Guest Blogger: Justin Bowman

FOM sparkle zonker bowman jan 2016 360x360I tie an unweighted zonker-ish fly variation. I’ve fished this fly the past few years for smallies on my local Midwest rivers. This last year, I’ve also fished it a fair amount for Driftless trout and most recently, on the Missouri River near Craig. I’m sure it will catch fish anywhere there’s hungry fish wanting to survive. On bigger or faster water, I’ll use a 7wt Rio 15ft type six sink tip line and on smaller streams, I’ll use a floating line or various trout versileaders to adjust depth. The color combinations of this fly are infinite, but black, purple, and orange will always be a personal favorite.


Hook: Gamakatsu B10s #2
Thread – Veevus GSP 100 denier– Black (although I often use white and color the thread with Sharpie’s or Copic markers based on fly color)
Zonker: 1/8” Rabbit fur strips – black
Chenille: Chenille, medium – black
Hackle: Medium palmer chenille – black
Collar: EP Sparkle Brush – Black/Purple
Head: Senyo’s laser dub – black on top and orange on bottom
Eyes: Flymen Living Eyes – Ice 6mm
Adhesive: Loctite gel super glue or tear mender (or similar) and Loon Thin Clear Fly Finish

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Start by cutting a piece of zonker strip. On this fly, I cut the strip to about 3”. For tying in and cutting rabbit strips, I always separate the fibers in opposite directions by wetting my fingers and brushing the fibers apart so the fibers stay in place for the cutting (or tying in).
  2. Do a light coating of super glue on the shank before starting the thread. I’ve been doing this on most of my streamers for a while and think it adds to the durability of the fly. Start the thread by the eye and then advance the thread down the shank to the start of the bend of the hook. Wrap the shank so that it is pretty well covered. Wipe off excess super glue, if needed.
  3. fly1Place the rabbit strip over the shank just behind the eye of the hook and eyeball where the tie-in point will be. Moisten and separate the rabbit fibers here before attaching the strip to the hook. I only use two thread wraps to secure the rabbit strip on. The strength of the GSP allows you to cinch the hide down pretty tightly against the hook. Before tightening the thread down, preen all the rabbit fibers up in case you had any fibers pulled to the side or bottom of the hook.
  4. Advance the thread in front of the spot where the rabbit strip is tied in and throw in a few more thread wraps to keep that rabbit strip in place.fly2
  5. Tie in the palmer chenille first, and then tie in the medium chenille. The next step is up to you, but you can wrap the two materials individually or you can spin them together in a complex twist (or add other materials, like schlappen or polar chenille). In this fly, I wrapped the chenille first, and then wrap the palmer chenille. Stop the wraps just short of the eye of the hook, allowing room to tie in the other end of the rabbit strip and add the laser dub head. Secure the medium chenille with a few thread wraps and clip the excess before wrapping the palmer chenille. Secure the palmer chenille the same way and clip the excess.fly3
  6. Part the palmer chenille on top of the hook to the sides and bring the rabbit strip forward so you don’t mat down the palmer chenille. Hold the rabbit strip in place with one hand while making a few thread wraps to secure it down. Clip off the excess rabbit hide, but not too short. If it’s cut too short, the rabbit strip might work itself loose after getting wet or being manipulated too much. This is a good time to add a touch of super glue to the rabbit strip hide and make a few more thread wraps. Be careful with the super glue so it doesn’t get in the fibers on the rabbit strip.fly4
  7. Tie in the EP sparkle brush and make 3 wraps before tying it off and clipping the excess. I use a pen with Velcro glued to it or the Stonfo comb and brush tool to brush out the fibers as I wrap the sparkle brush. I usually tie the sparkle brush right on top of the piece of the tied-down rabbit strip and make the sparkle brush wraps practically on top of each other so you don’t waste much hook shank in wrapping the sparkle brush.fly5
  8. Grab a clump of black laser dub and stack it a few times in your hands to try to even the fibers out. If you tie it in without doing this, more of the fibers will come loose and comb out. You might need to play around with how much laser dub to use to make the proper looking head. I think a good general rule is to not to use as much as you think you need.
  9. Tie in the laser dub right in the middle. Secure it with a few tight wraps. Ensure these laser dub fibers stay on the top half of the hook. Grab a clump of orange laser dub, prepare it the same way as the black, and tie it in the same way, but put it on the bottom of the shank.
  10. Leave the halves of the laser dub hanging off the front of the hook and whip finish the fly, working around the overhanging laser dub. Snip off the thread.fly6
  11. Tease the respective laser dub fibers up and down. You’ll have some thread base exposed. Add a drop of gel super glue (or tear mender) on each side of the shank on or just behind that thread base to attach the eyes.
  12. Place the eyes loosely on the drop of super glue. Then, push it into place more securely with a bodkin or something similar. If you’re like me, you’ll end up with super glue on your fingers, the eyes stuck to you, and super glue smudges all over the eyes. Try to avoid this. However, smudges on the eye can be covered pretty well with clear fly finish.
  13. Lastly, comb all of the laser dub fibers back with a comb or Velcro. Secure the laser dub in place near the hook eye with UV clear fly finish and cure it with a UV light.
  14. The fly is complete.


  1. This fly looks killer, and I love the potential for imitating other bait-fish, like shad or any number of bluegill like fish. Thanks for sharing!

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