Shop Orvis Today!

Jeff Blood’s White Death Pattern & Tying Instructions

Fly Tying Recipe: Jeff Blood’s White Death
2X-heavy, 4X-long streamer hook (here, a Mustad 9672), sizes 8-12
Thread #1:
Red, 6/0 or 140-denier
Silver Sparkle Braid or Mylar tubing
Thread #2:
Black, 6/0 or 140-denier
White rabbit Zonker strip
Black tying thread
Adhesive #1:
UV-cure resin
Red tying thread
Adhesive #2:
UV-cure resin
Two bobbins, large whip-finisher, regular whip-finishe
Show / Hide Jeff Blood’s White Death Transcript

Video Transcript:

This is Jeff Blood’s White Death, a well known Great Lakes steelhead pattern. It’s for all intents and purposes nothing more than an easy-to-tie Zonker. Here, I’ve taken some liberties with Mr. Blood’s materials and tying sequence but the overall fly is pretty much the same.

For a hook, I’m going to use a Mustad 9672 in size 10. After getting the hook firmly secured in the jaws of my tying vise, I’ll load two separate bobbins – one with a spool of red UTC 140 Denier and the other with the same in black. The two bobbins are all but required for my tying sequence. Begin by picking up the bobbin with the red thread and getting that thread started on the hook shank behind the eye. After taking a few wraps rearward, snip off the excess tag.

Although the original recipe calls for silver mylar tubing, I prefer flat, silver sparkle braid. A two-card width segment is more than enough to comfortably produce a single fly. Begin securing one end of the braid to the top of the hook shank, then continue taking thread wraps rearward to bind the material down, all the way to the start of the hook bend. You can then pull your thread back and out of the way. I hang my bobbin off the counterweight on my rotary tying vise.

Now, pick up the bobbin with the black thread and get it started on the hook shank behind the eye. After taking a few wraps rearward to lightly cover up the end of the braid, snip the excess tag end off close. Get hold of the silver braid and begin making overlapping wraps with it up the hook shank. Continue taking these wraps all the way up to your black tying thread, then use the thread to secure the braid. When you’re done, snip the excess off close.

A white rabbit Zonker strip is used for the back and tail of the fly. Pick up the strip with the fur angled rearward and trim off the corners of the leathery hide so it comes almost to a point. Then strip away about 1/8” of fur from that hide. Give your bobbin a good clockwise spin to cord up and strengthen your tying thread. Place the trimmed end of the Zonker strip on top of the hook shank so its tip rests right at the back edge of the hook eye. Take firm thread wraps to bind the strip down. Because you cut those little leather corners off, you should find creating a smooth tapered head on the fly much easier than if you hadn’t.

I also use two different whip finish tools for this fly, a large one and a small or normal-sized one. Pick up the normal-sized tool and use it to do a 5 or 6 turn whip finish with the black thread at the head of the fly. Then snip or cut your thread free.

Although you could save this step for later, I like to apply an ample coat of UV cure resin to the head of the fly at this part of the tying sequence, when all the white fur is pulled back and out of the way. After a shot of UV light, you can rest assured that that rabbit strip won’t pull free during the next step of the tying procedure.

Retrieve your red thread from its stored location and bring your bobbin up to a good working length. Wet your fingers and use them to separate the rabbit fur above the location of your tying thread, at the back edge of the silver braid. Once again give your bobbin a good clockwise spin to cord up and strengthen the thread. Start taking wraps to firmly bind the Zonker strip to the top of the hook shank and to establish where the body ends and the tail begins. Here’s where a larger whip finisher with a big gap really comes in handy. It allows you to whip finish at this location without getting tangled up in the front of the hook or in the long rabbit fur. After a 5 or 6 turn whip finish, seat the knot real well then snip or cut your tying thread free.

As with the head of the fly, I like to apply an ample coat of UV resin to these wraps as well, when the fur is preened out of the way.

Sorry about the hand . .

I’m using Solarez Bone Dry UV cure resin here which penetrates the thread wraps well and after a good shot of UV light, really helps to anchor the Zonker strip to the hook at the rear location. Once the resin’s fully cured, preen the hair forward on the tail of the fly then trim the tail off so you’re left with a piece of hide that’s about a hook gap in length. I know this looks a bit short but when you preen the fur rearward on both the tail and the back, you can see it makes for a fairly long fly.

As simple and as easy to tie as this pattern is, it’s wildly effective on steelhead and trout.