Published Jun 18. 2011

The Killer Shrimp

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

A killer - The Killer Shrimp in its elements. A simple but efficient fly
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.

Clear - Ocean water can be almost as clear as the water in your bathtub. The Killer Shrimp is a clear water fly
Sunshine fish - Even the clearest water on brightest day can hold a sea trout. In this case a nice 4 lbs. fish
Smooth and clear - On such a day it can be difficult to lure a sea trout. A discrete, skinny fly may be the key to succes
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

Pattern type: 
Cold saltwater fly
Rasmus Hansen
thin wire, down eye streamer size 6-4-2
white 6/0
lead wire substitute
a grizzly hackle tip, grizzly barbs or a thin bunch of gray Arctic fox
clear mono
2-4 mm (1/10-1/8 or so of an inch) wide clear plastic strip
varnished tying thread

Tying instructions

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.

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? - This might be the right day...
Considering a Killer Shrimp?
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