Whether you are targeting tailing bones & reds on the flats or snook & tarpon on the dock lights- a natural, soft-landing shrimp pattern is a must-have in the arsenal box. The inspiration for this fly was to outsmart the smartest and biggest Biscayne Bay bonefish in my home waters of Miami.
This pattern is made with silver bead eyes, tan shrimp dub body (with flash), EZ eyes in black, craft fur as the head of the shrimp, orange/white legs, and a weed guard with 15lb fluorocarbon. The featured colors are natural shrimp profiles and can be used on sand, hard, or grass bottom. Biscayne Bay flats are lush in turtle grass, so the weed guard is a must. Most of the allure in the fly comes from the craft fur- creating a gliding and silky allure as the fly sinks and slides on the bottom.
The fly is large enough to attract a hungry bonefish from a distance away but stealthy enough to land in front of a tailing bonefish, as pictured above. This versatile pattern has been tested not only through the stubbornness of Biscayne bones but also in the Bahamas. Multiple bonefish were caught on a recent trip last year to Andros Island, using this same pattern.
In terms of strip techniques with this fly, small ticks and slide & small ticks and stop have been successful. Most wary bonefish, however, eat right as you stop the fly after a few ticks. Several bonefish I've caught on this fly have followed and chased the fly for almost 10 feet and do not chew until the fly has stopped. In addition, trailers will often slurp the fly as it descends to the bottom right after it lands in its vicinity.
This fly will also do the job on pass and dock light snook and tarpon. The same colors can be used, but your stripping and movement profile might vary. In this scenario, you want your shrimp to swim with the tide and give more of a 'pop and stop' action. This will also be effective if you run into tarpon or permit on a bonefish flat- and give yourself a shot at that holy grail grand slam.
In any bonefish haven most traveled, these fish have seen all variations of Charlies and Gotchas. For your next trip, tie some Shrimp Skleepers in sizes 2, 4, and 6...you will not be disappointed!
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Dr. Christian Marrero
The Miami Fly Guy