Tips/Tactics Troutbitten Fly Box

Troutbitten Fly Box — The Bunny Bullet Sculpin

on
June 13, 2018

In a world of oversized, articulated streamers drenched in flash and draped with rubber legs, the Bunny Bullet is naturally sized and tied on a single hook — with just a little disco.

If the average modern streamer is an exotic dancer, then the Bunny Bullet is a stay-at-home Mom who gets shit done.

It’s olive. It looks exactly like something trout love, and it’s designed to look vulnerable. (It seems like an easy meal.) The cut points of the deer hair head provide the angler visibility from above, it fishes well with or without split shot, and it looks good stripped or drifted.

We’re on a mission from God.

There’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark out, and we’re wearing sunglasses.
— Elwood Blues

Hit it!

Be sure to choose HD 1080p for best quality on the video above.

Bunny Bullet Recipe

Hook: Daiichi 2461, #4 (or similar)

Bead (optional): 4mm tungsten black nickel

Lead: about 10 wraps of .025” lead over the back half of the shank

Thread: Olive Danville Flat “A” (210 denier thread) to cover the lead, Olive Uni-Thread 8/0 for the back half of the fly, and Veevus GSP (50D) for the deer hair head.

Body: Hareline Dubbin Olive (HD11)

Rib: 5x tippet

Disco: Black Krystal Flash

Tail: Olive Magnum Rabbit Strip (trimmed to a triangle)

Gills: Hareline Dubbin Red (HD20)

Collar and Head: Olive Deer Body Hair (cleaned and stacked)

Links to individual materials are above (in orange).
You can also purchase a materials kit for tying the Bunny Bullet Sculpin from TCO Fly Shop. The kit has enough materials for tying at least 12 streamers.

Link to the kit is HERE.

Belly of the Bunny Bullet

Hook

A Daiichi 2461 is the perfect choice for a single-hook streamer. I like it for the wide gap, black finish and straight eye.

I use a #4, but the same shank length is a #6 on most other streamer hooks. Importantly, the shank is 3 cm long, and the overall fly, from nose to tail, is about 6 cm (2.5 inches).

Because trout toy with streamers so much (since they swipe and turn, half-bite and spit our streamers) a super sharp point and a wide gap are especially important. The Daiichi 2461 has a gap that is extra wide, but not so much that it changes the weight or proportions of the fly. I also like the Aberdeen bend. Many popular streamer hooks (like the Gamakatsu B10s) have such aggressive hook bends that much of the shank is unusable — the bend of the hook takes over the fly. But the bend and gap on the 2461 is perfect.

I also like the black finish. Honestly, I’m not sure why we all use bronze finished flies anymore. Black is as stealthy as it can be. Why are we so accepting of flashy bronze hooks that add more shiny metal than a copper bead would?

Lastly, the straight eye lets the bead sit evenly on the hook (if one is used).

That’s a lot of love for my hook of choice. But it took a while to find my favorite, and I’m not looking back. Deviating much from the #4 Daiichi 2461 will change the fly.  The Tiemco 5263, #6 is a good substitute.

Bead

I add a tungsten black nickel bead to about half of my Bunny Bullets. For the other half, I simply tie the fly without one. I choose a bead rather than a cone for good reason. The bead allows the deer hair head to keep its mushroom shape, but a cone forces a taper into the head — and that’s no good. The 4 mm tungsten bead adds significant weight without changing the look or performance of the head.

Lead

I always wrap lead on the back half of the shank. I took this idea from the Chuck’s Sculpin a long time ago. Not only does the lead help get the fly down, it acts as a counterbalance and makes the fly teeter, (like a sculpin trying to find its bearings — yummy.)

This seesaw action is especially effective on versions without the tungsten bead. Split shot placed 4-8 inches in front of the fly constantly pulls the nose down when it’s allowed to sink, while the lead wraps bring the butt down as the head rises on a strip or jig. It’s a really great action.

Olive Hareline

No flash is necessary here. Just Olive Hareline dubbing looks a lot like the lighter underbelly of a sculpin when wet, and it provides good contrast to the rest of the fly.

Mono Rib

5X tippet gets the job done. Counter wrap the mono to hold the rabbit fur on a little longer, to protect the dubbing from big, sharp trout teeth.

