Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Swamp Rabbits for Lowland Snook, Tarpon and Reds

Swamp Rabbit - Mangrove Minnow Coloration

Hook: Gamakatsu SP17 2-2/0
Thread: Olive or tan (go with a strong thread like GSP)
Tail: Olive variant zonked
Body: Crayfish tan cross cut
Head: Mottled soft hackle in a tan or brown
Eyes: 3D molded (glue on either side and fill in the gaps on the top and bottom with an epoxy or epoxy substitute like clear cure goo)

First, tie in a 3 inch piece of 15 pound stiff mono. Tie the mono in on the top of the hook shank with the majority hanging off the end. Next, tie in your olive rabbit on top of the hook shank above the bend.  Then, take a bodkin and poke a hole in the middle of the olive rabbit. The hole should be roughly a 1/2 inch back from the tie in point.  After that, take the mono run it the hole in the rabbit and pull it forward towards the eye.  Adjust the tension until the mono is tight and the rabbit lays straight back.  Don't worry, the mono will disappear amongst the rabbit fur fibers.  Secure the mono and clip off any excess.  The mono will keep the rabbit tail from fouling around the hook when casting.  Next, tie in the cross-cut tan rabbit and palmer it forward.  Don't worry about crowding the head.  You want a large head to allow a place to secure the eyes.  Once you've secured the cross-cut rabbit, take your soft hackle and strip one side. Then, tie the feather so the concave side lays back and make two or three wraps.  Tie off and whip finish.  Finally, glue the eyes on either side of the thread head and fill in the top and bottom with epoxy or epoxy substitute.  All done.

The Fly
You can't go wrong with rabbit strip flies.  They have unbelievable movement in the water.  Also, they rabbit material comes in every color imaginable so you can match the hatch or throw something loud and obnoxious.   This particular color pattern (tan and olive) is my go-to color pattern back in the mangroves for snook.  Also, purple collar with a black tail would be a good choice in low light or dirty water conditions.  The swamp rabbit is a popular back country saltwater fly but it has a great deal of potential in both cold and warm fresh water.  Off the top of my head, all white with a silver flash hackle collar would be nice. Or, all chartreuse with a copper flash hackle collar has smallmouth written all over it.

There are a few things to think about when tying and fishing rabbit flies.  First, they get water logged, which poses a couple of problems.  One problem is a wet rabbit fly is tough to present softly.  The heaviness of the fly's tail causes a slap on the water.  So, if you need a delicate fly try substituting the rabbit with a feather or fox fibers.  Another problem is that a heavy fly can become difficult to cast especially in the wind.  Again, you can substitute the rabbit for a feather.  Second, the tail is prone to fouling.  I use mono to combat this problem.  Gluing a small portion of the skin at the base of the tail with super glue is another option.   There are a couple other options but glue and mono are the easiest and most effective.

I'm heading to Naples, Florida in a few days to fish the lowlands and 'groves for some reds, resident tarpon and snookies.  Hopefully I will return with some good grip and grin shots.

Tight lines.

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