The Bunny Split
Two Tails Are Better Than One
By Mark Dysinger
One of the most important qualities that a successful pike fly must have is movement, and one of the best tying materials that generates movement in the water is rabbit. After experiencing some success with patterns that incorporate rabbit strips, I came to the conclusion that more rabbit might mean more pike. From this line of thought came the Bunny Split.
Scott Sanchez developed a pattern called the Double Bunny that uses two rabbit strips for a tail. These strips are glued together by their hides, and I find that this unnecessarily impairs the mobility of the material in the water. In such a case, the only real movement is from the very tips of the strips and the individual hairs along their length. The Bunny split utilizes two magnum zonker strips for the tail, with flash material sandwiched between the two. The strips are not glued together, and thus are able to swing and wiggle independently of each other in the water. A wire loop guard helps to prevent tangling.
The collar is composed of layers of marabou. Some pike patterns use cross-cut rabbit strips for a collar (i.e., Reynold's Pike Fly), but I prefer the fluid movement of marabou. It's also easier to alternate or blend colors with marabou than it is with cross-cut rabbit. As a bonus, the marabou does a nice job of hiding the wire loop guard. The collar is the most fragile component of the fly. The magnum zonker strips and epoxied head are quite rugged.
I make this fly with bright color combinations, mixing and matching the top and bottom tail components and sometimes alternating the marabou layer colors for the collar. Colors such as white, yellow, and chartreuse are good starting points, and accents of red are always a nice touch. Although muted colors such as olive, brown, and black have their place, I have yet to use them very much with this pattern simply because the brighter colors have been so effective.
Fishing this fly requires a heavy rod. The zonker strips and epoxied head create bulk, requiring a weight forward line and stout leader for turnover on the cast. I fish this fly with a ten weight outfit and usually use a floating weight forward line. Once sufficiently wet, the fly will sink at a slow rate. This makes it fine for shallow waters, but for water depths over five or six feet a sink tip or intermediate line should be used, especially if the fish are holding near bottom.
There are two approaches to retrieving this fly, and I have found success with both depending upon conditions. When the fish are fairly active, a single hand strip retrieve is best. Let the activity level of the fish dictate how long and fast each strip should be, and how long you should pause between strips to let the fly sink a bit. When the fish are less active or just plain neutral, a slow two handed retrieve can trigger strikes by steadily pulling the fly through the water just fast enough to make the rabbit hairs and strips shimmy.
Although I tie this fly with pike in mind, I have also caught several nice largemouth and smallmouth bass while fishing it. I have plans this year to test it in the salt, where I believe the bluefish and perhaps even striped bass will give chase.
|Year of origin|
|Hook||Dai-Riki #810 or equivalent, 3/0|
|Tail guard||Wire loop|
|Lower tail||Magnum zonker strip|
|Tail flash||Krystal Flash|
|Upper tail||Magnum zonker strip|
|Collar||Three layers of marabou|
|Head||5 minute epoxy|
- Fasten the hook in the vise and start the thread about one third of the hook shank behind the eye. Bend a short piece of wire to form a loop, and secure the loop to the top of the hook shank towards the bend with a series of thread wraps. Place a smooth layer of flexcement or equivalent on the wraps that secure the loop guard.
- Prepare a magnum zonker strip that is twice the length of the hook shank by tapering the end to a point in the hide. Place the strip hide side up on the shank and about one third of the shank back from the hook eye. Secure the strip with a series of tight thread wraps, and finish with the thread back near the hook bend. Place a smooth layer of flexcement or equivalent over the wraps that hold the zonker strip to the hook.
- Tie in about a dozen strands of Krystal Flash on top of the zonker strip. Keep them long so that the ends of the strands extend a bit past the end of the zonker strip.
- Prepare a second magnum zonker strip as previously done in step 2. Tie this one hide side down on top of the Krystal Flash so that its length is identical to that of the lower zonker strip. Secure it as previously described in step 2.
- Start layering the marabou collar by tying in four bunches of marabou: one on top of the hook shank, one underneath, and one on each side. Tie them in at the farthest thread wrap back that holds the tail components in place, and put each subsequent layer a bit farther front than the previous. This method will not give a perfectly rounded collar at each individual layer, but as each layer is added any gaps will eventually be filled. The collar is complete after four layers are tied in.
- To complete the fly, build up thread ahead of the collar and add eyes. Lightly coat the head area with 5 minute epoxy. Use the epoxy to taper the head as necessary.