The creation of the Crazy Charlie is credited to fly angler Bob Nauheim. In the late 1970's Nauheim tinkered with a small ghost minnow pattern designed to trick bonefish. It turned out bonefish liked the pattern but Nauheim discovered they mistook it for a shrimp rather than a baitfish. The story goes Nauheim named the fly "Bonefish Charlie Smith," after the well-known bonefish guide. Smith then changed the name of the fly to "Dat fly Nasty." Eventually, Orvis got their hands on the pattern and renamed the fly "Crazy Charlie." Since its invention in the 1970's the Crazy Charlie has proven itself as a ubiquitous flats fly, although it is still probably best known for its effectiveness on bonefish.
The Crazy Charlie is typically tied on a #4 to #8 hook, with stainless steel bead chain eyes and a fibrous wing consisting of buck tail, calf tail (kip), or synthetic material. The belly of the fly is generally made from some sort of plastic ribbing material to provide the illusion of a segmented body. The fly rides weedless (hook inverted) and when fished over sand it skips along the bottom and leaves behind little puffs that attract predators. Although it resembles a Clouser, the Crazy Charlie usually lacks a long fibrous belly and it's an altogether "squattier" fly. Countless variations have been tied over the years using all sorts of wing and belly materials and color patterns. Some of the more popular color combos are pink/white, black, and tan/gold.
The Crazy Charlie is a good all around redfish fly. It can be fished over sand, under lights, or used as a general-purpose shrimp imitation. The compact and dense design of the fly lends itself well to casting in the wind. The pattern shown here is a variation of the original Crazy Charlie, tied with a slender tail and slightly more bulk in the body to improve visibility in off-color water. Over the years it's proven to be a reliable choice for the Texas flats.
Hook: Mustad 34007 (or equivalent) #4-#8
Thread: Clear nylon mono
Eyes: Stainless bead chain
Belly: Plastic ribbing or short hi-visibility fibers (EP silky fibers shown)
Wing: Bucktail, Kip, or synthetic fibers (Metz Slink-n-flash shown)
Cement: Sally Hansen's Hard-as-Nails
Step 1- Attach bead chain eyes.
Step 2- Attach belly material.
Step 3- Rotate fly and attach wing material.
Step 4- Accent fly with permanent markers (optional), and coat thread with head cement.