Illawarra Flyfishers Club

Curalo Prawn 

Photos and Text by Andrew Susani and Andrew Wheeler

Hook Gamakatsu B10S or Mustad 34007 size 4
Thread 6/0 White or colour to match body
Body Crystal chenille or dubbed rabbit fur
Eyes Burnt and painted 50lb mono
Mouth Parts Small bunch of rabbit fur
Legs Palmered saddle hackle
Back Polafibre or a similar fine, tapered hair (with a drop of supa-glue)

I have never been entirely happy with the way prawn and shrimps have been portrayed by fly tiers. While I am not saying that these patterns don't work, I just felt that there had to be a better way to represent a prawn. With this in mind, I set out to create a good prawn pattern that would hopefully increase my productivity in the local estuaries. This pattern was created over a series of trips to a lightly fished estuary called Lake Curalo in the middle of Eden, my home town. Over summer a few years ago, this pattern caught a number of bream here and was a good choice to present to visibly feeding bream. I have done well with plain white coloured flies, but a light tan or olive is a much more realistic prawn or shrimp colour. I have deliberately gone into a lot of detail when explaining the steps, with photos for each stage. It is not as complicated as it seems!

Tying Instructions

1. Start the thread at the bend of the hook. Tie in a small bunch of rabbit fur and make sure it is angled down slightly.
2. Take the thread up to halfway along the shank. Take a pair of burnt mono eyes and measure them up on the hook. The eyes should extend back so that they line up with the bend of the hook. 
3. Tie them down on top of the hook shank with loose wraps of thread, and make sure they are in position before tying them down with firm thread wraps. Stop the thread before you reach the bend of the hook so that the eyes are horizontal, and not bent around the shank.
4. Gently bend the eyes outward and upward so that they sick out from the body.
5. Take a saddle feather with fibres longer than the gape of the hook and tie this in (by the butt) on top of the wraps you have just tied the eyes down with. 
6. Take the thread back to about 1/3 of the way back from the hook bend. Cut about 8-10cm of crystal chenille and tie this in. The reason it is tied in here is so it can be wound back to the bend, then wound back over itself to form a pronounced chest section on the prawn. If you are dubbing rabbit fur or something similar, you can start the thread anywhere, just make sure that the chest section is nice and bulky.
7. Wind the chenille up to the mouth parts, taking a turn in front of the eyes.
8. Wind the chenille back to the point where you tied it in, and secure it with a few thread wraps - do not trim it back yet though.
9. Take the saddle feather and palmer it through the chest section. 2 or 3 wraps is fine - if you take to many wraps you will end up with a lot of legs and the fly's stability in the water will be affected. Remember that you only need to suggest the presence of legs, so don't overdo it. Tie the hackle down and trim the remaining feather. 
10. Trim the top of the palmered hackle so that the legs only stick out from the sides and underneath.
11. Take the thread up to about 3mm from the hook eye. Wind the crystal chenille evenly up towards the hook eye, and tie it down where the thread is hanging. Trim the chenille. 
12. Take a small, thin bunch of polafibre or similar tapered hair and tie it down so that the tips extend past the mouth parts by a few millimetres. Whip finish the thread under the tag end and apply varnish to the thread wraps.
13. Apply a tiny drop of super glue between the eyes and pull the back down onto the glue.
14. Trim the tag end so that the tail has a semi-circular shape, just like that of a real prawn, and the fly is complete. If the body seems a little bulky (which is easy to do with chenille), just trim the chenille fibres back with sharp scissors.


Bream are notorious for their short strikes, so keep the mouth parts and shell back reasonably short (so it doesn't extend too far beyond the hook bend.

If you want to weight this fly, wrap some lead wire on the shank before you start anything. Remember that this fly will swim with the hook point down, so if you are fishing weedy areas it might be better to leave it unweighted. I have tried tying it as a bendback so the hook point rides up, but the results haven't been too promising.

The most success I have had with it is on a slowly worked or inert presentation to feeding bream. I have found that if you don't spook the fish, and you can get a fly close enough to it to be noticed, it will generally be taken. I suppose that is the case with nearly all fishing situations.

I have gone away from using flash around the mouth parts, as this can work to your disadvantage in very clear water or on bright days. It would be worth having a few tied with flash for dirty or deeper water where the fish might need a bit of help finding the fly. Feelers can be added if you like, but I think size and presentation are much more important than fine details like feelers.