The Global FlyFisher - The Largest and Best Place to go for Online Fly Fishing and Fly Tying
First published June 1st 1998 - More than 16 years ago
A bootom seeking fly for pike, cod, pike perch and many other fish
By Martin Joergensen
From thought over drawing to a finished flyOne of the most satisfying aspects of fly tying is in my opinion the chance to design your own fly.
I have come up with many ideas, tied hundreds of flies inspired by them, but mostly thrown them away after having carried them in my fly boxes for some time - either because they were totally unused or because they were unproductive.
Recently I got the idea that I wanted a new type of bottom fly - some kind of sculpin like imitation, with weight, clearly visible eyes and materials with a lot of motion. Of course I have lots of patterns like that already, but who can stand in the way of creativity? I dug out some paper and a pen, and drew the sketch that you see here - a variation of the basic zonker. As with most of my fly ideas, I had a pretty good idea of the looks of the fly, and I also had some general ideas of the materials I wanted to use. These ideas I also listed on the paper. I also knew the tying sequence of this fairly simple fly, and noted that too.
Already while drawing I made the first revisions of the fly. The first version had a fat head made by brushing up a ball of dubbing. I revised that to a head spun by deer hair which is one of my favorite materials. The other major change was turning the hook upside down. This would gain me at least a pair of advantages: getting the hook away from the bottom and hiding the hook point. My experience also tells me that these zonkers have a common problem: the tail often slips down and around the hook bend, and this will effect the appearance and action of the fly. There are a few ways to avoid this. One is to shorten the tail, another to support the tail with a loop of mono, but a third one is to turn the hook upside down. The hook shank penetrating the skin strip will prevent the tail from getting caught in the bend.
I tied the first five flies the same evening that I made the drawing. These were fine, except for one thing. On the original drawing I had a pair of breast fins made from poly yarn. These definately didn't work. They did not look at all like fins, and certainly added a lot of clumsiness to the fly. After a couple of tries with breast fins, I just omitted them on the following three, and the fly still looked good.
Everything acted as I had expected, except for two little things: the rib was a bit difficult to turn the first couple of rounds as the hook tip seemed to be in the way more than is usually the case with zonkers. The other things was more positive: the zonker strip hid the hook point more than I had imagined. This ment a better imitation (in my eyes) but probably also less bottom snags.
I didn't get a chance to fish the fly before I got around to tie it again. This was the evening before leaving for a trip to catch winter cold sea trout in the south west part of the island Seeland where I live.
Now, in the winter the trout tend to be very slow, and often only a colorful fly will get them moving. This is often obtained using flies like the Glitter Shrimp or colorful versions of well known patterns. That inspired me to tie a colorful version of this yet unnamed fly.
The color came from three materials: orange dubbing, a red rabbit zonker strip and orange deer hair. I also used a larger hook to get an even more visible fly. Both this version and the smaller, naturally colored version are quite heavy, but with a little ease, a short stiff leader and some deliberately slow casting movements they will cast easily on a 6 wt. I did so - cast intesively with both flies that cold day on the Danish coast, but caught nothing... but that's a whole other story.