The Global FlyFisher - The Largest and Best Place to go for Online Fly Fishing and Fly Tying
First published October 18th 2002 - More than 12 years ago
Premade eyes for shrimp, crab and damsel nymph patterns don't come cheap. I actually considered them so expensive that I never used them. Until I thought of hairbrushes.
By Martin Joergensen
Now I'm back on the track when it comes to shrimp patterns.
Pro et contra - mostly contra
Pro: they are cheap, close to free, come in any size you want
Contra: they are a chore to make. You need thick monofilament, a flame, varnish or a marker and time and patience. I used to make a bunch at the time, but my patience failed me. They also tend to vary more in size than you want
Pro: they are uniform in shape and size, less work
Contra: they are expensive - on the verge of the hilarious. Here in Denmark I can easily be ripped of up to USD 5.- or for a bag containing somewhere between a dozen and 30 eyes. That is too expensive for my taste.
Brush up your smile
Cheap brushes - cheap eyes.
These were bought in a local supermarket at one dollar a piece.
I don't remember when the thought came to me, but the solution to my problem was brushes. Ordinary hair brushes. The 'hairs' of these are generally made out of a stem with a small drop shaped ball at the tip. The shaft can be made from metal or plastic. Lucky for us, the least expensive ones are plastic. The plastic shafts are easier to work with and add less weight to the fly. If you have a large bulk of hair or have a family member who has, you might already have a good supply of shrimp eyes in your bathroom closet.
If not, these brushes are usually available at a dollar or less a piece. And one brush contains from 50 to 100 or more eyes, bringing the price down to a very acceptable level.
They come in all sorts of sizes and colors, and if you shop around a bit, you can get a huge selection of all kinds of eyes.
Creating eyes from a brush consists of nothing more than going berserk with a set of cutters. Heavy scissors or pliers do the job. In some cases you can just pluck the eyes off the brush, where they are inserted into a soft plastic membrane. In other cases the base of the stems are embedded in the handle, and mild violence is the only way to separate the two.
Collect the newly cut - or plucked - eyes in small ziplock bags and you are ready to tie shrimp or damsel nymph patterns galore without the dreading task of burning mono or the even more dreading task of going to the bank to raise your credit.