Bob Nauheim originally tied this fly to emulate glass minnows but soon realized that the bonefish were taking it as a shrimp. Instead of naming the fly after himself like so many other tiers he named it after his guide “Bonefish Charlie Smith”. When it first took fish, Charlie could not stop saying “Dat fly nasty!” because of the staring eyes. The fly was then called ‘Nasty Charlie’.
Bob took the fly pattern to Key West and showed it to Captain Jan Isley who had great success with it on the fussy Keys bonefish. Jan was the first to tie the fly with a hair wing. Bob then took it to the Christmas Island when that mid-Pacific atoll first opened to bonefish fishing. The first saltwater fly fishers had reported that the island’s bonefish refused all their offerings, but Bob was very successful with his new pattern.
When he got back to the American mainland Leigh Perkins of Orvis called him to find out how the fishing was on the Christmas Island had been. Leigh was planning a trip there and wanted to know what worked. He took Bob’s fly with him and had a great fishing trip. He liked it so much that he arranged for it to be commercially tied and marketed through Orvis.
Leigh inadvertently changed the name ‘Nasty’ to ‘Crazy’. The Crazy Charlie name stuck.
Charlies come in all sizes and colours. This fly is an inverted hook pattern. It is designed so that the hook rides above the shank in the water. It is often fished in very shallow or weedy areas. The idea is that the hook does not get caught on the bottom. By adding a relatively stiff wing material near the hook eye which covers the hook point, the fly becomes nearly weedless.
Other inverted hook patterns are dressed to create inversion by bending the hook, by adding weighted eyes on the hook shank opposite the point and/ or by using relatively buoyant materials to cover the hook point. Any of these three techniques can cause the fly to ride inverted.
If tied with sparse materials these flies can be made to sink very fast.
This fly will bounce up and down on the retrieve and makes puffy little clouds on the bottom that sends out visible signals to nearby fish who interpret it as, ‘there is something moving down there that maybe good to eat’.
This fly is most often used for sight casting. Vary the size and weight of the eyes according to water depth. It is often more important to fish the right depth rather than the right fly. Don’t be afraid to use brass or even tungsten eyes.
In the UK, fish this fly off the beaches in the gully behind the first breaker. Here flatfish and bass often lurk very close to the shore. Flounder are voracious predators. You can also sometimes sight cast it at mackerel and bass in calm conditions but be assured the bigger bass are as fussy as any chalk stream veteran..
Hook:- Any short shank saltwater hook, sizes 6 to 2
Silk:- White or pink , 3/0
Body:- Clear monofilament (6lb fluorocarbon) wrapped over silver Mylar tinsel
Wing:- Tan or white calf tail with two strands of crystal flash
Eyes:- Silver bead chain
( 1 ) Start by wrapping the eyes to the top side of the hook with figure of eight wraps. Leave yourself enough room at the eye to finish the fly.
( 2 ) Tie in the fluorocarbon over body along the length of the shank to ensure a smooth and level underbody.
( 3 ) Tie in and wrap the Mylar tinsel. It is important to use a Mylar that keeps its colour and will not corrode or discolour after immersion in saltwater.
( 4 ) Wrap the nylon in close touching turns over the body. This forms an almost indestructible body.
( 7 ) Build the head around the eyes and whip finish. Coat the head in epoxy or several coats of nail varnish. The original, of course, didn’t have epoxy but the durability is improved by a thin coat.
( 5 ) Tie in a sparse wing of calf tail just behind the eye. I usually do this in two parts and insert the crystal flash in the middle of the bunch. The wing should cover the hook point.
It is a good idea to stack the calf tail before tying to even up the tips. Ensure the point of the hook is fully covered. This improves the flies weedlessness.
( 6 ) Cut the butts off at a taper and bind down to the eye covering the middle of the bead chain using figure of eight wraps