River Rabbit

The River Rabbit, designed by Martin Bawden, is one of various zonker “style” flies that can potentially be tied using the Fish-Skull®.

An advantage of the River Rabbit™ is that it can be fished low and slow. The Fish-Skull® provides weight to keep the fly on the bottom and the “hook up” position reduces the chances of snagging as you work the fly through cover. With a slightly shorter tail, it can be a good schulpin or crawfish imitation. Alternatively, strip it faster and it can be mistaken for a fleeing baitfish. Try different color combinations and have fun!

River Rabbit

River Rabbit


Hook                           TMC 9395 # 2 streamer hook (or similar)

Fish-Skull®                 Medium size, Dark Grey

Thread                         Brown

Tail                               Rabbit zonker strip, natural rabbit color

Body                            Cross-cut rabbit zonker strip, natural rabbit color

Flash                            Crystal flash (or your favorite flash material)

Step 1: Put the hook in the vise in the hook up position as shown. Attach your thread and layer the entire shank of the hook.

Step 1

Step 1.

Step 2: Attach the zonker strip tail.

Calculate how long you want to make your tail. In this example, the tail is only one hook length long, but this is often tied much longer.


Measure the length of the tail.

Push the hook through

Push the hook through.

Tie the zonker strip down very firmly with some strong thread wraps. (Note: I suggest you tie the zonker down further down the shank than I have done in this photo. Just past the hook tip would be better.)


Tie in the zonker strip.

Flash: At this stage, you have the option to add a few strands of crystal flash (or similar material) to the tail. I haven’t done so in this example, but it is typically a good idea to add a little). Your choice.

Step 3: Wrap the body.

Tie in the tip of a cross-cut zonker strip. Make sure this is tied in really well to make the fly as durable as possible.

Wrap the zonker strip forward with tight wraps to form the body. As you make your wraps, keep brushing the rabbit fur backwards to form a neat, even finish. Tie off the zonker strip slightly behind the eye of the hook.

Tie in the cross-cut rabbit strip

Tie in the cross-cut rabbit strip.

Wrap a tight body and tie off

Wrap a tight body and tie off.

Step 4: Attach the Fish-Skull®.


Super-glue the thread wraps (top, bottom and sides).

Super glue the thread wraps and fit the Fish-Skull.

Fit the Fish-Skull® and position in place.


You will have a minute or so to make final adjustments to your materials before the glue dries.

Step 5: Add the 3D Fish Eyes.


Add a very small spot of super glue to the middle of the eye sockets. Stick on the eyes.

Step 6: Tie a small “thread dam”.

Re-attach your tying thread in front of the Fish-Skull and tie a small “thread dam” to secure the head firmly in place.


Tie a “thread dam” between the Fish-Skull® and the eye of the hook.


The completed fly.