Years ago on my first venture to Christmas Island (The Villages) I was talking with CEO/Designer Morten Bungaard from Pro Sportfisher via Skype a couple of months prior to heading out. Morten said something about the shrimp shells and why no American uses the shrimp and how deadly they are on all fish. I asked about the two best colors (of course, we stocked them in the U.S. but rarely sold them). I was told the two best colors were Tutti Frutti and Tan/Clear.
Armed with that information, I figured out which shells fit the Mustad 3407 as well as the Ahrex Shrimp hooks (NS 150 & SA 250). I left for Christmas Island armed w/ a Marco Polo tying kit and two Fin Sport packs loaded with materials to tie as needed. I cranked out a few flies after dinner and fishing day 1. There the flies sat in my box for the next couple of days. My box was a double-sided waterproof box for Bonefish/Trevally/Trigger flies. I would hand the box to my guide and say smaller lighter flies on this side, heavier larger flies on the other. The guides would thumb through both sides of the box tipping flies up, taking a quick look and pushing them back down…generally landing on a Christmas Island Special in either Bead Chain or Dumbbell version depending on tide, depth and wind chop or lack of. The rare no wind glassy surface condition always warranted smaller/lighter bead chain versions and a leader dropping to 12 LB and roughly 12′-14′ long.
Fishing was good to excellent in the morning sessions while each of the first few days were tough on all flats every afternoon -or- shortly after lunch for all 16 anglers in the group. So, on day 4 as the guide thumbed through the box in the dreaded afternoon lull and after a few refusals I said, “I’d like to fish that one pointing to the shrimp”. My guide Eketi (Pronounced Eck-us) reluctantly agreed saying, “O.K. but if a fish refuses, we just change flies quickly.” Obviously, I felt no confidence in that reply, but the guide perked up a little when the shrimp was pulled from the box flipped over showing the details of the shrimp shell which could not be seen as the fly rides upside down in the fly box just looking like mangey-fuzz.
Here is how tough the afternoons were: If you could lay down a fly managing not to spook fish even leading the fish by 12′ – 20′, the first 1″ twitch would have fish turning and running like they saw a ghost. The shrimp changed all of that. The next four hours saw at least 40 fish landed) Bonefish, Trevally and Triggers). The guide even made a few casts when I had enough relaying to me, he would take the rod if I found the fish to cast. Eketi was certain he would not cast because I probably would not be able to see/find fish! Ha. Just prior to stepping onto the boat heading back to the lodge, the guide held up the fly and saying, “Bruce this fly is excellent may I keep it”. I politely said no to mess with him and once on the boat handed him the other 5 freshly tied shrimps out of my box along with the tip for the day.
That night I probably tied at least two dozen flies knowing I would not be able to sleep until I knew I had more flies than I needed so I could pass a few out to the group.
The next thing I learned over the next few years was not to fish the fly every waking moment on the flats. When fishing is good a much easier and quicker to tie Christmas Island Special, Chili Pepper, Gotcha, Clouser Minnow etc. are fine. I particularly like my Equator Shrimp when fish are spooky or will change immediately to show any Trigger an Equator Shrimp as they rarely refuse them and often chase them down recklessly!
A lot of flies I tie are generally available to buy or to tie. This one you have to tie for the time being.
– Bruce Berry
Thread: 6/0 – White
Hook: Ahrex S/A 250 – Size 4-8
Eyes: Hareline Sunken Barbell Brass Eyes – small
Dub Bump: Olive dubbing
Carapace 1: Marble arctic fox
Carapace 2: Marble arctic fox, same but slightly longer
Legs 1: Chicone’s Crusher Legs – Olive Barred Clear, long down each side
Legs 2: Chicone’s Crusher Legs – Olive Barred Clear, longer over the top
Feelers: Krystal Flash – Green x2
Rib: 4x mono or fluoro
Body: Ice Dub – UV Pearl
Shell Back: Pro Sportfisher Shrimp Shells