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Posted on Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 3:50 p.m.

Local fly fishing guide creates the Single-Fly-Cray and a low-budget gift for your fly-tier

By Tom Teague

Single Fly Cray 1 Left.JPG

Dexter-based fly fishing guide Mike Schultz shows off the Single Fly Crayfish, a pattern he developed for local waters.

Tom Teague | Contributor

In the interest of full disclosure, the flies that I tie mostly resemble something you would remove from a dryer lint trap. Although I catch fish on them, I can’t help but wonder if I am catching the really inattentive fish — the ones who haven’t yet learned the five aquatic food groups: insects, crustaceans, other fish, Wiggly Things and the occasional small clumsy mammal.

So, I envy those who tie flies that actually look like the intended pattern. When I visited Mike Schultz — the Dexter-based guide and owner of Schultz Outfitters — I was more than a little jealous of the Single Fly Crayfish pattern that he tied.

Mike is the creator of the SFC. The fly performed well at the Huron River Single Fly contest this past summer where he brought more than 30 fish to the net using the pattern during the six-hour tournament. Mike was quick to add that Schultz Outfitters co-sponsored the contest with the Huron River Watershed Council and that he and the guides fished in a special non-prize category.

The SFC is a multi-species fly that, according to Mike, fishes "extremely well from mid June through October." He explained that fish are particularly attracted to crayfish after they have spawned and molted in late May or early June. Smallmouth bass aggressively hit the crayfish patterns through October when the crustacean develop hard shells and are difficult for fish to digest.


Schultz Outfitters' Brian Doelle and Mike Schultz share fly fishing stories and discuss the Single Fly Crayfish pattern.

Tom Teague | Contributor

He has caught a range of fish species using the pattern, preferring to fish the fly on a 7-weight rod rigged with a clear tipped intermediate line to get the cray on the bottom. He strips line in to give the fly some movement.

Mike said that he ties the fly in three different color combinations to match "water clarity and the bottom color and structure of different streams." There is a recipe for the fly at the end of the column.

Three of Mike’s flies appear in the current Orvis catalog — Schultzy's Steech, Schultzy's ShrimpISH, and Schultzy's Flesh Nug. Next year Orvis will add three more, and he's hopeful that the Single Fly Cray will be included in 2013.

In case you are wondering, crayfish, crawfish and crawdad are regional variants on the same word describing the same type of crustacean. I always love to see a crayfish scuttling across a stream bed — it's a sure sign of a healthy stream.

If you are new to the sport or are thinking about taking it up: Fly fishing teachers usually begin with fly patterns that mimic a phase in the lives of aquatic insects such as caddis, may flies or stone flies. But fish are opportunistic eaters, and, as you gain confidence with casting heavier flies, you will want to diversify your fly collection to include crustaceans such as the Single Fly Crayfish; terrestrials such as beetles, ants, and grasshoppers; streamers that resemble small fish; a class of flies I call "Wiggly Things" that includes worms and leeches; and — depending on where you fish and for what species — even a small mammal pattern such as a vole.

Room at the Inn: A no- or low-budget gift for your fly tier

Back to Mike Schultz for a moment: He ties flies in a well-outfitted basement space, recently displaced from an upstairs room that he turned into a nursery. It got me thinking of an inexpensive gift that will be appreciated by any fly-tier: A dedicated space.

If you decide to encourage a budding or experienced tier at your home, give him or her a spot where he or she can leave the materials out and not have to re-pack the tools, feathers, fur, glue and thread every night before dinner. The space should accommodate a small desk, and should be warm, ventilated, well-lighted, and — this is important — inaccessible to the family cat. If your budget allows, add a couple of inexpensive drawer stacks and a bright desk lamp.

Recipe for the Single-Fly Crayfish

Hook: Daiichi 2546 in sizes 4-1/0
Weight: Red Dumbell Eyes
Stinger Loop: 30-lb Fireline
Flash: Gold or Copper Flashabou Splash
Legs: Orange Hot Tipped Brown or Olive Rubber Legs
Claws: Rabbit Strips
Body: wrapped Rabbit
Collar: Mallard Flank
Head: Rabbit spun in a dubbing loop and wrapped
Optional: Add a stinger hook to the loop if desired

If you’re tying unique flies that you’d like to share with others in the area, if you have announcements about activities related to local fly fishing or if you have a great Michigan fly fishing story, please send me a note at Columns will be published every other week and will have a focus on fly fishing in Michigan and regional waters.

