Over the last few months I have had several keen fly anglers requesting some simple-to-tie crustacean patterns. Prawns and their freshwater brethren, the shrimp, make up a huge part of the diet for a vast array of species from the smallest creek bound gudgeon to the largest ocean going tunas.
Crustaceans include many species and can vary in size from a pinhead to over 30cm in length. Whilst there is a huge array of baitfish patterns around, the number of crustacean patterns is somewhat more limited, possibly because most are harder to tie than the average baitfish pattern.
This month I have decided to do a great little pattern that has proven extremely productive on a wide array of species in both salt and fresh water. The Brine Shrimp was initially a pattern I tied for targeting tarpon and giant herring feeding in land-locked lakes. These small tarpon and giant herring, which were less than 40cm in length, seemed to be feeding on juvenile prawns, which showered on the surface to avoid being engulfed. I had tried every little baitfish profile I owned, including the usually productive ‘Eyes’ pattern, but to no avail.
That night I sat at the bench and tied several prototype prawn/shrimp patterns. The next day I was back at the lake with my #5 Sage in hand and again these herring species were harassing the small shrimps. It only took a few casts for success, now that I had closely imitated their food source. Situations like this really go to show the benefit of being able to tie your own flies.
Retrieves for crustacean patterns such as these are fairly simple, especially if you have ever observed these species in the wild. Prawns and shrimps both make their escape from hungry predators with a series of tail flicks which sees them dart away, tail first, in an upwards motion. To mimic this, we just need to allow the fly to sink and then employ two or three, short and sharps strips, which sees the Brine Shrimp resembling the real thing. Most of the time, I fish this pattern on a sink-tip line such as Scientific Anglers Wet-Tip Clear, although sometimes an intermediate or floating line can be used. One such situation, is working the fly along the front of weed beds, where a floating line is usually best.
When using a floating line you can usually fish the fly down as deep as 2/3rds the length of your leader. For example if you are using a 3m leader then you can fish the fly as deep as 2m. Obviously this depth will decrease in stronger currents.
The materials used in this fly are fairly simple. The main body is tied from Tiewell Crazy Body but other substitutes would be Crazy Lace, Larva Lace, Minnow Body Material and Body Rib. Other colours can also be used, or you can wrap the hook shank with a coloured thread to obtain a different holographic effect. The feelers are streamer hair in the opaque white colour, which have been barred with a waterproof permanent marker pen. Thin strands of clear monofilament could also be utilized. The front of the fly is Slinky Fibre however suitable substitutes would be Kinky Fibre, Hi-Vis or Neer Hair. The bead chain I used is one of the new mottled ones that Tiewell distribute, but plain bead chain, probably black would suffice. A little enamel paint can also give the same effect. Over the entire finished body I apply a coat of Soft Dip (or Softex) to make the fly more durable. The mono thread is important as it is clear and is therefore invisible once coated with the Soft Dip.
1. Attach the thread with a jamb knot (or similar) to the shank of the hook, approximately opposite the point of the hook. Cut a small portion of Slinky Fibre, around the same length as the hook, and tie it in at this point.
2. Cut around eight to ten strands of the streamer hair and then use a waterproof black marker pen to create the barred effect. Tie these strands in at the same tie in point as the Kinky Fibre, so that the fibres stand and splay as shown. Tie off with a whip finish at this point but do not cut the remaining thread away.
3. Attach the bead chain eyes to the top of the hook shank, just in front of the tie in point for the previous materials. Again whip finish but do not detach the remaining thread.
4. Take the Crazy Body and attach it initially just behind the eye of the hook and then overwrap it with the thread onto the top of the hook shank up to around 2/3 of the distance between the eye of the hook and the eye of the fly.
5. Wrap the thread back down the hook shank to the eye of the hook. Palmer (wrap) the Crazy body around the shank and eyes in a series of wraps to create a body shape similar to that shown. This may require several layers up and down the hook shank and around the eye of the fly. Finish the Crazy Body at the eye of the hook once you are happy with the profile of your fly.
6. Tie off the end of the Crazy Body and whip finish just behind the eye of the hook. Keep tension on the Crazy Body whilst you whip finish and ensure it is secure before cutting away the excess Crazy Body and then the thread. Use toothpick or bodkin to entirely coat the Crazy Body and bead chain eye with the soft body. This will not only make the fly more durable but will also give the fly a softer finish. Keep turning the fly whilst you allow it to dry. The brine shrimp is now a tasty morsel for a wide range of hungry fish. What are you waiting for, go try it out.
HOOK: Gamakatsu B10S No.8
THREAD: Clear Mono – fine
EYE: Bead chain – medium mottled brown
BODY: Tiewell Crazy Body – extra small
HEAD: Slinky Fibre – white
FEELERS: Streamer Hair – opaque white
BARRING: Waterproof marker- black
FINISH: Soft Dip