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Ghost Shrimp Flies for the Ghosts of the Surf:
Corbina on the Fly
By Floyd Sparks, San Diego, CA

After years of fly fishing the southern California beaches catching halibut, bass, croaker, and lot's of surf perch, I still could not catch on a regular basis the one fish I saw most often, the elusive Corbina.

Fishing for them using ultra light spinning gear and live sand crabs for bait I became very successful, but only at certain times of the day, sun up and sun down.

Until now I had been fishing the lagoons and harbors using a fluorescent orange ghost shrimp in size 1/0 catching lot's of halibut and bass. I decided to scale down the ghost shrimp to a size 2 and try some different colors in hopes of catching surfperch.

I walked down to the beach about 3 hours before sunset and started casting a size 2 hot lime ghost shrimp. After an hour, and about the same time the sun darkened behind an incoming fog bank, I had the first of 3 corbina ranging from 2- 5 lbs. Now 3 fish might not seem like a lot but when it comes to corbina on the fly I was really happy.

The next morning I went back out to see if maybe it was a fluke. I fished the gray light and was shortly rewarded with another nice corbina. I was leaving on a trip to Baja and only had an hour to fish but I still managed 2 corbina. Now I was starting to see a pattern developing. Gray light and the hot lime ghost shrimp.

On my return from Baja I fished the beach that evening and this time I had more time and success, I caught 5, yes 5 more corbina. The rest is history. The size 2 hot lime ghost shrimp catches corbina on a regular basis. I tie the fly in a few other colors and have caught corbina on all of them but the hot lime is by far my favorite.

I fish 6 or 8 wt. rods using Rio's striped bass 250 and 350 grain sinking lines with the aqualux running line, 6-8 lb.test leader with a three strip and quick pause retrieve.

If you tie your own the recipe follows, or if you want to purchase these flies and the materials you can find them at

Recipe: Ghost Shrimp

Hook:   Size 2 Mustad 34007 or Trey Combs Big Game hook.

Thread:  Fine monofilament.

Shellback:  Hot lime Area Rules Fish Skin cut into inch strips.

Head:  Medium fluorescent chartreuse chenille.

Eyes:  Red glass beads on 20 lb. test with ends melted.

Ribbing  Fine monofilament thread.

Legs:   Chartreuse fluorofibre.

Body:  Chartreuse cactus chenille.

Tying Steps:

1. Using the fine mono thread make a base over the entire shank. Coat with pink zap a gap.

2. Tie in at the bend of the hook a small amount of Chartreuse buck tail topped with 5 strands of pearl crystal flash.

3. Trim a tail in one end of the area rules fishskin strips and lay over buck tail. Tie off leaving the forward piece long and the trimmed end over the buck tail.

4. Fold back the fishskin and secure with a few wraps of thread. Wrap some medium chenille building up a head on the last few wraps add the glass bead eyes, which were pre made on 20 lb. mono with melted ends to keep the beads secure, a drop of zap a gap also helps keep the eyes in place. Fold the fishskin over the eyes and chenille forming a shell for the head. Secure the fishskin in front of the head with a few wraps of thread.

5. Fold the fishskin back over the head and secure.

6. Rotate vice or turn fly over. Tie in some Fluorofibre for legs or beard.

7. Return vice or fly to starting position. Half hitch the mono thread leaving about a 5-inch piece to be used as ribbing later.

8. Tie in the cactus chenille and wrap forward.

Ghost Shrimp

9. Bring forward the fishskin and tie off behind hook eye. Wrap the remaining tag of mono thread forward as ribbing. Tie off. Trim a little long to form a tail, whip finish and add zap a gap. ~ Floyd Sparks

About Floyd:

Author Floyd Sparks
Floyd Sparks is a licensed guide in San Diego, California specializing in flyfishing the beaches, harbors, lagoons as well as offshore flyfishing onboard ocean kayaks. He is also the owner and head tier for his secure online store where you can safely purchase quality saltwater fly patterns, materials, and supplies. (Floyd's Flies is the only online distributor of Success Flies fly tying materials.) If you would like to contact Floyd his e-mail is Or phone him at (760) 634-3301

For more great flies, check out: Beginning Fly Tying, Intermediate Fly Tying and Advanced Fly Tying.

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