A Claret Shrimp

Storm Brian is blowing a hooley outside so it felt like a good afternoon to tie up a few flies. I was in Ballina earlier and the Moy is huge and brown, barrelling under the town’s bridges in welter of foam and debris.

The high water got me thinking about the colour of patterns I like when the loughs are dirty. For me that means either black or claret. I possess an embarrassment of black patterns (way more than I need) and I guess there are enough claret ones in the box too. However, there is always room for a new fly and a claret shrimp seemed to be what was potentially lacking among the serried ranks in the salmon fly box.

On Lough Beltra I have a liking for a fly with an orange tail, something with a bit of movement but not so soft that it will tangle around the hook bend when fishing in a high wind. Bucktail fitted the bill nicely and I added just a pair of strands of gold flashabou as well. This is a material which seems to have dropped out of fashion as every more fancy ‘flashy’ plastics have hit the market. Us anglers are like magpies and any new material which is brighter than the old one gets added to our concoctions. I like flat Flashabou, it has proved it’s worth to me over the years so I stick to it, especially the gold one. It is a rich, deep golden colour (or at least the ancient hank I currently own is).

Tag under the tail

Under the tail I wound a number of turns of oval gold tinsel. Why bother? Well, the oval tinsel makes the tail ‘sit up’ slightly and helps to prevent the tail wrapping the hook in use.

This fly was always going to be a shrimp style pattern so the rear body was made of flat gold tinsel with an oval gold rib for protection from the fish’s teeth. I tie in the rib at the tail then run the tying silk up to the place where the middle hackle will be tied. There I catch in the flat tinsel and wind that down to the tail and back again over itself. This gives a neat body with no gaps in it. Three tight, open wraps of the oval gold complete that part of the fly.

The middle hackle is a claret cock hackle, doubled. About three turns is right. Tie in more oval gold tinsel for ribbing the front half of the body then dun the red silk with bright claret seal’s fur. Form the front body by winding he dubbed silk forward, leaving enough room at the eye for the cheeks and head hackle. Rib with the oval tinsel.

My stock of Jungle Cock is tragically low. In fairness it has been years since I invested in a neck and all I have left now is a few scraps of capes with virtually all the useful sizes of ‘eyes’ long since gone. Shuffling through packets contained within the sad little box marked ‘JC’ I found two decidedly moth-eaten feathers of the dimensions required for this size six fly. One was applied to each side of the hook before adding a long-fibred claret hen hackle at the head. A small head and a whip finish were all that was left to finish of  and, Viola!

The finished fly

As with all Irish shrimp patterns this one is almost certainly already in existence and has been named something like the ‘Ballina claret and gold shrimp’. I like the look of it, it seems well balanced and not too dark. I dressed this particular one on a standard size 6 hook but I’ll make more on smaller sizes, right down to size 14’s

There are some large feathers in a jar on the fly tying desk which I feel the need to use up! Macaw, GP tails, peacock and dyed Pheasant tail. Time to get tying again!

Heavy flow through the Ridge pool in Ballina



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