Illawarra Flyfishers Club

Epoxy Shrimp

Text and Photos by Andrew Susani

Hook #4 Mustad 34007 or similar

Thread 1kg mono thread
Body Supreme Hair and 5 minute epoxy
Eyes Melted mono (painted)

My quest for the perfect shrimp pattern has stopped at this one, at least for the time being. It is based on the Popovic's Ultra Shrimp, with some improvements. I wanted a realistic pattern that was lightweight, easy to tie, and I liked the way the epoxy worked with the synthetics to create a translucent effect - very shrimp-like. I thought the original Ultra Shrimp had too many legs, so I substituted the palmered legs for two turns of a grizzly hackle, pointed slightly forwards. Rather than have heaps of legs, I prefer to choose a larger hackle feather so the legs are a bit longer. This incorporates a bit of motion into an otherwise inert fly. You could probably use things like rabbit fur or marabou in there somewhere, as long as you can keep the epoxy out of it when forming the body.

They would probably look nicer on a thinner gauge hook, such as a Gamakatsu B10S, but I use the 34007 for two reasons. Firstly, the heavier hook gives a better keeling effect to the fly, which is important with an fly made largely out of epoxy, which are easily unbalanced if the epoxy is not evenly distributed. The second reason for the heavier, stainless hook, is that I never remember to rinse my flies after use in the salt, so the hooks inevitably rust away. I suppose stainless hooks can be resharpened too, which is handy.

If you want to weight this fly, there are a couple of recommended methods. To retain the seductive bobbing action, you can either wind some lead wire around the shank towards the eye of the hook, or slide on a beadhead or conehead before starting the fly. Another way is to tie on some bead chain or lead dumbbell eyes under the tail when the fly is finished. 

Tying Procedure

1. Start the thread at the bend of the hook and tie in a 6-7cm length of Supreme Hair, a bit thicker than a matchstick. The Supreme Hair hanging over the end of the hook is to represent the mouthparts, so it only has to overhang about 10mm.
2. Trim the Supreme Hair near the thread wraps, and keep it on the bench for later. Trim the mouthparts to a pointed shape, then take a pair of melted mono eyes and tie them to the side of the hook shank with several thread wraps. Once they are lightly fastened to the shank, you can move them around to the top of the shank. I find this is a lot easier than trying to put them straight on top of the hook shank. 
3. Check that the eyes are level with each other, and are positioned in line with the bend, then tie them down with tight thread wraps. Bend the eyes up slightly so they are at about 30 degrees to the hook shank, and check that they are aligned horizontally and vertically about the fly's central axis. If everything is not aligned, when you apply the epoxy, the fly will be unbalanced, and will probably swim side on.
4. Tie in a hackle feather by the butt (grizzly looks good as legs).
5. Wind the hackle around the shank once or twice, then tie it off and trim. I like to hold the fibres towards the bend of the hook and then take a wrap around the butt of the fibres, just so the wound hackle points backwards a bit, rather than just perpendicular to the shank.

If you want to add some flash to your fly, tie it in now.

6. Take the previously cut bunch of Supreme Hair and tie it in about 5mm from the eye of the hook. Trim the tail of the fly so that the hook eye is partially hidden, but not obstructed. Whip finish and trim the thread.
7. Mix up some epoxy and carefully apply a thin layer to the underside of the tail and around the butt of the wound hackle. While pulling the Supreme Hair tight, dab the epoxy on so that it soaks into the shrimp's back.
8. Hold the back of the shrimp down and dab a bit of epoxy on the sides of the body, just behind the eyes. Check to see that the fly is still symmetrical, and continue holding down the back until the epoxy has cured.
9. Trim the Supreme Hair to make a pointy nose on the shrimp - you can leave some longer fibres as feelers if you like, but bream are notorious short strikers, and repetitive casting will probably break them off anyway, so perhaps the feelers are best saved for fly tying contests.