Crazy Charlie Fly Step-by-Step

Crazy Charlie Fly Step-by-Step:


Bonefish on the fly was a fairly novel venture when Bob Nauheim first tied the Crazy Charlie in the late 1970s.    Tied to mimic a glass minnow, the fly, originally dubbed “Nasty” by guide and namesake Charlie Smith, produced from day 1 and continues to produce 45 years later.

Having evolved only slightly over the decades, the fly rebranded as the “Crazy” Charlie has largely remained true to its original form.  Calf tail has long since replaced hackle and color selection has varied, but the same small fly with a clear ribbed body and sparse wing still remains.  Tied here in pink on a #2 hook, this fly can be tied in a variety of colors, weights and sizes as discussed in the Tips and Tricks below.

Gamakatsu SS15 or SL45 (#1-8) 210 Denier (Pink) Dumbbell Eyes or Bead Chain
Materials Flat Tinsel or Flashabou (Pearl) Materials Monofilament or Vinyl Rib (clear) Materials UV Resin (Thin)

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Crazy Charlie Fly Step-by-Step Tying Instructions:

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Tips and Tricks

  1. Color Selection – While originally tied to mimic a glass minnow, this pattern quickly evolved to imitate shrimp and small crustaceans. With that in mind, pink (as shown) as well as tan, gold and even “apricot” have become go-to colors for crazy charlie fans.
  2. Weight – I tied the above example with fairly heavy Dumbbell Eyes. Bonefish are notoriously spooky, however, so don’t be afraid to tie this fly with lighter bead chain eyes when targeting skinny water.
  3. Flash Optional – While not shown above, consider tying a few strands of Krystal Flash into the wing if you’re looking
  4. Substituions – As always, don’t overlook material substitutions if you don’t have exactly what is called for above. While Vinyl Rib has become the ribbing material of choice for this pattern, I reverted to Monofilament as was used in the original prototype. Similarly, any variety of flash (either clear or matching the wing) will suffice for the body. Don’t worry too much if you lack the necessary Flashabou or Flat Tinsel.

Proof of Concept

While I’ve never targeted bonefish, the Crazy Charlie has produced for me in both salt and freshwater over the years. Bass in particular seem to have an affinity for it when tied with bead chain and fished as a small baitfish.

Unfortunately, I do not seem to have any pictures of the bass and other species that have fallen prey to this pattern in my records. We’ll have to see if I can resolve that in the coming weeks.

Tight Line!


Crazy Charlie Fly Step-by-Step
Species Caught on the Crazy Charlie to Date:
  1. Largemouth Bass

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