Article by Jack Gartside: The Soft Hackle Baby Bunker is a great autumn pattern, when baby bunker (menhaden) become numerous in northeastern waters.

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Soft Hackle Baby Bunker

The Soft Hackle Baby Bunker is an exceptionally useful and productive pattern throughout much of the season, but especially so in the autumn, when baby bunker (menhaden) become quite numerous in northeastern waters, often appearing in large schools along the coast. These small menhaden will vary in length (most often between 2"-4") and are avidly fed upon by stripers and other game fish. At times there are so many baitfish around that fish will not be especially interested in a single-fly offering; when this is the case, I usually will fish a two-fly set-up, tying a second fly (with about a 6" separation) to the bend of the lead fly, a move that will often dramatically increase the interest of the fish.

The Soft Hackle Baby Bunker may also be used with success when fishing in fresh water for smallmouth bass or trout when a small or medium-sized streamer is called for. The creative tyer/angler will find, then, that no matter what species he is tying or fishing for, these two flies will be sure to bring many fish to hand.

Tying the Soft Hackle Baby Bunker


Mustad 34007, Sizes 2 - 1/0


6/0 or 3/0 white monocord


Matched White Neck Hackles


Pearl GSS or Flashabou


Pearl Glimmer


White Blood Marabou wound on as hackle (one or two feathers, depending on thickness desired).


Fluorescent Silver Doctor Blue Marabou


Mallard flank feather


Dubbed and picked out strands of Pearl GSS

step 1-2

Steps 1 and 2Tie in two matched pairs of white neck hackle and over this six or seven strands of pearl GSS or Flashabou. TailWing should be approximately 2"-3" long.

step 3

Step 3Tie in and wrap body of Glimmer.

step 4

Step 4Tie in marabou feather(s) just in front of body. (Tie in by the BUTT after trimming away thick base section of feather.)

step 5

Step 5Wind marabou around shank until desired thickness is obtained. Tie off and trim excess.

step 6

Step 6Tie on a topping of Fl. Blue marabou and trim excess.

step 7

Step 7Tie in mallard flank concave side down on top of and just in front of marabou (as pictured). Wind hackle (and "fold" hackle as you wind) around the shank.


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