Shad Fly Patterns

Video flies for shad fishing

A Collection of Shad Flies

On this site you will find photos, videos, and tying instructions for an ever-growing collection of shad flies. When I first started fly fishing for shad, I began scouring the web for shad fly patterns to tie and try on the water, and I was surprised by just how little I found. Over the years, I have found more and more shad flies in books, blogs, and by word of mouth. I love fly tying and over time, I have adapted fly patterns associated with other species to attract shad with great success. One thing to consider as you begin to learn how to tie different shad flies is, think of them more as patterns or styles versus specific individual flies. Once you learn to tie a pattern, you can adapt it to your specific tying style and the water that you fish. Don’t be afraid to be creative and take artistic license when tying shad fly patterns. Remember, for the most part, we are not trying to imitate something in particular in nature, but rather trying to grab a shad’s attention and induce a strike, so there is really no wrong way to tie them.

Most fishermen that target shad on the fly learn a pattern or two which they prefer, and will tie them in different colors, sizes and weights. Over time, they tend to prefer specific materials over others as well. I am no different, and over time decided that I like tying with Kip Tail and use it regularly where patterns call for marabou or craft fur. You might find that you prefer hair wings over quill wings, or like shad fly patterns that look like minnows over shad flies that look like bugs. The key is to figure out what you like to tie and fish and fish the fly with confidence. Once you find a pattern that catches shad regularly, you will likely fill your fly box with it, but don’t be afraid to try something new as well. It is always good to have some standby patterns when your go-to shad fly pattern seems to get overlooked. While I have tried and true patterns that catch shad, I also like to experiment and catch them in different ways, and I encourage you to do the same!

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Here are the Shad Fly Patterns:

  • Shad Flies- The complete collection of pictures, videos, and tying instructions of all of the shad fly patterns on this site.
    • St. Johns River Favorites- A subcategory of the complete collection of flies which are tried and true favorites on the St. Johns River. Typically, these patterns are tied with bead chain or hourglass eyes so the fly rides hook tip up to prevent snags on muscle beds and grass. While these flies are indeed St. Johns River favorites, if you are looking for flies that ride hook tip up to fish on your waters, they will certainly work anywhere.
    • Econlockhatchee (Econ) River Favorites- A subcategory of the St. Johns River Favorites of flies which are perfect for the Econ River. Similar to the St. Johns Favorites, they are generally tied with bead chain eyes, but tend to be smaller in size, which makes them perfect for targeting spooky fish in shallow areas of the Econ.
    • The Pfeiffer Collection- A subcategory of the complete collection of flies that I tied as a tribute to C. Boyd Pfeiffer’s Shad Fishing. These classic flies can be used on the east and west coast alike.

If you are new to fly tying shad flies, be sure to read article number six “Fly Patterns for Shad,” of my series entitled Fly Fishing for Shad- The Basics.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>