Fly Tying SBS: The Skruffy Shrimp
The third fly in our series of step-by-step fly tying posts and one I never leave home without! As our logo suggests, we are fanatical about chasing Permit. These fish are cunning, finicky and notoriously hard to fool, especially on fly tackle. Having confidence in your fly is everything, and this fly is one that is proven, giving us a great deal of confidence in most situations.
When tied correctly, this fly lands soft and sinks quickly, with a fluttering action coming from the tail and legs, a great option to put in front of a cruising fish. The fly is relatively neutral in colour
and subdued, with not too much flash, meaning it is an excellent option over mottled or sandy bottoms. In smaller sizes, this fly is also a killer for Bonefish in various fishing situations.
So, the fly. 'The Skruffy Shrimp' was designed for fishing over sandy, marl or mottled bottoms, with a depth of 2 - 4 ft. We tie these in sizes 4 and 6 on the Ahrex SA220 Streamer hook. Typically, we pair it with medium or small lead eyes depending on the depth we are fishing. You could also tie these lighter, swapping the eyes for a lead wire body if required.
Check out the SBS below and let us know what you think!
Again, a simple and straightforward fly, let's jump in. The materials are:
-Ahrex SA220 Streamer Hook #4
-Small Lead Dumbbell Eyes (Nickel)
-Mono or brown thread
-E.P. Tarantula Brush 1” Tan/Brown
-Tan Craft fur
-Tan/Pearl Silli Legs
-E.P. Crab/Shrimp Eyes
-Midge Flash Tan/Pearl
-Flat Lead Wire (Optional)
-Mason hard mono 16lbs
- Begin by placing the hook in the vice. Add a base of thread and capture in the lead eyes, leaving space in front to finish the fly.
- Once complete, add a dab of glue or U.V. resin to the lead eyes and advance the thread towards the barb of the hook.
- Take your craft fur and cut away a piece from the patch. You are looking for a diameter of 1/4 - 1/2 of a pencil, depending on the size of the hook you are tying on.
- This tail section should be whispy, giving the impression of antennae and the breathers/mouthparts of a shrimp.
- Once you have cut your craft fur, remove the under fibres and taper your section. Tie in your tail the same length as the shank of the hook, making sure you tie your craft fur a little further down the hook bend, creating a 45-degree angle of the craft fur pointing up from the hook.
- Doing this gives the craft fur a little more movement on the strip, whilst also adding a more realistic look to the fly.
- Once you have your craft fur tied in, take 2 strands of your tan midge flash and tie in on each side.
- Make sure your flash is even on both sides before trimming. I like to cut the flash the same length as the craft fur tail, but feel free to play around to suit your requirements.
- Take 2 of your Silli legs and measure them the up to the hook. I prefer to have more of the tan showing than the pearl on this fly, so I measure accordingly.
- For the rear legs, I keep them around 3-4mm shorter than the tail. This helps to avoid fouling and keeps the fly better proportioned.
- Tie in the legs, making sure to have two on each side. Once tied in, trim the legs to the correct size and move on to the next step.
- Select two matching eyes, either pre-made or ones you have made yourself. Offer them up to the hook and tie in. You are looking for eyes that extend 4-5mm from the hook bend. Long enough that they are a trigger, but not too long that they cause the legs to foul.
- Splay the eyes and add thread wraps over and behind the eyes to help keep them in place. Add a dab of glue to the thread wraps to complete the step.
- Tie in the E.P. Tarantula Brush in front of the mono eyes and palmer forward in touching turns. Make sure to stroke back the fibres as you work the brush forward, trying to trap as few fibres as possible.
- Once you reach halfway down the hook shank, capture in the brush, ready to tie in the legs.
- Take an individual Sili leg and tie it in, making sure to have the leg running parallel to the hook shank and even on both sides. Once complete, leave the legs long as we will trim them when the fly is done.
- Work the E.P. Tarantula Brush to the eye of the hook, again continuing with touching turns, stroking back the fibres as you go. Stop the brush just shy of the dumbbell eyes and capture in.
- Repeat the previous photo's steps for tying in the single-leg on each side. Once complete, advance the brush forward, tying in, and trimming away once you reach the lead dumbbell eyes.
- Now for the tricky bit, the trimming… Start by whip finishing your thread and trim away. Take a strip of velcro or a dubbing teaser and brush out any trapped fibres from the body.
- Once done, take the fly out of the vice and start to trim away the E.P. brush fibres. Try to create an even, circular form to the body, trimming tight to the brush to give the fly a better sink rate.
- Try and leave a few of the elastic legs in the brush, but if they are trimmed away in the process, don’t worry about it.
- There you go, now you have the finished fly. A simple shrimp fly that is quick to tie and very effective.
- All that is left to do is trim up your legs on the body to your desired length (I prefer shorter so as not to foul) and tie in your weed guard. Add a dab of U.V. resin or glue, and you are good to go.
So there you have it, the “Skruffy Shrimp”. A deadly fly that has fooled pretty much every flats dweller we have down here.
We find the most success fishing this fly on a long, slow strip, keeping the fly just off the bottom and slowly cruising through the water. A more erratic retrieve can cause the target species to spook.
When it comes to Bonefish, try leading the fish 3-5ft depending on the depth of water, and for Permit, get the fly in front of them, landing it right on their nose.
Hopefully, you found that informative and you can take a few of these ideas into your own fishing. So go ahead, tie up a few of these in a mix of different colours and sizes for your next flats fishing adventure. We are sure they won't disappoint.