Zonker Leech


The Zonker Leech is an easy-to-tie effective fly. In small sizes, it may represent a swimming mayfly nymph;  in medium sizes, a leech and in larger sizes, a baitfish. No matter what sizes you tie, it looks like food to the fish.

Tying the Zonker Leech is straightforward. However, I do include one little trick to prevent the tail from fouling the bend of the hook.

First, place the hook in the tying vice. I am using a size 8 SN1 Lightning Strike hook. This is a 2XH and 2XL hook. Be sure the hook shank is horizontal.

Hook In Vice

Add 10 to 15 wraps of .025 diameter lead wire for weight. The added weight makes the fly easier to sink. Without it, the fly will float until the zonker strip becomes saturated with water. You can hasten this process by pulling the fly underwater.

Hook With Lead Wire

Attach the tying thread at the front of the hook and wrap back and forth over the lead to secure the lead to the hook shank. Once done, you may use super glue to fix the lead to the thread and shank if desired. I used 8-0 thread, but 6-0 might work better.

Lead Secured To Hook

I add a foam strip to support the tail in this next step. This keeps the tail from fouling, preventing the normal action of the fly in the water. Use a thin strip of foam, I used 2mm foam, about as wide as the skin on the zonker strip.

Comparing Thickness Of Foam

Attach the foam to the shank of the hook. It should extend to the bend of the hook. Pull the foam over the shank and bind it tightly to the shank. Use a lot of wraps to compress the foam reducing its volume and floating ability. This also adds bulk to the body of the fly.

Foam Attached to Fly

Measure the zonker strip next to the hook shank. Make the tail as long as the shank of the hook. Use a bodkin to separate the fur fibers at the tie-in point and tie in. Take two wraps over the strip and two turns in front of it to lock it in.

Zonker Tied In

Attach four peacock herl in front of the zonker strip. Twist the herl around the tying thread and wrap it just behind the eye of the hook tie off. Do not crowd the eye of the hook.

Peacock Herl Attached

Peacock Wrapped


See also  Killer Bug

Pull the zonker strip over the body and tie it off at the eye. Leave sufficient room to complete a neat head. Use the bodkin the clear the fur from the tie-in point.

Zonker Tied In

The Finished fly.

As the last step, place a drop of super glue on the foam and press the foam and zonker together. I am looking forward to fishing this on the Spring River at Cold Springs Access this spring.

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