Saturday, April 23, 2011

My Favorite Martian (and other little shrimps)

Over the past tying season (that would be the 8 month Vermont winter), I developed an interest in Irish shrimp flies.  The fly that piqued this interest, created by Peter Kealey of Northern Ireland, is the delightfully named Life on Mars:

I've no doubt that I like the shrimp flies because they are fairly easy to tie, and just like every other kid on the block, the colors speak to me...especially the clarets.  The recipe for Life on Mars as I tied it:

Tag: 3-4 turns Fine Oval Silver Tinsel
Rear Body: Holographic Silver Mylar ribbed with 3 turns Fine Oval Silver Tinsel
Center Hackle and Wing: Hot Orange Cock quite long over which is tied 12-15 strands of hot  orange Polar Bear and 4 strands of Pearl Krystal Flash  (the original uses bucktail)
Front Body: Ruby Claret Floss
Head Hackle: Claret cock)
Eyes: Jungle Cock
Head: Fire Orange

If you get seriously into Irish shrimp flies and would like to learn more about them than just the recipes to tie them, I strongly recommend Peter O'Reilly's Trout and Salmon Flies of Ireland (Merlin Unwin Books, 1995, with subsequent reprints).  From it, I learned that the first Irish Shrimp pattern, Curry's Red Shrimp, was created by Pat Curry of Coleraine, Ireland.  I'm not too sure the colors are right for the Miramichi, but it was fun to tie (and I'll find out about the "rightness" of the colors later this year):

Curry's Red Shrimp pattern:

Tag:  Oval Silver Tinsel
Tail:  Golden Pheasant red breast feather
Rear Body:  Red floss or seal's fur (I tied the example above with seal.  So much more lively than floss!)
Rear Rib:  Oval Silver Tinsel
Rear Veils:  Red hackle tips or similar (often tied, as I did, without veiling)
Center Hackle:  Silver Badger
Front Body:  Black floss or seal (again, I used seal)
Front Rib:  Oval Silver Tinsel
Front Veils:  Red hackle tips or similar (again, not often employed these days.  We're cheap and lazy.)
Eyes:  Jungle Cock
Head Hackle:  Silver Badger
Head:  Red

Most Irish shrimp flies are characterized by their tails of red Golden Pheasant breast feathers.  As I zoomed around the internet, I found that they are either tied in by tip or butt and then wound.  Seems like personal preference reigns in that department...I like to tie them in by the tip.

The Faughan Shrimp gave me another opportunity to use claret materials.  It's such a rich color...and it does have some history in flies on the Miramichi; the Logie comes to mind.  But that's another story for another day!  Speaking of "other stories", claret materials for tailing are hard to come by, and good hackles are in short supply ("hair extensions".  ugh.), so I got into dyeing my own materials, and that's a lot of fun!  I dyed a Golden Pheasant skin claret; it is amazing, and I used the "claretized" breast feather for the tail on this fly instead of the standard red breast feather.

Anyway, the Faughan Shrimp:

I don't know if salmon ever get the head-on view, but its pretty cool:                                                           

The Faughan Shrimp pattern:

Tag:  Oval Silver Tinsel
Tail:  Golden Pheasant red breast feather wound
Rib:  Oval Silver Tinsel
Rear Body Half:  Orange floss
Center Hackle:  Orange cock
Front Body Half:  Claret floss
Head Hackle:  Dark claret saddle
Eyes (wing):  Jungle Cock
Head:  Claret

The McCormick's Shrimp really got the claret flowing:                                                                                

McCormick's Shrimp pattern:

Tail 1:  Claret Polar Bear or bucktail with 6 or so strands pearl Krystal Flash
Tail 2:  Long claret hackle wound 3ish turns and tied back to cloak Tail 1.
Rear Body:  Claret floss
Rear Rib:  Oval gold tinsel
Middle Hackle:  Long claret
Front Body:  Claret floss
Front Rib:  Oval gold tinsel 
Wing:  Jungle cock
Front Hackle:  Hot orange
Head:  Black

Lots of other shrimp to come!

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