Guest Blogger: Mike Cline, Bozeman, Montana
An 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 shrimp fly design—the Shrimpadillo. Half shrimp fly, half spoon fly, the Shrimpadillo was a hybrid design that captured the essence of a shrimp fly 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 Sightcastfishing.com, a south Texas outfit.
The inspiration for the Shrimpadillo shrimp fly 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 shrimp fly 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.
Tying the Shrimpadillo is really a two part build. First all the components to build the shrimp fly head are attached to the bend of the hook. Then the dumbbell eyes, body and spoon fly cutout are attached to build the “armadillo” portion of the fly. The addition of silicone legs at the hook eye helps create the impression of a crab when the fly is moved or sinking slowly along the bottom. I’ve tied a couple of dozen Shrimpadillos and the design is wide open for variation and adaptation to more than just redfish.
Tying the Shrimpadillo Shrimp Fly Pattern
Hook: Spoon Fly Hooks - [SFH20] or equivalent
- Light wire saltwater hooks from Gamakatsu can be easily shaped into a spoon fly configuration to match cutout size
- Thread: Danville 210 or mono
- Weight: Dumbbell eyes, Bead chain or no weight
- Antennae: Krystal Flash or Moose Mane
- Legs: Silicone legs
- Carapace: Fur, Long strand dubbing, Polar Chenille, Mallard or Teal Flank
- Eyes: Shrimp eyes
- Body: Polarflash or equivalent
Spoon: Spoon fly cutout sealed with UV resin
- Premade cutouts are available from several suppliers but can be homemade from thin/stiff mylar.
The build sequence—antennae, legs, eyes, carapace-- for the shrimp head can be varied but the most important aspect is the positioning on the hook bend to properly accommodate the length of the spoon cutout.
Once the all the components of the shrimp fly head are in-place, the spoon fly cutout is attached with the narrow end tab.
The hook shank is then covered with Polarflash and the dumbbell eyes tied in just behind the spoon fly cutout. This is where mono thread has an advantage since thread wraps essentially disappear when the fly is finished with UV resin.
Coat the spoon fly cutout top and bottom with UV resin (dyed or glittered if using clear cutouts) and seal with Sally Hansen or equivalent. Tie in the front silicone legs after finishing the fly with UV resin.
The Shrimpadillo test drive will happen in late November early December on the inshore flats of Tampa Bay. If I encounter tailing redfish, I’ll be ready, but I am counting on other species to tackle the Shrimpadillo in channels, potholes and deep grass when fished with the long sink tips. The creation of Steven and Alan Kulcak of Sightcastfishing.com is easy to tie and looks promising.