Published May 7. 2022 - 2 years ago
Updated or edited May 7. 2022

Stitch-Up Shrimp

This scud pattern uses a simple sewing technique to add the legs that are a common trait for these widespread crustaceans, which are high in the fish menu in both fresh- and saltwater

Stitch-Up Shrimp
Stitch-Up Shrimp
Nick Thomas

Shrimps, scuds, or whatever the many species of Gammarids are called in your part of the world, have lots of legs; thirteen pairs to be precise. Life is really too short to being tying twenty-six legs onto a life-size imitation, and most shrimp patterns use teased out dubbing under a shellback to imitate the little critters.

Another way to do it is to wind a spiral skeleton of a round material up the hook followed by the material to represent the legs in the groove. I’ve designed a few shrimp patterns on this basis using elastic bead cord or hollow braid with wire inside as the skeleton and a dubbing loop or stripped organza ribbon for the legs. These methods make good shrimps, but they are not always scalable across a large range of hook sizes. The diameter of the material used to wind the skeleton may allow only a few turns on a small hook or may be too bulky to work at all.

The Stitch-Up is designed to be tied across a range of hook sizes to imitate a diversity of shrimp species. Some shrimps are tiny, but not all. Under optimum conditions adult male Gammarus pulex grow to 20 mm/0.8 inches, and the females to 13 mm/0.5 inches, so an imitation on a #8 or #10 grub hook wouldn’t be out of the question. Where I live, I’m only likely to see a shrimp that size in a frozen packet at the supermarket. My imitations are a tad smaller; a #14 hook generally suits my needs.

TwoStitch-Up Shrimps
Two Stitch-Up Shrimps
Nick Thomas
The tungsten rubber base
The tungsten rubber base
Nick Thomas
Stitch-Up Shrimp
Pattern type: 
Scud fly
Nick Thomas
Fasna F-120 #12-16
3mm organza ribbon
Tungsten rubber tube and dubbing
UV resin
  1. Run on the thread at the eye, take down the shank in touching turns and remove the tag end.
  2. Tie in a tapered piece of tungsten rubber rig tube along the top of the hook.
  3. Catch in a piece of 3mm organza ribbon and tie back over the tubing and onto the bare hook at the back.
  4. Dub the body, pull the ribbon over the top and tie in. Trim off the waste, build a small head, whip finish and cut the thread.
  5. Thread a needle and poke it up through the organza against the woven edge. Pull the needle and thread through, then push the needle down at the edge of the ribbon on the other side of the back.
  6. Bring the needle under the hook and repeat the stitching process working forward to create a series of thread loops under the body.
  7. Once you’ve added enough legs cut the thread and put the needle away.
  8. Apply a coat of UV-resin over the ribbon, gently gather the loops together between your fingers, apply a little downwards tension and set the resin to lock the legs in place.
  9. Trim the legs to length and finish your shrimp by giving the back and head a coat of varnish.

Tungsten rubber tube is used by carp anglers to pin their line to the lakebed and is available from most fishing shops. If you don’t want to add weight use a piece of the plastic tube from an old ballpoint pen to form the humped back or build up the body with dubbing.

Nick Thomas

You can, if your day job is in neurosurgery and you have the patience, sew in thirteen pairs of legs. Fortunately, fish can’t count so I generally settle for between six and eight pairs. As far as choice of thread goes, you are free to use whatever you like, it is your shrimp after all.

I use UTC 140 denier (6/0) thread for many of my shrimps, including the dark olive #14 shrimp shown at the top of the page, which is 10mm/0.4 inches long. This thread gives soft flexible legs which fill out the shrimp profile with the minimum of stitching. For smaller sizes, or more definition in the legs you can use 12/0 tying thread or borrow some fine sewing thread. If you use a fine thread sew with a loop of thread knotted together at the ends so you add two legs with each stitch.

As far as matching any given natural shrimp goes, varying the colours of the shell, body and legs give you pretty wide scope. Narrow 3mm organza comes in a range of colours, or you can use cream ribbon and colour it with a permanent marker pen. White or cream ribbon goes transparent when coated with UV-resin allowing the colours of the dubbing body and legs to show through the shell as in the shrimp below.

A skinnier shrimp
A skinnier shrimp
Nick Thomas

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