Published Jun 17. 2011 - 13 years ago
Updated or edited Jun 19. 2022

The Bloody Zonker

This fly is a bright and tasty looking bite of feathers and fur that can sometimes be the key to luring a big trout. It's a variation of a variation of the Bloody Butcher.

The Bloody Zonker - Another beautiful variation over the Bloody Butcher theme
Bloody Zonker
Martin Joergensen

We recently covered a sea trout version of the classical Bloody Butcher. Here's a variation of the variation: the Bloody Butcher wet fly converted to sea trout fly converted to a zonker.

This variation of the variation was originally tied for sea run brown trout - sea trout - but will work equally well as a big trout streamer in running water and I would be surprised if salmon wouldn't like it, and I wouldn't mind casting it to large saltwater predators such as tarpon, tuna or trevally... but then I wouldn't mind casting any fly pattern to these quarries, but that's a whole other matter.

Bloody Zonker
Pattern type: 
Ken Bonde Larsen
long shank, down eye streamer hook like Kamasan B800, size 4 or 2
heavy wire
Black 8/0
oval silver tinsel
red poly yarn
flat silver mylar tinsel
black rabbit zonker strip
black/red Angel hair
Wing front
black rabbit
Front hackle
soft red hen
Skill level/difficulty: 

The flies you see have all been tied by our designated staff tyer Ken Bonde Larsen, and looking at the tying sequence you may want to take note of a few tying tips, which I will take this opportunity to point out.

Step 1 - weight

Step 2 - thread

Step 3 - start tail

Step 4 - double tail

Step 5 - pull

Step 6 - trim tail

Step 7 - thread forward

Step 8 - ribbing

Durable tinsel body

Step 9 - tinsel

Step 10 - nail polish

Step 11 - wind the tinsel

Step 12 - finish body

Step 13 - trim tinsel

Step 14 - nail polish

The body on this fly is tinsel, and tinsel is notoriously fragile if it's just wound on a hook shank. A rib will help, but once the tinsel breaks (can you say fish teeth?) it will magically unravel no matter how secure it seemed when the fly was done.
The cure is glue... or rather nail polish that not only glues the tinsel, but also seals it when it's been wrapped and tied down.
Spread a thin layer of clear nail polish on the foundation for the body, and wind the tinsel while the polish is still sticky. If you use two layers of tinsel, add nail polish in between. And when the body is done, coat it with a thin layer of nail polish and let it dry before continuing. The advantage of nail polish over fly varnish is that is dries quickly and dries up "thick" with a bit of volume, smoothing out any bumps on what it covers.

Securing a zonker wing with the rib

Step 15 - preapre the strip

Step 16 . trianglular

Step 17 - fit wing

Step 18 - tie in

Step 19 - wing in place

Step 20 - wet the hair

Step 21 - split hair

Step 22 - pull strip

Step 23 - first wrap

Step 25 - keep moving

Step 25 - next split

Step 26 - last turn

On many zonker patterns you only tie in the zonker strip in the front and in the rear. This can lead to a loose and soggy wing because the skin base of the wing sucks up water and becomes slightly larger and much softer compared to the dry strip.
Avoid this by tying down the strip in its full length with a rib. Tie the wing down in front with the tying thread, moist the hairs of the wing to be able to separate them, and wind the rib in fairly close turns without squashing down any hairs. Start with a full turn of the ribbing material to secure the rear end, and then move forward in 5-7 turns depending on the length of the hook.

Making a neat front on a zonker wing

Step 27 - tie off

Step 28 - trim rib

Step 29 - flash

Step 30 - tie in

Step 31 - tighten

Step 32 - hair

Step 33 - tie in hair

Step 34 - trim butts

When you tie down the zonker strip on the front of the fly, you often get a fairly large bump under the thread - and under the head or the front hackle. You can avoid this by leaving a little space in front of the wing, and finishing it with a small bunch of hair similar to that on the strip.
This will cover the ugly bump caused by the skin strip, and form a smooth foundation for a front hackle or make it much easier to form a small head.

Using a brush on a soft hackle

Step 35 - hackle

Step 36 - prepare hackle

Step 37 - tie in

Step 38 - wrap hackle

Step 39 - tie off

Step 40 - finish

Step 41 - grooming

Step 42 - varnish

You know how some tyers are able to get the soft front hackles on their wet flies to sweep back over the body like they were glued in place? Well, there are techniques to make this happen by just tying the feather in in the right way. But not only can you do that, but when the hackle is done, and doesn't act exactly as you want, you can simply comb it in place!
Make yourself a hackle and fur comb by cutting down an old (or new) toothbrush, and stroke this firmly over the hackle from the flies' head and back, and you'll be surprised how even and nicely swept back it can become.

A closer look - A closeup of the body and wing
A meaty mouthful - The Bloody Zonker is a large fly, here compared to a Big Hole Demon and a Magnus
A meaty fly
Martin Joergensen


Martin Joergensen's picture

Jan, The tier is ...


The tier is Ken Bonde and not myself, but I think the scissors are from Dr. Slick and a model, which is curved and serrated. I always use straight scissors myself, but I'm sure the Dr. Slick will work fine for deer hair as it does for other types of tying.


Hi Martin, your a...

Hi Martin,

your are using a curved scissor. Would you tell what scissor it is and if you are using it also for deer-hair-flies. I am looking for a good curved scissor.



Martin Joergensen's picture

Dear anonymous, C...

Dear anonymous,

Click on the image to get a larger and better version, where the details are more visible. We have heard your comment before, and while I certainly respect the view I don't think the problem is that severe, and I honestly don't think that uniform, colored backgrounds are good for anything else than analytical images, documenting flies.

I have changed the backgrounds on the latest tying series (this one was shot in 2009), but don't expect us to turn to absolutely uniform backgrounds anythime soon. These flies are usually tied at a tying desk, and shot over the shoulder of the tyer, and although we will make the table and background tidier, it will probably never be 100% uniform.


It would be nicer to...

It would be nicer to follow if some sort of light background was behind the fly tying rather than a clutter of gear, find it difficult to follow, sorrry.


Log in or register to pre-fill name on comments, add videos, user pictures and more.
Read more about why you should register.

Since you got this far …

The GFF money box

… I have a small favor to ask.

Long story short

Support the Global FlyFisher through several different channels, including PayPal.

Long story longer

The Global FlyFisher has been online since the mid-90's and has been free to access for everybody since day one – and will stay free for as long as I run it.
But that doesn't mean that it's free to run.
It costs money to drive a large site like this.

See more details about what you can do to help in this blog post.