SBS – How to tie the Pongola Zonker baitfish
This suggestive baitfish pattern (as tied by Rowan Black below) has a great action thanks to the Zonker strip and has proved very successful for us in the calmer waters of Pongola Dam. Tie it in a variety of colours and you’re good to go.
Hook: Gama B10S #2
Thread: 140D Danville’s
Tail: Zonker strip
Body: Zonker strip and Craft fur
Eyes: 5mm Brass eyes
1. Build a base
Create a thread base forming a groove to place your dumbbell eyes. Secure the eyes to the underside of the shank, use super glue and let it dry. It’s very important that the eyes don’t move as this can affect the way the fly swims.
2. Prepare the zonker strip
I find the best way to ensure the tail doesn’t wrap is by using 30lb hard mono. Burn the end to create a ball. Take a needle and make a hole about 3-4cm down the zonker strip.
We insert the mono and push the ‘ball’ to the hole. This will secure the strip to the shaft of the hook and this will prevent tail wraps.
3. Secure the zonker strip
Secure it to the shank of the hook, make sure the mono curves upwards. Secure with tight thread wraps and use a few drops of super glue – I like Zap a Gap or Loctite.
4. Rear profile
Take a small piece of zonker strip and cut off the leather, then either split thread or create a dubbing loop. I prefer to split thread this part… but it’s up to you.
They both effective. This will create a bit of bulk in the rear giving the fly a nice baitfish profile.
5. Spin a craft fur brush
Make a dubbing loop and secure some good quality craft fur in you dubbing clip. Take out the ‘fluff’ of the bottom section of the craft fur. Rub some wax or head cement on the thread to help hold the craft fur to the thread.
Spin the dubbing loop and brush out the trapped fur, the longer craft fur tends to catch in the thread quite a bit, so brush softly. (I find a nice soft paintbrush works perfectly).
Brush the fibres back as you move up the shank with each wrap. Wrap around the eyes, go around both sides of the dumbbell eyes.
Trim to shape and then whip finish. For tiger flies I’ll whip finish twice, those teeth often cut into the thread on the head.
* We normally tie this fly in a variety of colours Olive, Black, Tan and Grey. The addition of vertical bars (using a marker) adds to the suggestion of movement and works well Pongola.
I would also recommend tying a few flies with a 50lb weed guard for Pongola. There is some great structure in the dam now that the level has dropped, you need to get the fly as close to the structure as possible, a weed guard will be advantageous at times.
MORE: Learn more about the tigerfishing in Pongola Dam, here.