Zonker Fly or Rabbit Zonker
By Allan Burgess
Zonker flies are one of my favourites. It is a pattern that originally came from America. Zonkers, like most flies, come in many variations. But the basic Zonker design includes a body made from Mylar tube. This stuff creates a fish scale appearance that is almost impossible to make any other way.
Regular readers will be aware that I mostly fish a sunken line for sea-run brown trout in the lower reaches of our big east coast rivers. The Zonker is an ideal pattern for this, as the finished lure makes an excellent silvery imitation; silveries being the main food for sea-run brown trout in these waters over summer.
The Zonker has many variations but the one I like is tied with pearl mylar and a strip of rabbit skin. I also like to add a little peacock sword as a topping for that little extra dash!
The Zonker is a somewhat fiddly pattern to tie. Don’t let this put you off. The results are very worthwhile.
Start with a size 2 lure hook. I use Mustad 3666 and Black Magic Lure Hooks. Bind the hook with a few strands of Flashabou and coat with cement.
Next comes the tricky part. You have to form a body shape as a former for the Mylar tube to go over. For this, I use aluminium foil folded over half a dozen times to make it strong enough. Trim to shape with scissors as shown. Instead of foil, you can use Trimbrite metal strip, only the sports stores don’t stock it! You can also make a former from the plastic bottoms of margarine containers and Super Glue the two sides in place (according to Mike at The Complete Angler).
Bind the foil on at the back to hold it in place. Cut a length of the tube at least 10mm longer than you think you’ll need and carefully pull the sting out of the inside with the tips of your scissors.
Slip the now hollow tube over the former and tie-off at the back. Leave about 200mm of thread and cut off. Tie-off the Mylar at the head. This is easier if you push the Mylar forward to take up any slack. Trim off the waste material.
Lastly, tie on the strip of rabbit skin front and back and trim
thread. If you use white thread at the rear it looks even better. Some tyers add a matching hackle collar at this stage but I have never bothered with this.
The Zonker fly really comes to life if you paint on black and white eyes.
I was fishing this pattern once at the mouth of the Rakaia River when the bloke fishing next to me commented that I had foul hooked a silvery. “No,” I said, “that is my lure.” I have also caught many sea-run brown trout on Zonkers in the Waimakariri River.