Read my blog on your Amazon Kindle
See Our Ranking on Amazon


Current Subscribers


Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

*Click on the TITLE of the article to enlarge it

One Of My Honeys...

0 comments Links to this post

I stuffed them both ;-)

Booby Flies - How to Tie a Booby Fly - and Variants (Part 2)

Top is a Rabbit Booby. Next a Mink Booby. The third from the top is a Sparkle Booby, good daytime fly and on moonlit nights.  The Viva Variant Booby is good at night and during the day - yes I know the ‘rule’, dark flies for dark and bright flies for light - ‘rules are for the obedience of fools, merely guides for the wise’.  The Little Black Number is good at night and in the day - read the rule above. The bottom fly, a Blob Booby works well at night and daytime too. 

When tying the Booby fly it is important to look at the fly in profile to judge its appearance. It is equally important to think about what it looks like when wet, (the bottom fly in the photo).
booby fly wet and dry

The proportions of the flies in the photo are about right. Maximizing the “wriggle” of the tail is important. They can be tied on a range of hook sizes from around 12 up to 6 or 8. The key thing to remember is the fly's proportions when wet.

The Eyes:

Always tie the eyes on first. This has two advantages. It allows you to judge the body length and width much more easily, but more importantly it allows the head to sit down and around the hook shaft. This gives the lure a much more natural profile.

The usual method is to use polystyrene balls. These can be obtained from plastic suppliers as bean-bag fillers. Take a piece of panty-hose (preferably empty) or clear, pliable and thin plastic about 10 cm square - not Glad-Wrap or similar as it stretches too much. Place the two balls in the center and pull the ends in to tightly enclose the balls.

Tie down the collected ends of the plastic or panty hose to the shaft and trim, then bind down the balls by winding in a figure eight pattern between the balls, trim the excess panty hose and then take the thread to the rear of the hook shaft.

There is a better method of forming the eyes.

There are a number of problems associated with using styrene balls. Firstly they are not durable; one fish and the balls can often be crushed and torn. Secondly, I have yet to find a head cement or glue that does not dissolve the balls. Thirdly, panty hose and plastic tear easily and the balls pop out when casting.

If you can obtain some Ethafoam or Plastazote, (same product, different brand names,) grab it. You can also use Jandles (or thongs or flip-flops, depending on where you live). I found some sheets about one inch thick in yellow, white and black. A plug cutter made out of sharpened sections of an old car aerial forms one inch long cylinders of various diameters.

Easy Closed Cell Foam Test

Push a piece of the foam under water and squeeze it, and while still holding it underwater let the foam expand again. Lift the foam out of the water, and squeeze it again. If water comes out of it, it is not closed cell foam, but open cell foam just like a sponge used in the kitchen or bathroom.

It is very important that the foam used is ‘closed-cell foam’. That is foam where the ‘bubbles’ in the foam are not connected. If you use open-cell foam (like a sponge) the eyes will soon become waterlogged and sink.

Lay the cylinder of foam across the hook shaft and tie down by figure eight binding. I usually leave it at that but some go the drama of trimming around the ends of the cylinders to form a more rounded shape. I have found no difference in fish catching ability.

Dipping a round bodied toothpick, trimmed to the desired thickness, in black head cement and gently dropping a blob onto the ends of the cylinders forms eyes . If you want to be really clever, dab on wider blob of yellow paint, then dab on the black in the middle.

Or, and better than paint eyes, get some small dolls eyes and glue them on to the ends of the Ethafoam - these hollow eyes also provide extra buoyancy.

Tie in Tail and Body (in that order)

Wet Marabou

A good tip when handling marabou tufts is to wet the thumb and forefinger and roll the end of the marabou between them. This makes it much easier to tie in.

Take a good clump of marabou, and this is one case in fly tying, where more is better than less, and tie onto the shaft. The marabou should be at least a hook length and a half off the bend of the hook.

Tying in the excess marabou along the shaft of the hook will allow you to build an evenly thick body.

Tie in a bit of tail flash. A piece or two of pearlescent flashabou tied on top of the tail adds some extra attraction.

Form the Body

The body is formed with chenille using two methods.

When using standard chenille first tie in tinsel, then chenille. Wind on the chenille to form a body and tie off, and then wind on the tinsel to form the rib. Tie off.

Otherwise use a sparkle chenille and do not tie in a rib. In both cases it is better that the body is smaller than the diameter of the Booby eyes.

Night Boobies

Method one: Tie as above using black or dark olive marabou. Use aurora luminescent skirt, as the body.

Method two: Tie a Booby using black or dark olive marabou as a tail, black, red or olive chenille as a body. Then using luminescent paint dab eyes on the boobies.

Booby Variants

The list of variant ties for boobies could fill quite a few articles. The most common ones are as follows.

Viva Booby: Tie a Booby using black marabou tail. Then tie in and wind on two turns of chartreuse (fluorescent green) chenille, completing the body with a dubbing made of black marabou. Use a tuft of black marabou tied in behind the boobies to form a wing. Try this fly in bright sunlight. Yes I know about dark fly theories but this pattern works very well during the day.

Cat's Whisky Booby: Use a white marabou tail, lime green chenille, or chartreuse sparkle chenille body, and a tuft of white marabou tied in behind the head as a wing.

Booby Bugger: Tie a Booby as usual to the tail. But before starting tying in the body tie in a barred hackle by the tip at the tail. Form the body of chenille then wind the hackle forward to the head and tie off, in Woolly Bugger fashion.

