Lures From New Zealand: Part I
The Matuka/Matuku Style

Flies With a Story



Flies With a Story #69

Other readings:
 Lures From New Zealand: An Introduction

Lures From New Zealand: Part II
Lures From New Zealand: Part III
Lures From New Zealand: Part IV

The Matuka/Matuku Style, story and flies by John Nicholls, New Zealand

New Zealand is probably best known for the Matuku style of lures that are named after a local bittern, the Matuku which the first fly of the genre was tied from.  Kiwi feathers were also used.  However, as time went by the Kiwi and Matuku became endangered birds and the use of their feathers is now banned.  Somehow over the years, the name has been changed to "Matuka".  Even New Zealanders often refer to the style by this name, however the original was "Matuku" and thus the style should remain thus named.  Other winging materials include rabbit strip and split turkey or grouse tail quills.

Five patterns, recipes, pictures and history follow:

Hope's Silver -- A Canterbury lure designed to imitate a small smelt (Inanga-- pronounced "eenana") that ran into the coastal rivers of that province.  Also tied with a black wing and grizzle hackle (Hope's Dark) for night fishing and a red body (Hope's Red)l

Hope's Silver

Photo by Peter Frailey

Hook: Mustad 3666, size 2 to size 10
Thread: Black
Tail: Grizzly hackle fibers
Body: White wool or chenille
Rib: Silver oval tinsel
Lateral Line: Blue embroidery yarn
Wing: 2 sets of grizzle hackle
Overwing: Peacock sword
Hackle: Cream

Tiger Ross -- One of the "classic" icon New Zealand lures.  Also called "Taupo Tiger".  This was the first fly I caught a trout on and I still have that particular fly 30 years on.  Imitates a small smelt that swims in Lake Taupo.  Also tied with green, red, and silver body.  Because of its personal history for me, I have always like the yellow body.  The best effect is with a faded yellow colour.  I have a patch of foam on the dashboard of my car.  I put the completed flies in this foam and leave them there for around eight weeks.  The sun will fade out the flies nicely.  On Lake Taupo itself, commercial guides do the same in their boats, pinning the flies to some sunny spot in the wheel house.


Tiger Ross

 Photo by Peter Frailey

Hook: Mustad 3666, size 2 to size 10
Thread: Red
Tail: Red hackle fibers
Rib: Gold oval tinsel
Body: Yellow chenille
Wing: Two sets of Badger hackle
Hackle: Badger
Head: Red

Green Rabbit -- If I had one lure to fish with in the North Island, it would be an Orange Rabbit.  Imitates the smelt wonderfully and countless fish fall to it.  In the South Island,  the green body is favoured.  I used to poo-poo that until I moved here and discovered very quickly that South Island sea run browns prefer green body over any other colour. Another rabbit fly that works very well on 'bows for some strange reason is a Yellow Terror: An all-yellow fly but with red thread/head and red hackle fibre tail.  This style of Matuku lure is probably over 70 years old.

Green Rabbit

 Photo by Peter Frailey

Hook:  Mustad 3666, Size 1/0 to size 14
Tail: Red or orange hackle fibres
Body: Green seal fur, mohair, wool or chenille
Rib: Gold or silver oval tinsel
Wing: Natural gray rabbit fur strip
Collar: Pale blue dun (optional)

Olive Rabbit -- A modern version of the Rabbit Matuku.  Not shown here, but usually with yellow and black painted eyes in the front. You'll find the big sizes are very popular on the Rotorua Lakes , where they are hauled behind drifting boats.  A mate of mine uses a lumo green body after dark or during low light conditions and gets lots of fish.

Olive Rabbit

 Photo by Peter Frailey

Hook:  Mustad 3666, Size 2/0 to size 8
Thread: Black
Tail: Red sparse marabou
Body: Olive Estaz chenille
Rib: Gold or silver oval tinsel
Wing: Olive rabbit fur strip
Overwing: Green flashabou
Collar: Olive hen

John's Bully -- This is mine.  A work in progress for about 10 years.  This is about version 6.  Probably getting to the final version now. I also tie it in black and brown or combinations thereof.  I now tie them like this one, which is upside down.  The hook is pierced through the back of the rabbit strip.

John's Bully

 Photo by Peter Frailey

Hook:  Sizes 8 to 4, straight eye
Thread: Black
Eyes: Yellow/black dumbell
Tail: Olive dyed chickabou
Body: Olive green Estaz chenille
Rib: Gold oval tinsel
Gills: One turn red Estaz chenille
Wing: Olive rabbit fur strip
Hackle: Olive chickabou
Head: Olive chenille



 copyright Notice by All rights reserved. This material is for your personal enjoyment. Please obtain prior written permission from the author and before any other use.