How to Tie a Conehead Bunny Leech
This is a Conehead Bunny Leech – a weighty streamer that’s quite easy to tie and has a ton of action underwater. It can be swung or stripped in for a more erratic motion.
For a hook, I’m going to use a Lightning Strike SN 1 in size 8. I pair this with a small gold cone. Insert the hook point into the small hole of the cone and bring the cone around and up behind the hook eye. Then get the assembly firmly secured in the jaws of your tying vise.
For weight and to help stabilize the cone, I’m going to use .02 lead-free round wire. While holding the bitter end of the wire, start taking touching wraps up the hook shank beginning at about its midpoint. After 8-10 turns, helicopter to break the wire off close. Move the wire wraps rearward so there’s space between them and the back edge of the cone. Get hold of some superglue, or here Fly Tyer’s Z-ment, and apply a light skim to the hook shank behind the cone. Quickly slide the wire wraps forward until they press the cone against the back edge of the hook eye. Hold everything there for a couple of seconds. This should set the adhesive, locking the cone in place. It will also allow you to tuck in that pesky little tag end of wire without all the wraps simply spinning around the hook shank.
For thread, I’ve loaded a bobbin with a spool of black UTC 140 Denier. Get your thread started on the hook shank at the back edge of the wire and take a few wraps rearward before snipping off the tag. Wrap forward and over the wire to the edge of the cone. Keep taking thread turns on top of the wire wraps to absolutely lock them down. Then, take wraps of tying thread rearward all the way to the start of the hook bend.
A single rabbit fur Zonker strip is used to create the rest of the fly. Here I’m using one that’s been dyed olive and has black barring. With the fur angled back, measure a segment of hide a full hook in length then separate the fur at that mark and snip the segment from the rest of the strip. Pinch an 1/8” or so of the rabbit fur off of the hide, leaving a short little tie-in spot. Place this on top of the hook shank above your tying thread and start taking wraps to lock it in place. Use a good bit of pressure as you wrap and don’t worry about bulk as any bulge will be covered up later.
For the next step, I like to use 2 “chip clips”. These are readily found in grocery as well as big box stores. Grip what’s left of the Zonker strip with one of the clips, in front of the hide. Pull the fur through the jaws of the clip but the hide will prevent the whole thing from pulling out. With all the fur pulled out as far as it will go, snip the remainder of the Zonker strip off close. Use a second, identical chip clip to get hold of the fur and expose the hide. Long bladed household scissors make snipping the hide off evenly much easier than using your short bladed tying scissors. Set the clip with the exposed butt ends of fur aside within easy reach for the next step. Also, remove the lid from some sticky dubbing wax and keep it at the ready.
Pull down on your bobbin to expose about 4” of tying thread and place a finger against it, then double the thread over to form a loop. Take a wrap or two around both legs of the loop and anchor it to the hook shank. Pick up the dubbing wax and apply a light skim to the back leg of the loop. Then get hold of the chip clip and insert the rabbit fur butt ends into the loop and quickly close the loop down. Insert a dubbing whirl into the bottom of the loop and remove the finger that was holding it open. If needed, carefully push and pull the rabbit fur between the two thread legs to even things up. Give your dubbing whirl a good clockwise spin which will in turn spin the fur into a bushy rope. Using plunger-style hackle pliers get hold of the thread, right beneath the fur. I like to take a couple of turns around the hook of the pliers to ensure the thread won’t pull out. You can then close the pliers and snip the excess thread and your dubbing whirl free. Doing this will make the next steps much easier.
Get hold of your bodkin and run it along the thread to pick out any fur that might’ve gotten trapped in the spinning process. Then use an old toothbrush to fluff the fur even more. Wet your fingers and fold the rabbit fur back so it points rearward. Advance your tying thread forward to the back edge of the cone. Start taking touching wraps forward, preening the fur back as you go. Save a good length of material for right behind the cone. You kind of want to pack it in to the cone’s hollow back. When you’re happy with the look, use tight turns of tying thread to anchor the thread loop that holds the rabbit fur, but don’t overdo it. Once it’s locked down, snip the excess off close. The idea here is to keep the number of thread wraps and whip finish turns to a minimum at the back edge of the cone as the exposed thread wraps tend to look a little funny. But my guess is the fish won’t care.
With the whip finish complete, snip or cut your tying thread free. A drop or two of head cement, here Sally Hansen Hard as Nails, applied to the thread wraps under the cone will help to ensure they don’t come unraveled. Once again, use that old toothbrush to fluff out and dress up the fly.
And that’s the Conehead Bunny Leech, ready to fish.