Polar Shrimp

The Polar Shrimp is an old standby for salmon and steelhead.

Originally it was tied with polar bear for the wing. Polar bear is not that easy to obtain and now white buck tail is used on large flies and white calf tail is used on smaller flies.

Often, white marabou is used for the wing. Fluorescent chenille is now used along with other synthetic materials for the body.

Most polar shrimp patterns I have seen call for hook size 6 to 10. For us, we should also tie it in larger sizes: 2/0 – 4.

This fly can be unweighted or weighted.

Every serious salmon fly fisherman’s fly box should include these flies in a variety of sizes.

This fly “matches the hatch”. It is thought it is a match for a milting egg.

I would also try it with fire orange body/orange hackle, pink body/pink hackle and blue body/purple hackle.


Hook: Mustad 36890, Size 2/0 – 10 (any similar salmon hook)

Thread: Black UNI-thread 8/0

Tail: Bunch of red schlappen or feather barbules

Rib: None

Body: Fluorescent orange chenille

Wing: Bunch of white calf tail, pearl Krystal Flash strands over top

Hackle: Two turns of soft orange hackle, pulled down (chickabou is best)

Head: Clear cement


Step 1

Make a good base by wrapping thread over the hook shank.

Tie in the schlappen fibres for the tail.

Step 2

Tie in the chenille over the hook shank at the tail.

Wrap the chenille forward leaving enough space for the hackle and wing.

Prepare the soft hackle.

The length of the hackle to tie in is the same length as the chenille body.

Step 3

Tie hackle in by the tip.

By leaving the stem attached, you can simply grab it with your fingers and wrap two times around the hook; tie off below the shank (opposite to upturned eye).

For small flies, you may have to use a pair of hackle pliers.

Step 4

Separate the hackle fibres on top and push them downwards.

Hold these fibres in the throat position and make a few turns of thread over top.

Stack a bunch of white calf tail and cut off the butt sections evenly.

All the tips should be fairly even.

Step 5

Hold these calf tail butt ends close to the eye.

Tie them just catching a few at a time.

Don’t let go of the calf tail until it is securely anchored.

Tie in the Krystal Flash strands on top.

You have to use 8/0 thread for this operation; 6/0 thread does not catch the ends correctly and the calf tail is not as secure.

Finish the head with a whip finishing tool and use head cement or lacquer of your choice.

Bruce Ross has been hooked on fly fishing and tying his own flies since the early 1970s and has fished throughout Canada and the US. Contact him at [email protected]


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