The Avalon Shrimp might seem hard to tie, but this guide will assist you to tie them up in no time at all. This special fly was designed to target Permit, but over the years it has proved to be an incredibly versatile pattern.
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- Difficulty Level: Moderate
- Tying Time: 5 minutes
- Materials: Hook, thread, dumbbell eyes, rabbit zonker strips in orange and tan, black micro flash, barred rubber legs, monofilament, tan chenille, Krystal flash; tungsten beads, and UV resin
- Hook Size: 6 – 1/0
What Is an Avalon Shrimp?
The Avalon Shrimp was developed in Cuba by the Italian fly-fishing guide Mauro Ginevri in 2009. It was designed specifically to target the Atlantic Permit. The catch numbers associated with this fly is truly incredible.
The first week after the fly was developed, the Avalon resulted in 5 Permit landed. Between the end of April 2009 and January 2013, Mauro’s catch report shows only 12 Permit landed with other flies. During that same period, 439 Permit were hooked and 321 landed on the Avalon.
For the full article about this incredible fly and its development, my good friend and incredibly fly tier, Hans van Klinken, wrote an article about the fly. Read more here.
In essence, the Avalon is a shrimp imitation. It’s a long fly when compared to other shrimp imitations, and therein lies one of its first trigger points. The two zonker strip claws add incredible movement to the fly.
The keel system ensures that the fly swims hook point up and, when retrieved, the moving beads make a rattling sound. All these features result in a deadly fly.
How to Fish an Avalon Shrimp?
Most Permit guides have their own style and fishing techniques. But, to give you a general idea of how to fish the fly, here are some pointers.
The Avalon is most successful when sight fishing to a specific target. If you have a guide for the day, he’ll first tell you where the fish is. So, locating the target is the first step.
After locating the fish, determine the direction and speed in which it’s moving. This will give you an idea of where to place the fly. Remember to lead the fish by at least a rod length or two. Fish aren’t used to crustaceans falling on their head.
When you’ve made the cast, it becomes tricky. The best advice I can give you is to read the fish’s body language. Some Permit charge the fly like a Trevally. In this case, you can keep moving the fly until the fish eats. Some fish are fussy, and you should move the fly very slowly.
The one piece of advice that I can give you is that when you see or think that the fish ate the fly, do not trout set. Keep the rod down and set with a firm retrieve. Once the line goes tight you can lift the rod and clear the line.
Materials You’ll Need to Tie an Avalon Shrimp
You need the following materials to tie an Avalon Shrimp fly:
Make use of a saltwater specific hook with a standard length shank. Choose the hook model with the intended quarry in mind.
The two things to keep in mind are hook strength and gape width. Use the following as a reference:
For best results, select a hook between sizes 4 and 8.
Depending on the Permit species you are targeting, hook sizes between 4 and 1/0 can be used.
For trevallies such as Bluefin, Giant Trevally, and Jack Crevalle, hooks ranging from 1/0 to 6/0 can be used.
Recommended Saltwater Fly Tying Hooks:
→ Jshanmei 150pcs 2X Strong High Carbon Steel Hooks Size 1-5/0
A strong, flat thread that matches the color of the fly. You can also make use of colors that will add accents, such as fluorescent orange, pink, and chartreuse.
Recommended 210 Denier 3/0 Fly Tying Thread:
→ Danville’s Flat Wax 210 Denier Thread
Brass or tungsten dumbbell eyes matching the size of the fly can be used. I recommend using tungsten, as the relative density is more than that of brass. So you can either use smaller eyes for the same weight or create flies that sink faster.
Recommended Fly Tying Weighted Eyes:
→ Prime Fish Co. Dumbbell Real Eyes
Bright Orange Material
To imitate the egg sack of the fly, a bright orange tuft is tied in at the end of the hook.
I have used the following materials in the past with success:
- Orange zonker strip
- Antron Yarn
- Poly Yarn
- Sculpting fiber
Recommended Zonker Strips:
→ Tigofly 12 Colors Straight Cut Rabbit Zonker Strips
Black Micro Flash
Two strands of black micro Krystal Flash imitate the antennae of the shrimp.
Recommended Flash Material:
→ Phecda Sport 10 Pack Colorful Fly Tying Flash
Rubber legs are tied in at the back of the fly to create movement. There are many different materials on the market these days. Some of my favorite to use for this purpose are:
- Barred rubber legs (grey, white, or tan)
- Translucent Silicone Legs
- Daddy long leg material
Recommended Fly Tying Legs:
→ Xfishman Silicon Rubber Legs 12-24 Colors
The body on the original fly was created by winding a tan marabou feather around the hook shank. As many of you would know, this would not be the most durable option out there.
