Swedish version


The Turbo Shrimp,
From Russia To Alaska

By Bob Kenly


  The story of this fly/lure has a long complicated trail of events starting at my home in Missouri, Sweden, Russia and finally Alaska. It also involved two tiers with vastly different philosophies, myself and Yuri Shumakov. Yuri and I share many life experiences starting with the time we were soldiers in our respective armies during a tense period of history, both now realizing that history brought us closer together than separated us. In effect, an odd couple who rarely agree on the subject of fly tying but together envisioned a different fly.

The prototype of the Turbo Shrimp

  The first model of the shrimp came to me after I had finished with my "Flyrod C" and started searching for something new to play with. I rarely tie this way, just to sit down and tie something without first at least having an idea what I'm planning to end up with seems like a waste of materials but in this case I didn't even have a clue what the final product would look like or what its use would be. What I ended up with was a shrimp with a rubber body, again turning back to my experiences with the Flying C I added a spinner.

  So now what, I thought it might make a nice salt water fly for my friend heading to the Texas Gulf coast for the winter. But one more thing before I just forget the whole idea, show it to my friend Yuri, a master of understatement, who has a unique way of expressing his likes and dislikes. "ARRRRGGGG, it looks like a shrimp with an egg and propeller stuck up its butt", not exactly the comment I was looking for but at least he took the time to offer an opinion. I almost forgot about the shrimp thing when Yuri sent another E-mail, this time with some ideas for my shrimp (he probably he saw some genius behind the concept but on second thought I doubted it). He was off to Kamchatka to open up a new section for salmon and steelhead, the shrimp might just be fun to try. Since the Scandinavians used a shrimp constructed from flexible brightly colored drinking straws he felt that would make a perfect body for a shrimp. The other idea was a name for the pattern, "Turbo Shrimp", not a bad idea at that so from then on the name stuck. Upon Yuri's return from Russia I received an e-mail from him about the use of my shrimp pattern.

Turbo Shrimp Yuri tied for Kamchatka

Yuri's e-mail in part:

"Sorry, I forgot to say about Turbo Shrimps. I think this device has rights to be on market. I've caught with it Rainbows, Dollys, Silvers and Kundzhas. Most productive were color combinations: deep pink body with purple and violet legs and antennas and orange body with fluorescent green legs and antennas. Char and kundzha took both with confidence, while silvers preferred pink and purple. We caught 1 rainbow on orange-green and 2 ones on pink-purple. Frankly speaking I fished with them only last day and gave 2 Turbos to a friend of mine to try. They worked very well, so he refused to give them back".

Spotted Char Yuri caught on Turbo Shrimp, -04 Kamchatka

  OK, at least the news from Russia was better than I anticipated but I wondered if the fact that Kamchatka is so isolated with relatively little fishing pressure had some bearing on the end result. Alaska's fishing was finished for the year so I'd have to wait another year before that question would be answered. Even though Russian salmon and Alaskan salmon are basically the same breed and even known to intermingle in the ocean they have different temperaments fostered by their respective environments. What one fish finds attractive the other may not, making me afraid Yuri's experiences in Far East Russia might not be repeated in Alaska. Yuri felt the Turbo Shrimp was so successful that other Russian tiers would find it useful so together we wrote an article for the winter issue of NAHLYST (the only Russian language fly fishing magazine).

Turbo Shrimp I tied for George for Alaska 2005

  Alaska, 2005

  My friend George was off to Alaska for several weeks in mid August for Silver salmon so there was my chance to have someone try the Turbo Shrimp under actual Alaskan conditions. He targeted Silver salmon on the Russian River, a beautiful place located on the Kenai Peninsula famous for its huge Sockeye and Silver runs. George's only complaint was he couldn't keep the Sockeye from grabbing the fly before it got down to the Silvers. We never even thought of the pattern as a Sockeye fly, targeting only Silvers. After George's experiences on the Russian River we can only wonder what other species of Alaskan fish would find the Turbo Shrimp attractive.

