Article by Jack Gartside: Learn how to tie three great Coypu patterns: the Crab Monster, the Coypu Dab, and the Coypu Bonefish Fly.

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Learn how to tie three great Coypu patterns: the Crab Monster, the Coypu Dab, and the Coypu Bonefish Fly.

3 Coypu Flies

To begin at the beginning. Last year, a friend of mine who lives deep in the woods in Norway and deals in unusual furs for fly tying, sent me an assortment of all kinds of fur strips to play around with. Among them were two especially interesting furs: kangaroo and coypu.

The flies I tied with the kangaroo strips were wonderfully beautiful but they had the unfortunate habit of hopping off the tying bench when finished and I haven't found them yet. When I do, I'll report back to you.

The coypu flies, however, stayed put . And so I had more of an opportunity to weigh their merits. Not that I've actually caught fish on them myself--not yet, anyway--but I tied up some crablike "critters" and coypu bonefish flies and gave some to friends to try out in Belize and Mexico. Reports back were much better than I expected, especially since these particular friends are fairly new to the sport. Notwithstanding, they caught some very respectable numbers of permit and quite a few bonefish on these flies. And so I'm encouraged to continue my experiments with this unusual material.

Read on and learn for yourself how to tie some very interesting flies that can be easily tied with coypu. In fact, with the exception of the Coypu Bonefish Fly, they are really all pretty much the same fly tied in pretty much the same way. They're just trimmed differently; same head, different haircuts.

What is Coypu Anyway?

CoypuBy now you're probably wondering what a coypu is. I know I wondered about it myself when I first saw the word so I looked it up in an encyclopedia, where I learned the following: Coypu (myocastor coypus) is also called nutria. In the accompanying photo it looks to my eyes like a cross between a woodchuck and a rat. But much bigger, with some of them growing to forty pounds and more. In fact, it's one of the largest rodents in the world, exceeded only by the South American capybara and maybe by the rats that used to live in my old neighborhood.

Coypu StripOriginally from South America, coypu are now found all over Louisiana and parts of Florida, where it is raised for its fine fur. Not wanting to become part of somebody's fur coat, many of them have escaped into the swamps where they've become real pests and have a bounty on them because they eat just about anything--and lots of it. Bad news for coypus but good news for fly tyers, especially since its body is covered with soft, dense brownish underfur with exceptionally long guard hairs (see illustration), a combination that makes for a very "active" fly when placed in water and a tempting fly when placed before a fish, at least based on the few reports just in. The coypu I use comes pre-cut into strips similar to zonker strips but if you have any coypu at home you can easily cut it up yourself into similar strips. If you don't have any and you can't find it at your local fly shop but would like some after reading this article, you can write me and maybe I'll have some extra for sale--if my order from Norway ever arrives.

Tying the Crab Monster

I originally called this fly the "Coypu Critter" but that was before I saw a rerun on the Late Show of that excellent sci-fi movie, "Attack of the Crab Monsters." Since I think this fly probably is taken most frequently for a crab, I now call it a "Crab Monster." Whatever you call it, it's a very simple fly to tie and one that has so far taken some very nice fish. I look forward to trying it out on permit down in Belize in April and on the stripers when they return in the spring. I'll report back later on their success.


Daiichi 2546 or Mustad 34007 or similar, # 4-#1


Danville's 6/0, orange, tan, or black


Lead barbell eyes (either plain or with eyes painted on)


Coypu strip

step 1

Step 1After tying in a set of lead eyes, dub some coypu underfur onto your thread and make several criss-cross wraps over and under and between the lead eyes (to fill in this space with fur).

step 2

Step 2Tie in a coypu strip (with guard hair points facing forward).

step 3

Step 3Wrap coypu strip over shank and tight up against and in front of the barbells. Tie down and trim excess.

step 4

Step 4Dub some coypu underfur (with some of the shorter guard hairs still in it) onto your thread and wind it on just in back of the eye and back into the wrapped-on coypu. This step may be skipped but I feel that it gives it a more “buggy” look.

step 5

Step 5Trim the top of the body flat. The fly is intended to be fished inverted, hook point up. Use this fly anywhere crabs might be found and let me know how you do.

Tying the Coypu Dab (or Small Flounder)

Coypu DabWhere found, dabs are delicious treats for stripers and other game fish. The Coypu Dab is an excellent imitation of this small fish. The dressing and tying directions for this fly are the same as for the Coypu Crab Monster. It’s only the barbering that’s different. Trim the top of the fly flat and the bottom of the fly slightly less flat to approximate the shape of the natural dab. Remember, this is a fly that is meant to be fished hook point-up.


Tying the Coypu Bonefish Fly

Here's a bonus for you. I hadn't intended to include this fly in this article but I ended up with so many small scraps of coypu that I decided to put them to good use and tie up a Coypu Bonefish Fly, to illustrate one of the uses to which you can put the many scraps you're bound to end up with if you've tied any of the flies described above. So here goes.


Daiichi 2546 or Mustad 34007 or similar, # 6-2


Danville's 6/0, orange or tan


Bead-chain eyes


Coypu dubbing


Short Coypu strip


Dubbed Coypu

step 1

Step 1Dub onto your thread some coypu underfur (remove the really long guard hairs first) and wrap over shank up to the bead-chain eyes.

step 2

Step 2Turn up upside down and tie in a short strip of coypu (skin should not be longer than hook).

step 3

Step 3Dub some more coypu onto your thread and wrap this just in back of and just in front of the bead-chain eyes, then criss-cross over and under and between the eyes, filling in this space with fur. Whip finish and tie off. Pick out fur so that it blends with wing.


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