By Andy Martin
Anyone who has spent much time fishing for rockfish on the West Coast between California and Alaska knows action can be fast and furious when you get into a big school of them. They also know you can lose a lot of gear, and the cost of rigging can take a big chunk out of your wallet. And, if you spend enough time chasing rockfish (also known as snapper, sea bass or rockcod), you know they sometimes can be finicky and hard to catch, even if you are marking a bunch of them on your fish finder.
During the summers, I make a living taking people on lingcod and rockfish charters on the Southern Oregon Coast (and spent many years guiding for bottomfish in Alaska). Each lost rig is money out of my pocket. I also have to produce fish for my customers. One of the rigs I use for rockfish is not only extremely effective, they are also very easy and quick to tie (that’s important when you go through hundreds of them in a few-week period) and cost almost nothing to make.
Shrimp flies tied with lawn chair webbing are easy to make, inexpensive and effective for rockfish. Drenched in Pautzke Liquid Krill they often lead to quick limits of rockfish.
Lawn Chair Shrimp Flies
For years, anglers in Southern California have been using what are known as lawn chair shrimp flies, a simple rockfish fly tied with the webbing material from lawn chairs. With a little practice, an angler can tie dozens in half an hour. The flies are held together with pipe cleaners, which add bright contrasting colors, and also double as a scent holder, perfect for smearing with Liquid Krill or Halibut & Rockfish Nectar, both proven rockfish attracters.
I was shown how to make these inexpensive flies by Doug Vernand, a veteran Southern California charter operator who owns Channel Island Sportfishing in Oxnard. They can be made for pennies apiece.
Lawn chair shrimp flies are tied together with a few wraps from a pipe cleaner. No knot is required, and they can be tied in seconds. The lawn chair webbing can be purchased online (try eBay) for around $10 for a 100-foot roll. Pipe cleaners are easy to find at your local dollar discount store.
Start by taking a few strands from the lawn chair webbing and placing them through they eye of a long-shank hook. A size 5/0 works well. Fold the webbing strands in half along the eye.
After folding the web strands with the eye of the hook, place a section of the pipe cleaner through the eye and simply twist two or three times to hold the strands against the hook. Use a pair of scissors to trip the pipe cleaner.
The finished flies can then be tied on a leader with a couple dropper loops, and weighted with either a lingcod jig, flutter jig or cannon ball sinker at the bottom of the leader.
The pipe cleaner does a great job of holding scent. My favorite is Liquid Krill. Krill, pictured above, are one of the main food sources for rockfish. When krill are thick, rockfish often will throw them up as they near the surface. Nothing does a better job matching the natural scent of krill as Liquid Krill. Even if krill are not present, rockfish will feast on anything that has the scent of krill. The stiff webbing material also causes a unique fluttering action when you jig the lawn chair shrimp flies.
(Above) Large canary rockfish, which can be kept on the Oregon Coast, will attack the lawn chair shrimp flies scented with Liquid Krill.
The result of using lawn chair shrimp flies scented with Liquid Krill: Limits of big black rockfish and nice lingcod (yes, lings love them too).
Editor’s note: Andy Martin is a full-time Oregon and Northern California fishing guides and charter boat captain. His web sites are brookingsfishing.com and wildriversfishing.com. He operates out of the Port of Brookings.