Double Bunny
Flies With a Story

A Fitting End to a Tough Season

Fly Tied By: Loren Williams
Story By:
Home: Port Byron, NY
Web site:
Loren has been fly-fishing since he was a child--over 25 years ago.  Not long after picking up a fly rod he began to dabble at the vise.  Since those early years in northeastern Pennsylvania he has developed insane passions for both.  He now resides in Upstate NY, where he guides sports to salmon, trout and steelhead, and ties flies for commercial and custom clients.

I am, admittedly, a trout enthusiast. I am most at home on a small stream, toting my 5-weight, seeking the grace and solitude offered amidst the gurgling and babbling of my favorite wild trout streams. My blood pumps just a bit more fervently as my soul soaks in the warmth, and my eyes strain to decipher the current state of affairs as it relates to where, and on what, the trout are feeding. But come September in Upstate New York, a new game comes to town.

From the ninth month of the year until April I assume the role of a steelhead addict. I don my guide badge and revel in the joys of assisting new, and veteran, anglers as they do battle with some very large and powerful fish on very light and limiting tackle. Since I do not guide full-time, I am able to spend enough time on the water as an angler to enjoy these creatures one-on-one.

After a late March trek to Central Pennsylvania to seek out the BWO hatch on Centre County’s fabled Spring Creek with some close friends I returned to my Upstate home eager to check the status of my favorite Lake Ontario Tributaries. I was met with a deluge of rain while in Pennsylvania that brought the local streams out of their banks for the first time in years, and I was anticipating the same for my local streams. Yet I had to check. It was the first week of April 2002 and the season’s meager steelhead run was coming to an end. I needed one last fix.

Located near my home is a small, unassuming tributary. One of the few remaining tribs that get good runs without the crowds steelheaders have grown used to. As I parked my vehicle streamside I was pleased to see the flow, while not normal, very fishable. The off-color conditions were not ideal but it appeared worth the effort. With my 8-weight strung I was off on what would be a radical 5-days of fishing.

What I found in those 5 mornings are what memories are made of. Fish after glorious fish fell victim to my tiny egg patterns. A pleasant mix of hungry, yet somewhat tired drop-backs and chrome-bright, violent fighting "freshies" kept my senses at full. Over 50 fish came to the bank for me in those 5 days. But one individual has been imprinted in my memory.

As the days progressed and the waters cleared and receded, the numbers of fish dwindled. Gone were the good numbers of fresh fish, as they bedded, spawned and dropped back to the lake a short few miles downstream. Suckers began to invade the stream as they too began their spring spawning ritual. Suckers, for me, mean a switch from egg patterns to streamers. Nothing against suckers, but I was after the season’s last steelhead. Suckers were "suckers" for my high-sticked eggs, and the current population of "droppies" were hungry as they trekked downstream. Streamers appeal to them very nicely. I was armed.

The last morning was pleasant. Warm air and warming waters were starting to show life. Huge pods of suckers were visible in the pools that, only a few weeks ago, were staging grounds for spawning steelies. The pockets and riffs that had been producing fish after fish were now growing barren. I had taken a few tired old bucks and was contemplating ending the season. No new bookings and the thought of rising trout were prominent factors in that contemplation.

I wanted to probe one last smallish glide that was a perfect denizen for the few remaining steelhead. With no one, besides me, on this stream in the last 5 mornings I was confident that I could land one last fish.

The first drift through the run was met with a dead-stop midstream. "Hooked up!" I yelled to myself. Yet another fine droppie was brought bankside and released. Twice more this occurred—with no wasted casts between. All three of these fish were spent males. Tired from the spring’s events they made some nice runs but failed to leap. I figured that by fish #3 I had exhausted this run; but a few more probing drifts were in order.

