I grew up fishing for Redfish and Sea Trout on the Gulf Coast of Florida. When we choose to fish with bait we used shrimp bought at McRae’s Bait House at McRae’s Marina. This gem of a bait shop is in Good Ol’ Homosassa Florida. It just so happened when we fished shrimp we caught tons of bi-catch. Redfish, snook, snapper, grouper, ladyfish…. You get the point.
When I moved to Bellingham I started fishing on the famed “S” Rivers with a Spey rod. I was (stupidly) shocked to hear that a popular bait for Steelhead was Shrimp! Turns out, if it swims in saltwater, it eats shrimp.
As I gained a little skill at the vise and a little more knowledge of swinging for steelhead my favorite flies became the General Practitioner variations and other “Shrimpy” Spey Flies. As most Steelhead flies represented “something moving to gain the fishes attention” I always liked my flies to, in theory, look like food.
Sea Run Cutthroat also are a Anadromous Trout, that spends most of it’s life running the shorelines of Puget Sound and Hood Canal. Furthermore, Sand shrimp spend most of their life in these regions, yet, fly fishermen seldom tie flies that represent these soft tasty morsels. Sand Shrimp flies are a go to for me in the winter months when the bait fish are a little more scarce and the tides are big. Also, Sand Shrimp tend to be a great fast current pattern.
No bait source is more overlooked when it comes to Sea Run Cutthroat than the Shrimp. Shrimp Flies are fun to tie, effective, and extremely underutilized. As a matter of fact, I would guess that the Delia Squid or the Cone Head Wooly Bugger are both eaten often as shrimp. I’ve never seen schools of 2″ long squid swimming around. However, I have seen cutthroat throw up mouth fulls of sand shrimp into the net.
Here are some tying tips when it comes to your shrimp flies:
- Add weight in just behind the eye to get the diving motion.
- You can make your own shrimp eyes with Loon Thick and some mono
- Buying EP eyes is way faster than making shrimp eyes with Loon Thick and Mono
- Less is more with the body. Creating the Illusion of bulk without a bulky body will allow the fly to swim naturally.
- Cutthroat are not bonefish, don’t tie a fly made to sit on the bottom, our bottoms don’t give flies back.
- Rubber Legs… Trust me on this one.
- Ahrex makes a GREAT shrimp hook
Here are some tips on fishing shrimp flies:
- Shrimp are not baitfish, Strip-Strip-Pause is a better retrieve.
- Shrimp get washed into the current, don’t be afraid to swing them or high stick them in the fast tidal rips.
- Remember the slower retrieve will let your fly sink, when at all possible the floating line helps keep it off the bottom.
- Cast or drift the flies into the buckets of the creek mouths, thats where these flies really shine.