River Rabbit

Streamers: Step-by-step fly tying instructions

Martin Bawden's River Rabbit - Fly tying instructions

River Rabbit by Martin Bawden.

The River Rabbit is ideal for low and slow fishing. The Fish-Skull® Baitfish Head™ provides weight to keep the fly on the bottom and the hook-up position reduces the chances of snagging as you work the fly through cover. With a slightly shorter tail, it can be a good sculpin or crawfish imitation. Alternatively, strip it faster and it can be mistaken for a fleeing baitfish. Try different color combinations and have fun!

The River Rabbit is just one of various zonker-style flies that can potentially be tied using Baitfish Heads.

Fly tying materials

Hook: TMC 9395 # 2 streamer hook (or similar).
Head: Fish-Skull® Baitfish Head™, medium, dark gray (for this color variation).
Eyes: Fish-Skull® Living Eyes™.
Thread: Brown.
Tail: Rabbit zonker strip, natural rabbit color.
Body: Cross-cut rabbit zonker strip, natural rabbit color.
Flash: Crystal flash (or your favorite flash material).

Fly tying instructions

Step 1

Put the hook in the vise in the hook up position as shown. Attach your thread and layer the entire shank of the hook.

Step 2

Calculate how long you want to make your tail. In this example, the tail is only one hook-length long, but this is often tied much longer.

Step 3


Tie the zonker strip down very firmly with some strong thread wraps. Note: I suggest you tie the zonker down further down the shank than I've done in this photo. Just past the hook tip would be better. 

At this stage, you have the option to add a few strands of crystal flash (or similar material) to the tail. I haven’t done so in this example, but it's typically a good idea to add a little.

Step 4

Tie in the tip of a cross-cut zonker strip. Make sure this is tied in really well to make the fly as durable as possible. 

Step 5

Wrap the zonker strip forward with tight wraps to form the body. As you make your wraps, keep brushing the rabbit fur backwards to form a neat, even finish. Tie off the zonker strip slightly behind the eye of the hook.

Step 6

Superglue the thread wraps (top, bottom and sides).

Step 7

Fit the Baitfish Head and position in place. You will have a minute or so to make final adjustments to your materials before the glue dries.

Step 8

Add a very small spot of superglue to the middle of the eye sockets. Stick on the Living Eyes.

Step 9

Re-attach your tying thread in front of the Baitfish Head and tie a small thread-dam to secure the head firmly in place.

Step 10

Your River Rabbit is done! Go fishing!