Shad Fly Tying @ River Rock Outfitter 3/5/2016


All in a day’s work. Well, two hour’s work.

It’s almost shameful to say I have yet to attend one of these events. Fly tying done right and put on by the excellent folks over at River Rock Outfitter. Dan Dutton, their fly fishing guide, began these classes this Winter. Dan knows his stuff and excitedly teaches any level of student. RRO and Dan do a lot of these tying events for all sorts of patterns and target species. So, check ’em out!

I love the setting as well. You’re sitting at a large, long wooden table, in the RRO shop surrounded by vises, tying material, and other like-minded individuals. Sounds like a cult, come to think of it. Dan instructs, while you look around to make sure everyone else’s flies at least slightly resemble the mess you’re tying on to your hook. I like this setting much more than the usual, foldup tables and tile floor setup most places offer. Wish I would have snagged a photos. Next time….

The first pattern we tied. Just a little bit of fuzzy material (don’t want to give away any secrets) and a bead head.

This tying event centered around the Spring shad run which takes place in the Rappahannock river and other Atlantic ocean tributaries. These fish come up river to spawn and put up a fun fight. Some even refer to them as the “poor man’s tarpon” which I think is a bit of a stretch, but figured I’d share.


A few bead headed, rubber bodied gems. I didn’t say I was the most aesthetically pleasing fly tyer….





In the Rapp, the water is a little muddy or just not quite summer-clear yet. So, the bright colors get the shad’s attention. Additionally, the shad are in the river to spawn, not gorge themselves on a meal. The bright color floating in front of the fish’s face triggers an aggression strike.

I think these three look the coolest. I like the rubber bodies with the orange dubbing. Hopefully my less-than-perfect half hitches and whip finishes hold up to the numerous shad bites I expect this Spring.

I asked Dan about the names. He said call them whatever you want. Although, the second to top fly is called a mini-clouser minnow


The trick to shad fishing lies in getting the fly to sit right in front of the fish. Therefore, depth is key. This could require a heavy fly (hence, the weights on these patterns), split shot, a sinking leader, a sinking line, etc…

As with any fly tying session, don’t forget to #pinchyourbarbs. I haven’t yet in these photos. Generally, I like to pinch them before I start tying, just in case I break off the hook. If the fly is already finished when the  hook breaks…it sucks.

RRO offers some of these patterns in an all-materials-included package. So, if you miss a session you can give it a go on your own.


One thought on “Shad Fly Tying @ River Rock Outfitter 3/5/2016

  1. Pingback: Searching for Shad – Take 2 | Adventures of Sims

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