Published Nov 3. 2022 - 1 year ago
Updated or edited Nov 6. 2022

Slinky Shrimp

A shrimp pattern can be either a caricature or an imitation. The Slinky Shrimp falls somewhere in between

Nick Thomas

I have a confession to make. I’m a bit obsessed with tying shrimps. There something about their simplicity coupled with their effectiveness that keeps me devising new methods for imitating the little critters. There’s lots of scope, a shrimp pattern can be either a caricature or an imitation. I’m not sure hungry fish care either way, so you can go simple or complex, easy or hard, whatever takes your fancy.

At its simplest tying a shrimp can be just a matter of dubbing a hook and then pulling a material over the top to represent the shell back. A rib may be added to segment the shell and hold it in place and modern UV-resins give a lot of scope for building simple or complex shells.

The segmented transparent shell back
The segmented transparent shell back
Nick Thomas

My book Fly Couture contains a number of different shrimp designs using natural and synthetic materials.

The Slinky Shrimp is tied using a pre-prepared shell formed by winding vinyl body glass and tinsel over hollow braid held on a sewing needle. The process is a variation of the technique I use to tie the body for my Skin & Foam Pupa and Stealth Stonefly.

Tying the shrimp this way creates a segmented translucent shell just like the real thing. It also removes the hassle of winding a wire or monofilament rib through the underlying legs without trapping them, something that I find can be a bit of a pain to do.

When you tie the shell make it about one centimetre longer than required for the back of the shrimp on your chosen hook size. This will allow you to tie it in and cut off the front end in front of the hook eye, unravel the braid and the two ends of body glass and then trim them individually so you can finish with a neat head.

Finished shell
Finished shell
Nick Thomas
Two Slinky Shrimps
Two Slinky Shrimps
Nick Thomas
Slinky Shrimp
Pattern type: 
Scud fly
Nick Thomas

A cress bug with a spiraled spine

Fasna F-120 #12/14
12/0 to match dubbing
Hends micro body glass and UTC opal mirage tinsel wrapped over hollow braid
Squirrel dubbing
UV resin and varnish
Skill level/difficulty: 

Preparing the "spring" for the shell

  1. Lock a needle in your vice and slide on a piece of hollow braid.
  2. Run on the tying thread and catch in a piece of body glass with the flat side against the braid. Tie down the body glass back towards the vice jaws.
  3. Tie in a piece of tinsel, wind forward in overlapping turns and tie in.
  4. Wind the body glass forward in touching turns and tie in.
  5. Whip finish and slide the completed shell back off the needle.

Tying the fly

  1. Tie in the shell back at the bend of the hook, bind down the braid up the hook shank and trim off the waste with an angled cut.
  2. Take the thread back to the base of the shell back and dub the legs. Brush the dubbing down on both sides of the hook.
  3. Pull the shell back forward and tie in with tight thread wraps between two of the body segments. Secure the thread with a half hitch or whip finish.
  4. Cut through the shell back in front of the hook eye and unravel the ends. Pull each one taught and trim.
  5. Bind down the cut ends, build a neat tapered head, whip finish and cut the thread.
  6. Apply some UV-resin along the back of the shell, cure the resin and then varnish the shell and head.

Shrimp Couture
Nick Thomas

Body glass comes in a wide range of colours so you can tie variants in natural shades, or you can use the pink, orange or red stuff to tie up bright blingy ones for winter grayling. Having said that I generally find that they are just a happy as trout to take a natural looking shrimp.

A grayling took it
A grayling took it
Nick Thomas

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