Thursday, September 16, 2021

Winchester’s Rip Rap
Double Deceiver + Sparkle Minnow + Bunny = YES.
By Ethan Winchester

My Rip Rap came to be after watching streamers continue to get larger every year. The problem with that increase in size is that going too big limits your opportunities. A trout is capable of eating something half its body size, and a large fly is indeed a significant meal for a 24-inch plus trout. But a 20-inch trout is much more likely to eat something in the two-to three-inch range. In other words, as flies get larger, the angler’s potential for a “trophy” trout increases slightly, but their opportunity for a “quality” trout of 16-to 20 inches decreases significantly.

I needed something that was a medium-sized item. But I also wanted it to grab a fish’s attention in northern Michigan’s smaller, pocket-water systems. Larger waters typically see more angling pressure, so drab colors are a good call because they more subtly imitate the natural food sources. When pressure is high, subtly is key. However, in smaller pocket water with limited ambush windows, getting the attention of fish is of utmost importance, and sometimes too much subtlety means that a fly swings past unnoticed. Since these pocket water fish are generally less pressured, they’re more likely to respond to the vibrancy of a brightly colored fly.

I also wanted a swim-fly rather than a jig-fly. Although jig-flies are great for getting deep in pocket water, I wanted something I could work in front of logjams without the dip and rise of a jig—something that would give me more time and space to tease a fish out. Coffey’s Sparkle Minnow is a productive fly in this type of water; however, since it is a single-hook fly, it lacks kick and has minimal inherent movement, other than its marabou portions. One day it occurred to me, by combining the flash concept of the Sparkle Minnow with a Double Deceiver profile, using Ripple Ice Fiber to gain both flash and movement, and deploying a rabbit strip for general meatiness, I could create the exact fly I was looking for, one that swam like a Double Deceiver, flashed like a Sparkle Minnow, and when it came to catching fish, had something all its own.

The Rip Rap can be fished from a boat or on foot. For boat anglers, the best rig is a fairly short, medium-to heavy-grain sink-tip, such as the Scientific Anglers Sonar Sink 25 Cold in 250 grain. A heavier grain can be used for heavier flows or larger rivers. A six-foot leader tapered down to a fluorocarbon tippet between 12 and16 pounds is preferred, although heavier tippet can be used where the opportunity for larger trout is present. That said, 16-pound seems to be the sweet spot—enough rope for larger fish, but enough suppleness to allow movement. When fishing on foot in smaller rivers, shorten the leader down to four feet. The Rip Rap can also be fished on an intermediate line in shallow rivers and lakes.

Recipe

Rear Hook: Gamakatsu B10S #6 (Do not substitute)
Front Hook: Gamakatsu B10S #4 (Do not substitute)
Thread: 140D to match color variation.
Tail: Barred rabbit strip
Body: Wapsi Palmer chenille
Wing: Ripple Ice Fiber
Connection: .018 Beadalon/RIO WireBite/equivalent
Beads: Hareline 3D Beads or Netcraft ProEye 3D Fishing Lure Beads, 6mm
Front of Connection: Barred rabbit strip
Body: Wapsi Palmer chenille
Collar: Mallard Flank dyed red
Wing: Ripple Ice Fiber
Head: Fish Mask #5 (This could also be tied in a weighted version with a matching Fish Skull head)
Eyes: Holographic Eyes 3/16” Super Pearl


Variations

Old School Rabbit

 

Rabbit Strip: Tiger barred olive/black over light olive
Palmer Chenille: Medium peacock
Beads: 3D Beads, green olive
Top Wing: Ripple Ice Fiber, olive
Bottom Wing: Ripple Ice Fiber Minnow mix

Fury Orange

 

Rabbit Strip: Black Barred Groovy Bunny strip, orange/yellow/white
Palmer Chenille: Medium orange
Beads: 3D Beads, orange
Top Wing: Ripple Ice Fiber, orange
Bottom Wing: Ripple Ice Fiber Minnow mix

Steps

Step 1: Form a thread base on the rear hook. Measure a piece of rabbit strip (using only the skin side as reference) against the length of the hook shank and tie it in above the hook point, leaving some available to tie over to the hook.

Step 2: Tie in the chenille and palmer it forward to a little behind the hook eye.

Step 3: Bring the remaining rabbit strip forward and tie it in over the top of the chenille.

Step 4: Invert the hook and securely fasten the tail.Grab some Ripple Ice Fiber (significantly less than you think). Finger stack the clump slightly to align fibers. Measure the back half of the stack to the end of the rabbit tail (fur side). Tie it in and bring the thread forward slightly.

Step 5: Fold the remaining RIF stack back on top of the hook ( similar to a bullet style head ) and make several solid wraps back to make sure the material lays flat. ( Tip: try pulling up on your tying thread to cinch the RIF down. This will make sure that the stack stays on top of the hook shank. )

Step 6: Repeat the process on the bottom part of the hook shank with the Minnow Mix RIF, this time with a slightly smaller amount of material.

Step 7: Fold the material again back over the top of itself. Whip finish and reinforce with glue.

Step 8: Now it’s time to trim. Holding the eye of the hook with the tail hanging down, trim the bottom RIF to extend just beyond the bottom side of the hook and palmer chenille. Then trim top wing on the sides and top to get any stragglers and create a taper.

Step 9: If your fly looks like this, you’re on the right track.

Step 10: Create a connection between the hooks with .018 Beadalon and two 3D beads. Tie the Beadalon in on the side of the shank in order to get the tail to ride correctly. Reverse the wire, make several strong wraps, and trim excess.

Step 11: Tie in a piece of rabbit strip and palmer one time. The trick here is to wrap the rabbit over itself to create extra bulk with creeping the materials forward on the hook shank.

Step 12: Tie in chenille and palmer forward to 1/3 back from hook eye.

Step 13: Take a medium-sized mallard flank dyed red and remove one side of fibers from the quill. Tie in and wrap forward a few times to create a collar.

Step 14: Take a stack of RIF slightly larger than the one used for the rear hook. This will form your top wing. Measure the fibers so that the top wing extends to the halfway point of the rear wing to fully cover the gap between hooks.

Step 15: Fold the fibers back just as on the rear hook.

Step 16: Tie in the bottom wing the same way as with the rear hook.

Step 17: Fold over, tie off and trim just as you did before.

Step 18: Glue on the head. For the standard version use a Fish Mask #5. Or use a Fish Skull for a heavier offering.

Step 19: Glue on Super Pearl eyes. The pearl eyes will help bring out the color of the fly.

Step 20: Time for a final trimming to get rid of straggling fibers and to create the desired taper.

Capt. Ethan Winchester
Capt. Ethan Winchester has been tying flies for 20-plus years and designing flies commercially since 2017. He has been a full-time outfitter and guide since 2009 and is currently the Director of Operations of Boyne Outfitters—northern Michigan’s premier fly-fishing outfitter. Winchester’s Rip Rap and other Winchester patterns are available exclusively through Catch Fly Fishing dealers.