Need advice on Big Bunker Flies [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Need advice on Big Bunker Flies

12-02-2004, 09:33 AM
We are going to start seeing some stripers on Cape Lookout Shoals over the next several weeks. They will be feeding on big menhaden. 10, 12, 14 inchers. Any suggestions on flies. These fish will be in shallow water and a freind of mine got some nice ones on Zara Super Spooks last year. I am thinking about a Crease Fly tied on a big hook with a big tail for toopwater. Any other suggestions on topwater around big bunker? Last year people got some fish over 30, 40 lbs in shallow water on cast plugs. I am hoping to duplicate that on fly rod. 10 wt. 20 lb tippet. 40 lb flurocarbon shock leader. Anything I am forgetting? I have never fished around stripers this big.

12-02-2004, 09:42 AM
Check out Penguin's big Herring fly. You could tie in that style for big bunker imitations. That or use Yak hair which sheds water and is surprisingly easy to cast with a 10wt. You could try Seddotti Slammers or Popovics Cotton Candy style patterns as well.

I don't think you'll need the shock tippet with that setup. 20# floro should provide plenty of abrasion resistance.

Jim Miller
12-02-2004, 11:31 AM
Hey Capt.
take a look at the BFT flies I posted on this site. These were tied in an attempt to catch a tuna on the fly. We are coming down next week Dec. 5-11 to tag & release.
Anyhoo....I would think the Bass are feeding on the same Fatbacks?
Good luck! :D

Btw: as a diversion to our tuna venture.......where would one look for the Stripes?
Do they eat those 10" prevelant bluefish also?

12-02-2004, 01:04 PM
How do you keep the yak hair from fouling at that length? Are you just counting on the short shank hook to keep it from happening? Have you fished those flies before? I happen to have some yakky and am planning on whipping some stuff up. Mostly white with pearl flashabou and an olive back ala Trey Combs.
Thanks for the suggestions. I will let you boys know how things turn out.
Big Dave,
Thanks for the suggestion on the 20 lb fluoro. I have plenty as you probably can guess. :) Did you come down here for albies this year?

12-02-2004, 04:22 PM
I am a total convert to RLS (Striper Moon) stuff. I think they work about the same as the big patterns but are soooooooo much easier to cast. They are especially effective on the drift in current. A 14 inch yak hair pattern is like casting a towel.

Jim Miller
12-02-2004, 04:38 PM
Hey Nate
Do you have a source for 14" hackles? I like flatwings also....but how to get the bulk of a 14" fatback bunker? Any help is appreciated! :)

12-02-2004, 06:29 PM
Jimbo -

Right under the "Flyfishing Forum" logo at the top of this page is a link to sponsors. Scroll down to the Saltwater Edge in Newport, RI and search for their RLS hackles. Extremely long and in a wide range of colors. For more on the flatwings that Nathan refers to, Google "Stripermoon" and look around Ken Abrames' site. He sells (and is, I believe, the originator of) the RLS hackles.

12-02-2004, 07:04 PM
Gordo, we've been doing that kind of fishing up on L.I. the last couple of weeks. Big flashy flies and big bass when the weather permits. It's not hard to throw the yak and slinky-hair flies with a 10 or 11 wt. rod and 400-500 grain lines. If the fish are lit up they'll hit anything with the right proportions. I use slinky fibre mixing it with angel hair every tie in, white, opaqueish(sp) bodies with a pink/yellow/brown top wing and put a big eye on it, it'll work. I'd take my shots on the fly with the big fly rather than the popper, just better chances, though it would be awesome to see a big bass crash the popper. Best so far 44" @ 30# Good luck and I wish you better weather when the oppurtunities show up

12-02-2004, 09:00 PM
My friend Kevin is an awesome tyer and he ties a fly I have posted before, we did real well with large fish last spring on these flies. They are tied with Slinky Hair.

Capt. Mike

12-03-2004, 07:52 AM
I can't get that stuff around here. I tied up something with the yak hair last night. It ain't pretty but I think it is fishy:
It's about 8 inches long. Lots of pearl flashabou. I like when the hair is separated while sitting still and dry, gives it nice action in the water. The yak hair gives it body and profile. Bucktail keeps it all from fouling (I hope). Peacock herl topping is just something I have always liked. I am going to whip up some other stuff tonight. Giving it a shot tomorrow. May not even see anything worth throwing it to. We'll see...

I concur about the use of streamers over surface stuff but I am talking about these fish being in water less than 5 feet deep. And like I said, friends of mine got som enice ones on Zara Spooks last winter...I am thinking that a Crease Fly or popper would be worth a serious shot. Regardless, I am going to have one rod rigged with a topwater and the other rigged with a sinking line, so I shoudl ahve all the bases covered.

Thanks for the input everybody. Keep it coming... I will post pics if anything worth talking about occurs.

12-03-2004, 08:08 AM
My two favorite types of flies (these days anyway) are flatwings and hollow fleyes. If you combine them, you can easily make a 12 inch fly that casts pretty well, has good profile and swims well. Basically, tie in a flatwing tail -- Kenney's saddles are the best, but others work too (even lower end dry fly saddle) -- and then 3-4 reverse tied hollow collars. Or, you can even skip the multiple collars and just tie in one collar and just flare it a lot. That said, sometimes a plain old long flatwing is just as good and is always easiest to cast. I also like the looks of some of those Skok Mega Mushy patterns, but haven't fished them yet.

Good luck -- wish I had the problem of weeks of hatchmatching ahead of me!!

