Bass Shrimp
  |  First Published: July 2009

It’s great how you can sift through an old fly box and locate patterns that have previously been pushed to the back of your mind and bring back old memories. This month’s pattern was rolling around in the bottom of my tackle box along with other conventional bass tackle such as ice-jigs, spinnerbaits, minnow lures and numerous soft plastics, when I re-discovered it recently.

I had dropped it in there some time ago after a day at Maroon Dam. Finding it again brought back memories of the numerous bass it had tempted that day from along the weed beds on the Pointreau side. My recollection of this great pattern has prompted me to tie it for you this month.

If I recall correctly, I first found this pattern in an old Baywatch Fishing magazine more than 15 years ago. I think it had been tied by Brett Thompson, an angler at the forefront of impoundment bass fishing at the time and the showman who now runs the Yamaha Super Tank at the Brisbane Boat Show and other events.

The Bass Shrimp worked exceptionally well back then and still produces today. It’s an exceptional fly to fish along the edges of weed beds but has also worked in open water situations, such as the flats at Somerset, however lead eye substitution will often be required in this deeper water. Apart from the bass, saratoga, silver perch and yellowfin bream it has tempted in local waters, I believe this fly has shown merit in southern waters for species such as estuary perch, redfin, black bream and even landlocked trout.


Materials used in this fly are minimal and it is easy to tie. The hook is a stinger pattern that possesses a short, sharp point, small barb and is of a thin, yet strong, wire construction to easily penetrate the mouths of fish with minimal effort. For bass in shallower water situations I mainly use the lighter bead chain, but substitute with lead eyes and the pattern will sink faster and be more suited to deeper water.

Traditionally the body was tied with seals-fur-sub dubbing however the recent availability of leech yarn makes this pattern easier and quicker to tie. The squirrel tail could be substituted with foxtail, marabou or hackle fibres however the multi-toned effect of this material looks great. The hackle used is from the tippet section of a dyed saltwater-grade grizzly cock saddle, however plain grizzly or other fine hackle could be used. Entire cock capes are rather expensive but you can purchase smaller packs of around twenty feathers for just a few dollars to avoid buying an entire cape.


This pattern is best worked similar to most prawn and shrimp patterns with small sharp strips and a few seconds of pause in between. This imitates the action of this typical food source as it flicks upwards and then slowly falls through the water column when inactive. I have predominately fished the Bass Shrimp on an intermediate fly line however this pattern also works well in the shallows when cast on a floating line and 2-3m leader. For open water situations, when it is required to probe deeper, using a fast sinking line will allow you to reach the depths more efficiently.


(1) Place the hook securely in the vice and attach the thread with a jamb knot just behind the eye of the hook. Wrap the thread along the hook shank until it just starts to turn into the bend. Wrap backwards a few millimetres and then attach the bead chain eyes to the back of the hook shank with a series of figure-of-eights until secure. Apply a little vinyl cement around the thread securing the eyes. Wrap the thread back along the hook shank to the eye of the hook.

(2) Take the end of the Leech Yarn and use a series of thread wraps to secure this just behind the eye of the hook. Make sure you have attached the main core section of the Leech Yarn and not just the end fibres.

(3) Palmer (wrap) the Leech Yarn along the hook shank with close wraps all the way down to the bead chain. Using a series of figure-of-eights wrap around the bead chain and also around the hook in front of the eye (bend side) a few times until it is neat and uniform and you have covered the gap between the two sides of the bead chain. Wrap back along the hook shank with evenly spaced wraps all the way to the hook eye. Secure the end, whip-finish at this point and cut away the remaining Leech Yarn but not the thread. Apply a little vinyl cement to the thread.

(4) Velcro comes as two separate sides. Using the hook side, which is the harder of the two, comb the fibres of the Leech Yarn out. Rubbing the Velcro Hook backwards and forwards along the fly will release the tied down fibres and gives the fly a hairy look. These will give profile and movement to the fly in the water without bulk.

(5) Turn the hook over in the vice and secure it as shown. Cut a small amount of the squirrel tail and tie the butts in just behind the hook eye so that the fibres ride upwards, towards and around the hook point. Again add a little vinyl cement to the thread.

(6) Cut two equal hackles that are almost twice as long as the hook shank. Attach the butt of the hackles at each side of the tie-in point, just behind the eye of the hook. Both hackles should face upwards and slightly outwards, on each side of the fly, as shown. Whip-finish, cut away the remaining thread and add a little vinyl cement. Your Bass Shrimp is now complete.



HOOKGamakatsu B10S size 2
THREADFlat-waxed nylon - black
BODYLeech Yarn - grey/olive
WINGSquirrel Tail - Natural
CLAWSCock saddle - grizzly dyed orange
FINISHVinyl cement

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