The “Bittern” or Matuku as its known in the native New Zealand language of Maori was the source of material used for the wing of this now internationally famous pattern.
The Matuku style streamer like its name, originated from New Zealand and unlike traditional feather wing streamers, where the wing is allowed to flow freely over the hook shank, the wing on the Matuku is attached to the body with each turn of the rib. After a protection order was placed on the remaining and quickly diminishing numbers of these large elegant waders, along with a total ban on the use of their plumage encouraged hardy followers of the pattern to quickly source a replacement. Initially the search was made to find a substitute, one that would look and behave as much like the original as possible and the result was the soft hen pheasant flank feathers.
The dimensions of this pattern can be played with and adjusted to your own taste. You can use larger hackles and make the tail longer or use hen hackles and make the pattern shorter and rounder in the tail and higher in the wing as with the original. You can combine hackles to create a different colour effects, for example, tie in two large blue hackles as the centre of the wing and then two smaller green hackles one each side. The body doesn’t have to be tinsel, but can be made from chenille or any kind of dubbing. So use your imagination and create some nasty Matuku’s.
After the Matuku’s popularity spread, especially to Australia, Britain and the United States, where the original pattern and its name became subject to transliteration and Matuku became Matuka, a whole manner of new patterns using new materials saw the light of day and the original name gradually became a style of fly rather than the name of one.
The only real challenge with tying Matuka’s is wrapping the rib evenly and neatly through the wing hackle. I prefer to use the method illustrated here, by opening the hackle fibres from the rear of the wing with a short dubbing needle. I say a short dubbing needle because you can be much more precise with the placement of the point when the distance between your gripping position and the end of the needle is shorter. Another method is to thread the ribbing material through the eye of a needle and use this to place each wrap of the rib through the hackle. When using this method remember to hold each previous turn of rib in position with your left hand so it doesn’t lose tension.
As with the Zonker, the fur equivalent of the Matuka, it can be made in a vast combination of materials and colours to imitate just about any natural bait fish and attractor patterns. The one tied here is one of my own patterns that has proven excellent for sea run browns here in Northern Europe. This was the very first of my patterns that I tied with exotic materials, which have become to be known as “salt water classics”. Actually in the early days of the Matuka in the UK, a Matuka style pattern tied with Jungle Cock or other exotics where known as Imperials. The Imperial Matuka Tobis was designed to imitate a sand eel (Tobis) pattern for Autumn salt water sea trout on my local coastline, but sea trout and atlantic salmon in fresh water have also fallen for this Matuka style pattern.
Imperial Matuka Tobis
Hook: Mustad Limerick Streamer L87-3665A # 2-6
Wing: 2 Vulturine guineafowl hackles
Body: Flat gold tinsel
Rib: Medium copper wire
Throat hackle: Dyed Red hen hackle
Cheeks: Jungle cock eyes
1. Place your Streamer hook in the vice. Make sure that the hook shank is horizontal.
2. Attach the tying thread level to the hook barb ensuring that all the turns are close and tight so as not to give an uneven or over built foundation for the tinsel body.
3. Now tie in the copper wire. Again try and do this as neatly as possible so as not to build up unnecessary bulk under the tinsel.
4. In tight even turns run the tying thread over the whole hook shank until you reach a point a few mm behind the hook eye.
5. If you would like to achieve a extra fine tinsel body you can flatten the thread under-body down with a small piece of razor foam by gently rubbing this back and forth along the hook shank. This will “push” the fibres of each turn of tying thread closer and tighter together making them smooth…
6. Cut a length of flat tinsel long enough to cover the hook shank twice! Cut the end to be tied in at 45 degrees.
7. Tie the tinsel in a few mm behind the hook eye keeping your tying thread close to the eye.
8. Now keeping the turns of tinsel neat and tight wrap the tinsel back to the tail of the hook and forward again towards the hook eye, never releasing tension, and tie off. If you wish to make your tinsel body more robust, you can give the hook shank a fine coat of varnish before you start winding your tinsel.
9. Trim off the remaining tinsel and make one whip finish.
10. Select two vulturine guinea fowl hackles of the same size.
11. Place the hackles back to back and measure them along the hook shank so the area to be stripped will be accurate.
12. Prepare them as shown by carefully stripping off the required amount of fibres from the underside of each hackle. N.B.
13. Now carefully place the hackles back to back. I then like to flatten the stems at the tying in point using and old English hackle plier. This helps keep the hackles in the correct position when tied in.
14. Now position them carefully along the hook shank. When in position just a couple of mm behind the eye, make a couple of turns of thread just tight enough to allow any small adjustments in aligning the hackles before making three or four tight turns and a whip finish to secure them properly.
Leave enough surplus hackle shaft, so you can make some final adjustments by pushing, pulling or twisting these to get them absolutely right later.
15. You can now start winding on the rib.
16. With the use of a dubbing needle you can separate the hackles from the back of the vice with the needle as shown and then make one turn with the copper wire rib.
17. Repeat this procedure at even intervals until the whole fly is ribbed.
18. Before you remove the excess copper wire and hackle stem you can once again make some fine adjustments with your dubbing needle just by carefully pulling through and straightening any loose or trapped individual hackle fibres.
19. Select a good bright hen hackle for the throat.
20. Pull back the fibres at the desired position and hold.
21. Trim off the end as shown leaving only 2 or 3 mm.
22. Now trim each side of the hackle end as illustrated. This will give maximum anchorage when tied in.
23. Tie this in at 90 degrees from the hook shank as close to the wing as possible.
24. Now make a few turns of the hackle in a traditional style and tie off.
25. Now wet your thumb and index finger with a little spit and separate the hackle in the centre on top of the hook shank and comb the hackle downwards on each side of the hook. Hold it tightly in position for a few seconds.
26. Using a small piece of razor foam and a English hackle plier place as shown over the throat hackle for a couple of minutes. This will hold everything perfectly in place.
27. Remove the hackle pliers and foam and tie in the jungle cock eyes evenly balanced one each side of the wing.
28. Whip finish and varnish head.