The Cottontail Usual

I've told this story before and described this fly to some of the chapter members. It is now time to reveal to the membership this very important "fish grabber"

This fly should not be confused with the "Usual", which is a fly pattern most all of us know.

It must be over three years ago when I was fishing Piano Pool at Resica Falls in Pennsylvania. There were two of us fishing this pool, myself in the middle of the pool and one other fisherman above me. We were both catching fish; however, this gentleman was getting two or three to my one. After a while, I did what every other fly fisherman has done in the past. I asked him what he was using. He told me that it was a fly I had never heard of before. So, having piqued my interest, we both waded toward shore where he kindly gave me a couple of these flies and described how he tied them.

I have since used this fly with a great deal of success both on the Beaverkill and in Pennsylvania. It seems to work best on new fish for approximately the first two months of the season, that is, until the trout get very sophisticated. It may continue to work well; however, I did not go to the fly as often in mid-to late-season.

This article deals not only with the pattern, but also the way it should be fished.

First of all, the pattern

Hook: 94840 - #12, #14, #16
Thread: 6/0 Olive
Tail:Clump of guard hairs from a natural cottontail skin (tied short).
Post: Larger clump of cottontail guard hairs
Body: Mix of Hare Line hares ear dubbing with guard hairs and underfur from cottontail skin.

Note: To make the body a little more "spiky", I sometimes add tan guard hairs from a domestic rabbit face.

Note: The body should not be dubbed loosely. Add enough of the underfur to your dubbing mix so that it serves as a binder for the guard hairs. Tie in the tail first. Bring thread forward and tie in post. Leave post tips, for the moment, laying across top of hook eye. Bring thread back to where tail is tied to hook and dub a tapered body forward to where post is tied in. Leave a one-turn gap between end of body and base of post. Now, lift post hairs upright and bring thread forward to front of post. Lean post rearward and wrap thread into base (If this were feathers, we would call this the crimp area.) until you have a cone of thread sufficient to keep the post from leaning forward over the eye in the future. This is also why we left a gap between body and base of post -- to aid in leaning post hairs backward at a 30° angle.

It is at this point that the post (for want of a better name) becomes a compara dun wing. Pull gently downward at the sides until the leading edges are even with the body. If you have done your preparation correctly, the wing should be slightly cupped. Add just a little dubbing in front and whip finish.

Now, to the fishing part -- treat only once with fly floatant. Fish as a dry fly. Toward the end of your cast, pull your fly under the water and strip retrieve. The fly will come back two to three inches below the surface. You will be surprised at the strong hits you get at this stage of presentation.

A long article for a simple fly. I hope you try this one and find it worthy.

Walt Punke