Roadrunner Fly
  |  First Published: June 2010

This month’s fly pattern is another guaranteed to annoy the purists.

The Roadrunner pattern is the wand wavers equivalent to the Roadrunner Jig, a popular lure in the United States and other areas, especially for large-mouth bass. This Roadrunner fly was targeted at Australian bass but has taken cod, saratoga, golden perch and other species too.

The addition to the blade is very unconventional in fly fishing, however it adds a good degree of flash and vibration in the water, which often catalyses strikes from shut down bass and other species.

Roadrunner jigs were designed to have a soft plastic added to them, usually a curltail grub, however spinnerbait skirts were also used at times.

Our equivalent, the Roadrunner fly also possesses plenty of movement and flash in the water and is one of those fun, yet productive, patterns sure to create a little interest amongst your fellow fly fishers.

Previously I delved the Roadrunner out of the box on a day when the fishing was exceptionally quiet and I had all but given up on actually landing anything. I was getting a little bored with it and was subsequently trying anything and everything that had gone unused for some period, in favour of my previously tried and proven patterns.

I think the Roadrunner was about the eighth pattern I tried on the weed bed loving bass of Maroon Dam. Alas, I received a hook-up, the first in the last three hours, with a chunky little bass a little shy of 40cm soon boatside.

I caught another two over the next hour but it was enough to convince me of the Roadrunner’s place in my tackle box. It had saved the day when things were tough, and other popular patterns failed.


The blade on the Roadrunner adds a degree of flash and vibration in the water, which increases its chance of being located by the bass. It also seems to create a degree of predatory response, just as spinnerbaits do. These ultra small Indiana-style blades are made specifically for flies and other small jigs and come in a couple of sizes.

They should be available at some fly tying suppliers but you will probably need to look around a little to find them. They come complete with swivel and split ring.

The hook I have used is a stinger pattern possessing a short point and small barb, ideal for most freshwater species.

For the body you can use all manner of chenilles, however I find the longer fibres of the Estaz Chenille produce a lot more flash in the water and it is a very hardy product.

The tail material I have used is actually from a replacement spinnerbait skirt but there are several rubber legging materials available at fly tying suppliers that are identical to this. You could also substitute it with marabou or even a Fly-Tail, a rubber curl-tail designed for fly tying.

The eye also has many substitutes in colour, size and weight. You will need a degree of weight to keep this pattern down deep as you strip it. The Roadrunner really comes into its own as a productive pattern when the going is tough which is usually when the bass are shut down and hanging low in the water column.


Probably the biggest drawback in fishing the Roadrunner is that the blade will occasionally tangle with the leader during the cast. The smoother your casting style the less this is likely to happen.

Retrieves with the Roadrunner can vary but generally I use two very basic ones. For the first one cast the fly to the desired zone and allow it to sink all the way to the bottom. Do slow, long strips with minimal pauses between.

The second productive retrieve is to allow the fly to sink all the way down, do two short and sharp strips and then a reasonable pause to allow the fly to sink again. Repeat until you are all the way back in. These have both worked well for me on bass but if you are specifically targeting saratoga then you will generally find the first one is the best to use.


(1) Connect the blade and swivel together with the supplied split ring. Slide the eye of the swivel over the hook and all the way forward to just behind the eye.

(2) Attach your thread on the shank roughly opposite the point of the hook. Attach around 6-8 strands of krystal flash at this point. Cut 5-6 pieces of the rubber skirting, at least twice as long as you want them to finally be. Fold these evenly around the thread and slide into position as shown.

(3) Wrapping around the shank with your thread will secure these spinnerbait skirt strands down fairly evenly around the hook shank. Use at least 6 to 8 wraps of thread, whip finish and add a little vinyl cement to the thread.

Next attach the end of your estaz chenille at this same point and wrap the thread forward until you are just behind the eye of the hook.

(4) Attach the eye to the back of the hook shank, a few millimeters behind the hook eye, with a series of figure-of-eight wraps until it is very secure. Whip finish and add a little vinyl cement.

(5) Turn the swivel and blade over so that it protrudes from the top of the pattern as shown. Again, wrap around the eye with a series of figure-of-eight wraps but this time make sure you wrap over the swivel which is now sitting in the recess between the two sides of the eye.

Once it is also securely in place, whip finish and add a little vinyl cement.

(6) Palmer (wrap) the chenille forward to create an even body. Wrap it around the eye in a criss-cross pattern, tie it off securely, whip finish and trim the remaining thread and chenille.

I have turned the pattern over upon completion to show you how the fly will swim and look and the water. The Roadrunner is now ready to tempt some fussy freshwater fishes.


Hook:Mustad C52s BLN 1/0
Thread:Flat-wax nylon (black)
Blade:Fly spinner blade (nickel Size 0)
Flash:Krystal flash (olive)
Tail:Spinnerbait skirting (gold/black barred)
Body:Estaz chenille (brown)
Eye:Brite Pupil eyes (gold/orange)
Finish:Vinyl cement
Reads: 565

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