Cottus Gobi sculpin streamer tied by Barry Ord Clarke

Cottus Gobio sculpin streamer

The original zonker pattern was tied by the American fly tyer Dan Byford in the 1970s and was quickly recognized the world over, as a big fish fly and extremely easy to tie, yet a realistic imitation for most smaller bait fish. The original pattern used a lead or tin sheet that was folded and glued over the hook shank and then cut to shape to make the underbody.   The flexibility of the Zonker as a bait fish imitation pattern is only limited to your own imagination. There are a huge amount of rabbit fur strip materials on the market in just about every colour imaginable, not to mention fox, squirrel, mink etc, the combination possibilities are endless. Another advantage with the zonker, unlike buck tail and feather wing streamers, is that it is an extremely robust pattern. If tied correctly the fly will normally outlive the hook, although the eyes are somewhat vulnerable to the small sharp teeth of trout. This can be improved by attaching the eyes with super glue and coating them with Bug Bond or head cement.

When fishing this pattern or any long tailed streamers in general for that matter. Many fly fishermen are of the thought, that when fishing a long tailed streamer the fish tend to “Nap” at the tail and won´t take the fly properly! This can be the case for smaller trout but generally speaking a large trout will take this pattern hard and fast. If you do experience napping at the tail when fishing, stop the retrieve dead, and let the fly sink a little for two or three seconds, nine times out of ten the attacking fish will pick it up on the drop.

Cottus Gobio sculpin pattern recipe

  • Hook: Mustad R74 # 2
  • Thread: Dyneema
  • Tail: Siberian squirrel tail hair
  • Body : Squirrel tron dark hares ear dubbing
  • Rib: Fine copper wire
  • Wing: Pine squirrel zonker strip
  • Collar: Natural red fox body hair spun in dubbing loop
  • Gill covers: 2 Ring neck pheasant “church window” feathers coated with Bug Bond
  • Head: Natural kangaroo body hair spun in dubbing loop and clipped to shape
  • Eyes : Epoxy eyes

Cottus Gobio sculpin step by step

1Secure your Mustad R 74 # 2 hook horizontal in the vice.
Secure your Mustad R 74 # 2 hook horizontal in the vice.

Cut a good bunch of Siberian squirrel tail with clear markings. Stack the hair and tie in for the tail. The tail should be approximately the same length as the hook shank. If you would like to add weight to your fly, this is the time to do it.

Now tie in a length of medium copper wire, at the tail base for the rib.
Dubb your tying thread with dark hares ear Antron dubbing and start making the body of the minnow.
Once you have wound the dubbing forward in a tapered body, about one cm from the hook eye, brush out the fibers with a tooth brush. This will give more body and movement to the finished streamer.
Cut a zonker strip from a pine squirrel hide. Make sure that the strip is tapered to a point at the tail of the strip.
Again try and choose a squirrel strip that has nice markings and a good taper.
Place the zonker strip up on top of the body of the fly so that it´s the same length as the tail. Now wind on the copper wire rib.
Take care not to trap the fibers of the squirrel as you go. There should be no more that six turns of copper wire between the tail base and the end of the body.
Once you have reached the end of the body tie off the copper wire and the zonker strip. Remove the excess and tie down.
Now place a strip of natural red fox body hair still on the hide in a paper clip or the Marc Petitjean magic tool as used here.
Make a dubbing loop an spin the fox hair into a dubbing brush.
Wind on the fox dubbing brush making sure that you comb the hair back and up with each turn, this will form the over wing of the streamer. If you have some fox hair that has accumulated on the underside of the throat trim this away, this same depth as the body.
Now select two ring neck pheasant church window feathers, the same size. Coat these with Bug Bond.
Now tie these in, concave out, as shown. One each side to form the fins. These also give a wobbler effect on the streamer when fished.
Make another dubbing loop. Here I have used natural kangaroo body hair. If you dont have kangaroo you can use another coarse natural hair.
Now wind on the dubbing brush forward tight into the rear of the hook eye. Again taking care not to trap and tie down the hair as you go.
Whip finish. Before you begin to trim and form your streamer head, brush out the fibers with a tooth brush to open the hair and give more volume. Trim the head to shape.
Select two epoxy fly eyes, these should be a little larger than the natural for the size of the streamer. This will give a slightly more efficient attractor factor.
The finished streamer.


How to tie Cottus Gobi sculpin streamer

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One thought on “Cottus Gobio sculpin streamer

  1. This looks to be a pattern that will work in a large number of streams where Sculpins are present here in the Rocky Mountain west. An excellent fly!

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