Sand Shrimp Fly [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Sand Shrimp Fly

01-25-2004, 02:21 AM
First experiment with tying a sand shrimp. I will expand the body a bit. Hook eye at the front so that it is striped swimming along the bottom frontwards.... second photo is a side view

01-25-2004, 02:22 AM
.......and the side view...

01-25-2004, 09:38 AM
Can you post the recipe? Great looking fly. Should be a killer this year on the Flats or Plats as the Penguin would say.
FishHawk :D

01-25-2004, 10:06 AM

Nice looking fly. One question though. Why do you want it to be stripped in a forward direction? My understanding is that all shrimp, lobsters etc... swim backwards using their tails to propel them.


01-25-2004, 10:34 AM
Yes... I thought of that...but maybe my eyes deceive me but I thought I have seen them moving forward a number of times... maybe I did not see right...or it may be that the ones I saw were in 1/2 inch of water. Can anyone confirm that they do infact swim only backwards..if that's the case I will simply reverse it. If they are on the sandy bottom... how do they use their legs..forward or backwards... this fly is ment to be on the sand ... but it maybe difficult as a presentation. Thanks Sean.

01-25-2004, 10:55 AM
John -

First of all, when I replied before I thought you were referring to the western "sand shrimp" as opposed to our local "grass" shrimp, which I think you are tying. My mistake. Much different species - where our shrimp rarely exceed 1", the western sand shrimp when claws are included in the equation can be several inches long.

I am very familiar with our local grass shrimp. The color of the local shrimp are transluscent with tan and faint white highlights generally along shell segment boundaries and bodily features. When with roe, the tails are darker with an amber / mahogany tone to the egg bearers. You can see into the thorax into the innards of the shrimp. They have a general salt and pepper look to them. Unless you're really looking they are hard to see against the sand.

Sean, they use their swimmerets and legs to propel forward slowly as they feed and approach each other but use the rearward flexor muscle contractions to escape predators.

Unlike young lobster my opinion FWIW is that rearward flight is not a factor in their imitation for stripers on the flats. I have observed the behavior of striped bass on the flats for many hours as they eat shrimp. In the vast majority of cases the shrimp are unable to do much in the way of flight because of the cleverness of the stripers technique. Big stripers or should I say BIG stripers ;) are not eating individual shrimp. These shrimp are not fleeing from big stripers, they can't. He does not use strength to overcome the shrimp, he uses his under-rated walnut sized brain. What it lacks in language skills the striper's brain makes up for in an ability to figure out smart ways to feed. It's quite amazing to watch, and very difficult to present in this way particularly with individual shrimp flies. I tie them, I carry them, I use them, I catch fish with them... but I am yet to be convinced that a close imitation of an individual grass shrimp is a good fly for catching big stripers.

Flies that create big juicy impressions of shrimp or shrimp-like creatures like Jim Bender's fly are much more prone to solicit a strike from a big fish than a 1" perfect replica, IMHO.

Disclaimer - we are talking dog days here. Mid-July thru mid-August. My personal favorite time to fish the flats, when tricking a few 15-25 pound fish in mid-day sunlight is like the PhD of striper fishing on the flats. If you can do it in these times, you can do it anytime.

In migration, post-migration feeding periods or fall bunker mania, all bets are off on these observations, just about any fly will do the job in those seasons and an accurate shrimp imitation would be among the least practical for it's sheer lack of size alone.

But who knows, I could be totally wrong. I look forward to the next chance to be "schooled" by my striped friends on the flats.

01-25-2004, 11:33 AM
Thanks Juro..There is no question that Benders Fly is most effective in the dog days (and one that I included to be in Veverka's upcoming book), but the Ultra shrimp has worked during this period for blitzing stripers on the South beach flats...I should say that they might take anything in that Doc D was catching them on Gugglers and I on Ultra shrimp..but Big stripers may be another question as you point out. I will keep two of these in my box just to test out on solitary of two's on those flats.I am focusing not on the green grass shrimp which we have seen but on the bottom shrimp... which I have not seen on the flats because of failed observation. I see them most of those when I am at rest along the immediate shore line where my eyesight can see the bottom better.

01-25-2004, 11:42 AM
Not meaning to cross the Mayor of Chatham of course... could be a career limiting error for me ;) ;)

But I never said that Bender's fly, as good as it is, is the "most effective fly for the dog days" as you put it. I was just saying that FWIW, IMHO and all that, my experiences with a true-to-life shrimp were less than overwhelming because of the way big stripers eat tiny shrimp on the flats.

So if someone wanted to use a shrimp-like fly, I was just commenting that perhaps a bigger more substantial offering that kinda-sorta looks like a shrimp (but not really) like the one Dave Pearson uses a lot might turn big fish with more consistency. That's all I meant.

What my eyes have seen is that a 44" striper does not 'chase' 3/4" shrimp. But she has 2 pounds of them in her gullet on an August evening. The key is in how they got there.

