Redneck Rabbit

by Steve May - September 1, 2007

The Redneck Rabbit was created a few years back when my good friend Ken Collins and I were discovering the joys of fishing from a Mackenzie style drift bait. To address the unique conditions we found while learning how to use this craft we found ourselves at the bench looking for a versatile pattern that we could fish a variety of ways effectively.

The struggles we were having involved the changing water types we encountered as we floated downstream. This cast was to a nice deep cut bank, the next was to a shallow shoal with some cover on it. A few more oar strokes downstream and we were looking at some other type of fish holding water. A fly was needed that could effectively fish deep or shallow, fast or slow and catch the attention of bass, browns or steelhead. It was a tall order for a single fly pattern.

With the Redneck Rabbit what we created was a fly that filled this “versatile performer” niche. As we were to discover over the next several seasons, this fly does some damage with a huge variety of fish on our local Ontario waters and when we travel around the continent. The more I use this fly the more confidence I gain in it. NOTE: Please note the side bar fly picture - this particular redneck hooked and landed a half dozen baby tarpon for a customer while in Cuba -- it was still working when he took this photo.

The key to this fly is that it can fish shallow or deep fast or slow and it can be effective with a wide variety of retrieves. It is packed with fish catching features and trigger mechanisms that make it difficult to fish ineffectively.

The hourglass eyes are a key element of this pattern. A set of prominent, painted eyes give the fly a jigging action, get it down to where the fish are and provide a natural target. When these eyes are tied on the top of the hook shank it flips the hook point up and out of the way of most snags allowing us to drag it slowly along the bottom without getting hung up easily.

Another element of the fly that attracts the attention of fish is the flashy polar chenille body. This material provides bulky to the fly without a lot of resistance to the pattern’s sink rate. Polar chenille has a glow and flash that can attract fish from a long way off. Realistically, the pattern can be tied with any chenille you want for the body. Patterns without flash may be desired in some situations, but, the polar chenille versions seem to be the only ones now occupying space in our fly boxes or on the end of our tippets over the past couple of years. Black and copper and olive over pearl combinations are favourites, but brown and orange or all purple rednecks are also good choices in many situations.

I have been a big fan of having some red incorporated into fly patterns designed for predatory fish. I know scientists say it doesn’t look red more than three feet down in the water, but files with red in them just seem to trigger an aggressive response for fish. For that reason a red collared throat has been used in the redneck rabbit. This collar may look like flared gills of a stressed baitfish or blood from an injury. It may just be providing a bit of contrast in the fly. I don’t know why, but I don’t argue with the results. The collar also helps provide some shoulders to the fly and gives it a nice shape and profile in the water.

Finally, the rabbit strip along the top of the fly breathes life into the pattern. Whether you are stripping the fly aggressively or letting it taunt a bass while it sits relatively motionless on the bottom, the rabbit strip wing makes this fly come to life. The ability of a zonker strip to move with the slightest current makes it a dynamite addition to any pattern, the redneck rabbit is included in this category. Sometimes for even more action a few rubber legs can be added just behind the collar to give this fly even more action.

The redneck rabbit has a permanent home in my fly boxes when I am out in the boat or wading for bass, browns or steelhead. It resists getting snagged on the bottom, can be fished at a variety of speeds and simply helps me fool more fish. Try this pattern out on your local waters and feel free to use your favourite color combination and I am sure you won’t be disappointed.

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