Viva Zonker Fly Pattern
Is it a zonker, a viva, or or just some fly that's been working very well in stillwater?
By Ian Scott
A few weeks ago during an evening of fly fishing, I took out a fly that Ernie Kalwa had tied up and given me along with several other patterns a couple of years ago. The evening of fly fishing had been slow and I was going through my flies when I saw this zonker like fly tied by Ernie and thought I'd give it a try. Within a few casts, I had a rainbow take the fly. Then another, before I finally brought one to the net.
After I released the fish, darkness loomed and I had to get going. But I knew I needed to use this fly more often.
Ernie's original pattern is a bit different than this one in the photo. I showed the fly to my friend Arron Varga who thought the body material on Ernie's fly was Master Bright by Cascade Crest Tools. Arron brought me some of the material, but we couldn't decide on the exact color Ernie had used, if it was the Master Bright it was probably the tan colour. So I decided to just tie more up, using what is labelled as "Lt. Olive" but looks plenty green to me. And I don't think I'm color blind. The chartreuse color is also deadly on rainbows.
Viva flies have become known as a fly made of material(s) that are black and green. This fly uses what my eyes see as a green body under black rabbit strip. So for lack of a better name, it's a Viva Zonker.
This fly has been excellent recently. One day, I caught 2 rainbows in stillwater that approached 24" each. The next evening, I had five fish take it in 90 minutes. I watched as a trout followed it and then attacked it about ten feet from where I was standing. On Sunday, I gave this pattern to my friend Dave Moore, who had the same experience and briefly saw a huge lunker following and then went to take it as Dave let the fly stop in the water. Unfortunately, Dave wasn't paying attention and at that moment, he pulled the line from the water to begin a back cast.
How To Fish This Fly
There are two ways that I have found this fly to be effectively fished. Think very slow. Fast strips or a constant fast retrieve has not worked for me. Here's what has:
1. Two or three short strips and then a pause. It is often on the pause when the rainbows strike. One time when I watched a rainbow follow this fly, that is exactly what happened. When I paused, the fly begin to sink and as it did, the trout tried to eat it.
2. A very slow "figure of 8" retrieve. Using your fingers to retrieve the line in such a way that the line is in the shape of a bunch of figure 8's, so the retrieve is constant. But slow.
Hook: Size 8 nymph hook - I've been using Dai-Riki #075 because I have lots of them.
Thread: Black UNI
Body: Lt. Olive (Or Chartreuse) Master Bright fibers under Rabbit strip.
Weight: I have weighted the flies with several turns of lead wire.
Tying The Fly:
1. Begin wrapping the thread down the shank of the hook.
2. Wrap lead wire over shank if weight is desired.
3. Tie in black Rabbit Strip about the length of the shank of the hook, at the bend.
4. Tie in Master Bright fibers under the rabbit strip.
5. Wind thread forward toward eye of hook.
6. Wrap the Master Bright fibers up the shank towards the eye of the hook.
7. Leaving enough space to tie down and secure the rabbit strip, secure the Master Bright.
8. Tie down the rabbit strip towards the hook eye. Trim any excess.
9. Form a head with the thread.
10. Whip finish
11. Head cement.