The following is an excerpt from Barr Flies written by John Barr, fly tying photos by Charlie Craven (Stackpole Books, August 2007, 184 pages, 570 color photos, 22 illustrations) which is available at Fly Shops and booksellers everywhere." />

The Slumpbuster by John Barr

Book Reviews & Excerpts — By on August 29, 2009 4:32 pm

Slumpbuster (Step-by-Step)


1. Place the cone on the hook and insert the hook into the vise. Start the thread about two eye lengths back. Wrap a thread base to the bend of the hook and return the thread to the starting point.


2. Tie in both the Sparkle Braid and the wire at about the 80 percent point on the hook. Be careful not to creep too far forward here so you will have enough room for the collar later.


3. Pull the Sparkle Braid and the wire toward the rear of the hook as you wrap the thread back over both of them at the same time. Anchor the wire and the braid at the bend of the hook with several tight turns of thread.


4. Select a squirrel strip and part the hair about a shank length from its end. Place this part in the hair above the tie-down point at the bend of the hook.


5. Tie the squirrel strip down in the part at the bend of the hook with a few tight turns of thread. Be sure to make these wraps right over the top of each other to create less bulk at the tie-down point.


6. Pull the front end of the squirrel strip back out of the way (place it in your material spring on the vise, if you have one). Advance the thread to the starting point.


7. Take a single turn with the Sparkle Braid under the tail strip.


8. Continue wrapping the Sparkle Braid forward tomake a smooth, level body. Tie the braid off at the starting point.


9. Pull the squirrel strip forward over the top of the body and part the hair at the starting point. Tie the hide down to the hook tightly, taking care to not trap any fur, just the hide.


10. Evenly spiral wrap the wire forward through the squirrel strip wing. Part the hair at each segment and feed the wire down to the body, creating an evenly spaced rib. Tie the wire off at the starting point. Clip the excess wire.


11. Put the remaining end of the squirrel strip back into your material spring once again to hold it out of the way. Place a drop of Zap Gel into the back of the cone.


12. Wrap the front end of the squirrel strip forward right up to and into the cone. Tie the strip off with a couple firm wraps of thread.


13. Shove the cone back onto the collar so the Zap Gel will take hold and lock everything in. Clip the thread. There is no need to whip-finish the thread, as the glue will hold everything in place under the cone.


14. The finished fly.

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The Slumpbuster by John Barr, 8.3 out of 10 based on 6 ratings


  1. Wow! Great fly and great information. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. wamarsh says:

    thanks for great article, I tie a leech pattern my fishing pal uses with great success on Big Lake and nearby springs in Fall River Valley in No. Calif, he calls it trout candy. It is 100% squirrel zonker.

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  3. pete says:

    I own John Barr’s, Barr Flies. It is a GREAT book!! All the patterns are spelled out just like this excerpt on his Slumpbuster. All the photos, descriptions, and instructions are awesome. I highly recommend this book to all those that love to tie flies… and those that just love to fly fish. The Slumpbuster is the new standard which all others will be judged against!!

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  4. Paul Bowen says:

    I’ve been tying a very similar pattern for about 10 years. I call mine a Pzonker. I also weight mine with lead wire and tie them with rabbit. I add flash under a long tail and have a stinger hook to prevent too many shory strikes. It has been a great fly.

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  5. Great looking fly. I’ll be looking for those squirrel zonker strips, so i can try your pattern in the Bow River.

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  6. Larry Tullis says:

    It’s a very effective pattern and more durable then the Zonker. The similar version I’ve been fishing since the late 70’s I call the Bunny Matuka. I also frequently use stripped squirrel, muskrat or mink now instead of rabbit, especially in smaller sizes. I went to it because the Aztec and the original Matuka didn’t have enough natural action for me. Pearl dubbing brushed out also works well as a body material.

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  7. I tied this pattern to fish the Upper Androsocggin River this Fall. Very productive. I added some flash and rubber legs behind the collar, but I’m not sure it was necessary. I’ll be looking for his book.

    Thanks for the post,

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  8. flyline64 says:

    I concur–a great fly. Relatively simple to tie, durable and effective. The only negative is that even with proper tying, the tail may foul.

    I’m not the most avid streamer fisherman, but when I do fish streamers, this is my first choice (generally either natural or black squirrel–the body and cone colors may vary).

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  9. James D says:

    I use a modified Slumpbuster in Western WY for ravenous meat-eating
    native Snake River Cutthroats that is my best streamer hands-down. The biomass of our rivers consist mainly of various species of large stoneflies and Sculpins. I usually trail a large soft-hackle stonefly behind the Slumpbuster, the recipe I use follows:

    1. Olive magnum rabbit strip tied in as recommended by Mr. Barr.
    2. A tail of cream marabou with a little flash on both sides
    3. A body of dubbed cream and white rabbit fur and chopped lite-brite. I tie the body using a dubbing loop technique. Starting today I am adding some pink fur in the dubbing blend because some of our Sculpins exhibit pinkish undertones along their belly.
    4. I also utilize a black tungsten conehead to supply a little color contrast like a natural Sculpin.

    My favorite river is your typical roaring western freestoner and the dead drift/high-stick technique is ideal for getting my rig down quickly in the narrow/deep slots and drops-offs where typically the larger cutthroats reside.

    Thanks John Barr for all your wonderful fly inventions and the Slumpbuster is my favorite big trout fly.

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  10. Kyle Moppert says:

    This fly, the “Squirrely Tukass”, was originally developed in the early 90’s (’92 or ’93?), by Arkansas fly fishing guide, Jeff Guerin. He tied them both with or without coneheads. He gave me several of the originals, all of which were effective when fishing the White River in Arkansas.

    Jeff list it for sale in on his web site:

    Kyle Moppert

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