Viking Lars | Saturday, 7 January 2023

If one buys the notion that imitations are in fact necessary in saltwater, shrimp imitations are very important. On a yearly basis I think shrimp are the main diet for sea trout. If one were to take a look in a sea tro9ut fly fishers box, or on websites, or - if one is old enough - books on the subject, shrimp definitely constitute the majority of the imitations. A lot of them are pink, chartreuse and other colours that makes the imitations aspect obsolete, but that a different story - they are effective flies none the less.

I suspect that 80%, probably even more, of the sea trout caught in fly are or could be caught on almost any fly. Were I to choose, I’d choose a simple palmer in brownish colours - one I have caught plenty of fish on. Looks a little like a few foot items, but generally just looks alive. Sea trout are predatory and as such opportunistic feeders.

But I like fishing imitations - shrimp imitations too, of course. There are so many patterns to choose from, but this one is my preferred fly. A relatively simple fly with a craft fur hackle. One of the crucial challenges in tying imitations of shrimp and gammarus is to ensure that the fly tracks back up, legs down, like the natural. Long(ish) legs are very likely to turn the fly upside-down and I am of course 100% sure it makes no difference. But when I am tying imitations, I want only want them to look like the natural in the vise, I want them to track and behave like them as well, Some of that is up to me, retrieving the fly, but the tracking aspect in down to the tying style.

There are several ways of achieving that. One is to add weight on the underside of the hook - that can ensure correct tracking. But what if the fish are ion shallow water? Then an unweighted fly is called for. In this case, hook design helps a lot. One choice is to use a hook with a large gape. That puts more weight under the shank and makes a big difference. Typically I use a stinger-style hook, which are also available made with fairly light wire.

Another choice is a hook where the for part of the shank is bent upwards. This keeps the fly tracking straight as the pull from the leader pulls the up-bent-part up and turn the hook point down. This is surprisingly effective. One such is the Ahrex NS 150 (Ahrex SA 250 in saltwater resistant wire). It’s slightly heavy, which matters on the larger sizes, not so much in the smaller. Another nice feature is a bigger than normal hook eye, which makes it easier for semi old men to tie it on.

The fly in the PoD is tied on this hook, a small size 10 and it balances the fly perfectly, whether it’s retrieved or just hovering. I took a few adjustments to get it there, mainly on the length of the craft fur legs, but as long as I stick to the general proportions, it work on huge to small flies. Tied with craft fur I can make them hot pink or dull grey (I don’t fish hot pink “imitations”).¨

Here’s the pattern.
Hook: Ahrex NS 150/SA 250 #4-10.
Thread: UNI 6/0 or 8/0, depending on size, in colour tan.
Tail: Fluorofiber, chartreuse (I know, I know - the imitation aspect), craft fur fibers, app. twice the hooks shank length and a few strands of flash (I like Krystal Flash).
Eyes and “bump”: Shrimp eyes on mom and a hard ball of dubbing to spread both eyes and following hackle.
Rib: Mono.
Back “hackle”: Craft fur in dubbing loop, sparse.
Body: Any dubbing that can be brushed out.
Back: A small bunch of craft fur that blends into the tail.

Try this fly. It’s mobile, has an appropriate profile and tracks perfectly.

Have a great weekend!


Just so you know - I am connected to Ahrex Hooks and if you can find a hook in similar shape, I’m certain it’ll be as well suited. And you can make one yourself by carefully bending any hook with a suitable shank length.

Note the rock the fly is sitting on. It's a piece of burned quartz from the hearth of an iro age house, app. 1500 years old.

Here's an image of the NS 150, so you can clearly see the shape of the hook. It's not very visible on the finished dressing.