I like using any of the following material:
- Body braid
Recommended Dubbing Material:
→ Hareline Ice Dub – Dispenser W/ 12 Popular Colors
Recommended Assorted Chenille & Flashabou:
→ Croch Fly Tying Materials Kit
The ribbing will add an accent, flash, or durability to the body, depending on what material you use. Any of the following will work:
- Vinyl rib
Recommended Flash Material:
→ Phecda Sport 10 Pack Colorful Fly Tying Flash
The mono will create a keel for the fly which will include several tungsten beads. This will ensure the fly rides hook point up.
→ Ande Monofilament Line
The tungsten beads are incorporated into the keel of the fly. The amount and size you use will determine how fast the fly will sink.
I recommend using 3.5 or 4mm beads. The following colors work well:
- Fluorescent orange
Recommended Fly Tying Beads:
→ Tigofly 24 Colors Fly Tying Beads
Any UV resin, or even nail varnish, can be used to seal the head of the fly.
Zonker strips are used to create the Avalon Shrimp’s moving claws. The size of the zonker strip used can be varied between 1/8 and ¼ inch. Match the color of the zonker with the color of the bottom.
Tools Needed To Tie an Avalon Shrimp
You’ll need the following tools to tie an Avalon Shrimp:
- Bobbin holder
- Normal Scissors
- Long scissors
- Paper clamp
- Whip finishing tool
- Dubbing loop tool
- UV torch (if you’re using UV resin)
Let's Get Started!
How To Tie An Avalon Shrimp
Follow the step-by-step procedure below to learn how to tie an Avalon Shrimp. The specific material I use to tie the fly in the step-by-step guide below are:
Avalon Shrimp Recipe
- Hook: Grip 2711 size 2
- Thread: Danville’s 210D Flatwaxed tan
- Dumbbell eyes: Medium tungsten black nickel
- Egg sack: Orange rabbit zonker
- Antenna: Micro Krystal Flash
- Legs: Medium barred silicone legs in white and translucent Sili-legs
- Monofilament: 25lb Maxima Ultragreen
- Beads: 3.5mm Tungsten fluorescent orange
- Ribbing: Krystal Flash
- Body: Tan Chenille
- Claws: Tan zonker strips
- UV resin: Solarez thin
Avalon Shrimp Dimensions
In the article that Hans van Klinken wrote about the Avalon Shrimp, he describes the exact dimensions that Mauro Ginevri designed the fly with (on a size 2 hook). Keep the following dimensions in mind when tying the fly:
- Antennae: 7cm long
- Legs: 5cm long
- Claws: Skin length is 2cm, hair length is 4cm
- Keel: 2cm long and 1cm deep
- Egg sack: 1cm long
Step 1: Place The Hook in The Vise
Select a hook from the packet and place it between the vise’s jaws. The shank must be level and the hook point and barb visible.
Lock the hook in place. Test the grip to ensure that the hook won’t move about when you’re tying.
Step 2: Lock in The Thread
Hold the thread tip in your left hand and place the thread over the shank, somewhere in the middle of the hook. Wrap forward 5 or 6 times.
Then, wrap the thread over itself to lock it in place. Cut off the excess.
Step 3: Lay a Thread Foundation
Run the thread forward with touching turns. This will provide the dumbbell eyes, and all material following, with a good foundation.
Stop when you reach the eye of the hook. Move the thread back slightly, giving yourself enough space to tie in the dumbbell eyes.
Step 4: Secure The Dumbbell Eyes
Place a dumbbell eye on top of the hook shank, leaving enough space in front to whip finish the fly later. Secure the eyes with a series of figure-of-eight wraps. Make sure that the eyes are straight and secured properly.
(You can also add a drop of superglue at this stage)
Step 5: Lay The Rear Thread Foundation
Wrap the thread backward with touching turns. Stop when you reach the bend of the hook.
This is typically a good place to stop the backward thread foundation as it makes a good length for most fly bodies.
Step 6: Create The Dubbing Loop
Hook the thread with a dubbing brush tool and double it over. Make a couple of wraps around the shank to secure it.
Then, make one thread wrap around the base of the dubbing loop.
Step 7: Clamp The Orange Zonker
Pull the orange zonker tight between two fingers. Brush back the fibers so they stand perpendicular to the hide.
