By Seán Woods
Once again, I had a very enjoyable season at East Mayo Anglers stretch and I’m rather sad to see the end of it. Even if I wasn’t catching (or loosing) fish, just to be among the beautiful surroundings the fishery has to offer was a great getaway from everything else that is happening in the world right now.
Now that the season is over, many of us will be spending more time at the tying bench counting down the days to spring. Some anglers may even be thinking of taking up tying over the coming months. Over the closed season, I hope to do a few articles about some of the different types of flies commonly used on this part Moy.
I’ll kick off with the very popular, Irish shrimp flies. These flies earn their right in every Moy anglers fly box. Their long tail of golden pheasant breast coupled with a hackled mid and head section, give the ideal pulsing movement for the typically slow flow of the River Moy. I will go through the step by step tying of a Foxford Shrimp. The dressing for this fly is:
- Tag: Oval silver tinsel
- Tail: Golden pheasant Breast.
- Rear body: Black seals fur or floss.
- Rear rib: Oval silver tinsel.
- Middle hackle: Badger cock.
- Front body: Fiery brown seals fur or floss
- Front rib: Oval silver tinsel.
- Wings: Roof jungle cock.
- Front hackle: Dyed ginger.
- Thread: Red
So here we go…
First, we secure the thread on to the hook and lock in a length of oval tinsel for the tag. Run the thread to above the hook point while securing the tinsel to the shank. I like to use slightly thicker tinsel for the tag than the rib as it will help splay the tail.
With the tinsel now secure, begin winding it towards the bend of the hook for three or four turns. On the final turn bring the tinsel through the two hooks and tie it in under the shank to create the tag.
Secure the tinsel by running the thread halfway up the shank. Now we need to bring the thread back to the end of the tag. When running the thread back, use this opportunity to secure the tip (four or six fibres) of a golden pheasant breast feather to the shank. This will ensure the breast feather will not slip while winding it. The length of the breast feather is personal preference. I usually pick a feather with fibres a little longer than the full length of the entire hook.
Next, we prepare the breast feather by holding the stalk and running the back of our scissors along the edge. This will point the fibres slightly downwards making it easier to double.
Now we can wind the tail in overlapping turns, doubling the feathers back after every full rotation around the shank. I usually wind until the feather fibres are all wrapped, but you may decide to not wind it all for a small low water fly. Again, we now run the thread to the midway point of the shank for a secure hold. Now the tail will be wound but will be a clumped mess of fibres.
What I do here, is remove the hook from the vice and blow from the rear of the fly which will move the fibres to their natural position along their wound stalk. Another method is keeping the hook in the vice and tease the fibres out with a dubbing needle.
Now with damp fingers, hold these fibres evenly around the hook while bringing the thread over the tail ever so slightly. As the thread tightens the fibres against the tag, the fibres will spread away from the shank which will aid movement in water.
The next thing we need is the rib. Take a piece of oval tinsel and secure it from the mid shank point and run the thread back to the tail.
Now we secure a rope of dubbing. Some just use wet hands and twist this on and some use wax to help secure it. However, I find it easiest to put a small length of spread out dubbing on the thread and then take a small turn of thread. The turn will help secure a few fibres and now you can twist your tying thread from below the dubbing while lifting the bobbin with you hand. This twists and locks the dubbing in, giving a secure rope. The only downside of this method is you must wind the dubbed thread on by hand to stop it untwisting. You can then run the dubbing halfway up the shank.
Now we run the oval tinsel over the dubbing with an evenly spaced three or four turns in the opposite direction you wound the dubbing. Secure the tinsel with a few wraps up the shank and cut off any excess.
Now we need to tie in the mid hackle. I have chosen a feather with fibres that will extend to the bend of the hook. Before tying in, I make sure I have rubbed some tying wax on my thread which will help secure the hackle. I first break of the tip of the feather, and splay out two or four fibres. I then tie in the tip with the excess fibres pointing towards the eye. After two wraps, I fold the excess fibres back and take two or three wraps on top.
Now we have a well secured hackle. The next thing we do is train the fibres downwards like how we done for the tail and wind the hackle in overlapping turns forward. The amount of turns is down to personal preference and hook size but for this one (size 12 Patriot) I am doing three tuns. On my second complete turn, I will pause and rip some fibres off but will keep enough for the third turn. This means I can tie it down neatly and will not have any rogue fibres pointing forwards.
With the mid hackle complete, we now attach another piece of oval tinsel for a rib and create a rope of dubbing like before.
This section of the fly is traditionally shorter than the rear body and will only have two or three turns of tinsel. Be sure to leave a substantial amount of room for the head area. Play it safe, you can always have excess bare hook in front of the head as opposed to part covering the eye when securing the head, limiting the type of knots you can tie to attach your fly to the leader.
After completing the front body, we now secure in the jungle cock. Some people don’t use jungle cock, others won’t fish without it. For the purpose of this article, I will add it. First, pick two feathers of similar length. Again, the length is personal preference, these two will extend to meet the mid hackle. Strip any excess fluff around the eyes of the feather and lightly secure the feathers in place with a couple of loose wraps. Before fully securing, ensure you are happy with their placement and move the stalks and eyes of the feathers until both are in the location you want. Now add another few wraps of tightly waxed thread. You can double the stalks back to secure them or place a little superglue on the thread of two or three wraps and trim away the excess.
Now we need to add and wind another hackle in front of the jungle cock using the same technique as before. I have chosen a feather with fibres in similar length to the mid hackle.
Following the front hackle, secure the fly by building up the head with thread and tie it off using a whip finish.
Finally, the head receives two or three coats of clear varnish for added durability. The fly is now complete and ready for a swim!
The principles of tying this fly are the same for many of the traditional Irish shrimps including the set of Badger Shrimps, Wye Bugs, Bann Special Shrimp, Faughan Shrimp and Yellow Shrimp. The dubbing is usually replaced with floss for shrimps on smaller hooks. The body can also made of flat or oval tinsel to make popular shrimps such as the Finn Gold Shrimp and the Silver Wilkinson Shrimp.
I hope you found this article useful. If there are any other types of flies you would like me to cover over the winter months, please do not hesitate to get in touch via Kathleen on email@example.com .