Zonker yabby / crayfish


I designed this fly in 2002 and when the yabbies are on the move it’s one of my go to flies. My original notes on this fly are set out below.

“In lakes like Jindabyne and Eucumbene you seldom catch a trout with a full stomach when the contents doesn’t include yabbies.

Over the years I have experimented with various Yabby Patterns and whilst some have looked great unfortunately they have all been “dogs” to fish or more correctly to cast. Generally rather than using them I have reverted to fishing a weighted woolly bugger instead. Well all that has now changed and I now have a Yabby in my fly box that I have confidence in.”

Since 2002 there have been a few new products that have hit the market that I have substituted into the recipe for this fly making it even better than the original.

In the neutral weighted form this yabby works well as a polaroiding fly and in that case is best fished on a floating line with a leader of at least 14 feet. If the bottom is sand allow the fly to settle in the path of patrolling fish and if not noticed just give it the slightest twitch. If if the bottom is weedy or rocky rather than letting the fly settle twitch it along as slow and close to the bottom structure as possible.

The weighted form can be fished on a range of lines from floating right down to full sink lines and can be fished alone or as the point fly in a team of flies. Best retrieve is generally a jerky figure of 8 retrieve or a stripping action with plenty of pauses in the retrieve.

This is a fly that lens itself to a little enhancement with a black or dark olive permanent marker.


Hook Thread Weight Sieves Head, thorax and body Eyes Claws Ribbing Back
Size 6 Knapek Streamer hook Olive Lead wire Black Marabou Siman peacock dubbing in 06 blue Melted monofilament eyes Zonker strip prepared as set out below Medium copper wire Zonker strip prepared as set out below
Zonker strip claws and back profile – cut from a length of Zonker strip with the fur stripped off. I generally use zonker that I have previously stripped the fur off when tying my bag flies.



  1. Starting at the eye wind the thread half way down the hook shank.
  2. I like to add weight to all my yabby flies because, guess what, yabbies are bottom dwellers. Foe what I call “neutral weighted” yabbies I tie in 5 wraps of 0.015 lead wire. This is enough just to ensure that the fly has neutral buoyancy. I also tie heavier yabbies with 5 wraps of 0.020 lead wire. These sink at about 5 inches per second and are ideal for loch style fly fishing.
  3. Continue winding the thread to the bend of the hook.
  4. Tie in a marabou tail about twice as long as the gape of the hook.

  1. Load your thread up with dubbing and tie in a ball of dubbing to represent the head of the yabby.

  1. Prepare a set of monofiliment eyes for the fly. I like the eyeballs to be a distance equal to twice the gape of the hook apart.
  2. Directly behind the dubbed head of the fly tie in the monofiliment eyes on top of the hook shank.

  1. Select one of your pre-prepared yabby claws and tie that in along the front side of the hook shank in the space between where the lead wire and the monofiliment eyes were tied in making sure that the surface of the zonker strip that has had the fur trimmed off is facing inward.

  1. Repeat that process this time tying in your second pre-prepared yabby claw along the away side of the hook shank in the space between where the lead wire and the monofiliment eyes were tied in making sure that the surface of the zonker strip that has had the fur trimmed off is facing inward.
  2. Tie a length of medium copper wire along the top of the hook shank.

  1. Dub on a cone shaped body along the rear half of the fly.

  1. Carefully place a few drops of glue along the top of the dubbed body and on top of the head of the fly. I like to use Gorilla rubber toughened super glue … if your using super glue use it sparingly and make sure it is only in the area directly below where the body will be places.
  2. Select your pre-prepared yabby body back and carefully position it along the top of the fly with the V tip of the yabby body back directly over the back of the bend of the hook.
  3. Whilst holding the yabby body back in place with one hand pick up the copper wire with the other and wind the coper wire back to the eye of the hook forming 5 or 6 distinct body segments.
  4. Lift the tail of the yabby back up and take two turns of the wire around the hook shank directly behind the eye of the hook.
  5. Worry off the excess wire and whip finish the thread behind the eye of the hook.
  6. Trim away the thread, place a drop of varnish on the whip finish … job done.
  7. Use a bit of Velcro to fuzzel out some of the dubbing fibres to give the impression of your yabby having legs.

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