Lusk’s Koura

In Pursuit of the Perfect Freshwater Crayfish Fly

This series of articles is available as an ebook on Amazon.

A year or so ago I started thinking about tying up some freshwater crayfish patterns for fishing in a small stream in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. I also wanted to try a crayfish pattern in Lake Waikaremoana, a stunningly beautiful lake with big browns cruising the edge. Koura:  Photo Mike Lusk

The pattern needed to represent the New Zealand freshwater crayfish, known locally by the Maori name Koura. Koura are from the genus Paranephrops, and comes in two sub species, P planifrons, or Northern Koura, or P zealandicus, or Southern Koura.

As far as I could tell both species of koura are pretty much the same, so from a tiers perspective I did not consider it necessary to alter the design if I were to fish in the South Island.Koura Photo:     Mike Lusk

The First Design

Without giving too much thought to the fly I started looking around for potential products that could be used to tie a crayfish pattern.

The most compelling materials were the Fish Skull Sculpin Helmet and Crawbody. I ordered these in two sizes, and tied up a few crayfish using these materials.

These materials produced an unsatisfactory Koura pattern, one that was too thin and without the bulk of a real koura. The Sculpin Helmet in Mini is hard to cast even with my extremely fast lake rod, a Sage TCR 5wt.

Koura pattern tied with Fish Skull Crawdad Body & Sculpin Helmet

Pattern #1 

Hook:                 Kamasan B200 #6

Head:                 Fish Skull Sculpin Helmet Mini

Feelers:             Rubber legs

Over Body:       Brown Fish Skull Crawbody Medium

Underbody:      Brown Ultra Chenille

The early koura patterns didn’t really get much of a work out as I tied them near the end of the fishing season, and did not get many opportunities to use them before the Upland Game season started.


I. Lusk’s Koura | II. Further Design Work | III. Trout & Flies for Similar Conditions | IV. Design Features for the Next Prototype | V. Rethinking the Koura Pattern | VI. Prototype 3, 4 & 5 | VII. A Fish Catching Fly | VIII. Further Design Work II | IX. Lusk’s Koura Tying Instructions | X. Fishing Lusk’s KouraXI. The Best Pattern | XII. A Revised Pattern | XIII. A Jig Hook Koura 

This series of articles is available as an ebook on Amazon.