Tom Teague is a local consultant, writer and fly angler posting every other Friday in the Lifestyles section of You may email him at



Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 1:36 a.m.

Thanks, I would like to get my hands on the fly so I can look at it when I tie my own. Tight lines

Tom Teague

Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 1:59 p.m.

@braggslaw - I'll find out whether Mike Schultz or Colton Bay sell the fly. If you're at the TU holiday party this evening, introduce yourself and I'll give you the one he tied for me that you can reverse engineer.

Tom Teague

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 5:56 p.m.

I have set up a flickr site with 23 photos of Mike Schultz tying the Single Fly Cray. I hope that the photos will be helpful to you in following the fly recipe that's provided in the column: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> I've numbered the photos consecutively in case they are displayed out of order. @Braggslaw - I think that photo 12 will help you see how Mike is weighting the fly. Photo 9 shows how he tied in the stinger loop for a second hook which would also help the fly sink fast. Thank you all for your feedback on the column. If you are tying a unique or artful fly or have something interesting to share about area fly fishing, please drop me a line at the email address shown at the end of the column.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 2:31 p.m.

Thanks, Tom. It's great to have a fishing column at all, but a fly fishing column? Nirvana. By the way, I tied a crawfish imitator that looked far worse than yours on my first attempt. Sorry, modesty is not my long suit.


Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 1:36 a.m.

I absolutely agree with than... I love all types of fishing but Fly fishing is till my favorite way to catch fish.

Tom Teague

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 6:07 p.m.

@TinyArtist - Nirvana is way beyond my expectations. Thanks! Mike Schultz tied the pictured fly. Someday I'll add a couple of photos of my own flies, but keep in mind that they've actually been known to cause other tiers to laugh out loud.

Tom Teague

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 1:32 p.m.

@Braggslaw - Thank you for the comment. I took a number of photos of Mike tying the SFC, but am just realizing that all those great photo spreads in the fishing magazines take more planning than I put into my first attempt. I'm trying to figure out how to improve the photo documentation to help with step-by-step as I write about other local fly tiers. Mike did demonstrate the fly at a recent Bar Flies evening in Dexter, so he may have given out a set of instructions. I'll write him to make sure he sees your comment. My previous column, link below, gave the schedule for those sessions: <a href=""></a> He had a crowd there and a good set up for teaching.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 1:08 p.m.

I have been looking for a superior crayfish pattern. This might be it. Mike, do you have a step by step tying diagram? I have always had problems with my crayfish patterns having too much bouyancy.... I add lead and then the darn thing does not give the right action.

Rork Kuick

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 9:39 p.m.

Nice. The smallmouth of the Huron river were my fly fishing and tying professors. The great thing about the smallies is that they give you enough data to learn without it taking forever, compared say to salmon, where I still am often baffled, and failing to hook a fish doesn't tell you much. Early on (1980) I was tying muddler-like patterns, but found the more I splayed the deer hair, and the more reddish fox-squirrel tail or fox hair there was, and the more I made it have a pulsing downstream motion, the better I did. My flies mutated more and more, and were getting strange. No theory, just trial and error. Finally my stupidity subsided. I was imitating crayfish. Without knowing it. Doh! I weight them with wire, floating line, 9-weight (just giving a data point). If they land over 100 fish they go into a little museum, nasty looking skeletons of the originals I assure you. Thanks, sally hansen hard as nails with nylon. Smash those barbs, and let them go - they are worth far more alive.

Tom Teague

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 9:48 p.m.

Thanks Rork. There is no teacher like experience on the water. Also agree about smashing the barbs and putting the fish back alive. The great Lee Wulff wrote in 1939 that &quot;Game fish are too valuable to be caught only once.&quot; If you feel that any of those flies you tie are photo worthy, drop me a note at the email at the end of the column.