Written by: Capt. Rick Grassett
As I drifted over a deep grass flat in the shadow of John Ringling’s Ca’ d’Zan mansion on Sarasota Bay, I stripped my fly next to my flats skiff, mesmerized by the pattern’s wiggle. In an instant, there was a flash, as a fat 22-inch seatrout inhaled the fly and my fly line came tight. Not only did my new fly work like I thought it would, but the trout attacked it with a vengeance, too!
I designed my newest fly, Grassett Deep Flats Bunny, to fish for spotted seatrout, blues, jacks, Spanish mackerel, ladyfish, and whatever prowls grass flats from 3 to 8 feet deep on Florida’s Gulf coast. It should also work anywhere in the Southeast for seatrout and in the Northeast for stripers and blues. My brother, Kirk, an avid fly angler from Delaware who often fishes the middle Chesapeake Bay, reported fast action with stripers on the Deep Flats Bunny in that area last fall. I haven’t yet targeted cobia or tripletail with the fly, but I think they should eat it, too.
Rabbit strip is among my favorite natural materials. It has an enticing wiggle, even when fished slowly, which is often necessary in cooler weather. When I’m designing a new fly, not only am I trying to “match the hatch” to duplicate the natural baits that predators may feed on, but I’m also imitating other lures or artificial baits that are effective for me.
In addition to guiding fly anglers, I also guide anglers with conventional gear using artificial baits, primarily soft plastics. One lure that I use often is a very light jig head with a variety of shad tails and jerk worms. The Deep Water Bunny was designed with that in mind–a lightly weighted fly with an action that fish can’t resist. Any species that can be caught with soft plastics, including largemouth bass, should eat this fly since it was inspired by plastic baits.
As far as colors, I’ve found that red and/or chartreuse in a fly adds to its attractiveness. The olive color fishes well over grass, and the tan is good over sand. Glow flash in a fly simulates the bioluminescence of an injured baitfish and also adds contrast to a fly, making it stand out in off-color water or in overcast conditions.
The Deep Flats Bunny has a jigging action and an enticing wiggle that most fish can’t resist. Since it rides hook down, I added a weed guard so that it can be fished over thick grass. If you target species that eat baitfish, worms, or eels, you might want to give this fly a try. It can be fished slow and deep with an enticing wiggle that can’t be refused!
Grassett’s Deep Flats Bunny
Hook: Gamakatsu SC15, size 1/0.
Weight: X-tra small (5/32) red lead eyes.
Thread: Red or chartreuse.
Tail: Zonker bunny strips (Chartreuse, tan, or olive).
Flash: Krystal Flash and/or Flash-A-Bou.*
Body: Orvis Standard Ice Chenille or Estaz opalescent (red, tan, or olive)
Weedguard: 20# hard Mason leader (anti-foul and weed guard)
Cement: Hard As Nails or Flexement head cement
*Flash colors: for red/chartreuse, use chartreuse Krystal flash; for red/tan, use pearl Krystal flash and Nite Glow Flash-A-Bou; for olive, use gold Krystal flash; and for tan, use pearl Krystal flash and Nite Glow Flash-A-Bou.
Capt. Rick Grassett is a fly-fishing guide and fly-casting instructor at CB’s Saltwater Outfitters, on Siesta Key in Sarasota, Florida.