Black Bunny - Favorites Swap Fly
Here's my entry for the Favorites Swap. I tied it based on the Bonito Bunny, but it probably has it's own freshwater name and heritage. (edit: guess it looks just like the black leech in the steelhead/Alaska selections in one of my catalogs.) Nothing fancy about it but it's one of my favorites because the fish love it, it's easy to tie and it's made from common, inexpensive materials. It's also quite durable and casts well on my 7wt.
Hook: small bass bug hook. Not sure what size but smaller than the typical 3/0
Thread: black 3/0
Tail Support: mono loop. I did some with 20# but switched to 8#
Tail: black rabbit fur strip, 1/8" wide, 2" long, tapered ends
Body: black cross-cut rabbit fur strip, 1/8" wide
Weed Guards: 20# mono
Chemicals: Soft Body, Head Cement
Instructions to follow:
Wrap shank from eye to bend. Cut a short piece of mono for the tail support. I started with 20# but switched to 8# because the 20# was stiffer than necessary. Fold the mono in half and pinch the loop so it is narrower than the tail. Tie the loop on top of the shank so it extends straight out about 1/4". The loop should be flat (horizontal) and in line with the shank. Tie the tail on top of the tail support, skin side down. Tie off and snip the thread. Pull the tail up and forward to expose the tail support. Apply a small amount of Soft Body to the tie-in point, the mono loop and the skin of the first 1/2" or so of the tail. Be sure to keep the fur away from the Soft Body! Fold the tail back down against the tail support and tend to the Soft Body as necessary until it sets a bit. You want the tail to be glued to the support, and to have some Soft Body on the tail skin extending beyond the tail support so that when it dries it makes the base of the tail stiff enough to prevent it from wrapping on the hook. I usually "taper" the amount of Soft Body so there is more near the tail support and tie-in point, and less towards the middle of the tail. Set aside to dry. I usually hang mine by the hook eye so the tail hangs straight down (make sure the Soft Body has set enough so it won't run). After the tail dries, check to see if it has the desired stiffness. If the base of the tail still bends too easily you can apply some more Soft Body.
Once you are satisfied with the tail, tie the body material on at the back of the shank. Wrap the thread forward to about 1/8" from eye, coat the shank with head cement, wrap the body material forward and tie off. Make sure the fur stays out of the head cement! If you want to add weed guards, clip two pieces of 20# mono about 1.5" long. I like to tie them on as shown in the photo, using the natural curve of the mono to attain the desired shape. I flatten one tip of each piece of mono with pliers, and then tie them on one at a time and position them so they make a curved "V" extending from the head of the fly. Once they are positioned, lash them down tightly but don't wrap to the very back of the head. Pull the weed guards forward and make several wraps of thread behind them to help adjust the position, then finish the head of the fly and apply a generous amount of head cement.
I fish this fly in shallow water to catch bass and pickerel (and one trout!). I usually tie them in black but have also had good luck with yellow. I'm sure other colors would work too. (I want to get some pink zonker strips and make bubblegum bunnies :hihi: .) The wide hook gap helps prevent hooking the small panfish and perch that might grab the fly when you're going for larger fish. The weed guards seem to work pretty well if you move the fly slowly past the snags, so the fly can be crawled along the bottom or over weed tops or brush. The weed guards are easy to remove if you decide you don't like them. These flies are unweighted and will float until the fur is saturated. Guess you could fish them on top for a short time, although I've never tried that. I usually use a heavy fluorocarbon leader to help get the fly down. I'm sure it would also work in deeper water with a sink-tip or full sinking line. I've tied them with weighted eyes or shanks but the unweighted flies are much easier to cast. I used to get annoyed when trying to fish these flies because the tail would frequently wrap around the hook, even with the mono loop tail support. Once I started using Soft Body on the tails they almost never wrapped around the hook and quickly became one of my favorite flies.
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