The Killer Shrimp

Published Jun 29th 2011

The Killer Shrimp hardly looks like anything. It's gray and translucent, sparsely dressed and inconspicuous. But it catches fish.

By ,

A killer

This modest fly may not look much... and actually isn't. But it's an efficient, generic fly of the kind that can look like anything you want, or rather anything the trout want.
Using three simple and widely available materials, it's able to be a shrimp as the name implies, but also a free swimming worm or even a small fish.

The fly was originally tied by Danish angler Rasmus Hansen, whose coastal sea trout seemed to like it, especially when the water was clear and calm and the fish were shy and picky. It became quite popular in Denmark for a while, but seems to have been forgotten again by many coastal anglers. We will give it a slight revival here.

The materials are really simple: rib, tail, body and hackle.
Since the tail is short and slender, it can be tied using almost any material you fancy. The original uses a hackle tip, and that makes good sense, since you have one on the hackle for every fly you tie. We have used Arctic fox in this version, which makes the tail a bit bushier, although it still has to be kept slim to be in harmony with the rest of the fly.
The body is plastic. Any clear plastic from a bag will do as long as it's thick enough. A single heavy, clear plastic bag will deliver material for hundreds if not thousands of flies. As Rasmus himself says: "A clear plastic bag from the local liquor store, the kind that takes a sixpack, is perfect". Here in Denmark we don't get brown paper bags in the liquor stores or convenience stores, but plastic, and this is from them days where plastic was PVC and not some thin, fragile, opaque, biodegradable film.

Bright conditions

The thicker the plastic, the less wraps you need to build the body, to a certain degree of course. You can of course also use some fancy fly tying material, sticky shell back or stuff that has been precut for your convenience, but plastic bag cut in narrow strips will do just fine - and be free.

Killer Shrimp
TypeCold saltwater fly
Rasmus Hansen
Target species
Sea trout (sea run)

Hookthin wire, down eye streamer size 6-4-2
Threadwhite 6/0
Weightlead wire substitute
Taila grizzly hackle tip, grizzly barbs or a thin bunch of gray Arctic fox
Ribclear mono
Body2-4 mm (1/10-1/8 or so of an inch) wide clear plastic strip
Headvarnished tying thread

Tying instructions
Step 1 - weight - Add a few wraps of lead free wire on the front third of the hook shank
Step 1 - weight
Step 2 - thread - Start the thread in front of the weight and cover the weight and the shank
Step 2 - thread
Step 3 - tail - Prepare a small bunch of hair (or a hackle tip) and tie it in the full length of the hook to create an even and smooth body
Step 3 - tail
Step 4 - tail length - The tail should be almost as long as the hooks shank
Step 4 - tail length
Step 5 - trim butts - Remove the remaining butts of the tail right behind the weight
Step 5 - trim butts
Step 6 - even out - Even out the body by covering the tail material with a smooth layer of thread all up to the weight
Step 6 - even out
Step 7 - rib - Tie in a piece of mono for ribbing
Step 7 - rib
Step 8 - body material - Prepare a narrow strip of thick, clear plastic by tapering it in one end
Step 8 - body material
Step 9 - tie in plastic - Tie the plastic strip in in the rear of the fly, starting with the taper you just cut
Step 9 - tie in plastic
Step 10 - nail polish - Give the underbody a layer of nail polish as a \
Step 10 - nail polish
Step 11 - wrap body - Wrap the plastic while the nail polish is still sticky
Step 11 - wrap body
Step 12 - body shape - You can form the body by doubling the plastic in the front part of the fly to create a slightly tapered shape
Step 12 - body shape

A key to the skinny appearance of this fly is to use half a hackle... and that's not half length, but split down the middle! In reality we don't split it, but just remove the barbs on one side. This makes it much easier to tie in the hackle on the hard and smooth body and also makes the fly a lot less bushy.

Step 13 - finish body - Tie off the plastic in the front of the hook. You don\'t need much space, so you can go close to the hook eye
Step 13 - finish body
Step 14 - prepare hackle - Remove the barbs in one side of a grizzly hackle by simply pulling them off. Turn the feather with the curve or shiny side towards yourself, and remove the right side barbs
Step 14 - prepare hackle
Step 15 - the hackle - You wind up with half a hackle, barbs on one side only
Step 15 - the hackle
Step 16 - further preparation - Cut the stem of the hackle in preparation for the tie in. Fold back a few barbs and trim stem, leaving some short stubbs to anchor the smooth stem
Step 16 - further preparation
Step 17 - tie in hackle - Tie in the hackle, barbs up
Step 17 - tie in hackle
Step 18 - wind the hackle - Wrap the hackle in 5-6 turns over the body, make sure not to twist is and have the barbs standing straight out from the body
Step 18 - wind the hackle
Step 19 - lock hackle - Lock the hackle in place with the rib
Step 19 - lock hackle
Step 20 - rib the fly - Take the rib forwards through the hackle. Wiggle it a bit to avoid crushing hackle fibers
Step 20 - rib the fly
Step 21 - tie down - The rib should also be wound in 5-6 turns, and then tied down right behind the hook eye
Step 21 - tie down
Step 22 - brush - Brush the hackle gently with a cut-down tooth brush or a Velcro stick to get it even and untangle it
Step 22 - brush
Step 23 - whip finish - Whip finish over the head and cut the thread
Step 23 - whip finish
Step 24 - varnish - Varnish the head to seal it and make it smooth
Step 24 - varnish

Fish the fly in long, steady strips - 2-3 feet or a meter at a time - and dress it on a heavier hook and/or with some lead wire in the front to get it down in deeper water.

Considering a Killer Shrimp?

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