What are freshwater shrimps and scuds?
Although these invertebrates are known as freshwater shrimps, or scuds if you live in the US, they're actually amphipod crustaceans. There are hundreds of species, many in the Gammarus genus, which live in still and flowing cold waters around the world. They're all popular prey items for trout and grayling and are therefore highly effective fly patterns, especially on rivers.
How do you fish these fly patterns?
In the UK, these fly patterns tend to mainly be used for targeting grayling on rivers. These flies are well suited to the French, Czech and Euro nymphing techniques. They're often not heavily weighted themselves so would generally need to be fished alongside a weighted grayling bug or nymph to help you get the fly down to the right depth. Or, you can add an underbody of lead-free wire or lead foil to increase their weight.
1. Soft touch shrimp
I absolutely love this pattern. I believe the original was tied by Glen Pointon but this is the talented Andy Saunders' version of the same fly. It's a bit of a smelly and messy one to tie as it uses silicone sealant, but the effort is well worth it. These shrimps look seriously realistic and feel soft and chewy, so it's unsurprising that they seem so convincing to grayling.AP Fly Tying / YouTube.
Hook: Fulling Mill Czech Nymph FM60 55 size 16
Weight: Lead wire
Legs: Superfine grey dubbing
Parasitic hotspot: Red fabric paint
Body: Aquarium silicone sealant
Eyes: Black varnish
Thread: Nano Silk 12/0 grey
2. Clear stretch and ostrich herl scud
Arshad Khan, or Mak, ties some exquisite patterns and this shrimp or scud pattern is a great example. It uses clear stretch material over an underbody of ostrich herl to give an impression of a segmented body with soft legs poking through. The end result looks very realistic and should prove an effective pattern for trout and grayling.Makflies / YouTube.
Hook: Size 10 grub hook
Weight: Flat lead strip
Body: 1mm ClearStretch elastic
Underbody: White ostrich herl
Legs: UV Crystal Flash sparkle dubbing
Shell: UV resin
3. Diamond dub scud
Although this is an American pattern, it's an equally good match for some of the shrimp and isopods that live in British rivers and trout streams and should even work on lakes and reservoirs too.Skyler Hardman / YouTube.
Hook: Dai Riki scud hook size 14
Weight: Lead wire
Antennae: Partridge feather
Legs: Dubbing mix
Rib: UTC Wire amber small
Back: Thin Skin and UV resin
Thread: Danville Flymaster 70 denier brown
4. Grey shrimp
Andy Saunders' Grey Shrimp scud pattern would work well on those waters that are home to the so-called Killer Shrimp, I reckon. Intentionally scruffy, this is a fairly simple pattern to tie and can be knocked up quickly even by less experienced fly tyers.AP Fly Tying / YouTube.
Hook: Partridge Patriot Czech Nymph size 10
Weight: Flat lead
Rib: Hends Ultra Wire black
Legs: Pine squirrel dubbing
Back: Hends Shellback grey
Antennae and tail: Partridge feather
Eyes: Black varnish
Thread: Nano Silk grey
5. Gammarus shrimp
This Gammarus pattern from Barry Ord Clarke uses quite a few materials, including a ProFlyFisher Gammarus foil for the back. The combination of feathers, dubbing and the foil and its transparent rib gives a really natural appearance.Barry Ord Clarke / YouTube.
Hook: Mustad C49S Caddis Curved size 10
Weight: Flat lead tape
Rib: Monofilament line
Back: ProFlyFisher Gammarus back
Tail: Partridge feather
Antennae: Barred wood duck feather
Legs: Blue Dun hackle feather
Body: Grey rabbit flash dubbing
6. Melt Glue Gammarus
This innovative scud fly pattern by Barry Ord Clarke is really clever. It uses hot melt glue stick to form a soft rubber back which, like the Soft Touch Shrimp, feels squidgy in the mouth of the fish so might get rejected less often than some other flies, perhaps.Barry Ord Clarke / YouTube.
Hook: Mustad Eyed Power Hook size 12
Body: Clear melt glue disc
Legs: Ostrich herl
Thread: Dyneema thread