Last week we started our series on Alaskan trout foods with some information on salmon flesh. Today we’re covering a simple, effective fly pattern that’s used to imitate salmon flesh – your basic ‘Flesh Fly’.
Our recipe and photos are courtesy of Matt Hynes, senior guide at Alaska West and recent addition to our management team at Andros South. Matt’s tying is both creative and meticulous – as you’ll see below, for a pattern that’s sometimes known as ‘bunny fur on a hook’, there are some finer points that make the difference between a run-of-the-mill Flesh Fly and one that’ll do you proud.
Tying the Flesh Fly
Almost any non-stainless hook will do: I like Daichii 2220s and 1710s, sizes 2-10
Body and Tail
Non-crosscut stripped rabbit in white, tan, cream, or “dirty sock”
White or pink
Step 1: Thread base
I almost always put a thread base down first – 90% of the time. It helps prevent the materials from sliding and twisting around the hook shank.
Step 2: Attach the rabbit
Decide how long you would like the tail – on a size 6 hook I like about 1.5″. Too long and it will foul, too short and the fly won’t have much action. IMPORTANT!!! Stroke back the rabbit hair to expose the skin as shown in pic #2, and tie the fur down at this point. The skin should wrap around the hook shank under the pressuse of 4-5 wraps. I also don’t trim the thread just because it’s an extra step.
Step 3: Wrap the rabbit
Advance the thread almost to the hook eye. Stretch the rabbit a little and wrap it around the hook going away from you (clockwise), for a right-handed tier. The tighter you wrap it, the more sparse the profile, as wrapping the rabbit openly (with gaps) also will do. Doing this uses less skin, and thus less fur.
Step 4: Finish
Tie off the rabbit a little back from the eye, trimming the strip on a slight angle. This will prevent excess build-up at the hook eye. Whip finish.
- You can’t get a nice tail with cross-cut rabbit. Tying in a tail is an extra step, and I tie 100+ dozen of these a year. If you want to get fancy, use a light pink or cream marabou, then wrap the rabbit strip.
- Tying this on a small size 6-8 egg hook (Daichii x510 or TMC 105) can be deadly during the late trout season.
- Taper your rabbit tail to a point, as seen in the last picture. It gives the fly better action. Don’t be lazy.
- This fly is also great in olive, black, and white as sculpin, leech, and minnow imitators.
corbin fletcher says
Great post…thanks for the information.
I love to tie flies and I am always looking for new patterns to tie.
Doug Jett says
As the cold winter weather keeps me inside sitting at the tying bench is a great way to stock the box. I never see anyone mention adding weight to flesh flies. Since I know jack doodly squat about salmon fishing, or fishing for trout eating salmon flesh: and I absolutley HATE split shot, I want to know if you fish flesh flies free floating or with shot? And if with shot why not some sort of weight other than shot like lead wire under the wraps or eyes buried in the fluff. Some direction would be appreciated. As for Cuda’s on Poppers-give em’ hell Rick!!! That’s my kind of game. See you this summer on the Kanektok!!
Hi Doug – we’re looking forward to seeing you this summer!
Most flesh flies are tied without weight, just so the depth of the fly can be adjusted for the run that you’re fishing, by using…yes, the dreaded split shot. You could certainly tie weight directly into the fly if you don’t like split shot – if you did that, it’d be a good idea to have a few different amounts of weight so you’ve got a way to adjust for the depth and speed of the run.
Have fun with it!
Thank you for the article. I am new to fly tying and this site provides good information.
You’re welcome – thanks for stopping by!
the force says
Thanks for the detailed instructions! Tied some up last week and smashed some bows today in interior BC. Beads were slow, cream flesh fly took home the biggest fish of the day.