Today we present you with some rigging wizardry courtesy of Alaska West guide, Jerry French. You may recognize Jerry’s name as part of the original brain trust behind the Intruder. However, intruder style patterns are hardly the only flies Jerry fishes..
In fact, he’d be the first to tell you that great anglers evolve, constantly pushing the envelope to try new things. That’s the driving force behind his latest ‘evolution’ of fly patterns, including the ever popular ‘dirty hoh’ which utilizes a leech-like bunny strip (amongst some super unique techniques which is a topic for another post).
It’s hard to argue with the sheer fishiness of bunny strips in the water. Although the downside to most leech-style flies incorporating a bunny strip and a stinger-style hook is that they’re most often tied with the rabbit strip attached directly to the stinger hook (see an example by clicking right here). This provides great action to the fly, allowing the hook and tail and swim together in a natural manner, but doesn’t allow for an easy hook change should your hook become dull. That means more flies that get tossed before they’ve reached their full shelf life, and that’s no bueno.
Instead, when fixing a stinger hook to a bunny tail style fly, Jerry utilizes a super clever way he refers to as the twisted hitch that allows for easy hook changes with unhindered movement of the tail and hook of the fly. It works pretty darn well, and here’s how he does it.
Brilliant indeed! I had already been using AK West guide Grant Turner’s trick of just running the bunny strip through the hook loop with no hitches. Already learned that if I didn’t leave sufficient tag (about 3/8 inch) at the end of the bunny, it would slip out. Also learned on smaller flies if I left the amount of leather tag I wanted, I had to trim fur off the end of the strip to get the tips of the fur to match up with the bend of the hook. (I think that is important to minimize short strikes, especially with steelhead)
This adds an extra element of security. Great timing for this post, because I am pounding out the bunny strip leech and sculpin ties right now for the Kanektok rainbows, dollies and silvers in 10 days!
See you soon, boys!
One other comment. You mention that Jerry uses limp braid to maximize the action of the bunny strip.
However, in the photos, I note that Jerry has both strands of braid that form the loop secured to the front shank.
I have been taking one strand of limp braid and tying an overhand loop(NOT a perfection loop) about 1 1/4 inches long in it (may need to up that a little for this hitch technique).
That loop is long enough to swap hooks out. The remaining single strand gets threaded through the eye of the front shank, wrapped back over itself down the shank 5 turns or so and whip finished. So you only have the one limp strand coming off the front shank, (for maximum action) but still have the loop at the end of that strand to loop hooks on.
I have been using 35lb braid, and have never had that overhand loop fail against 16 lb tippet on Great Lakes steelhead. If you use significantly heavier tippet for kings maybe you have to test it further.