Slide a paper clamp over the fibers. Cut the clamped fibers from the leather with a long scissor.
Step 8: Spin The Dubbing Brush
Place the clamped zonker fibers in the dubbing loop, as close to the hook as possible. Pull the loop tight and open the clamp.
Spin or turn the brush spinner until a dubbing brush is formed. You can comb out any fibers with a piece of Velcro if needed.
Step 9: Create The Egg Sack
Palmer the dubbing brush around the base of the hook bend to create the egg sack.
Don’t move too far forward. Tie off with thread and cut off the excess material.
Step 10: Tie in The Antennae
Tie a single strand of black micro Krystal Flash at the base of the egg sack on either side of the hook.
This will be the bug’s antennae and once it’s tied in and underwater it will be a great attractant for the fish as well.
Step 11: Tie in The Legs
Tie in a single translucent silicone leg at the base of the egg sack on either side of the hook. Then, tie in a barred silicone leg on either side of the hook as well.
Cut off the excess and cover the leftover material with thread.
Step 12: Tie in The Monofilament
Run the thread forward to just behind the dumbbell eyes. Cut a section of monofilament from the spool and tie in the tip on top of the hook shank.
Tightly wrap the thread backward to secure the monofilament while pulling it tight. Stop when you reach the base of the egg sack.
Step 13: Tie in The Ribbing Material
Remove a single strand of Krystal Flash from the packet and tie in the tip at the base of the egg sack.
This is the point where you’ll start wrapping the ribbing, so make sure the Krystal Flash is tied securely to the hook shank.
Step 14: Tie in The Chenille
Cut a section of tan chenille and tie in the tip about halfway between the egg sack and the dumbbell eyes.
Run the thread backward to secure the chenille at the base of the egg sack. Run the thread forward to just behind the eyes.
Step 15: Wrap The Chenille
Wrap the chenille forward covering all the underlying material.
Stop when you reach the dumbbell eyes. Tie off the material and remove the excess.
Step 16: Rib The Body
Wrap the ripping around the body forward in the opposite direction than that of the chenille.
Create even segments and stop once you reach the dumbbell eyes. Secure with thread and cut off the excess.
Step 17: Tie in The Zonker Claws
Cut two 1-inch long sections of tan zonker strips. Tie the leather part in on either side of the hook and just behind the dumbbell eyes.
The zonker fibers’ natural direction must point backward.
Step 18: Cut The Zonker Claws
Cut the zonker claws at an angle so they extend up to the egg sack. You’ll see that once these are cut they form a very natural looking profile along the side of the fly.
This is important for the overall look of the fly in the water.
Step 19: Cut The Legs and Antennae
Cut the 4 silicone legs to be the same length as the body.
The antennae can be cut to be slightly longer than the legs.
Step 20: Create a Dubbing Brush
Clamp and cut a section of tan zonker strip the same way as mentioned in step 6. Split the thread for a length long enough for the clamp to be inserted into it.
Place the zonker into the split thread and spin the bobbin until you have a brush.
Step 21: Create a Collar
Palmer the brush behind the dumbbell eyes to cover up the claw’s tie in point.
Move the thread to the front of the dumbbell eyes.
Step 22: Add The Beads To The Keel
Slide 2 – 4 fluorescent tungsten beads onto the monofilament section.
This makes the fly look as bit clunky at first, but in the end it really helps the fly to appear more natural in the water.
Step 23: Secure The Monofilament
Pull the monofilament down through the collar. Secure with 3-4 thread wraps.
Then pull the mono back to form a keel about 2 – 3 beads from the body of the fly. Secure the mono with thread. Cut off the excess.
Step 24: Whip Finish The Fly
Build a neat head for the fly. Make two whip finishes, pulling the knots tight after each. Cut off the thread.
Check out our step-by-step guide on how to do a whip finish if you need to learn, or if you need a quick refresher.
Step 25: Seal The Head
Coat the head with UV resin. You can give the head a decent coat, but be sure not to cover the eye with any of the resin.
Once you’ve coated the head all the way around the fly, you can cure it with a UV torch.
The Avalon Shrimp
Now You Know
How To Tie An Avalon Shrimp
The Avalon Shrimp is a unique fly that will catch you many different saltwater species. Learning to tie the fly will broaden your skillset and show you how thinking outside the box can produce great results.
Please leave any comments or questions at the bottom of the page. See you again next time.
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