Took a trip over the hill to Big Sky to catch the last of the ski season last week, and forgot to pack the vise. Which means I’m back to the grind with piles of hooks that need dressing if they are going to find their way into fish lips this season. No visit to another part of trout country would be complete without a browse of the local fly bins, looking for those interesting patterns that are worth trying out on your home water. Found quite a few patterns worth a dunk, though the streamer prices alone were enough to keep me from picking up any heavy meat. If you’re spending seven dollars on a hook and some feathers that you plan on tossing tight to wood and banks… You’re doing it wrong.
One pattern variation that caught my eye was the Girzonker, which is simply a combination of the Girdle Bug (Pat’s Rubberleg, The Pickle, The Turd) and a classic zonker strip of rabbit fur in a contrasting color. An easy enough tie, and seems like a winner. The pulsing, undulating enticement of a zonker strip can only improve an already great larger stonefly nymph. When my fishiest friend stopped by we came up with some working theories as to just what they were going for. (It’s good to have theories on fly fishing, it makes for more bullshit in the boat and passes the time over the fly bins.)
Here’s what we figure: The zonker strip is simply the blown wing case writ large. A flowing busted wing of a bug that didn’t quite make it, or fell into the drink just after crawling out of it’s nymphal shuck. Or maybe it’s a stonefly that got caught with a minnow in a freak accident in the lab, and now it is like the Spiderman of the stonefly world with the power to swim like a fish and crawl like an ugly bug.
Hell, whatever it is I like it. Seems like you could dead drift it as you would a Wooly Bugger, twitch it like you would a bottom-rolling anchor fly, or strip it back like a little streamer and watch those legs wiggle. So, rather than keep chugging out the prince nymphs I know clients will need during our long and glorious stonefly seasons, I tied a half dozen of the Girzonker this morning before I ran out of ginger zonker strip and the kids came down wanting to watch “Inspector Gadget” for the million and first time. Back to the grind, and back to the big bugs. Fishing is good in spots, I hear. Might have to take a couple of Girzonkers for a ride real soon.