Trueblood Otter Shrimp

Trueblood Otter Shrimp

- By Mike Andreasen

In the late autumn, in the short window before freeze up, hyallella scuds leave their secretive dwellings and offer themselves to patrolling trout by the thousands. It is not unusual to land a large rainbow or brown with gobs of these tiny crustaceans spit onto our tube aprons as though our quarry was showing its disdain for our interruption of such gross gluttony.

Many fly fishers tie on patterns that are too large and are greeted with disappointment. Bob Sheedy’s Shamu Scud in tiny sizes works during this period but the original killer for such events is the Trueblood Otter Shrimp, designed and brought to fame by the late Ted Trueblood. The actual creature we attempt to emulate is size 20 and smaller but we’ve found size 16-18 is acceptable in most cases. Anything smaller will see lactic acid buildup in hard fighting trout over 22 inches -- or straightened hooks.

The pattern calls for seal which is a marine mammal and for which trade is barred but angora goat can be mixed with the Otter Fur. Be sure to leave the guard hairs in.

Otter fur is one of those waterproof entities that have a shine all of its own but can be rather trying to acquire if you don’t know a taxidermist or a trapper.

Don’t be fooled into thinking only smaller fish will be caught. At the time of year mentioned above the largest trout are guilty of the most insatiable pigfests.

Straight forward tie as in material list sequence. It’s a dubbed body so one might do well to use a dubbing twister when attempting smaller sizes. Try to keep the body reasonably uniform. The guard hairs will render the appearance “buggy” enough.


Type Notes


Size 8 to 20 - 1x long, use a large bite style hook on smaller sizes as in photograph


Black, Brown, Grey or Olive


Used in larger sizes only, toward front of hook and under shank to give stability


Partridge Fibers


Blend one part of Otter Fur with guard hairs and one part of Cream Seal or Angora Goat


Not required as in other shrimp patterns - larger sizes can be wound with gold or silver wire


Partridge Fibers - tied beard style


Sometimes added by some tyers when in larger styles and when emulating the larger gammarus scuds