Silver salmon, caught by George 2005, 
Russian River Alaska, using a pink Turbo Shrimp

  Tying the "Turbo Shrimp"

  The Turbo Shrimp has two stages of construction, (1) a tube fly is tied and (2) the spinner components are added last. In theory any tube fly can be converted to a "Turbo" device, it just takes imagination to push the envelope even further.

  The Fly:

Tube: brass or aluminum about 1 inch long (25.4 mm) I prefer Lined tubes as a brass cone head is added to the fly.
Thread: color to match the fly.
Hair: I use Yak dyed to the appropriate color but any other suitable hair can be used.
Flash: Krystal Flash in your color of choice
Eyes: I make all my eyes by using heavy mono, glass seed seed beads and epoxy.
Shell: flexible cocktail straws or Flying C 4mm diameter rubber.
Cone Head: Brass.

(Note: This is the way I assemble this device but in no way are these instructions written in stone. A lot of my fellow tiers feel I over complicate my work but that's just my personality. If you have a better way, do it).

  To start this fly I cut a tube longer than I need for the finished fly then I make a cut on the tube but do not remove the excess. This allows me to mount the fly in the tube fly adapter. When its time to add the cone I snap off the excess, mount the cone on the liner, and using a lighter burn the liner to form a stop for the cone.

First step tying the Turbo Shrimp, photo by Bob Kenly
First step tying the Turbo Shrimp

  Attach the antenna flash, eyes and legs to the tube. I add bands black thread to simulate body segments (another optional feature).

  Now is the time to make the shell from whatever material you choose. Cut the straw or rubber tubing at an angle to form a shrimp shape. Fit the shell to the tube, using thread, tie the shell to the end of the tube. Snap off the excess tubing and attach the cone head, burn to form the end of the tube.

The Second step tying the fly, photo by Bob Kenly ©
The Second step tying the fly

   That's it for the fly, nothing complicated, next job will be to assemble the spinner portion of this device (I really don't know what else to call it or what category the "Turbo Shrimp" falls into).

  Materials for the spinner assembly:

Hook: Any single, double or treble.
Wire: Stainless steel lure wire about .028 inches in diameter (It doesn't have to be exactly lure wire, any stainless steel wire will do as long as you are able to bend it into shape).
Clevis: Any that fits on the wire, I prefer the folded type.
Blade: French, size #0 , However you do have other blades to choose from.
Beads: 4mm plastic ( I prefer red) and 1/8th inch solid brass bead.

  First the hook is prepared by tying on a piece of stiff mono, The mono will hold the hook straight. The wire is bent to an open loop, if it purchased that way that step can be eliminated. The hook is placed in the loop, the wire closed and threaded into the fly along with the hook's stiff mono. After you are sure the hook is properly aligned then push the wire all the way in. On the other end of the fly its time to assemble the remaining components. First, a plastic bead, then a brass bead, then the spinner and clevis assembly. Now its time to finish the whole affair by making an eye on the wire and cut off the excess wire. For making just a few devices the best method is needle nose pliers to form the loop. There are tools to make loops but most aren't worth the price especially the cheap ones. Wire forming pliers that jewelers use work fairly well for small amounts of work.

  Some final thoughts

  If you travel Alaska for any period of time it becomes fairly evident Russia had a profound influence on the culture of Alaska, even to the point where Russian is the local dialect in some places. Its not unusual, as in the Kenai village of Ninilchik, to see signs both in English and Cyrillic. This is a simple and admittedly elegant pattern with its roots in Russia and Scandinavia but one that has many uses also in Alaska. We've both wondered what other species of fish would find this pattern attractive such as Atlantic salmon (different colors of course), in smaller sizes, Sea Trout both in Europe and Argentina. Both Yuri and I offer this pattern to anyone who is willing to give it a try especially those fishermen from Kamchatka and Alaska.

  "For any great work passion is needed, and boldness in large doses, and these qualities we have as human beings in general".

Ernesto "Che" Guevara

Bob Kenly 2005 ©
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