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Red-Nosed Tarpon Bunny
Tarpon eat it for sure, but this gem of a pattern hunts hard in all water types and can be tied for pike, trout, bonefish and more.
By Arek Kubale

The classic Tarpon Bunny is one of the most effective big-fish flies to ever splash down on the flats. The rabbit fur fibers that comprise the bulk of the fly are delicate and soft, which means this tarpon treat has sinuous, snake-like action on the strip, and plenty of pulsing and breathing action on the pause. If this fly is in the water, it’s fishing.

While this family of flies is usually associated with Florida tarpon fishing, its effective range is far broader. Consider the Tarpon Bunny a generic prey-fish pattern, one that you can size up or down to get, say, a Pike Bunny, a Bonefish Bunny or even a Trout Bunny. Popular tarpon colors include tan, red, black, and purple and black, to name a few. As variations, some tiers replace the rabbit tail wing with saddle hackle, or swap out the wrapped rabbit collar for bucktail. While these modifications may result in flies that are easier to cast and slower to sink, neither have quite the same movement as those tied with rabbit. We recommend not substituting.

Tying Notes

Even though the Tarpon Bunny is a simple fly, it’s important to follow several rules while tying. First, remember that rabbit fur is potentially lumpy on the shank; it’s important to keep tie-in points clean and avoid trapping loose hair or excess hide with the thread. Further, the suppleness that gives this fly its uncanny movement also makes it prone to fouling. To avoid this risk, tie in a monofilament loop before the rabbit strip; this gives proper support under the rabbit. Lastly, consider adding some Super Glue after completing each step for extra strength and durability.

Recipe

Hook: Ahrex SA270 Bluewater 4/0
Thread: 3/0 red
Tail: brown bucktail and pearl Icewing fiber
Wing Support: clear mono (0,5 mm)
Wing: natural brown rabbit strip
Body: natural brown rabbit strip
Collar: black hen hackle
Head: 3/0 red thread
Eyes: 6 mm gold epoxy eyes
Glue: super glue and clear UV resin for added durability and protecting the head of the fly

Steps

Step 1: Secure the hook and attach the thread. Cover the hook shank with thread.

Step 2: Tie in a pinch of bucktail at the rear part of the hook shank. Trim excess and secure well.

Step 3: Add some flash over the bucktail.

Step 4: Tie in the mono to create the supporting loop.

Step 5: Add the rabbit strip on top of the hook shank and secure with thread.

Step 6: Use a needle to make a hole in the rabbit strip skin.

Step 7: Pull the mono through the hole, tie in and secure.

Step 8: Tie in the second rabbit fur strip to form the fly’s body. Wrap the strip around the shank with tight, touching wraps.

Step 9: Add the hen hackle in front of the rabbit fur body. Continue building up the head with thread.

Step 10: Whip finish and epoxy eyes on both sides.

Step 11: Cover the eyes and the head with clear UV resin.

Tied by Agnieszka Kubale
Text and photos by Arek Kubale

Agnieszka and Arek Kubale
Married couple Agnieszka and Arek Kubale own and operate Tuhola, a fly-tying company that supplies anglers across Europe with a wide range of flies–from trout and grayling patterns to saltwater offerings. Agnieszka is renown for her UV resin scud patterns and clean tying technique. Arek is an outdoor photographer and co-editor of the Polish flyfishing magazine Sztuka Łowienia. They live on the Baltic coast in the small fishing village of Junoszyno, Poland. See more of their patterns at tuhola.net.