Necessity is the mother of invention is quite true in the fly tying world and I am one of the one’s that tries to develop tools that help with or make my tying faster.
Over the years, I have developed several tools to make the tying of my flies faster but one of the best has been my “Crab Trimming Tool”.
Back in the late 1980’s as I was gearing up to tie commercially, I saw right away that I was going to be tying a lot of crab patterns (my “Swimming Crab” and the “Merkin”). I was tying these flies that when trimmed had a circular body and I decided that I needed a tool that would accommodate the various size bodies and allow me to trim them in a rounded shape. This would decrease the time that I needed to tie them and also make them uniform.
At first, I looked at various size plastic pill bottles but these tended to not be very sturdy for what I had in mind. I then looked at some copper pipe that I had lying around and then it hit me – use PVC pipe.
I immediately measured the size of the different crab bodies to see how close they were to standard American inch measurements and figured out the closest 1/8 inch measurement. What I came up with was that the bodies vary from 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch – approximately.
When I initially thought about the PVC pipe, it seemed that I was going to have to get 4 different diameters which were not possible within the diameters of the crabs. While looking around in the pipe section of a local home improvement store, I saw exactly what I needed – a reducing coupler from 3/4 inch to 1/2 inch that used the inside diameter of the coupling. The outside diameter was slightly larger so that by placing a short piece of the right diameter inside the coupling, I would have the four different sizes that I needed.
Now that I had the proper diameters, I simply cut a “V” shape notch in each piece of the PVC pipe and both sizes of the coupling. This took a little geometry as the notches needed to be 180 degrees from each other. Once I had these marked, I cut the notches and my tool was finished. The whole thing fits together into one piece so that it is easy to keep up with.
Now all I had to do was tie up some crab bodies, place them into the proper size piece, trim around the perimeter of the PVC pipe and the body was finished.
Place the body into the proper size piece.
Trim the body around the perimeter of the pipe.
Here is how I use the tool for various bodies:
- 1/2 inch PVC pipe is used for size 4 and 6
- 1/2 inch coupling end is used for size 2 bodies
- 3/4 inch PVC pipe is used for size 1 bodies
- 3/4 inch coupling end is used for sizes 1/0 and 2/0
If you tie a lot of crabs, you might want to consider making one of these tools. It will pay for itself in now time.
Resource: Fishing with Frogs and Toads lures