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Trout Food: Flesh Fly

Posted on January 22 2010

Simple but very effective. Photo: Matt Hynes
Simple but very effective. Photo: Matt Hynes

Last week we started our series on Alaskan trout foods with some information on salmon flesh.  Today we’re covering a simple, effective fly pattern that’s used to imitate salmon flesh – your basic ‘Flesh Fly’.

Our recipe and photos are courtesy of Matt Hynes, senior guide at Alaska West and recent addition to our management team at Andros South.  Matt’s tying is both creative and meticulous – as you’ll see below, for a pattern that’s sometimes known as ‘bunny fur on a hook’, there are some finer points that make the difference between a run-of-the-mill Flesh Fly and one that’ll do you proud.

Tying the Flesh Fly


Almost any non-stainless hook will do: I like Daichii 2220s and 1710s, sizes 2-10

Body and Tail

Non-crosscut stripped rabbit in white, tan, cream, or “dirty sock”


White or pink

Thread base.
Thread base.

Step 1: Thread base

I almost always put a thread base down first – 90% of the time. It helps prevent the materials from sliding and twisting around the hook shank.

Attach the rabbit.
Attach the rabbit.

Step 2: Attach the rabbit

Decide how long you would like the tail – on a size 6 hook I like about 1.5″. Too long and it will foul, too short and the fly won’t have much action.  IMPORTANT!!! Stroke back the rabbit hair to expose the skin as shown in pic #2, and tie the fur down at this point. The skin should wrap around the hook shank under the pressuse of 4-5 wraps.  I also don’t trim the thread just because it’s an extra step.

Wrap the rabbit.
Wrap the rabbit.

Step 3: Wrap the rabbit

Advance the thread almost to the hook eye. Stretch the rabbit a little and wrap it around the hook going away from you (clockwise), for a right-handed tier. The tighter you wrap it, the more sparse the profile, as wrapping the rabbit openly (with gaps) also will do. Doing this uses less skin, and thus less fur.

Finishing the fly
Finishing the fly.

Step 4: Finish

Tie off the rabbit a little back from the eye, trimming the strip on a slight angle. This will prevent excess build-up at the hook eye. Whip finish.


Tying Notes

  • You can’t get a nice tail with cross-cut rabbit. Tying in a tail is an extra step, and I tie 100+ dozen of these a year. If you want to get fancy, use a light pink or cream marabou, then wrap the rabbit strip.
  • Tying this on a small size 6-8 egg hook (Daichii x510 or TMC 105) can be deadly during the late trout season.
  • Taper your rabbit tail to a point, as seen in the last picture. It gives the fly better action. Don’t be lazy.
  • This fly is also great in olive, black, and white as sculpin, leech, and minnow imitators.

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