Fly of the Week – White Minky

Fly of the Week
Minkies or Zonkers are the ‘go to’ fly when the fish are feeding on fry. They can be tied in many colour variations and size to represent their preferred food source. A minky offers plenty of movement, especially with the addition of a heavily leaded body. Not only do zonkers give a great ‘up & down’ motion when pulled but a ‘wiggling’ effect when steadily retrieved. This weeks fly of the week is the White Minky/Zonker. Watch the tying video and give it a go!


Tying Instructions

For flies such as these I prefer to use Kamasan b175 size 8 hooks, they give a good length shank and also add some additional weight. The hook is also very strong and reliable, you need something you can trust when playing the fish of a lifetime!

Run a layer of White UTC Thread to about opposite the barb and attach a length of lead wire. The wire density can be varied depending on how heavy you want the fly. Wind the lead to the eye, leaving sufficient room to tie the wing off. Cover the lead in a couple of layers of white thread.

Attaching the Rabbit zonker strip is simple. Measure against the hook the length of the ‘tail’ and part the fur to expose the skin, simply place the rabbit strip in position and wind the thread onto the exposed skin and pull tight. Two or three turns should do. Pull the whole of the rabbit strip back and attach a piece of hot yellow wire for the rib and also a length of white/uv hippy fritz .

Wind the fritz to about the same position of where you ended the lead wire, making sure to stoke the fritz back after each turn. This ensures none are trapped or bulk the fly up. Pull the rabbit strip across the back of the fly to the eye and part the fur again to tie in securely. Run the rib through the rabbit and to the eye, this secures the rabbit strip in place and enhances the overall durability of the fly.  I found the easiest way to part the fur when ribbing is to use a dubbing needle, place the needle through the fur and pull upwards parting each section and then run the wire through and round the fly. Tie off.

Adding eyes to a minky or zonker completely transforms a boring fly, I prefer to use funky 3d epoxy eyes, they are strong and very reliable. Ideal for attaching to fry patterns. Here I have used the ‘tab’ versions which are great for tying into small flies, or flies which have a hammering and the eyes can be changed or re-used. The extended holographic tab allows you to tie the eye into the fly wherever you want without the use of any glue substances. Simply attach an eye to each side of the hook and tie off. Glue the head to make sure your flies doesn’t fall apart.

Suspend Fry Tying Materials 

Hook: Kamasan B175 Size 8
Thread: UTC White 70 Denier
Underbody: Medium Lead Wire
Wing: White rabbit zonker Strip
Body: White/UV straggle Fritz
Rib: Hot Yellow Wire
Eyes: Funky Fly tying  gold holographic tab eyes

Written by Kieron Jenkins

How to Strip Peacock Quill

Out on the bank with a fly rod in our hand we see some weird and wonderful creations tied to other anglers leader but, Trout & Grayling aren’t as silly as we sometimes think. Impress your fellow anglers, and the fish, by using an age old material and incorporating it into some of your most prolific flies in a different way. I assure you, you wont be disappointed.

One of my favourite fly tying materials has to be peacock, be it in its natural form or in a glister! The colours produced by the herls give off great bronze, black and greens which change shades under different lights. Everyone who has just started tying would no doubtingly have used peacock, I did, and lots of it! I think when I started I had boxes and boxes of black and peacocks, different sizes, some with chain eyes because I thought they looked cool, practically anything I could get peacock into would have it!

Once a feather has been stripped of herls it opens up a whole new horizon for fly tiers – it produces a flat, tapering banding effect which offers detailed segments and a lifelike imitation. Perfect for Buzzers, Nymphs and Dry flies.

The eye itself produces the best feather to strip as the herls are finer and the banding/colours are more pronounced which gives a better segmented effect, light on the one edge and dark on the other.

From the eye, remove a few strands from the same area of the eye – this ensures if your tying a few of the same pattern, the banding is more or less the same. It usually differs from each feather though.

Stripping the feather

If there is one question I hear all the time at shows or in clubs whilst tying it has to be ‘What’s the best way to strip peacock herls?’ Now, there are many ways to strip the herls and each tier has their favourite. Quills from the main stem itself seem to surrender their herls much easier then the eye however, they don’t produce such a strong colouration.  Stripping stems from the eye is probably the most problematic and more like a chore but its the most rewarding. Below are easiest and least time consuming ways I’ve come across.

As a rule of thumb when looking for feathers to strip, the larger the feather the longer, stronger and wider the herls.

The Rubber

The old favourite. The rubber is probably the most common way of extracting herls off the stalk. A pencil type eraser offers a very abrasive rubber surface, the type found on double ended erasers, which is perfect. Simply lay the herl flat on your desk and rub along the surface, not too hard or the brittle feather will snap. The best way I found to do this is ‘rub against the grain’. By rubbing against the natural fall/growth direction of the herls you get a better result, just think of it as pulling fibres off the stalk of a cock or hen cape.

Thumb & Finger

Another common method is the thumb and finger technique. This is simply putting the feather between your thumb and forefinger, with the herl facing your thumb and pulling along the feather from the tip. This will have to be repeated a few times until all the herls are removed from the stalk. This method works very well but judging the tension of the feathers is quite tricky, I snap many feathers trying to strip them using my fingers. But It may be the best for you.

Scissors

Using the back edge of a scissors, obviously not the sharp bit, ‘score’  the along the herld edge  of the peacock feather until the edge is ‘bald’ so to speak. Effectively this does the exact same as using your nails but for me it seams a lot more convenient as you don’t get so much herl residue on your fingers, which is a nightmare when varnishing! The Scissors method may seem pretty extreme, but it works fine for me. One tip to remember is to use a soft foreground to rest the herl upon, this helps with the moments of anger when that small patch of herl won’t relieve itself of the stalk and you push harder and harder until the stalk snaps. It happens to us all!

I usually like to spend some time stripping my quills, im the kind of person where preparation is everything, but it is, in fly tying isn’t it? If you know where everything is or have everything prepared tying becomes quicker and easier. Batching out a few of these stripped quills will take no time at all once you get the hang of it, just remember its all trial and error regarding the pressure you exerts on the feather. Below are a few of my favourite quill patterns.

 

As you can see its a very versatile material, very light in weight and surprisingly robust. Wound close, the segmented effect perfectly resembles the abdomen of insects from the mayfly family. Wound wider bodies of midge pupae and larger such buzzers are easily replicated. Varnishing the quill also gives it a glossy sort of look which enhances/magnifies the banding effect. Have a play around.

Check out the Fishtec How To Guides above for more patterns and material guides.

Written by Kieron Jenkins