While fishing with Alec Gerbec in Alphonse I quizzed him about the Alphlexo crab pattern and how it was different to the better known Flexo crab. Speaking of the Flexo, I searched the net for a possible originator of this fly and it seems that Richard Whitner is connected to the early development or at least popularization of the fly and similar patterns containing the Flexo Flyflex material in the States? The original Flexo crab is also sold as the Orvis Flexo crab; the connection between Orvis and the fly is unknown to me. However, Alec, currently one of the head guides at Alphonse Fishing Company had the following to say about his changes to the crab pattern to improve its performance in the Seychelles:
“My experience with fishing permit solely comes from Alphonse as I never had fished any other permit destinations before I got here. Now that being said, the Alphlexo’s design had a lot of thought put into it in order to cater towards the situations we find at Alphonse and St. Francois. The original version of this fly was called the Orvis crab or Flexo crab, sold commercially which included the nylon mesh body, but had rubber legs and feather claws.
The first concept of the fly was brought to my attention by James Christmas who was a long time guide in the Seychelles. He is an incredible fly tier. His pattern was used for permit at Poivre and Alphonse and fly fisherman had some good results with it, but it was lacking its full potential. It had the perfect resemblance of our crabs here but it needed tweaking in order for it to swim right and we needed something that would catch their eye from a distance so you didn’t have to plop it on the permit’s head. Now enters the orange beads. Additional weight and a hot spot that mimics eggs (not that I think they have orange eggs, but often crustaceans will turn an orange/red colour when pregnant). I also added the chenille legs and pincers as it imitated that of our natural crabs in Alphonse more closely. With fine tuning we were now getting this fly to swim how we wanted it to and grab the attention of the fish we were after. After much success with permit, I then started applying it to our triggerfish and man that really brought success to the table. I now like tying them in a variety of colours to mimic their prey’s surrounds like tan, olive, brown, and grey to name a few.”
Since the Alphlexo’s finishing touches were added, more permit have been caught in the Alphonse Group than ever before (personal communication with Alphonse Fishing Co. staff). As I understand, the fly made a huge difference and it was a great contribution towards figuring out what exactly permit wanted in the Seychelles. According to Cameron Musgrave, the white/clear Alphlexo also works really well for catching the swallow-tail parrotfish at St. Francois. Other species regularly caught on the Alphlexo crab include bonefish, emperors and bluefin trevally. Check out Pete’s step-by-step tying instructions of the Alphlexo in the link below:
FYI – The Flexo Crab was originated by Capt. Rich Whitner from New Orleans… In the early to mid-90’s, Rich was an invited tyer at Federation of Fly Fishers (now Fly Fishers International) shows across the southeast where he often demo’ed this and other of his original patterns, including Flexo sreamers, shrimp, and poppers. I sat next to Rich when he first showed his patterns to Lefty at the FFF show in Atlanta in 1995. Here is his video of original Flexo patterns: