Make a Shrimp Teaser for Weakfish
are opportunistic feeders. They have wide,
cavernous mouths. They will take hold of large prey like bunkers,
snappers, and practically anything else that swims. Fangs allow
them to clamp and hold onto such large bait as they suck it down
in a series of gulping movements. The mouth cavity is very
flexible and semi-collapsible inward - which allows the weakfish
to generate a surprisingly strong suction force by collapsing its
closed mouth inward, flaring its gills to vacate water and build
pressure within the mouth cavity, then instinctively opening and
expanding its mouth walls outward at the precise moment. In this
way, they can clamp down on and swallow very large bait in a
series of gulping, sucking movements.
It's like in a sci-fi movie. The
mouth also allows weakies to vacuum in any SMALL food close to
it. It is kind of like in those sci-fi movies when they get a
hole in the side of the spacecraft...and everyone gets sucked out
into the vacuum of space! Same thing with the weakfish's feeding
technique! Every small fish in proximity gets sucked out of the
water and into the vacuum inside the weakie's mouth. Striped bass
can also generate strong suction, but differently than weakfish.
Striped bass can suck razor clams right out of their burrows in
This vacuuming tactic works most
efficiently with smaller bait like spearing and shrimp. In fact,
weakies clearly seem to have an affinity for sucking in grass
shrimp and sand shrimp. Both are diminutive critters typically
under two inches in length. Grass shrimp, the predominant species
is a translucent dirty white color. Less prolific, the sand
shrimp is a see-through smoky grey color. Both species have
prominent black eyes on the end of eye stalks.
It's a spring thing. Shrimp tend
to swarm near the surface during the first warming weeks in early
spring. You will surely know when this is happening because the
small terns will be busy dive-bombing the shrimp everywhere,
particularly where the shrimp are riding the tide in strong
currents. A good clue is that you will not see anything in the
tern's beak as it pulls away from the water. This is because the
shrimp are so small, and also neutral colors. When this is going
on in spring, it can be a good idea to always try a shrimp teaser
up ahead of whatever else you use to imitate the predominant bait
(spearing, peanut bunker, snappers, tinker macks, etc).
Here's how to make a simple shrimp teaser. You
will need a vise, scissors, a bobbin full of thin white thread, a
bobbin full of thin black thread, some white bucktail hair, and
Mustad stainless O'Shaughnessy hooks (model #3407) in sizes
ranging from around 2 up to about 1/0 max.
1) Clamp a hook in a fly-tying vise or hand-held needlenose
vise grip pliers. Clamp it right behind the barb of the hook.
2) Cut a 2 inch length of bucktail hair. Don't need too many
hair fibers here. Better too sparse than too thick. Look for hair
fibers that are thin and silky as opposed to the coarse, hollow
hairs. Look for the needle tips of the fibers to end at varying
lenghts - not all the hairs tapering to points at exactly the
3) Start to wrap the bucktail hairs using white fly-tying
thread. Make the wrapping about 1/8 to 1/4 inch back from the
hook eye....and leave the cut ends of the bucktail fibers
sticking out past the hook eye. Do not make a bulky wrap, keep it
about 1/8 inch wide. But do wrap it so tight that the hair fibers
really flare out both behind AND in fornt of the wrap.
4) Use scissors to square off the cut ends of the bucktail
fibers sticking out past the hook eye. This creates the wide,
triangular tail of the shrimp. The hook eye should be hidden in
the flared-out tail fibers. The tail should extend out about 3/16
to 1/4 inch past the wrapping.
5) Now take the tapered tip ends of the hairs and compress
them closely together, forming a needle point. Take the white
thread again and start to wrap down the needle points of the hair
right onto the bend of the hook shank. You do not want to use a
lot of tension here...you do not want the fibers to flare out,
especially not the tips...you want the very tips to stay tight
together and pointed. These tips imitate the pointy
"thorn" and antennae on the head of the shrimp. Done
properly, the tips should extend down and outward over the bend
of the hook at about a 45 degree angle from the hook shank. This
imitates the curved body posture of a fleeing shrimp.
6) This is not really a step...just a comment on the overall
effect of the hair tips and body shape. First, look at the body
of the shrimp...the section between the two wraps. The fibers
should have puffed out nicely between the two wraps, forming what
I will refer to as a "thin football" shape. Also notice
that many of the needle tips of the hairs should be sticking out
from the body section...that is, many of the needle tips were too
short to make it under the second wrap of thread on the hook
shank...THAT IS JUST WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED! In fact, not a
whole lot of the tips should have made it under the second wrap,
and the antennae should only extend out about 1/2 to 1 inch past
the second wrap, in proper proportion to the hook size and total
body length. Overall best thing to do here is to net a few grass
shrimp to study their body proportions before wrapping.
7) Now take the thin black thread and wrap a very slim band of
black over the center of the last white wrap. This thin band of
black gives the impression of the black eye stalks on the shrimp.
8) Coat the wraps with some clear nail polish and you are
ready to fish!