What better way except maybe being on the river which of course I would never consider the possibility of leaving my family at home and trudging off to stand thigh deep in cold water swinging flies for winter steelhead, instead of spending the day here where was I oh yes what better way to ring in the new year than to re-visit a fly pattern that is synonymous with winter steelhead here in the Pacific Northwest?
The Polar Shrimp is a personal favorite fly when I fish for winter steelhead. I once tied these beauties by the truck-load on Eagle Claw 1197-B hooks. When we wanted to get fancy we would use 1197-Ns.
Back in the 1970s, wings for a Polar Shrimp were composed of white Bucktail, white Kip tail, or rarely and at extra cost, Polar Bear hair. I tied size 2#, #4, and #6. the Size 4s was our go-to fly, summer or winter.
I decided to try this old favorite on a Pro Tube, and was really pleased with the fly. Seeing this old fly pattern tied in a new way blends fond old memories with the anticipation of this winter steelhead season.
Pro Flexi Tube: black, with the large diameter tube cut quite short, just long enough to seat a Gamakatsu Glo Bug #2 ring eye hook.
Butt: Fluorescent Hot Pink Ice Dub spun in a loop and tied on the large diameter tube.
Tail: Hot Orange Arctic Fox under fur, edged with hot orange Krystal Flash. Body is Flo Orange chenille, just like the good old days, with Lagartun oval silver tinsel rib.
Wing: White Arctic Fox tail, edged with two strands of Flourescent Orange Krystal Flash.
Hackle: Rather than using the old standard of orange or red saddle hackle collar, I spun shrimp Pink cross-cut rabbit fur in a loop and wound on about three turns to make a collar. I resorted to the spun rabbit over the traditional hackle after trying the traditional hackle and feeling a little ho-hum about the finished fly.
Pro Cone: 6.5 mm; this cone seats nicely against the rabbit fur collar.
Have fun with the Polar Shrimp; it was a winner for decades, and still is, if we only have the confidence to tie it on and toss it in the water.
Jay Nicholas, January 2, 2011