The Kwan

If you’re sitting inside with a blanket of snow and the absence of degrees on the thermometer, it’s hard not to think warm thoughts.  I took things a step further and began tying up some saltwater patterns for a late winter redfish trip to Florida’s panhandle.  The three critters that make up a redfish diet includes shrimp, crab, and mullet.  Without going overboard, I decided to tie up just one pattern for each delicacy and since it’s been awhile with the “how to tie” series, I decided I’d include my shrimp pattern.

The main thing about salty patterns is the overabundance of synthetic materials versus natural.  There’s nothing really special other than the heavier, plated hooks.  Here’s how I tie up my shrimp pattern.


I begin my thread directly behind the eye of the hook and will also tie in the dumbbell eyes as close to the eye as possible.  These aren’t really the eyes of the fly so much as they’re weight to get the fly down and pinned to the bottom.  After the eyes are secure, the thread is advanced to the bend of the hook.

Most patterns will call for some sort of EP fiber or craft fur but to add some color variation, I use a 3″ craft fur brush that is commonly used for streamers.  Under water, less is more when it comes to the body of the fly.  Shrimp have a translucent body and a solid hunk of material appears unnatural to me.  While wrapping the brush, I stroke all of the material rearward.  Three or four turns of the brush is perfect before capturing it with your thread and snipping off the excess.

Advance the thread rearward slightly wrapping onto the body you just created to ensure the fur will extend from the hook shank.  Two or three turns is really all you need as you don’t want to wrap up on it too much.  This is also my preferred time to band the body with a brown Sharpie.  I’ve experimented with other colors and brown just happens to be my preferred color.  Your mileage may vary, though.

Select a brown strung hackle that will become the legs of the shrimp.  No need to get fancy with a dry fly hackle here as a slightly “buggier” hackle is preferred.  Being directly behind the body and make four or five turns which will bring the hackle half way to the eyes from the body of the fly.  Capture the hackle and trim off the stem.


Wet your fingers and slightly stroke the hackle rearward while making some wraps onto the hackle.  This will pull the fibers rearward and provide a little more space for the next step.


I cut  3″ pencil-diameter sections of contrasting colored EP Fibers and begin “figure-8 wrapping” sections behind the legs of the fly.  Here, I chose sand and brown.  I’m usually able to complete four sections between the legs and the eyes.  End with the thread directly behind the eyes.


The fibers are then gathered and pulled upward to be trimmed.  Some prefer an upward angle beginning at the eye while other take curved-tip scissors and trim a rounded shape.  When it comes to shrimp, I like the “V” shape and will angle my scissors upward. Again, this is personal preference and I have yet had a fish tell me it prefers one shape over the other.



After the fibers are trimmed, flatten them back out and if you want, you can give them a quick hit with a brush.  In the photo above, the fly will rest with the hook point up.  I hit the top of the fly with a couple drops of super glue to solidify the thread and fibers together.


This is a relatively easy fly to tie and is an effective shrimp pattern.  They’re tied with redfish in mind but will also work on bonefish, permit, and any other salt species.  If tied a little smaller and “buggier” I would also imagine they’d be decent for carp, too.


Materials Used

Thread: UTC 140 Brown

Hook: Tiemco 800S Size 4

Body: 3″ Craft Fur Brush

Legs: Strung Saddle Hackle (Natural Brown)

Tail: EP Fibers

Eyes: Medium Black Nickel Brass Dumbells

Bands: Brown Sharpie

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