Fly Tying SBS: The Grass Shrimp
The sixth fly in our series of step-by-step fly tying posts and one I tend to keep fairly straightforward, rarely adding flash or playing with the colours.
I tied this fly initially to be fished in darker water conditions, namely in the summer months when we have an influx of Sargassum weed and the water close to shore turns tea stained in colour. When faced with these conditions, a lighter fly is harder for the fish to pick out as it is lost in the coloured water and doesn't stand out as much.
For that reason, I started playing around with darker colours like olives and browns to help give off a Shrimpy silhouette in the darker water. After a few weeks of trying different styles of fly and different colours, the "Grass Shrimp" was born.
Admittedly, this fly isn't anything groundbreakingly new in terms of fly design, but the combination of the elongated wing across the back of the fly, along with the long buggy fibres from the Sparkle Yarn adds great movement, and more importantly, a very lifelike silhouette in darker water.
I tend to tie this fly small, preferring a size 6 as my go-to size and a size 4 in really dirty water conditions. The reason being that the size 6 looks much more realistic when compared with the size of shrimps we have here, especially the ones you find on our Turtle grass flats. That said, I have caught plenty of fish on both sizes, depending on conditions.
Check out the SBS below and let us know what you think!
Very simple and equally as straightforward, let's jump in. The materials are:
-Mustad S71SNP-DT size 4-6
-UTC Utra Thread 70 Tan
-Lead Eyes XS
-Wire-Free Synthetic Fox Brush Olive
-Fly Enhancer Legs Chart/Olive/Black
-Dave Skok's Vintage Sparkle Yarn Olive
-EP Crab & Shrimp Eyes
-Mason Hard Mono 16lbs
- Begin by placing the hook in the vice.
- Add a base wrap of thread at the eye to tie in your lead eye.
- Take your lead dumbbell eye and tie in at the eye of the hook. Make sure to tie in the dumbbell closer to the eye than normal. We will be finishing the fly a little differently from the standard form of building a head and whip finishing.
- Once tied in, add a dab of glue to secure the lead eyes and stop them from spinning when fishing the fly.
- Advance your thread back towards the bend of the hook and build up a base for the next set of materials to sit on.
- Once complete, cut a 1-inch section of the Fox brush and off it up to the bend of the hook. You are looking for the fibres to measure around 1.5 times the length of the hook shank. These fibres will form the tail of the fly.
- Once measured, catch in the fibres and secure with the thread. Make sure to securely tie in the fibres as they have a tendency to spin.
- Select two matching eyes from the EP packet and offer them up to the vice.
- When measuring the distance for the eye placement, I like to have each eye kicking out around 1/3 of the length of the tail.
- Tie in both eyes and secure, making sure the eyes are equal. Make a couple of wraps behind both eyes to help them splay out from the hook shank. Add a dab of glue to secure and move on to the next step.
- Whilst the glue is drying, select a pair of Fly Enhancer legs from the packet.
- Measure your legs to the length of your tail section. I like the legs to sit around the same size as the tail. Trim your legs in the Chartreuse section, ensuring that you have four legs of equal lengths, each with a Chart, Brown, Olive and Chart section.
- Once complete, tie your legs in from the Chartreuse section, ensuring that you have two legs on each side. I then trim all four legs to leave around 1/4 inch of Chartreuse on the tips for an added trigger
- This next step requires the use of a small comb/brush:
- I start by cutting 3-4 sections of Skok's Sparkle Yarn around 3 inches long. From there, I use the edge of my scissors to help separate the fibres of the yarn, making it easier to brush out the individual fibres.
- Once done, take your brush/comb and brush through the fibres, helping to separate the smaller fibres. You should be left with a pile of individual fibres once finished.
- From there, I take these softer fibres and loosely dub them onto the thread. The aim here is to create a 'segment' like appearance that will be brushed out later. This dubbed body section should be around 1/3 of the hook shank.
- Select a single Fly Enhancer leg from the packet and tie a leg in either side, directly behind the dubbed body 'segment'.
- Make sure to tie the legs in the same manner you did with the first set to keep continuity through the fly. This time, trim away the chartreuse tips to keep the legs a little shorter than your set of legs on the tail section.
- Now it's time to tie in the first of two wings on this fly.
- Repeat the same process as you did at the start when tying in the tail, only this time you will be tying the wing in over the top of the body, immediately behind your set of legs. The wing should measure out to half the length of the tail.
- Once tied in, remove the hook from the vice and blend the wing and tail together with your fingers or a brush.
- From here, we are simply repeating the previous steps to finish building the fly.
- Take another pinch of your Sparkle Yarn and loosely dub in to form your second segment. Advance your thread behind the dubbing and prepare to tie in your legs
- Tie in your legs the same as the previous set, ensuring the colours stay in line with the rest of the fly.
- From there, add a pinch more of Sparkle Yarn and dub over the dumbbell eyes.
- Advance your thread forward to the eye and tie in your second wing, following the same steps as the previous wing.
- Once secured, trim away the loose fibres at the tie in point, leaving a small section of fibres around 1/3 inch sticking out over the eye of the hook. These fibres will form the tail of the shrimp.
- Take your scissors and trim the fibres into a flat, shovel-like shape to mimic the tail of a Shrimp.
- Due to the nature of our fishery, I am a big fan of tying weed guards on most all my flies. This is an optional step, but if you intend to tie in a weed guard, go ahead and tie it in on top of your tie in point for the wing. Ince complete, throw in a whip finish and secure with glue.
- Once the glue has dried, take your brush/comb and brush out all the fibres from your dubbed 'segments'. Doing this helps give a buggy look to the fly whilst also helping the fly land softly.
- Lastly, take a brown Sharpie and run it through the wing fibres to add a contrast of colour to the fly. Finish by blending the fibres together and adding a few more dabs of brown Sharpie to any areas that might need it.
Having completed this last step, the fly is ready to be thrown in front of any cruising Bonefish or Permit in any situation you are likely to find them in. Due to the colour of this fly, I prefer to throw it in areas where the water is a little coloured or over a darker/grass bottom.
If you are fishing an area that has a lighter coloured bottom, i.e. sand, this fly can be tied up in the same way, swapping out the olive dubbing and wing for the same materials in Tan. I also prefer an Amber/Orange coloured mono eye in that instance.
So, what are you waiting for, go tie a few up and let them loose on your local Bonefish/Permit population. I am sure they will work as well for you as they do down here for us.