01-25-2004, 11:47 AM
:) I agree... I am just going to experiment with this. Your experience in this is the best... so I hear what you are saying and can not differ in that respect.:)

01-25-2004, 12:43 PM
John, if you have any of those shrimp left next fall try them in Long Pond Harwich in about 25 feet of water. Big smallies love em!:devil:

01-25-2004, 01:28 PM
Thanks for the vote of confidence but I really haven't figured out shrimp yet, not like I'd like to. Sand eels, crabs, bunker, etc have been much easier to decipher. Shrimp are tough, and here's why I think it so...

The stripers of size I've observed are usually over 10 years old and are more than likely Monomoy residents, which I define as fish that have developed a habit of returning to the same flats year after year. I know for a fact that this occurs based on having caught the same fish in separate years once on either side of North Monomoy. It's generally accepted that this is true. Anyway, my point is that they are really knowledgeable about what is going on in their summer vacation grounds, kinda like the way we know which ice cream shops and miniature golf courses are the best year after year :p

They know how to pick the lines so they don't have to work to get what they want, just like the residents know all the backroads and avoid route 28 like the plague due to all the tourist traffic.

They know on what side of a flat to be at what tide so that the shrimp are "blown" down to them helplessly, trying to get hold on the bottom but unable to crawl or maintain a retreat, thus are filter fodder for large openings like the maw of a cow bass the size of your leg. At such times I have found it difficult to blend my shrimp into the horde of helpless half-inchers and be noticed by a fish that is largely not trying to notice any one item.

It's analogous to the difficulty anglers have when fish are targeting clouds of tiny bunker in August. The fish are not looking for individuals, then it's hard to catch a fish with an individual. Again the mighty walnut strikes.

When the shrimp population is at it's high in the summer months, and after the spring glut is over, fish have been observed to go into a subdued state where they experience the lowest rate of growth in terms of added weight of the year. You could loosely relate the stripers growth to the tides whereby the spring 'tide' shows a high rate of growth after spawning and migration, followed by a summer 'low', then the highest growth rate occurring through the fall migration to the spawning grounds in the fall.

My opinion on the dog days / shrimp and other small forage activity is that stripers react to temperatures, dissolved oxygen, and physical needs on the flats and eat less vigorously. Simply put, they just don't have the urge.

If you compare / contrast to the bayside a mere 6-8 miles away, the tides are double in volume and the fish remain quite aggressive throughout the summer months. Very fat fish are common around Billingsgate even in August. They have their own challenges during mid-summer, most of all dealing with the deeper water they frequent, but small finfish are definitely on the menu and thus they are easier to hook with more common fly patterns.

100 yards away on the backside the fish are also very aggressive in the surfline, but the bait population often drifts out 300yds to miles offshore forming huge shoals and the fish go with them. The boat fishery off Chatham is superb most years and with finfish patterns once again. It's damn good fishing but not very challenging unless the bait are being pushed vertically by deep fish. You can tell because sporadic busts occur for a moment at a time, then stop. Otherwise it's an easy fishery.

But in the most intriguing fishery out there IMHO, the flats, the dog days are extremely challenging and for me the most satisfying and enjoyable time to walk them. There is nothing that can compare to the satisfaction of fooling the smartest, biggest, and most wary fish in the most beautiful, crystal clear white sanded environment where the species exists.

01-25-2004, 02:57 PM
Great Description of the situation!.... I hope to make more Batside visits this year as well. Thanks!

01-26-2004, 07:20 AM
In the late 70's when I was fishing for sea run trout on the Cape the fly that did the trick for me was a white colored simple shrimp pattern. I got two 5lb Trout on the same day with tat fly. At that time , there was a great saltwater angler Ken Miata(spelling) who used shrimp to catch large sea run trout. He was amazing to watch. Fished them on a strike indicator. Which I am going to try this summer on the Flats with the sand shrimp. My theory of flats fishing is that we tend to use too large of a rod for this fishery. Perhaps , a 6 wt rod would be the ticket. Will be fun to try trout nymphing techniques for these fussy fish.

01-26-2004, 09:59 AM
John, Juro

What is the local info on night fishing those flats in the summer months?

01-26-2004, 11:00 AM
Fishhawk:Interesting that you mention a 6wt on the flats. I had a conversation with Ed Mitchell on this subject this past weekend at the Somerset show. One of the biggest stripers he has caught was on the flats using a 6wt and a size 4 half 'n half. He used the 6wt with an intermediate line to reduce the "splash effect" when presenting the fly.

My concern to him was the time it would take on a 6wt to land the fish without exhausting it. He indicated that he used some end runs to prevent the fish from reaching the deep channel and by maximizing leverage with the rod, he managed to land it relatively quick.

Interesting approach for wary stripers on the flats, but unless you know how to impart maximum leverage with the longrod, you may stress the fish to total exhaustion.


01-26-2004, 01:22 PM

In one of your comments, you said "...flies that create big juicy impressions of shrimp or shrimp-like creatures like Jim Bender's fly...".

I've never fished Monomy and I am not familiar with that fly. Can you (or Striblue) please elaborate and/or identify a source for a pattern and/or post a picture?