12-03-2004, 08:31 AM
Pretend I don't understand a thing you just said...(b/c I don't) :chuckle:

12-03-2004, 10:13 AM
Don't feel like the Lone Ranger!
The Hollow Tye involves lightly tying bucktail in the "other" direction and then, using a pen barrel tube or brass AK47 type cartridge to push (stack?) the material back in the usual direction and wrapping it tightly so the hairs splay out...thus creating a sparse and somewhat "hollow" appearance...looks GOOD with sparse flash betwen applications...
The Flat Wing style involves the use of LONG hackles tyed on the top of the hook shank, sparse flash in between layers, and some bucktail to form wings and cheeks...thus insinuating a long motion-prone profile with minimal bulk...
The "special" hackles can be had from some of the site sponsors (Bear'sDen and Rod Builders Workshop and SaltWaterEdge)...
...(or locally from perveyors of Whiting Rooster Saddles where you know who gets his premium you know whats!) :whoa:

In both the Hollow and Flat Wing styles...Sparse is key to acieve hollow bulk and castability...
Tying thread (mono or flat waxed nylon) should be strong enough to allow sinching down to achieve the desired flair/spley...
After you're done at the vise, drown the fly under a stream of HOT water from the tap...
The hotwater flowing over/thru the material will lend a streamlining effect while still maintaining the hollow appearance.
Tastes GREAT...LESS philling!!!

12-03-2004, 10:22 AM
Sorry for the rushed response -- I guess it was pretty incomprehensible, but those two styles (hollow fleyes and flatwings) are discussed a lot on various boards and there is a lot of online instruction regarding both. Penguin has got it right and posted two nice versions to illustrate.

I don't know the rules about posting links to other sites, but if it's ok, check out and click the flies link under Bob Popovics name and you'll get an article, instructions and pictures for hollow fleyes. For flatwings, there's also lots of instruction available, on Kenney Abrames site ( and on Fly Fisherman magazine's site. The two techniques combined make a nice big fly. Maybe I'll try to post a pic, but when I tried in the past, I got an error message saying my file was too big and I don't know how to correct that problem. Sheesh, I can barely even get out a coherent post .....

Jim Miller
12-03-2004, 10:30 AM are doing great.....good stuff!
Pete....very nice flies....something to strive for!
I do like the idea of a Combo...flatwing/hollow flie :biggrin:

12-03-2004, 01:33 PM
Salt water Edge Does have alot of the RLS hackles these are bred and selected just for tying these big flatwings. Also the Striper Moon page and book can tell you how to tye them. They are tyed fuller then most flatwings. They are pricey though I think 30 something a piece but you can tye a bunch from them. Honestly they are about the only pattern you can tye that big and still cast. The other styles are just to heavy at 12+ inches. Also these patterns work great on reef species too

12-03-2004, 05:20 PM
Some great advice here and those hollow jobbies look schweet! The fly I posted is huge, it is in the neighborhood of 16+" long and it is quite easy to cast. I was amazed when my friend Kevin first showed them to me and thought there was no way to cast them. But the material is very light and being synthetic does not retain any water so as you pull it out of the water to make another cast it sheds all of the water instantly and becomes very light on the end. I cast them with a T&T Horizon 9 wt. no problem and can really blast them out there with my 12 wt. and 650 gr. If I get a chance I will give Kevin a call and see if I can get a couple to send to you ASAP, we have been trying to get together so he can show me how to tie the damn things. All of my attempts at tying them have failed miserably, well I was able to fish them and they worked but they just didn't have the flair and movement his fly's have. He is truly a great tier and I am going to meet with him this winter and learn how to do them.

Capt. Mike

12-06-2004, 10:51 AM
Can we talk about how much I hated the Yak hair flies I tied. Heavy as a bowling ball and foul like crazy. Luckily I also had some flat wings that I tied and those look AWESOME in the water and cast nicely and don't foul. Only problem? No fish. Maybe they will get down my way this week. They are catching them like crazy just a little bit north of me. Maybe soon.

12-15-2004, 07:36 AM
You might also look at Jeff Smith's "Buffy" patterns. They're a build on Rich Murphy's Conomo Special-- they both use corsair tubing as a spreader under kinky fiber. The result is a big profile and little weight. They catch pretty good too :)

capt shiner
12-15-2004, 09:48 AM
I had the same problems when I first started to toss the monsterous bunker flies. As previously mentioned, a 10 or 11wt helps but the whole key is in the set up. With a full sink type 5 or 6 line and 1/2 hour of practice it's really no different than throwing a clouser. The key (for me at least) is to sloooow everything down and let the rod do the work. The timing with regard to the time it takes to go from your back stroke to forward stroke(and vice versa) is nearly doubled. The fly sails on its own when ya get it down.
We fish bunker schools up here on LI for 6 months of the year and we use the fly I attached. Also when tying these you have to counter-act the kite like properties of the yak hair or whatever material you use by using a lot of lead. What works for us is wrapping the hook (I have a stinger loop for the toothy ones) with 15-20 turns of .02 lead and then building a keel out of 15 pieces of 1" .03 lead.
This isn't my idea, I learned it by watching Sedotti tie it and it works. We tried flatwings numerous times in the bunker schools and not once did anyone get bit, but that's just my own experience. Funny part is if we used flatwings in the herring schools (7-10" baits) the past few weeks they'd get bit. Weird.
I couldn't even begin to say how frustrated we were being made fun of by live-liners fishing the same bait balls, but once we learned how to tie and throw these flies, we outfished them! It does take some patience and practice, but it's worth it to watch a 25 lb bass eat one 10 ft from your rod tip or see a pack of 15lb bluefish outrace each other to it. Good luck