Fly Tying

Rock Shrimp: Using Grizzly Hackle


Grizzly hackle is a necessity for every saltwater fly-tying bench – really for all fly-tying benches. Whether making claws, wings, shrimp legs, or simply wrapping the hook shank, Grizzly hackle and its natural barring can’t be beat. Barring gives so much action to flies. Other great colors are available as well, all offering amazing variegation in color.

A few tips when buying hackle:

   Suppliers will offer various grades of pelts (i.e. platinum, gold, silver, bronze, professional, etc.).

   Higher grades pelts offer more feathers, however no difference in feather quality.

   Most suppliers will offer various sizes of pelts, (i.e. full, half, quarter, etc.). Purchasing smaller pelts and more colors may be more cost effective when trying to increase options at the tying bench.

   If looking for small feathers, “hen capes” are best – for large/ long feathers, “rooster saddles” are best.

   For my saltwater fly-tying applications, I use Whiting Bugger Packs. The packs offer fairly long tapered feathers and some smaller as well. Each pack offers a fly-tyer a perfect sample of feathers for tying all types of saltwater flies. For natural colored saltwater flies, see the colors Grizzly, Grizzly Coachman, Furnace, and Barred Dark Ginger.

   For a full selection of hackle and colors, see the Whiting Farms web resource. It helps to see all the options. Whiting is also known for being one of the top three hackle producing farms – many argue they are the best.

In retrospect, looking back over my first year of saltwater fly-tying, I would have made one change in purchasing my materials. I would have invested in Bugger Packs or pro-grade (lowest grade) quarter saddles in more colors right out of the gate. Must-have colors for me include Grizzly, Cree, Coachman, and White. I find these colors to offer more options when tying saltwater fly patterns including shrimp, crab, streamers, and many more.

Recreate these flies at home! A list of materials used to make them are included below. Always keep in mind your local fly-fishing store will most likely have the materials referenced, and typically for less. Materials can also be found at Amazon or any other major on-line resource.

Fly-Tying Materials

  • Mustad Hook 34007SS (#4)
  • UTC Thread 210, Tan
  • Bead Chain Eyes, Large, Black
  • Krystal Flash, Olive/ Pearl, Royal Blue, Copper, and Gold
  • Krystal Flash, Black/ Pearl
  • Rooster Cape, Grizzly Variant (for body and claws)
  • Berkley Vanish, Fluorocarbon, 30#, Clear (weed guard)
  • Sally Hansen Hard As Nails, Hardener, Clear (#2103)

Design Inspiration & Detail

This fly pattern is very simple to make. Technically one long rooster saddle quill (grizzly) could make several flies. Add a little Crystal Flash of your desired color and your done! I tied in a few colors of flash above to show how different they can look. I added the Black/ Pearl Krystal Flash for antennae to further excite the fish. Add rubber legs if you like – the options are endless.

Target Species

This particular fly was designed to attract Bonefish and Permit – many other species will also take the fly on a retrieve.

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