1200 West Main #7 Cotter AR. 72626

Tying Shad Flies by Jim Mengle


With talk of Shad Kill in the air, its a good time to revisit Jim Mengle’s excellent piece on tying two excellent shad patterns for the “hatch”, plus show-off a couple of other flies to have in your box. You really need to include Jim’s Shad Gurgler, its killer when the fish are on the surface, we are hoping to add tying instructions shortly.

We had a big plug from this morning, and of course generation, one of the keys to a good shad kill, was shut down. But no matter the lake temperatures are now close enough to the magic numbers that any cold night should trigger a shad kill and since we are in mid-January, there is going to be plenty of shad kill action to come.

So set to tying!

We really like the Pacific Fly sinking Threadfin Shad pictured above. The Journal had fished it on the Lakes for bass and has done well now we need to see how well it does on trout.

Hansens Stay Hungry Streamer, in Shiner colors
Hansen’s Stay Hungry Streamer, in Shiner colors

We have been raving about Hansen’s Stay Hungry Streamer (above) since watching our Umpqua rep Cary Marcus land a 20″ cutt on Norfork on this “saltwater fly”. We used it with some success last year during Shad Kill and have caught some nice fish use it as a high water streamer.

Combine plenty of generation with some cold temperatures, (the two go hand in hand many years) and you get the right conditions for schools of shad to die close enough to the Bull Shoals Dam and be sucked through the generators. If you are in the right place at the right time with the right flies it is a lot of fun.

From the NAFF site last year a Shad Kill Fly selection from the vice and pen of our own Jim Mengle.

The Deep Shad

Hook:        Atlantic Salmon Fly, TMC 1598, Dai Riki 899, Size #4

Thread: Black, 3/0

Head Weight: Cone Head, black or Bar Bell eyes or Real Eyes

Body:        Metallic silver Braid on hook shank (optional), small white sparkle chenille

Tail:        White marabou plumes, full, one on each side of hook. Tie in approx. 1/2 inch behind bar-bell eye, secure, apply head cement. Add two strands of pink or pearl crystal Flash on each side of tail. See photo for length.

Head:        Tie in strand of small white sparkle chenille, wrap forward and figure 8 through bar-bell eyes. Whip finish, Apply head cement.

This fly is locally tied in many ways and in it’s most simplistic form is a fly with white marabou tied to the shank of a hook and weight added to the leader as needed for water depth and flow. I have seen dead shad patterns tied with just white wool on a hook!

I fished with Clint and Danielle Wilkinson last year during the Shad Kill below the Bull shoals dam and saw Clint in action with a version of this fly. I used a fly that Danielle gave me which had bar-bell eyes and it was very effective. We were fishing with 5 generators on. The bar-bell eyes get the fly down very fast and when retrieved in jerky movements it acts like a jig fly.


Kevin Brandtonies, local guide, showed me his version of this fly with a cone head. He fished his clients with this fly at Rim Shoals during the shad kill and high water and they caught and released some very large browns and rainbows while dead drifting this pattern from a boat under a strike indicator (u’m bobber). Who would have thought that the fish feed on shad patterns that far down stream?

I would recommend no less than a 3X tippet and a six weight fly rod. Don’t miss this opportunity when the shad kill occurs. Get ready for some vicious takes.

Tight lines, Jim Mengle