The White Zonker streamer Mylar tubing imitates the scales on a bait fish's stomach and reflects light to grab the attention of nearby hungry bass, trout, steelhead or salmon.
ZONKER STREAMER FLY PATTERNS. Hook size 8 10 - $US each
HOW TO FISH WITH A ZONKER
Zonkers work well in both rivers and lakes. Try to mimic the darting escape of a spooked small fish. You should be fishing somewhere between two to six feet deep. On rivers with undercut banks by letting the fly drift under the bank, as deep as you can, then strip it fast. Vary the retrieve from slow and steady, fast, strip-and-pause, or quick, short two-inch strips until you find what works best at your location
On five separate fishing trips over the past ten years I have had my catch attacked and eaten by a much bigger fish. On each occasion the fish on the end of my line was small. It had caught the bigger fish’s eye as it was acting differently to the rest of the other smaller fish. Next time you are fishing in a location with clear water observe how smaller baby juvenile trout and other fish co-existing with the larger trout who do not seem to notice them until they suddenly change direction in a darting movement or swim too close. This is the action you want to emulate with your streamer fly to provoke your target fish into taking your fly.
I like to imitate a crippled fish be moving my rod tip from right to left which will make the fly swim in a zigzagging motion. It is a great tactic to use in situations where large adult trout smash through a school of juvenile fish feeding on mayfly hatches. These big fish use their size and speed to knock a few of the smaller baitfish senseless. I have seen them make one to three passes before returning to gobble up the cripples that were hit in the initial attacks. I aim to cast in the area of the disturbance and make an erratic zigzag retrieve hopefully in front of the returning hungry trout.
When fishing a deep pool I cast upstream and retrieve the fly back down. I make the fly swim slightly faster than the current with flicks and strips. With each flick the fly darts ahead and on the pause it starts to dive toward the bottom. I have observed that sulking trout will whirl and charge downstream to attack a streamer fished in this way. This tactic is a very effective method for sculpin or crayfish imitations, which need to fished near the bottom to be effective. Remember that when attacked these small fish will try to escape down stream and not fight the current.
When fishing near the outwash of reservoirs or dams again try to imitate a crippled minnow by fishing zonker dead drift if you. Baitfish get stunned, injured or killed when they are flushed into the river below. Some of these baitfish are just disoriented and swim around aimlessly until they find their bearings again. The larger hungry predatory trout know this and will quickly make a meal of any crippled or injured fish.
BASS FISHING WITH A ZONKER
I like to wade into a river just below a riffle and cast across and slightly downstream. I give the Zonker time to sink and then strip the line to make it swim along the bottom a good six inches every five or so seconds. I normally make about six casts to the same location and make each one about four feet longer than the last. If I still do not get any nibbles I wade about three yards downstream and start the same sequence again. By taking time and doing this overlapping casting system it enables the zonker to be seen by nearly all the bass in front of me.
Sculpins like to live against a three foot deep shaded bank. This is therefore a prime feeding location for bass. I like to wade into the middle of the river and cast downstream tight against the bank. If I do not get an immediate strike I normally move down stream about five foot. Smallmouth Bass often patrol around gravel bars and grass beds on overcast days at dawn and dusk. Look out for minnows splashing through the shallows they are probably trying to evade predatory bass or trout. Cast your fly about three feet in front of the minnow and to the side of the minnows. Aim to strip your streamer through the middle of the shoal in the hope of presenting it in front of the oncoming bass.
I love them! I sometimes shorten them as I don't want the fish to 'take short' and miss the hook. Last year in Hokkaido, Japan, I caught a lovely brownie which, when beached, literally disgorged half a dozen baitfish about 5 cm long. It was full to the gills. When I killed and opened it I counted 18 baitfish. They all had teeth marks about I cm from the tail. The large brownie's tactic had clearly been a bite at the tail to immobilise the fish, then eat it at leisure! Gregor Fulton McGregor HK