"The Sugar Shaker was a fly I developed for large, predatory fish. At the time, it was really focused on fooling bass in the clear waters of the Texas Hill Country.
It was January of 2017 and the fishing was slow. The water was cold and the bass were lethargic. I needed a fly that I could crawl along the bottom of the streambed. Most of the bigger streamers ride hook down and that just wasn’t going to work for me. The streamers that did ride hook up just didn’t quite do what I wanted.
I was looking for a streamer that would keep a bulky profile while sitting and while on the move. Spun rabbit fur allowed me to achieve this. By spinning the fur and tightly wrapping it together it doesn’t slick down as much as just palmering the hide. You also lose the weight of the soaked leather. The only problem with cutting the fur off of the hide is you are limited in length. I played around with multiple hooks but ended up deciding to use articulated shanks to make up the length. The 10mm, 15mm, & 20mm shanks combined with different lengths of rabbit fur make a great tapered tail that swims like mad. The marabou that is between the hook and the tail cover the wire and beads to create a seamless transition while also providing even more movement to the fly. There is a little bit of UV polar chenille sandwiched between rabbit fur in the body of the Sugar Shaker to provide a tad bit of flash. This is a fly that I want a fish to be able to stare down and still be convinced that it’s real prey; so the subtle pearl polar chenille was perfect. For the pectoral fins of the Sugar Shaker I decided to go with brahma hen. It’s a round feather that has some great mottling to it. I do like to replace these with rubber legs on some variations. However, the pectoral fins are hard to beat for a natural prey fish. Senyo’s Laser Dub is one of my favorite materials for baitfish heads. The dubbing comes in many different colors, has a little flash in it, and keeps its shape really well while not impeding the movement of the fly.
My first prototype of the Sugar Shaker was actually a crawfish variation that I ended up giving to my friend and fellow Umpqua Signature Fly Designer, Chris Johnson, to try out later that evening in our local creek. I had yet to fish one of them and he offered to try it out for me. Later that night he sent me a picture of a 4lb bass (which is a trophy in this creek) with that prototype pinned in the corner of that bass’ mouth. With a trophy like that being the first fish caught on a Sugar Shaker, I knew I had a fly needed to be shared with others." - Signature Tyer Josh Smitherman