Shrimp Fly for Redfish

The No-Name Shrimp: An easy-to-tie fly for redfish.

My home waters in east-central Florida’s Mosquito Lagoon can be described as technical on the best days and downright difficult on many others. Our resident redfish and seatrout grow big on the shallow grass flats, but they are some of the most educated of their respective species you can find anywhere on the planet.

Angling pressure, clear water and the lack of tidal flow in the majority of the lagoon all contribute to the technical aspect of this fishery. With that being said, if you can catch fish here, you can catch them anywhere.

The challenge is coming up with effective fly patterns that are straightforward. Don’t get me wrong: I love to tie flies, but I am also a full-time fishing guide, and spare time is limited. So when I tie, it’s generally out of necessity. I prefer simple and effective patterns that I can crank out quickly. This makes banging out a few bugs for the next day’s charter seem like less of a chore. Throwing on some tunes and sitting in front of my old Renzetti Traveler vise with a splash of rum then becomes a welcome break from the regular routine of being a skiff guide, not just another hour tacked on to a long day.

Design Philosophy

I keep a few things in mind when I’m creating a new fly pattern. For one, I am not a huge fan of flash. I’m a firm believer in a less-is-more approach. On countless occasions, I’ve had fish flare off a fly when the flash lit up after a strip. The sink rate of a fly is equally, if not more, important. I want a fly to sink level and flat, not nose down into the grass. I love a big salad with my steak, but fish generally have different eating preferences. A grass-covered fly is pretty much useless. For the fish in the Lagoon especially, I want my flies to land softly. Shallow-water fish are almost always on high alert, and a hard-landing fly can spook them easily. But it can be tricky to come up with a fly that sinks and still lands with finesse. The No-Name Shrimp follows my thought process of fly design and has proved effective on the educated redfish and trout in my area.

Color and Size

As with any fly pattern, simple changes in color make the No-Name Shrimp useful for multiple species, different locations and different conditions in general. I tied the original pattern to imitate a shrimp by using basic browns and tans. However, altering the colors to more closely match the hatch is certainly a good idea. Also, in some areas, you might want the fly to stand out so the fish can see it better. In cases like this, throwing in a little chartreuse or bright orange is a good option. In the Mosquito Lagoon, we have more than two dozen species of shrimp, and they all vary in size and color. Tan-, brown-, green- and gray-color shrimp are the most common, but there are plenty of times when certain conditions cause the shrimp to take on interesting colorations. In some cases, I have forgone shrimpy colors altogether. I tie a variation in the exact same manner but with all black materials, and it has proven to be deadly — especially on black drum. An all-chartreuse dressing with a red collar is becoming one of my go-to patterns for seatrout in deep water. I’ve also found that combinations of this pattern in purple and chartreuse work great in the Louisiana marsh on big redfish. Don’t target only redfish and trout with the No-Name Shrimp. I’ve had great luck using the standard version of this fly on tripletail, and I’m anxious to tie a larger version in solid chartreuse and try it on beach-cruising jacks and cobia — I have a feeling they will love it. And you’d better believe that I will be toting along a few No-Name Shrimp on my next Florida Keys bonefish trip.

The No-Name Shrimp is a simple pattern I developed using my philosophy of fly design. Try wrapping a few for yourself, and you’ll find they’re simple to tie and nearly impossible for multiple species of fish to resist in just about any salty destination.

MATERIALS

HOOK: Gamakatsu SC15, No. 1, or Mustad C47S D,
No. 2 (Gamakatsu sizing runs on the small side)

THREAD: Brown Uni Ultra, 140-denier

BODY: Camel Fishient streamer brush, 1-inch

TAIL: Mullet-brown Steve Farrar’s flash blend

COLLAR: Brown saddle hackle

EYES: Lead eyes, small

WEED GUARD: RIO hard mono or similar, 20-pound

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Pinch the hook in the vise, point down. Attach the thread, and wrap a base layer from the eye of the hook to the bend. Cut and taper a sparse bunch of Steve Farrar’s flash blend, and tie it in just past the midsection of the bundle on top of the bend of the hook. Hint: You can taper this material by gently tugging at each end.
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Once the material is secure, take the front half of this material and fold it back toward the tip of the tail (the other end of the SF blend), then tie it off. If you need more of a taper, use scissors to trim the tail to the desired shape.
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Work the thread to just behind the eye of the hook (make sure to leave enough space to place the weed guard between the dumbbell eyes and the hook eye), and use figure-eight wraps to secure small lead eyes to the top of the hook shank. Wrap the thread back to the tail, and tie in the streamer brush.
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Wrap the brush forward toward the lead eyes. As you make the wraps, pick out the tips of the brush with a bodkin. Continue wrapping the brush forward until you have just enough space on the shank to palmer a hackle collar (normally about four to five wraps).
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Select a saddle hackle with tips that will extend to the end of the dubbing brush when palmered. Tie in the hackle on the shank, with the base of the feather quill just in front of where you tied off the streamer brush.
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Wrap the feather around the shank, with the arch of the tips facing the rear of the hook. To finish the fly, tie in the mono weed guard, whip-finish the fly and apply a few drops of head cement. Finally, bar the tail with a permanent marker of your desired color.