The ‘natural’ look

I’m writing this post because 1) it links up with two previous posts (which is also relevant while celebrating South African Fishing Flies); 2) I seem to forget about flies over five year periods (believe it or not) and would like to keep track of them on this database, and 3) it is part of a summary of my current favourite flies and the fishes I catch with them, which I’m happy to share with readers. So the first fly is actually one of those I’ve forgotten about and recently saw in my streamer fly box when preparing for a Cederberg trip. Since the trip and besides catching very nice Clanwilliam yellowfish on it over the years, I’ve also recently used it to catch largemouth bass, bluegills and blue kurper (Oreochromis mossambicus, aka Mozambique tilapia) and I realized just how well it actually works for catching freshwater fishes.

It is not a unique pattern, but it is a ‘staatmaker’ Woolly Bugger with a body resembling that of the Zak nymph. Mostly natural materials (except for a crystal flash strand) are used in it as I tied this fly for New Zealand lake fishing and people warned me before that trip that the trout in spring fed lakes preferred the natural look over bright, fluorescent or flashy flies.

I had shots with different flies at a brown trout on three trips to this NZ lake before the fish finally ate the natural, Zak Woolly Bugger on the last outing. Clearly not your average brown or fly.

The fly did well in catching large browns patrolling their stillwater territories and since then it’s become one of my favourite sight fishing flies. Also, Clanwilliam yellowfish roaming clear pools in a similar way to big browns like this fly. Other fishes I’ve caught on it include big sawfin, smallmouth yellowfish, smallmouth bass, spotted bass and sharptooth catfish.

The Zak Woolly Bugger is a fly I’d pick above others to try catch Clanwilliam yellowfish hunting near the surface in clear water.

I tie it without any beads or lead wire and fish it slowly with fairly long pauses; the fish usually suck the suspending fly in on a pause between strips. I’m sure it will also work with black or hot orange beads fished blind in the deeper parts of dams and pools and I will obviously experiment with that as well. Here’s a pictorial sbs of the fly:

1. Most #6 long shank hooks will work fine for this fly, but I prefer the Gamakatsu B10S #6 for small streamers.
2. I like using red thread for this fly as I believe it adds a subtle trigger for fish to eat it.
3. It took me a while to find the ideal feathers for the tail of this fly; I’ve settled on using the ‘marabou’ sections of peacock chest feathers.
4. Cover the hook shank with thread and tie in a sparse natural tail above the bend of the hook.
5. Tie in three stripped and three normal peacock herl fibres.
6. Add a thin strand of crystal flash…
7. Pick a natural hackle that matches the colour of the tail and tie it in with the shiny side facing you.
8. Shape a uniform body with the thread.
9. Twist the peacock herl, crystal flash and thread into a noodle…
10. And wrap the noodle towards the hook eye to form the Zak body.
11. Palmer the hackle and tie off.

Related posts:

Book review – South African Fishing Flies by Peter Brigg and Ed Herbst

The Dam Slam

Tom’s net – Tying ZAKs

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