This shad fly is part of The Pfeiffer Collection.
This is the third of eleven California shad flies in the collection originally found in the booklet How to Catch, Bone and Cook a Shad produced by the California Department of Fish and Game. The pattern calls for a size 4, 3x length hook, which to me is just HUGE. While it is certainly okay to tie this shad fly full size, Pfeiffer mentions in his book that shad flies can often be tied similar to low water salmon flies, and that doing so can be effective when the shad seem to be short striking. This seemed a logical pattern to tie short, and I think it actually looks quite nice compared to its full tied equivalent.
If you fly fish for shad long enough, you will certainly experience days where they just seem to “nip,” or short strike the fly rather than taking it. When I have experienced it myself, I have often clipped the tail short on a fly they seem interested in while I was on the water, and had decent success. Having some patterns already tied low water style in your fly box may give you some more options when the fish seem interested, but not enough to take your standard offering. I would imagine the fish would open its mouth to take what it thinks is a small fly, only to find out that the hook tip is already well inside its mouth when you set the hook. I think I need to experiment more with this style tie with bead chain or hour glass shad flies as well.
California Shad Fly #3 Pattern:
Hook: Size 4, 3x length
Thread: Red Danville’s Flat Waxed Nylon
Body: Embossed Tinsel (I chose Silver embroidery thread, folded in half 3 times)
Wing: Red Kip Tail