Black Krystal Flash

One of my favorite materials for building flash into streamers, black Krystal Flash is subtle — but it’s there. It doesn’t add any extra motion to this fly, and that’s a good thing.

The Krystal Flash here serves to prop up the rabbit strip and keep it separate from the shank. That’s nice too.

Magnum Rabbit Strip

Here’s the motion. The rabbit strip brings the Bunny Bullet to life. It doesn’t need extra rubber legs or hackle to add motion. The rabbit strip undulates and breathes life into the fly. As I’ve argued before, our streamers do not need more motion than what a natural sculpin has. Just imitate the baitfish, and show the trout what they’re looking for.

Extend the strip so the fly is about 2.5 inches, from nose to tail. I taper the last quarter inch of the strip to a triangle. Keep the rabbit strip on top of the body and don’t let it roll to the side when you tie it in, or the streamer’s action will suffer on the retrieve.

A magnum sized strip is necessary. Thin pieces just don’t have enough fur to achieve the required motion.

Red Hareline

Why wouldn’t you? Red is a trigger for trout, signaling injury and life itself. You don’t need much. Just a short band behind the head finishes off the body of the Bunny Bullet.

Deer Hair Collar and Head

Deer hair heads on streamers will never go out of favor — because they catch fish. I’ve tried sculpin helmets and various materials to form a head on the Bunny Bullet, but nothing comes close to the production of deer hair for the head of this fly.

Importantly, the head should have a mushroom shape — not flat or triangular. There seem to be a few popular shapes for trimming deer hair heads. The Bunny Bullet doesn’t look right with any other shape. Look at a few sculpins in the palm of your hand. This is what they look like.

Tie in the collar with one clump of hair, then two other clumps for the head.

The head should not be dense. It doesn’t take much hair to form the profile. Just use what’s needed. Any more than necessary, and the head floats too much. The deer hair should not be packed tightly.

As a bonus, the angles at the tips of the cut deer hair reflect a little light and provide visibility to the fly. In shallower water, I often see the Bunny Bullet’s head. And for an olive fly, that’s an unexpected advantage.

Photo by Austin Dando

Justification

I have a lot of stories about the Bunny Bullet, and many of them are scattered here across the pages of Troutbitten. Without question, it’s the best streamer in my box. (A couple year ago, it caught a 25” wild brown trout that I named Honey Bunny.)

It’s a natural, perfect match for the sculpins that trout feast upon. It’s a convincing, easy meal (when it’s fished that way). But it’s also a great searching pattern for big water — go ahead and jerk-strip it off the banks like you would retrieve an articulated beast twice its size, and see what happens.

More than most streamers, trout commit to the Bunny Bullet. They don’t just chase it — they eat it.

That’s a Bunny Bullet

For the record, my neighbor, Mark, named the fly. It took its final form back in the summer of 2001, as I sat perched at the kitchen counter, tying flies for a trip to Montana with Dad. After work, Mark walked through the side door and passed behind me. And on his way to the fridge, he stared at the streamer in my vise.

“That looks like a bullet,” he said.

“It’s mostly rabbit fur,” I replied.

“Well then it’s a Bunny Bullet,” Mark said flatly . . . and he handed me a beer.

Fair enough.

Fish hard.

Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky
T R O U T B I T T E N
domenick@troutbitten.com

 

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Bruce

Real nice and relatively easy for an intermediate tyer. I enjoy your videos, too. There’s no tired old bullshit. Hey, I just want to know how to tie the fly. Who was singing and playing in the background. You knew someone would ask, ha!

Tyler

Thanks a lot for sharing! Always been interested in this one!

MikeZ

Any chance someone is willing to make some and sell these? Let me know!

Looks a lot like a Dahlberg Diver; am I correct? thanks

P.S. Your ‘stay at home mom’ analogy was fun!

Charley VanHusan

Great Sculpin, I cent wait to tie some up. How do you typically fish it- on a sink tip?

Mike M

Thank you for creating and sharing this awesome pattern! It really knocked em out today- drifted slow, stripped fast, upstream or downstream the big dogs couldn’t stay off it. Bravo

Domenick Swentosky
BELLEFONTE, PA

Hi. I'm a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

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