White Death is one of the most effective patterns created for steelhead fishing. Jeff Blood created White Death is tied to imitate a dead Emerald Shiner. White Death differs from a regular zonker minnow because the rabbit strip used is smaller than the standard 1/8th inch rabbit strip. This better imitates the emerald shiners laterally compressed body. Emerald shiners are often found in large schools and have a high natural death rate. White Death is highly effective for steelhead in the fall and spring when they feed heavily on dead Erie Shiners. White Death is also one of my favorite flies for trout and warmwater fish. It works for everything from Chautauqua Lake to the West Branch Delaware.
Hook: Daiichi 2220 or MFC 9008 size 8-10
Thread: black and orange 6/0
Body: small silver tubing - 1/8th in. diameter
Wing: white zonker strips - 3/16th in. thick (approx. half the thickness of a regular 1/8th in. strip)
Before you begin tieing white death, you should lay out all the materials you will need. You should pre-cut all the zonker strips and tubing to tie 2 dozen flies. You will need to wet your fingers to tie this pattern, it is a good idea to have a wet sponge near you so you don't end up with a mouth full of rabbit hair.
You might have some problem acquiring materials, the special zonker strips and silver tubing aren't commonly available in fly shops. You can find some small zonker strips at Feathercraft (Hareline Micro Rabbit Strips). The silver tubing you can find at craft stores. We will also have some of the material available for purchase at our fly tying classes (email me me for more information).
STEP 1: Place a Daiichi 2220 or MFC 9008 size 8-10 in your vise. Attach your orange thread at the tie in point with a jam knot.
STEP 2: Slip one of the pre-cut pieces of tubing onto your hook. (Picture 2A)
STEP 3: Attach your black 6/0 thread behind the hook eye. Secure the silver tubing and tie it down. Trim any tag ends that may obstruct the hook eye.
STEP 4: Tie in a pre-cut zonker strip with your black thread. Tie the zonker strip down, make sure none of the white shows. (Picture 4A)
STEP 5: Wet your fingers and stroke the fur forward to expose enough skin so you can tie the zonker strip down. Make several wraps with your orange thread to secure the strip. Whip finish of your orange thread with a long whip finisher.
STEP 6: Put a drop of head cement on both the black head and orange thread. Your fly is now complete.
|Emerald Shiner (Notropis atherinoides) . Ohio DNR|
Fishing White Death
White Death is best fished dead drifted near the bottom on a indicator rig or sighter leader (for more information about rigging read Rigging for Steelhead). Since you should be snagging occasionally (“if you’re not hanging up, you’re not fishing deep enough”) it is a good idea to carry one to three dozen patterns with you while you’re fishing.
|White Death is the #1 fly for Chautauqua Creek.|
|Even the educated browns of the West Branch Delaware take White Death.|
Jeff Blood ties White Death
If you have any questions or would like to order this pattern, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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