High-Tigh Snapper Trapper
  |  First Published: September 2008

Flyfishing is a wonderful sport as it opens up a whole new world of challenges for the angler. Gone are the stuffy days of tweed-clad gentlemen puffing smoke from a pipe hanging in the corner of their mouth. To catch a trout on anything other than a dry fly you made yourself was once considered sacrilege. These days a whole new breed of keen anglers are looking for the next great challenge in this blossoming sport.

Nothing piscatorial is safe when a dedicated saltwater flyfisher decides he needs a challenge. Recently there has been a growing interest in targeting snapper on the long rod in Southern Queensland and as a result a few new patterns have come to the fore. This month’s pattern is one of my own creations that I have used successfully on snapper around Mud and Peel Island.


Whether you call them snapper, squire or pinkies, Pagrus auratus has become a staple food and sport fish for a lot of anglers. They are available as close inshore as the Brisbane River and favour reef, rubble, rocks and other structured areas, making them a little predictable in their location in any certain area.

I initially started using standard Clouser patterns for targeting snapper and while I caught a few fish, I felt that I needed to beef up the size of the fly to make it more acceptable to old Pagrus. I also assumed that a little more action from the fly would increase its appeal and opted for a softer material than the usual bucktail that Clouser minnows are commonly tied from.

Polar fibre was ideal, however during casting and fishing, it regularly tangled with the hook point making the fly swim badly and look less appealing than it should. I opted to try the high-tie method, made popular several years ago by Paul Van Reenan, owner of a South African company that brought the first polar fibre to Australia’s fly tiers. This method involves tying the polar fibre on in small batches with each section tied in front of the last.

This method makes the material ride away from the hook shank, which reduces the possibility of tangling. I also added a slightly stiffer back material in the form of some streamer hair, which helps to prevent the polar fibre wafting up when the fly is in the water.

The weighted eye on the back of the hook shank, makes the hook point ride upright which greatly reduces the possibility of snagging when fished around rubble, reef and other structure. The weight in the eye also allows the fly to sink head first between strips, which helps to impart some added action. I have generally found this is when the fly gets eaten.


There are a lot of retrieves that could be used when targeting snapper, or other species on this fly. So far the fly has accounted for snapper, estuary cod, bream, tailor, trevally, pike and several undesirables and I can also envisage it being a good pattern for bass, Murray cod, barramundi, queenfish, tarpon and a host of other species.

Like most Clouser clones, the Snapper Trapper can be made to literally dance in the water. How much action you impart into it is only limited by the length and frequency of your strips. Short, continuous strips will see the most erratic action whereas long strips with a pause between will see a smoother and more sedate, gliding action.

My preferred stripping technique is a combination of both. Two short and sharp strips, then a long single strip with a sizeable pause between. This works for me most of the time.


(1) Place the hook securely in the vice and attach the thread with a jamb knot (or similar) just behind the eye of the hook. Lay down a bed of thread about 5mm long on the hook shank and then attach the eye 3-4mm behind the eye of the hook with a series of figure-of-eight wraps. Wrap the thread down the hook shank until you are approximately opposite the barb of the hook. Take 6-8 strands of Krystal Flash and tie in at this point.

(2) Cut a small amount of the polar fibre and tie it on top of the Krystal Flash. It should be about as long as the hook is. Whip finish at this point but do not cut away the remaining thread. Add a little vinyl cement to the thread. It is best to whip finish each additional section of polar fibre you tie in and add a little vinyl cement to the thread so that if one strand of the thread is cut, then the entire fly won’t fall apart.

(3) Keep adding similar amounts of polar fibre of a similar length to the first. Every tie-in point should be just in front of the last. Don’t forget to whip finish each and add a little vinyl cement to the thread for durability. Continue adding sections of polar fibre until you are all the way up to the eye of the fly.

(4) Cut another section of polar fibre about the same length as the others and tie it in between the eye of the fly and the eye of the hook as shown.

(5) Pass this section of polar fibre between the two sides of the eyes of the fly and tie it down just behind the eyes, after taking the thread back under the hook shank to do so. Whip finish again and apply a little vinyl cement but do not cut away the remaining thread.

Turn the fly over in the vice so it is similar to that as shown. Cut a portion of streamer hair that is a little longer than the entire hook and fly. Tie it in between the eye of the fly and the eye of the hook, Clouser style, as shown. Add 10-15 strands of Krystal Flash almost as long as the streamer hair, as shown.

(6) Whip finish, cut away the remaining thread and add a little vinyl cement to the entire nose cone of the fly. Your Snapper Trapper is now ready to trap you some snapper.


HOOK:Gamakatsu SL12S 2/0
THREAD:Flat-waxed nylon- black
EYE:Tiewell Brite Pupil Eyes- Black/yellow large
FLASH:Krystal flash- blue/grey
BODY:Polar Fibre- seafoam green
WING:Streamer Hair- Dark Grey
Reads: 307

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