Confessions of a Fishing Guide: The Bunny Intruder
As Told by Dennis Dickson
I will confess right here. Yes, I seem to do a lot of fly tying and no, it’s not because it’s relaxing. 23 years ago maybe. When you spend day after day, week after week at it, outfitting flies simply becomes part of the job. My bookkeeper tells me I spend between 5 to 7 thousand dollars a year, just in fly tying supplies. Now let me tell you what you don’t want as a full time guide. You don’t want to be a very mediocre tier and fussy about your flies. What any full-timer will tell you is; you want flies that work well and won‘t pound you at the vice.
Confessions: I love the old Atlantic Salmon patterns, but I sure wouldn’t want to spend the time, let alone the bucks to produce them. The Intruder is becoming a popular steelhead pattern in the Pacific Northwest, but it is painstaking to tie well (At least for me).
To mention what features I like and don’t like in steelhead flies in general, I would refer you back to an article I wrote a decade ago when I was a bit younger at guiding. The article is called Steelhead Flies: Fact & Fiction.
As I was saying, I really like the features of the flies like the Intruder but when clients are losing a 20 minute fly to bushes or river bottom as an everyday occurrence, I really don’t want to be that endeared to the offering.
My all-time favorite winter/spring steelhead water now is the Queets River in the lower Olympic Peninsula. It’s only rub is that the glacial waters are generally flowing a slate gray. Lower visibility!
I found myself looking for a fly with a good silhouette, lots of action, but reasonably easy to tie. The Bunny Intruder fits the bill. The fly illustrated is tied in purple and orange. I also like black & orange, straight up black, black & purple and bubble gum pink. I am not sure if the steelhead care. The Queets steelhead hit them all.
We fish them traditionally swinging with both single and double-handed rods. Choosing the right sink tip and “low & slow” is the key to success. So here you go. Play with the Bunny Intruder. I will have to confess, I really like it.
Best of fishing,
Hooks: Hook shank of straightened Accupoint # 4 or other; #2 Octopus Gamikatzu for Stinger
Tail/Butt: Dark purple bunny strip; hot orange ostrich herl strands
Body: Orange polar chenille; orange bunny strip
Wing: Orange string grizzly saddle hackles
Collar: Purple bunny strip; purple polar chenille
Head: Conehead, dumbbell eyes, or beadhead
Northwest native Dennis Dickson is a Washington fisheries biologist who also has enjoyed the opportunity of being a steelhead flyfishing guide for over 20 years. He and his staff share their vast experience, teaching their highly popular flyfishing schools and bringing anglers from all over the world to enjoy the thrill of flyfishing steelhead. Dennis and his guides, fish many clients throughout the year and his website, Flyfishsteelhead.com is among the most widely read Internet weekly steelhead flyfishing reports in the state of Washington. Dennis also has personally written over 40 articles and stories about steelhead flyfishing. Flyfishing has been good to Dennis; The writing is his way of giving something back.
1998 Photo (Dennis Holding Steelhead)