The making of a pattern to suit a particular prey or to match the hatch is nothing new, nor is creating a fly that mimics a lure that someone has had success with. I dealt with that subject in a previous blog entry. In this brief entry I will show how I sometimes go about either creating or modifying a pattern to suit me needs.
In this particular case I have been looking at various shrimp flies that I have either tied myself or others have tied. Now the first thing you will notice about most of these patterns are that they are made to swim backwards like a fleeing shrimp, but if you have ever been prawning or just happened to notice shrimp in the water, most of the time they swim forwards – eyes and feelers first. So why don’t we tie flies to match both? First of all it’s hard to tie a fly that swims face first mostly due to the materials we use. Many materials are made to move freely with the water / current which means your shrimp flies feelers and head parts are going to be pushed back, leaving your shrimp looking like it had a run in with a parked bus!
Some research was required and I did the usual internet searches and stumbled across a pattern by an American, Larry Haines. It’s simply called Haines’ Supreme Hair Shrimp. The name is both descriptive and gives away the primary material to be used. The problem I had with this pattern was that it rides hook point down and has no weight. Now this might be good for shallow flats or for slowly sinking down the side of a pylon etc, but my needs were different. What I am looking for is a fly that sinks naturally, but a little faster than unweighted and also rode hook point up to avoid the weed that we tend to fish in my local waterways. Think tank time.
I sat down and did a few sketches. Mostly based on the overall design of Haines’ creation as I like the shape of it and it reminded me of a soft plastic from Ecooda / Samaki that I had a lot of success with in Weipa this year, as well as a few lizards in the local waterways back home. The thing that impresses me with the Ecooda Live Shrimp was the way it sunk. Very very natural looking but with nice movement from the legs. The best way to fish the plastic was to slow roll it across the bottom, s I was thinking the same way with a fly. So I settled on my sketch and moved onto the materials I would use.
I decided to substitute the supreme hair with Unique Hair which isn’t quite as stiff. I used round rubber legs and so EP dubbing in place of the palmered hackle on the original. The eyes I made up myself with 80b mono and two black beads. A little bit of flash and some brass dumbbells for weight and I was ready to try it.
I knew the placement of the weight was going to be important, as I wanted the shrimp to slowly drop level, not head or tail first. A couple of attempts – one was too long so looked out of proportion. The second crowded the hook point too much and may have affected hookup rates. The third I am happy with. Good proportions. I used Flex UV resin so the head and body are soft enough to open the hook gape when a fish takes it, but stiff enough for the fly to swim without all the materials fluttering backwards.
From the images above, you can see the overall shape. The extended tail. The dumbbell eyes placed below the hook point so the fly sinks horizontally as much as possible. Rubber legs at the front and rear so should move on the drop and the strip. Flex UV Resin on the head and body will allow them to crush down when a fish strikes, this opening the gape. I used a long shank wide gape hook from Sakuma so as to maximise the gape. A little bit of flash on either side of the tail and up the middle of the head to attract attention.
Anyway – hope that gives you an insight to my thought process. Don’t ever be afraid to experiment, you can re-use most materials if you need to undo anything 🙂 This fly is yet to be tried on real animals, but it looks like it should work. I will keep you posted on that!
Acknowledgement to Larry Haines for the original Haines Shrimppattern.