The Sunny Corleone Sunfish

This bass-walloping pattern pays homage to a famous gangster movie, but it is really designed to catch fish. Tie it, cast it, and have fun!

[by Drew Chicone]

THIS VIBRANT IMITATION EMULATES any number of three to five-inch-long adolescent sunfish, bluegills, and brim that congregate around grass lines, docks, and other structures. Native to North America, we find these fish in streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds. They are highly adaptable and thrive in just about any environment. Because they are so prevalent, they often fall prey to many larger gamefish. Although this pattern’s primary target are bass, you may occasionally pick off other species such as trout, musky, and pike.

The pattern’s bright colors of saltwater yak hair blend together for a very realistic look. It’s one of my favorite attractor patterns, and it gets the attention of even the most disinterested fish.

If you haven’t figured it out, my heritage is Italian, and although you might be polite and not say it, I will: I am naturally predisposed to Sunday dinner and mobster movies. This gangster baitfish’s name pays homage one of my favorite films, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, after the novel by Mario Puzo. Unlike his soft-spoken, quietly calculating father, Don Corleone, Sonny is flashy, hot-tempered, and quick to start a fight. I thought that was a great name for a fly, especially a pattern that openly antagonizes the biggest fish in the pond and gets violently whacked!

I tie the Sunny Corleone in a similar fashion to many of my other wide-profile baitfish patterns. For this fly I use saltwater yak hair for its translucent qualities, and also because the length and wiry texture of the material allow me to create a larger and more durable imitation. Natural yak hair is also great for blending because I can easily count the individual strands; this allows my flies to be more uniform in color and fullness. The coarse hair becomes supple when wet and has a lifelike quality when stripped through the water.


BEFORE THREADING YOUR BOBBIN, BLEND BUNCHES of yak hair—or your favorite synthetic hair—equal to the number of flies you will tie. This preparation will speed up making the flies and keep your tying bench better organized. The author refers to the following different blends in the tying instructions.

50 strands of white, 15 strands of tan, 10 strands of yellow, and 5 strands of blue.

60 strands of white, 15 strands of yellow, and 5 strands of orange.

50 strands of olive, 20 strands of chartreuse, and 10 strands of tan.

65 strands of olive, 20 strands of root beer, and 10 strands of black.

15 strands of orange and 5 strands of red.

Although the name of his website is Salty Fly Tying, Drew Chicone is also an expert at designing terrific freshwater bass patterns. To learn more about his books, videos, hosted trips, and a ton more, go to his website, www.saltyflytying.com. Drew and his growing family live in Florida.