The Zonker is a unique baitfish pattern developed by Dan Byford. The beauty of the Zonker lies in its simplicity. It can be tied with as few as two materials, but we have dressed it up a bit here and added a few parts. The Zonker was the first fly that made use of stripped rabbit hide, and as a result, the material itself has taken off in popularity since then. I am always looking for new pattern looks to add to my box and the Zonker certainly has an unusual look and an inherent fishiness to it. The rabbit strip wing flows and swims through the water, while the mylar belly adds flash and profile to the fly. I like Zonkers in stillwaters, where fish get a longer look at the fly and therefore need a more realistic pattern to turn the key, as well on moving water where I will fish it behind a larger, bulkier pattern.
Hook: TMC 300 #2-10
Thread: White 3/0 Monocord
Weight/Keel: .035 lead wire
Body: Large Mylar Tubing, color of choice
Wing: Stripped Rabbit Hide (Zonker Strip)
Eyes: Adhesive Eyes in Color to match or contrast body
Place the hook in the vise and pinch the barb flat. Wrap a thread base back to just behind the hook point.
Attach a five-inch length of lead wire to the top of the hook shank with the long end pointing out over the hook eye. Bind the lead to the shank with tight spiraling wraps from just in front of the hook point to about four eye lengths back from the hook eye. This can be a little tricky with the long end of the lead sticking out in your way, so just bend the lead into a coil to get it out of the way while you wrap the thread.
End with the thread hanging at the bend of the hook.
Loop the wire back toward the bend of the hook as shown. This wire will form the frame around which the mylar will form the body.
Clip the wire where the end lines up with the bend of the hook. make this cut at an angle so there is a smooth transition from the wire to the hook shank. The size of the wire loop will determine the ultimate body shape of the finished fly and you want to have a little bit larger loop than you think you’ll need to fill out the tubing.
Bind the end of the wire down above the hook point forming a smooth transition from the wire to the hook shank.
Apply a coat of head cement to the thread wraps biding the wire down to the shank as well as to the tie down area at the rear of the hook.
Cut a length of mylar tubing so it is about half again linger than the shank of the hook. Pull the cord out of the center of the tubing and crease the tubing by running it along the closed blades of you scissors to form a flattened sheet. Push the tubing over the hook eye and continue over the wire body frame. The frame will open the tubing up and create the deep belly of the finished fly.
Push the tubing back to the bend of the hook. Fray the back end of the tubing slightly to allow the thread to slip through the ends.
With the thread well inside the end of the tubing, pinch the tubing and execute a pinch wrap to bind the back end of the tubing to the shank. Try to get a clean tie down here at the bend and make sure the thread wraps are tight.
Clip the excess butt ends of the mylar flush against the hook shank and build a smooth tapered thread base over the butts.
Tie a whip finish at the bend of the hook using either your fingers or an extended reach whip finish tool. Clip the thread.
Pull the tubing tight at the front end of the fly so the mylar hugs the form made by the wire frame. Pinch the tubing against the hook shank and re-start the thread right over the top of the tubing. Bind the tubing down tightly at the front of the wire frame.
Clip the butt end of the thread and the tips of the excess mylar tubing as close to the hook as you can. Build a small thread base over the stubs and end with the thread at the very front edge of the mylar body. You should have about two eye lengths worth of bare space between the eye and the front of the body.
Invert the hook in the vise and position the wire frame so it opens up the mylar tubing to form the belly of the fly. Just push and pull on the wire to get the shape you want.
Poke the hook point through a Zonker strip from the hide side. The strip should extend well beyond the eye of the hook to the front and well past the bend at the rear. Remove the hook from the vise and position the strip flush against the thread tie down area at the back of the body. Replace the hook in the vise.
Pull the Zonker strip taut up to the eye of the hook and bind it down at the front of the body. Don’t worry about the length off the back of the hook for right now.
Cut the excess Zonker strip off flush against the hook shank.
Build a smooth thread head to cover the stub of the Zonker strip and whip finish the thread. Clip the thread.
Clip the strip beyond the bend of the hook so it is about half a shank length long. If you leave it much longer, it will foul around the hook point, so keep it a little on the short side. When you cut the strip, part the hair and cut only the hide, leaving the hair to form the tapered tail.
Place a drop of Zap-A-Gap on either side of the front of the fly where the eyes will go. I like to overlap the eyes onto the fur strip slightly. I also place the eyes on the front of the body as this is where a real fishes eyes are, not up on the thread head.
Press an adhesive eye against the glue spot on both sides of the fly and press them together for a few seconds. The glue will penetrate through the Mylar body and glue the backsides of the eyes to each other. Let the glue dry for a few minutes and apply a thin coat of head cement to the thread head.
Finished Fly, Side View. Note the length and taper of the rabbit strip tail. This fly has a larger belly and longer rabbit strip wing. You can use a shallower beely shape and shorter fur strip to create a more streamlined minnow shape too.
You can also use a marker to barr the wing as in the top fly here. This will create more of a perch like coloration on the fly. The bottom fly shown here has a more slender body as well. Play with the loop shape on the lead wire frame to get different looks.