easy to tie, and the fish absolutely love. Koura, the Maori name for freshwater crayfish, are a high energy potential food source that triggers a very, very aggressive response.
The final iteration of the Koura fly was the eleventh I had tried, and all had taken fish. The only real difference between the flies was the easy of tying and the ease of casting, as some were too heavy and others took too long to tie.
The final design for the Koura fly is easy to tie, easy to fish and triggers a very aggressive response from trout. The interesting thing about the Koura fly is that while I know the fish in the water I fish eat Koura, Koura are both wary and usually nocturnal, so it is very rare to see one during day light.
This does not stop most trout charging the Koura fly. Some will not take, some will take after swimming around the fly a few times, and some show absolutely no hesitation. Almost no trout fails to react to the Koura fly.
Lusk’s Koura Small Craft Fur Dubbing Brush Koura
Hook: Kamasan B200 #10
Claws: Two Brown Marabou Strung not Woolly Bugger Marabou
Body: Dark Brown Extra Select Craft Fur dubbing brush
Weight: 3.5mm Tungsten Bead or a 5/32nd Lead Eyes
- Add the tungsten bead or conehead to the hook and insert into vice. If using coneheads glue them in place before beginning to tie so they do not rotate when you are tying the fly.All the components of Lusk’s Koura. Dubbing Brush, Two Strung Marabou feathers and a hook with a tungsten conehead.
- Make dubbing brush. For a #6 hook cut fibres about 30-35mm long. For a #10 cut fibres to 25-30mm long. To make the dubbing brush even start at the top of the craft fur and cut even lengths of fur across the top.
All the components of Lusk’s Koura. Dubbing Brush, Two Strung Marabou feathers and a hook with a tungsten conehead.
- Tie in the dubbing brush as far back as practically possible and wrap around twice to create a small mound of dubbing brush that will splay the marabou claws. Tie down hard or the dubbing brush will twist when bringing it towards the eye of the hook.
- Slick down the marabou in your mouth or with some water. Measure two claws of the same length and cut. I have marks on my tying bench and cut the marabou at 30mm for the #10, 35mm for the #6. Do not use Woolly Bugger Marabou as it is not stiff enough.
- Tie in the marabou positioning the butt ends at the weight and splaying around the dubbing brush at the bend end of the hook. Tie down hard as if it is not tied down hard the dubbing brush will rotate the materials when wound forward.
- Wind the dubbing brush forward to the bead or cone, cut and tie off.
- Glue using a flexible cement rather than a stiff one that dampens the action of the materials.
- Be precise with the amount of craft fur you use on the dubbing brush. I measure the craft fur to get a relatively even dubbing brush.
- Make several dubbing brushes at a time to speed up the tying process.
- Measure the claws carefully, and prepare enough for several flies at a time to speed up the tying process.
The Koura fly needs to be on or near the bottom for a fish to take it seriously. Mid water is not a place a fish expects to see a koura, so while they will often look closely at a mid water fly, they rarely take.
The ideal scenario with the Koura fly is to get on the bottom on a cruising fishes’ path before the fish sees it. As the fish approaches a quick strip of about 2-3 feet of line almost always gets the fishes attention. After the first strip I usually leave the fly to sink again and watch the fish to see how it reacts. If it refuses, I usually leave the fly in case the fish turns and has another look, and only when the fish looks like it is going to move away from the fly will I give it another long strip.
The action of the Koura fly is more important than the colour or how closely the fly copies a natural. This pattern looks like a fleeing Koura if fished as I have described here. The action of the fly attracts the fishes attention, and it thinks “I’m going to get a really big meal here” and loses some of its caution.