New England’s flats are often overlooked when it comes to Striped Bass fishing. The flats can be some of the most productive areas to find Striped Bass of all sizes and can create some of the most exciting fishing in the area. When Stripers come up onto flats, they have one thing in mind and that is to feed. Shallow flats are loaded with food sources for Stripers such as crabs, shrimp, sand eels, and other small fish. Since we already focused an article in this series on Sand Eel Flies, here we will break down 5 Crab and Shrimp patterns that you should stock up on for this coming Striper season.

Merkin Crab (and its variants)

The Merkin is probably the flagship crab pattern across the world. It’s like the Clouser of crab flies; it’s clean, simple, and deadly effective. The basic Merkin is also the base of many other popular crab patterns that I love for Stripers such as the EP Crab and the Strong Arm Merkin.

Materials:

  • Strong saltwater hook
  • Light-colored thread
  • Dumbbell eyes (use different weights depending on where you are fishing)
  • Original EP fibers or sparkle yarn
  • Rubber legs
  • 2 hackle tips (can be substituted for marabou or rabbit zonker) 
  • Flashabou
  • Head cement

Video Tutorial!

Buy them, here!

EP Spawning Shrimp

This is a staple shrimp fly in saltwater fly anglers’ boxes all over the world. This fly is effective on sand flats but shrimp flies are my favorites for backwater or estuarine sand and mudflats. When Bass are feeding on the edge of marsh grass and a mudflat, the EP Shrimp comes out of hiding.

Materials:

  • Strong saltwater hook
  • Light-colored thread
  • Arctic fox fur
  • Rubber legs
  • Krystal flash
  • Senyo’s laser yarn
  • EP shrimp dub brush
  • Dumbell eyes

Video Tutorial

Aphlexo Crab

The Flexo or Alphexo crab is a relatively new pattern originally created for targeting Indo-pacific permit and triggerfish in Seychelles. While those species are quite different from Striped Bass, the behavior of feeding on a flat is similar and definitely can translate. Permit and Triggers are known to be very spooky and picky, so I reach for the Flexos when the Bass I’m fishing for are heavily pressured or are in shallow, calm water. 

Materials:

  • Strong saltwater hook
  • Light-colored thread
  • Dumbbell or bead chain eyes
  • Chocklett’s body tubing
  • Ultra chenille
  • Superglue 

Video Tutorial

Buy them, here!

Skinny Mini

Skinny Mini Fly
Pardon the bruised and battered fly, this particular one has seen more than a couple of Striped Bass in its life!

Speaking of backwater shrimp, this fly is somewhat of a best-kept secret. This fly was originally created to catch spooky bonefish on super shallow flats down south, but I rarely use it to fish for Stripers on flats. If you time it right, you can come across a grass shrimp “hatch” in backwaters when the tide sweeps away grass shrimp into the main channels where Bass feed on them just like trout during an insect hatch. During these feeds, the Bass are often incredibly picky and this fly really seems to get the job done.

Materials:

  • Strong, small saltwater hook (Sz 2-6)
  • Light-colored thread
  • Bead chain eye
  • Gray flat chenille
  • gray/chinchilla rabbit zonker
  • Gray rubber legs

Buy them, here!

Crimp

If Stripers love crabs and shrimp so much, why only choose one to imitate? The Crimp looks both like a crab and a shrimp, and to no one’s surprise, the Bass love it. This is definitely a solid “do it all” pattern.

Materials:

  • Strong saltwater hook
  • Light-colored thread
  • Rubber legs
  • Dumbbell or bead chain eyes
  • Craft fur
  • Original EP fibers or sparkle yarn

If you love sight fishing for Striped Bass, these flies are must-haves every time you hit the water. From little grass shrimp deep in the backwaters to all kinds of crabs, well, everywhere; these 5 flies have you covered. Keep an eye out for the next installments of this Striped Bass fly series.

You can buy them, here!

5 Sand Eel Flies to Stock Up on for Striper Season

Fly Fishing the Striped Bass Flats

Striped Bass Management Enters New Era-For Better Or Worse

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