Checking the 6-lb. fluorocarbon tippet for abrasions and honing the hook on my size 4 White Doublebunny seemed tedious. Maybe I was procrastinating ending this season. It had been a tough season. Low water had minimized the runs in the small tributaries that I prefer. Every high water event provided a few good days of fishing—but nothing long-lasting. The natives had been restless most of the season. Still, it had been a good season. The fish were around, but we had to work harder for them. From a 38-pound Chinook to a client’s first ever steelhead, many memories had been made. As I made the last casts of this season my mind pondered the events of the last seven months.

Then, on one magical drift my line stopped. Not a subtle, questionable stop, but a heart-pounding, solid "BAM." I was hooked up yet again. But this fish was different. In a flash of silver my target raced downstream at a rate beyond reason. With rod held high I watched as the backing peeled off my Harris Solitude. As a last resort, I pinched down on the line and dropped my rod tip low and to the side. The fish reacted by going airborne. Leaps, tailwalks and more screaming runs ensued. Over all the fuss I heard myself laughing. What an ensemble of noise!

Somehow, I found myself counting the leaps. One, five, twelve…twenty-five leaps later I slid the fish to the bank. I was dust…but this fish shone brighter than the July sun. Not a sliver of color was to be found on the sleek 6-pound hen. As I rolled her over to expose her left side I found the mark I suspected—a left pectoral fin clip. This is the mark of the Skamania Steelhead, a summer-run variety. They are known for their acrobatics—and she did not disappoint me.

As I unhooked her and slid her back into the water I offered a word of thanks. I stood, unstrung my rod and walked back to the car. My season was done. A fine fish—a fitting end to a tough season.

--Loren Williams

Front-lit image

Back-lit image

Hook: Mustad 80400 #4 (This hook is no longer in production but your favorite 3XL-4XL streamer hook will be just fine. I prefer straight-eye hooks for my streamers to eliminate "beaks")
Thread: 6/0 Danville, white
Weight:  .30 lead wire wrapped over middle 2/3 of shank and coated heavily with thread, tapering the ends
Body: Pearl Diamonbraid wrapped over the lead wire
Dorsal and Ventral Wings: White Zonker Strips
Accent Flash: 4-5 strands of pearl Flashabou cut to irregular lengths
Eyes: Prismatic Stick-On
Head: 2 coats 5-minute epoxy

Note: Specific instructions for this recipe are listed below, after "The Story"

Fly Tying Instructions:

  1. Mount hook and wrap lead wire around middle 2/3 of hook.
  2. Cover wire with thread—being sure to taper off the front and rear ends.
  3. Attach strip of Diamondbraid behind eye and bind with thread to rear. Advance thread to a point just behind the rear edge of the Daimonbraid (on hook shank only).
  4. Cut an appropriate length of white Zonker strip. Separate the fur so that the hide only is exposed—leaving about 1 hook gape excess for the tail. Secure the strip to the top of the hook shank just behind the Diamondbraid with 4-5 very tight wraps of thread.
  5. Advance thread to the front of the hook. Wrap the Diamondbraid forward using tight close wraps. Secure at front and clip excess.
  6. Pull the remaining Zonker strip forward—pulling tightly. Secure with thread. Zonker strips compress very well so in order to build a fuller head, do not be afraid to trap a bunch of fur during the tie-down process.
  7. Turn the hook over in the vise—be sure to leave much of the hook point exposed.
  8. Cut another appropriate length of white Zonker Strip. Poke the hook through hide side of the strip, leaving enough to the rear to match the upper tail. Slide the hide around the bend so it meets the upper strip. Pull the excess forward tightly and secure at the front in the same location as the dorsal strip.
  9. Attach 4-5 strips of pearl Flashabou on each side of the fly at the front. Clip each piece to a different length.
  10. Build a broad tapered head and attach stick-on eyes where the fur, thread and Flashabou meet.
  11. Coat head with 2 applications of 5-minute epoxy. You may place a drop of epoxy (or waterproof contact cement) between the tail sections to hold them together, but this is optional, as the sections should be short enough that they do not foul on the hook bend. Keeping them short also reduces short-striking.


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