Shrimp fly movement and colour
- elements for success

Fishing instructor, fly fishing tuition and fishing trips based in Scotland. Salmon and trout fishing advice, flies and articles.

Colour and shape, choosing shrimp flies for steelhead and salmon.

The importance of fly presentation.for salmon and steelhead fishing.

prwn flies must produce an illusion of life
Natural prawn - Flies must produce an illusion of life

Which priorities do you place on such basic characteristics as shape and color?

Movement is determined by shape and the materials chosen or vice versa if you like. However you look at it a fly must have a fish fooling lifelike form and action if it is to be taken consistently. If this were not so, if only the colours mattered life would be easy because we could chuck in anything with the right colour and success would be guaranteed. So for me the general style and swimming action of a fly must be paramount, and then comes coloration. That too is important but less so for non feeding migratory fish than for others. Different species have different preferences and the same species can have different favourite colours in different waters possibly as a result of the light filtration effect of the water that changes the fly’s appearance but I speculate on this point. I do believe that the relationship between ambient light and water coloration is a good determinate for the fly colours chosen by an experienced angler and of course the first requirement for any fly is that it is seen sufficiently clearly by the fish in order to take it. Hence I would have no hesitation in using bright flies in coloured water.

Share with the readers of Fish & Fly what you’ve learned about the way a fish—a steelhead or a salmon—in the ocean eats crustacea.

Unfortunately I have little idea of how the fish or the crustaceans behave in the oceans. Only now is scant information on the migration routes being collected thanks to modern technology and the possibility of being able to study Atlantic salmon at close quarters as they navigate and feed seems remote at present. We do know that they certainly feed on crustaceans and bait fish such as caplin from the gut content of fish captured at sea. Because natural bait prawn and shrimp fishing was long practiced on many rivers there is a fund of information available on bait fishing methods such as sink and draw, spinning, attaching a diving vane and working them like a plug or even ledgering them. All of these methods were successful, sometimes too successful and so nowadays natural prawn and shrimp fishing is banned almost everywhere for Atlantics, but the fact that the fish took the naturals so readily probably explains why prawn and shrimp flies can be fished successfully using so many presentations.

Do you try to build simulated behavior into your designs or leave action to the angler?

It’s possible to construct a fly that will swim and move nicely and to incorporate materials that will vibrate sufficiently to simulate life but none of this is any use if the angler does not fish it correctly according to the conditions. The single word answer is presentation and the three most important things in fly fishing are presentation, presentation and presentation. That is the difference between success and failure most of the time. You could give ten anglers the same fly, same tackle and same water for a week and chances are that one guy will end up catching much more fish than the rest because he knows how to fish. Action is always up to the angler. For salmon and steelhead, choosing the depth, size of fly, angle, speed of the drift and using any additional modifications to technique such as mending, hand lining, backing up, wiggling the rod tip etc. are all things that can make the difference between a take and a refusal. Even the best fly in the World can’t compensate for bad technique.

More about Ally's shrimps. See page 1. See page 2. See page 4.

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Copyright 2007 Alastair Gowans AAPGAI and FFF Master and THCI, APGAI. All rights reserved.