Rabbit Trout Lure Colours – Black is good for night fishing

Black Rabbit night fly on size 2 lure hook, with red wool tag.
Black Rabbit night fly on size 2 lure hook, with red wool tag.
Black rabbit trout lure
Black Rabbit night fishing lure. Rabbit lures need not be yellow. This Black Rabbit is an excellent lure choice for trout fishing after dark both upriver and at river mouths for sea-run brown trout. The use of gold ribbing and jungle cock eye feathers makes a lure that is attractive to fishermen and fish!

The Rabbit lure is one of the most versatile of all trout streamer flies

You have probably realized by now that I am a big fan of the Rabbit Lure. If I had to choose just one lure to take with me when trout or salmon fishing in would have to be the Yellow Rabbit Lure or streamer fly. This is the most deadly lure I know. For daylight fishing for sea-run trout at river mouths, there is nothing better.

It works so well for several reasons. Firstly yellow is an easy colour for fish to see; particularly if there is a little colour in the water from rain or snow-melt.

Secondly, when the rabbit pelt strip gets wet it absorbs water and takes on a life of its own when pulled through the water. It wriggles and pulses with every draw of your line.

Thirdly I like rabbit lures because they are one of the simplest and quickest to tie.

Yellow rabbit trout lure
Yellow Rabbit Trout Lure. When tying rabbit lures the hackle collar colour is chosen to match the body colour. I like to add 3 or 4 strips of Krystal Flash to give my rabbit lures a bit of extra flash, though such adornment, including the hackle collar, is not necessary.

Though yellow is the best overall colour to use many other colours seem to work well also. A Black Rabbit makes an excellent night fly. I have used this colour a great deal with considerable success in the Waimakariri River fishing for sea-run brown trout after dark. 

We fish with a pair of Yellow Rabbits during the day and early evening then later switch over to a black version just as the last of the sun’s rays disappear behind the Southern Alps.

Black also works well during the day when the river is running a little bit discoloured. You would think that a black lure would be impossible for sea-run brown trout to sea in the dark, but surprisingly this is not the case.

I have also been successful in harling rabbit lures on the Canterbury High Country Lakes. Red works well during the change of light period morning and evening. Again try a Yellow Rabbit for harling during the day and a red or black lure in the late evening and after dark.

I have seen rabbit lures sold in the shops in a huge variety of colours: pink, green, silver, fluorescent lime, and so on. Indeed many tackle stores nowadays have such a bewildering array of trout fly variations that it often takes a few seconds to get to grips with just what you are looking at.

Tackle shops stock lures labelled as Pink Taupo Tigers and Chartreuse Sparkle Rabbit Lures and the like! Frequently these lures bear little resemblance to the original pattern. This often confusing situation largely results from competing commercial interests trying to differentiate their products in the market. They want to avoid selling the exact same flies as other shops.

Red rabbit trout lure.
Red Rabbit Trout Lure. Many anglers prefer to fish a red lure during the change of light. It is sort of halfway between a day and a night lure. Like all the rabbit lures this red version is also a good trolling and harling lure.

Often the only difference between trout patterns is the colour of the hackles used to tie them. For example, a Yellow Rabbit and Parsons’ Glory look very much alike at first glance.

Experience has shown me that a trout will take just about anything if it is about the right size and colour. Most important of all is the way the lure is worked through the water. It has to show movement that suggests life!

After a trout rabbit lure has caught a few fish it will look so chewed up you can no longer tell which pattern it is meant to be. Most of the materials used to tie it will have been lost. Such a lure will go on taking fish even after there is little more than the hook remaining!

Green Rabbit trout lure.
Green Rabbit trout lure.

Many of the lures sold in tackle stores are over-dressed anyway. Too much material has been used tying them. This, of course, is because a lure must first appeal to a fisherman before it can appeal to fish.

If you tie your own lures they can cost less than 30 cents each – or little more than the cost of the bare hook! This is about ten per cent of the cost of shop-bought lures.

Without being too extreme another good colour for trolling and harling is the Olive Rabbit. This is a great harling fly fished near the bottom over weed beds. It looks very much like an adult Inanga or whitebait.

The gold body catches the light in tea coloured South Island West Coast lakes and rivers making the lure appear incredibly life-like. You can also tie this lure with a yellow Estaz body for extra sparkle or try a yellow body and add extra Krystal Flash either in pearl or yellow. This lure is fairly close in appearance to an Olive and Gold Zonker.

Yellow Rabbit trout lure tied on large size 1 Tiemco TMC 7999 salmon hook. Used for salmon and searun trout fishing in discoloured water for maximum visibility.
Yellow Rabbit trout lure tied on large size 1 Tiemco TMC 7999 salmon hook. Used for salmon and sea-run trout fishing in discoloured water for maximum visibility.

The best way to fish a rabbit lure for sea-run trout is by casting upstream and allowing it to sink as it swings around. Then begin a short jerky retrieve to simulate a small smelt fish swimming upstream.

Often a brown trout will follow your lure all the way to the rod tip either pull away at the last second or take the lure at the very last moment. I have even had trout take the lure as I have lifted it from the water. Great fun and very exciting.

When lure fishing with spinning gear or a Canterbury Lure Rod I always fish a pair of lures. This gives the opportunity to try two different patterns at the same time to see which gets more strikes! Many anglers will fish with one dark and one light-coloured lure. Perhaps a Yellow Rabbit trout lure at the front and a Black Rabbit trailing it. See the two hooks sea-run trout rig.

Olive/Gold Rabbit Trout Lure. The wing is olive dyed rabbit strip. The body is flat gold tinsel with the rabbit strip secured to the body with gold oval tinsel.
Olive/Gold Rabbit Trout Lure. The wing is olive dyed rabbit strip. The body is a flat gold tinsel with the rabbit strip secured to the body with gold oval tinsel.