|Hi guys -- First, thanks for the interest, and second, yep, I've tried them, and they fished great. I've used them more in freshwater than saltwater, since my striper fishing has been so lame this year. I've used them on a lot of different hooks too, including longshank streamer hooks, salmon style hooks, bassbug/stinger hooks, and on the jig hooks as shown in the picture Dan attached. All of them dart side-to-side a lot, and I like different hooks depending upon the look I want. Longshank streamer hook makes for a nice minnow shape (like alewives on teh Delaware), while the jig hooks have more of a sculpin or chunkier look. You can't use too heavy a gauge hook, because you need the fly to flip hook point up. The jig hooks flip up most easily with the least weight, and they dart a lot!|
If you retrieve them steadily, like a two-handed strip that we use a lot on the beach, they track perfectly straight, but if you do the strip/pause thing, they dart really erratically and unpredictably side-to-side -- certainly more than any fly I've ever tied -- and trout and bass seem really to like them. All the ones I've tried have been weighted with a single scud weight at the midpoint of the shank or farther back, and some also have some additional lead wraps behind the scud weight, towards the bend. I haven't been putting the weights way towards the bend (though that would work too), but where you put the weight is governed partly by the length of the shank, because you need to make sure you can have the body depth and belly proportioned right and also leave room for spinning/stacking the head. The denser/fatter the head, the less quickly the fly will sink. I think the combo of the weight at the midpoint or rear of the fly plus the big head contributes to the darting thing. I know that unweighted Kinky Muddlers, tied hook point down, can dart a little anyway, so fat head+rear weight must be exaggerating things further -- I guess???
Bill -- haven't tried them unweighted, or with two weights like Henry's article, but I'm sure any variations would be worth checking out. If you kept the furry part of the zonker all on the hook point side and trimmed the head (as I do) with most of the bulk on the hook point side, I think the fly would probably stay in the hook-up orientation, a la the bendback principle. But at that point, I'd probably just tie the fly conventionally, unweighted, on a regular hook. I'm really only using the size large scud weights. The channel lead Dan posted works well too, but it's bulkier for smaller flies. (By the way, channel lead is good for crab flies!!) I'm sure lots of other stuff would work too -- the bassmaster guys would know best, since they seem to be on top of weighting.
Here's one thing I've learned. If you heavily weight one of these things, and tie in a Magnum Zonker strip (I get mine from Hareline) that goes from the back of the head too far beyond the hook bend, you get a heavy fly that's not the best to cast. They don't foul on this style of tie, and bunny strips are great, but I sometimes avoid them because once that leather soaks up water, it's a little like tossing a mop (admittedly, I've only been using a 6 weight). So, you can narrow the bunny strip, use a regular 1/8 inch wide strip, make it not too long, taper it, or play with other ways to make the fly a a little easier to throw. When you're hip deep in a smallmouth river, as I was last weekend ...
And finally, since some people have asked elsewhere, the tying sequence is simple. Tie the scud weight midshank and wrap a few lead wraps behind it. Wrap Estaz over the lead and scud weight to cover 2/3 of the hook shank. Trim the Estaz on the hook point side and take the hook out of the vice, pierce a zonker strip on the hook point, snug it tightly along the body (hook point side) and tie it as tightly as possible at the front of the body -- basically like an upside-down Zonker. Stack the head with "V-ties" as per the Kinkhy Muddler instructions posted in Dan's blog, and that's it. Pretty quick, and a box of them looks like you have a bunch of little pets!