Fly of the Month – The Shrimpadillo

Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, Montana

ShrimpadilloAn inshore Gulf Coast flats trip to Florida in the Spring of 2021 was very successful save one frustrating morning. As I paddled the kayak in the early dawn across a shallow flat at low tide, I encountered several dozen tailing bull redfish. It was quite a sight as large pods of fish slowly meandered around the flat stirring up breakfast. I wasn’t really set up fly wise for redfish, but quickly changed flies and started chucking various stuff in front of fish. For whatever reason, they were not the least bit interested nor spooked and I never connected before the pod slowly moved away. So when I returned home, I started thinking about what flies I needed if I wanted to be successful in the tailing redfish scenario. One of the options was the traditional spoon fly, a redfish staple.

I had never really tried to tie spoon flies before primarily because I was never keen on all that slow drying epoxy and braided tubing hassle. But times had changed and with a little research it was easy to discover the advent of new methods of tying spoon flies with purpose constructed cutouts, hooks and UV resins. As I ventured down the spoon fly road, I came across a unique design—the Shrimpadillo.  Half shrimp, half spoon, the Shrimpadillo was a hybrid design that captured the essence of a shrimp pattern as well as the wobbling nature of the spoon fly which might represent a baitfish or crab pattern. The Shrimpadillo is the original creation of brothers Steven and Alan Kulcak of, a south Texas outfit.

The inspiration for the Shrimpadillo came after a day on the water sight casting to redfish along Texas Gulf coast. Alan had the original idea but both brothers worked through many variations until they felt they had the pattern nailed down in terms of effectiveness and durability on the water. Steven told me the name came to them almost instantly as the fly looked like the head of a shrimp with the shell of an armadillo—an abundant resident of the South Texas countryside. Rumor even has it that one version called for the urine stained belly fur of a female armadillo, but I couldn’t verify that.

Continue reading → Fly of the Month – The Shrimpadillo

Simple Flies – The Gurgler

Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, Montana

Fundamentally, there couldn’t be a more straightforward, simple steps fly to tie than a Gurgler.  Conceived in the 1980s by fly tyer Jack Gartside for New England stripers, the Gurgler has been adapted to just about any species in fresh, salt or tropical waters that will respond to a top-water fly.  Australians have an idiom—Down the Gurgler—that characterizes efforts that have been a waste of time and/or money or items lost, never to be found again.  In the case of the Gartside Gurgler, efforts in tying and fishing this simple fly will never go “Down the Gurgler”.

The original fly was tailed with white bucktail with a bit of flash, a under body of palmered grizzly hackle and a 3mm white foam body.  The classic folded foam body with a short lip in front of the hook eye hasn’t changed in the 40 years this pattern has been around.  What has changed however is the adaptation of the myriad of synthetic flash materials available today to this versatile pattern.  Most of my experience with the Gurgler pattern has been on saltwater flats in Florida for Speckled Trout, Snook and Redfish but it is easy to see how the pattern has been adapted to bass, trout, panfish, and northern pike to name just a few.

Any Gurgler is fundamentally a three part fly—tail, foam and body—and as far I as can tell, always tied in that order.  It is a simple recipe.

Continue reading → Simple Flies – The Gurgler

To Bead or Not To Bead – Glass Is The Question

Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, Montana

The term “Synthetic” has a broad meaning in the Fly Tying realm.  It is generally accepted that synthetic fly tying materials began to appear post-WWII as the use of acrylics, polyesters, silicones, polyurethanes, commonly known as plastics and other human concoctions made their way into the manufacturing mainstream.  Probably the most widespread application is that of “Mylar” a branded polyester film developed by DuPont in the 1950s.  A definition of the terms “Synthetic”—“ something resulting from synthesis rather than occurring naturally”  and “Synthesis”—“ : the production of a substance by the union of chemical elements, groups, or simpler compounds or by the degradation of a complex compound”  leave no doubt about the type of material we today call “synthetic”.  But what about glass, more particularly glass beads?

Is glass a synthetic or natural material?  The answer is yes to both.  Glass occurs naturally and takes many forms in nature.  Obsidian is a great example.  But humans have manipulated the formula for glass—silica and heat—for centuries to fabricate glass into all manner of forms, colors and uses.  One of those synthetically created uses is the glass bead, by many accounts, a 3500 year old creation.

Continue reading → To Bead or Not To Bead – Glass Is The Question