With an abundance of quality bass fishing on offer in Southern Queensland and other areas further south, it’s no wonder a number of new fly patterns for this great little Aussie native have emerged. While there are some awesome wild river bass to be targeted, it is the impoundment fishery that has received lots of angling pressure. Bass over 50cm are no longer a rarity so anglers have flocked to the impoundments with fly rods in hand.
Bass are commonly being found out on the deeper flats in the larger impoundments, schooling around submerged structure or adjacent to the old riverbed. These fish are often found by anglers using a good sounder who then target the fish with fast sinking fly lines and weighted flies. This month’s pattern, the Better Bass Bunny is ideal for these deep-water situations as well as many others.
The traditional Bass Bunny pattern was tied with a zonker (strip of rabbit fur) on each side of the hook shank. The Better Bass Bunny is an improved version for our impoundment fishery. The traditional pattern did not always ride point upright and was more prone to snagging. It also lacked flash material, which often prompts strikes in the deeper, dirty water of the impoundments. The Better Bass Bunny has both of these qualities.
The lead eyes can be altered in size depending on the depth of water you are fishing and subsequent sink rate required. If you are fishing very dirty water, using a powder-coated, glo-in-the-dark eye will increase the fly’s visual appeal.
The colour of the zonker can vary but darker colours silhouette well to bass lurking below. I like olive, black, claret, brown, fiery brown and dark red. I use Estaz chenille as it has the longest fibre of all the crystal chenille which provides maximum movement in the water. You could also experiment with super-salt, crystal, tinsel and even variegated or rayon chenille. The bass stinger pattern hook is the best option for this type of fly due to the thin, yet strong, wire construction, small barb and short point which increases your hook up potential on large mouthed species such as bass and hard-mouthed species such as Saratoga.
The Bass Bunny can be worked in a variety of ways but the most popular and effective way is the strip quick and sink technique. Cast the fly out and allow it to reach its desired depth, usually near the bottom or a set distance down in the case of suspended schools. The fly is then retrieved with 2-3 short, sharp strips and again allowed to sink to the desired depth. This process is repeated several times until you either hook up, or the fly is stripped back in. Long, single strips also work well when a pause is added between to allow the fly to sink again. This pattern will also work on flathead but I usually tie it in brighter colours for them. Similar retrieves also work well for flathead but it is much more important to ensure that the fly travels along, or close to the bottom at all times, as fish sometimes do not move far from their ambush spot to eat a food item.
(1) Attach the thread with a jamb knot or similar just behind the eye of the hook. Lay down a bed of thread for around 5mm behind the eye of the hook. Attach the weighted eye a few millimetres behind the eye of the hook and onto the back of the shank with a series of figure-of-eight wraps until it is secure. Attach the end of your chenille just behind the weighted eye with a few wraps of thread.
(2) Palmer (wrap) the chenille down along the shank until you get to the end of the shank where it starts to bend.
(3) Wrap back along the shank, overlaying the chenille onto the previous wraps until you get back to the eye of the fly. Pass the chenille over the middle of the eyes and tie off between the eye of the fly and the eye of the hook. Whip finish here to secure the chenille and trim off the remaining chenille. Leave the remaining thread hanging at this point – do not trim it. Add a little vinyl cement to secure the tie-off point.
(4) Cut a strip of zonker approximately twice as long as the hook shank. Measure where the point needs to pass through the skin of the zonker by measuring it up as shown. The hole needs to be at least a little further along the strip than the distance between the hook eye and the end of the palmered chenille. It will probably be easier if you take the fly out of the vice to do this.
(5) Push the point of the hook through the zonker skin and reposition the hook in the vice as shown. Pull the zonker forward and stretch the skin taught until it lies flat as shown. Cut the skin at the position that coincides with the hook eye. Trimming the zonker skin into a small point will make tying it in a little easier and less bulky. Pull the skin taut again then tie down the end in the section between the eye of the fly and the eye of the hook with a series of wraps and a whip finish. Add a little vinyl cement to the tie off point to secure it.
(6) Trim off the remaining thread and take your fly out of the vice. Add an adhesive eye to the indentation in the weighted eye. Add a dab of epoxy to each side of the adhesive eye to secure it and to create a 3D look to the eye. Your Better Bass Bunny is now ready to be put into service.
HOOK: Mustad C52S BLN 1/0
THREAD: Black flat-waxed nylon
WEIGHTED EYE: Real-Eye medium black
PUPIL: 2mm Adhesive Glo-in-the-dark
BELLY: Estaz Chenille olive
BACK: Zonker Strip olive variant
FINISH: Vinyl CementReads: 267