There are a ton of shrimp fly patterns out there. If it came right down to it, we could all be very successful with superb casting and four to five patterns. Bonefish flies and particularly shrimp flies are like steelhead flies, you can tie most colors and use a few basic shapes to produce a million different patterns that all work, particularly when you have a lot of confidence in a given pattern. Despite this fact, shrimp flies are just fun to tie. One of the most common styles is the spawning shrimp. Fly anglers are often so caught up in the entomology game that they will begin to imagine that fish are choosing spawning shrimp for some reason over a regular shrimp. This seems outlandish to say the least. What does seem logical is that the bright colors that are associated with spawning shrimp patterns are a great way to attract fish to your fly. If the colors are overdone, then you can scare fish off more than attract. For this reason, it pays to have ways to mute bright colors on some of our patterns so that we can attract fish yet stay within the realm of the fish’s natural feeding spectrum. This tying style lets you accomplish this in an easy but effective way.
Shrimp come in a huge variety of colors and transparencies. I’ve seen shrimp on the flats that were not only agile movers but also nearly clear in color. They blended in so well with the sand and general environment, that it seems logical that we would want more transparent shrimp patterns. We should never forget, however, that we are fishing, not creating a clone of one natural food source. There are a lot of different reasons why that fish approaches your fly, and most of them have to do with eating. However, if the fish never sees your fly to begin with, then who cares if it looks like the natural. Shrimp are not just transparent or tan. They have oranges, pinks, olives etc. on their body, and we can use these colors to attract fish to our patterns. Sometimes, bonefish want a bright colored fly and attack it with reckless abandon. In other cases, too much color and flash may turn the fish off. In this light, it seems logical to have a few different extremes when it comes to shrimp flies. This pattern and tying technique allow you to increase or decrease the amount of flash and color you can add into the pattern, but they stay on the more muted side of shrimp flies, unless you add bright legs to the pattern. You can also add a bunch of flash and color to make the fly glow more or less with each pattern. The point of this pattern is not to necessarily match the hatch with a spawning shrimp, it is to have enough color to attract fish that may be accustomed to seeing these colors from time to time. The colors are more meant for attracting than replicating. You can add a bunch of different color combinations to achieve this. All in all, these patterns and tying style should get your creative juices going for your own patterns, or feel free to use this exact pattern.
The materials of this fly are not exotic, but come together in a focused way. For this pattern, extra select craft fur makes up the majority of the fly. Feel free to use any of the common materials for bonefish and other shrimp flies, however. Extra select craft fur has superb movement in the water, takes markers, and provides a good transparency for the underwing. The underwing should be a material such as Ice Dub, Senyo’s Laser Dubbing, Angel Hair etc. You can also add a small patch of a brighter material on top, such as rabbit fur. This helps the color to bleed through a bit more if that is your desired effect. Match the amount of flash and color with your rubber legs, and this will give you a nicely balanced pattern. You can include eyes, but I personally feel eyes are horribly overrated in every facet of fly fishing except for selling patterns. In this case, eyes on a fly pattern, including bonefish flies, are very effective. Fly anglers just can’t resist them. We’ve all heard of a pattern called a Gotcha. It’s been known to take a few bonefish, even without eyes! I’ll attach eyes as quickly as the next guy, but I know that the fly will catch fish without eyes. If you have any ideas on how to improve the pattern or technique, feel free to leave them in the comments section. Good luck with them shrimp!
- Hook: Bonefish hook of choice (Daiichi X452, Gamakatsu SL11-3H, Tiemco 811S, Gamakatsu SL12 etc.)
- Thread: Flat Waxed nylon or UTC 140 etc. (orange, pink)
- Weight: Bead chain or dumbbell eyes (1/30 oz. plated dumbbell eyes in the video)
- Eyes (optional): Mono eyes or Enrico Puglisi eyes (use whatever color you like)
- Tail: Extra select craft fur (tan, cream, sand in video)
- Flash: Krystal Flash (root beer in video)
- Rubber Legs: Crazy legs, Loco legs etc. (tan Loco legs in video)
- Body: Extra select craft fur (underfur)
- Under Wing: Bright dubbing or material like Ice Dub, Senyo’s Ice Dubbing, Angel Hair, Wing N’ Flash etc. (orange Ice Dub in video)
- Wing: Matching extra select craft fur (sand in video)
- Lacquer: Zap-a-gap (brushable) etc.