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Al's Shrimpf
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Al's Shrimpf
By Al Campbell

Al's Shrimpf is a pattern that's derived from my Shwapf pattern used in fresh water. The idea behind this fly was to create a pattern that is easy to tie, is easy to vary the color and size to fit local conditions, and looks like a shrimp when you're finished. The bonefish loved it on a recent trip to Belize.

Too many bonefish patterns don't look like anything in the water. By that, I mean they look vaguely like shrimp or crabs, but they don't really look like shrimp or crabs. On the other hand, the Shrimpf does look like a shrimp when you put it in the water. I'm not the only one who sees it that way either. The bonefish of Belize chose it overwhelmingly over the standard patterns tried by the group I was with. (See Belize part 3)

The Shrimpf incorporates some of the key features found in most successful bonefish flies. It has a body that seems to glow and has some crystal flash that attracts fish. Unlike most other bonefish patterns, it's easy to tie and can be easily varied to match the size, color and sink rate of the fly to the desires of the fish. Except for the cost of hooks and a variety of crystal flash, these flies aren't expensive to tie either.

Materials: Al's Shrimpf

    Hook:  Mustad 3407, S71S, C70S or equivalent stainless saltwater hook, size 4 to 8.

    Thread:  3/0 orange thread.

    Tail:  Orange crystal flash.

    Back and hackle:  Long fox squirrel tail hair with dark tips.

    Body:   Wide pearlescent tinsel (I usually get mine from the long tinsel sold for Christmas decorations).

    Eyes:   Silver bead chain. For less weight I use pearl craft beads in the smallest size I can find.

    Cement :   Any water-base cement will work.

Tying Steps:

1. Lay down a thread base. Tie a small cluster of crystal flash fibers to the hook securing the fibers slightly past the beginning of the hook bend (12 to 24 strands depending on hook size and how bulky you want the fly to be). Trim the crystal flash to extend 1/3 to 1/2 the hook shank length past the bend of the hook.

2. Select a small cluster of squirrel tail hairs (30 to 50 depending on hook size and desired bulk). Remove all the under-fur using only the long, stiff hairs. Trim the tips. Tie the hair to the hook, tips first, securing it to the same place on the hook bend you secured the crystal flash.

3. Tie in a strand of wide, flat pearlescent tinsel, securing it to the same place on the hook bend.

4. Tie in the bead chain eyes on top of the tinsel using figure-8 wraps to secure them to the hook.

5. Start wrapping the tinsel. Your first wrap should pass between the eyes and tail, then under the hook and eyes covering the thread used to secure the eyes.

6. Wrap a smooth tinsel body all the way to the eye of the hook. When you have the body finished, tie the tinsel off and trim it close to the hook.

7. Pull the badger hair over the top of the hook, between the bead chain eyes and secure it tightly behind the hook eye.

8. Pull the hair back toward the tail measuring it to extend half the distance from the hook bend to the tail. Trim the hair at that length.

9. Flare the hair around the hook trying to keep it as even as possible on all sides of the hook.

10. Hold the hair in place and secure it to the hook building an even head as you tie it down.

11. Whip finish and cement the body and head. I apply a drop of cement to the hair at the eyes to secure them to the body so they won't move. Your finished fly will swim with the hook point up as shown.

12. From the top it should look like this.

One last note; it seems this fly is a fair match to small crayfish. A couple of local guys have already tied it (based on the flies I have in the vise case at work) and have been clobbering the trout in a couple of local lakes. For freshwater you don't need stainless hooks. ~ Al Campbell

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

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