Rabbit or Mink Booby: Tie a Booby head as usual, then wrap the hook down to the tail with with silver or gold tinsel. Tie in a rabbit or mink strip at the tail leaving at least a hook and a half of the strip as a tail, and enough to cover the hook shaft. Wet the fur above the shaft of the hook, then tie down the strip with about 4 or 5 turns of the thread. (Wetting the fur makes it easier to pull the fur apart to tie down through the fur to the skin.) Tie the fur down behind or in front of the Booby eyes according to your preference.

Booby Colours:

The list of colours available to the Booby tier is just about as wide as all the colours in the spectrum.

Probably the most popular and successful colour combination is a white tail, chartreuse chenille or sparkle chenille body. Darker colours using olive tails work well in coloured water or dusk and dark. But do not get hung up on the dark fly for the dark story, a Viva Booby works much better during the day than at night - maybe trout have not heard the dark fly rule?

All-white Boobies work well too, especially at night if there is a moon lurking around.

OK, time to get something out of the way about fly colours for day and night -
Rule 1: Bish is always right.
Rule 2: If Bish is wrong refer to Rule 1.

Recently I have been using a peach tail and body to great effect. A yellow tail, yellow body and olive wing has caught plenty of fish. But as the photo shows the colour range is endless.

Hook size and shape:

Use a long shank down eye, or straight eye hook. The most common size is probably a size 6 hook but I regularly use size eight and ten hooks. Smaller hooks seem to perform better at night.


One of the first things you notice when using Booby flies is how often fish are very deeply (back of mouth and throat) hooked. If you release fish, it is a wise move to de-barb the hooks. Another tactic to avoid deep hooking is to tie the boobies on the underside of the hook, which makes the hook swim barb up - this seems to result in more lip and upper-mouth hook-ups.

The Complete Guide to Freshwater Fishing (The Freshwater Angler)
Silverlake Freshwater Flies and Streamers
Freshwater Fishing Tips and Techniques
What Fish Don't Want You to Know: An Insider's Guide to Freshwater Fishing
Bass Fish Patch Embroidered Largemouth Large Mouth Freshwater Fishing Iron-On Emblem

Booby Flies - Deadly in Lakes (Part 1)

Booby flies are one of the strangest looking but most productive flies you can use in still or slow moving waters.

There are no prizes for guessing how the fly got its name, once you see the fly, and also no prizes for those who think that these flies are sometimes called ‘Dolly Parton’s.

The combination of its bobbing action as the foam beads of the head struggle to lift the fly, and the seductive wriggle of the marabou tail often proves irresistible to trout. But it is one of the most misunderstood flies being used in New Zealand (and elsewhere?) today.

First a bit of history.

The first references I can find about Booby flies is from English magazines published about 35 years ago. Back then they were called ‘Booby nymphs’, and you still see this fly called Booby nymph in today's UK magazines.

The name Booby nymph reveals the flies origins. English lake fishers observed that many emerging insects used a bubble of air to move from the lake bed and weeds to the surface. This bubble of air held the insect in the surface film while it changed from its nymph form into a flying insect. Nymphs with bubbles of foam attached to the head became a proven fish taker. These nymphs were used with a floating line.

Then someone added some marabou to the tail to simulate the waving legs and wings as the nymph emerged. This addition of life to the Booby nymph increased catch rates significantly. We have to suppose that the jump from fishing the Booby nymph on the surface to fishing it under the surface was as a result of observation.

Soon bigger Boobies were being tied, this time to imitate fish fry, and fished on fast sinking lines. The results were dramatic. Dramatic enough to persuade many lake owners in the UK to ban the fly. In some lakes this ban still applies.

I first came across Booby flies fishing alongside an Englishman on a beach at Taupo about 1988. His success rate was extraordinary. He gave me a couple of the flies which I promptly filed away in my fly box and forgot about. Forgot until I read about three months later an in-depth article on the Booby fly in a U.K. magazine.

I tried the Booby at a river mouth at Taupo and caught trout alongside the rip, when no one else using the traditional methods was getting a touch. There were a couple of guides on the rip that evening and they were quick to notice the efficacy of the Booby fly and they swooped on my fly box.

Suddenly the Booby began to pop up in Taupo, Rotorua and lakes further afield. A couple of articles in fishing magazines, one of them mine, and the Booby was suddenly flavour of the month - for a while.
My guess is that many anglers have tried the fly once or twice and then given it away. I still watch in some amazement groups of anglers standing in the rip swinging standard lures catching no fish. When in plain sight one or two anglers using Booby flies off to the side of the rip (where a stream or river enters a lake) are catching fish. My belief, based on observation and discussion, is that the anglers who give up on the Booby do so because they do not fish the fly correctly.

Today's Booby

Today's basic Booby flies are all built around the same principle - pair of eyes made of some kind of plastic foam at the head of the hook, some chenille wound round the shank of the hook to form a body, and a big tuft of marabou to form a tail. This basic fly has a myriad of derivations and colour combinations, each of which seems to work at some time or other.

The Booby fly looks very strange in the fly box. A pair of round boobies at the head, a big feather duster of a tail. It is the view of the fly when it is dry that seems to put people off. But wet the fly and look at it again. (See photo at top of this page) The overall shape is a great imitation of [smelt] (baitfish). Put it in the water, and the tail moves just like the sinewy movements of a fish. It is no wonder trout hit the thing so hard.

Basic fishing method

The basic method of fishing the Booby is very simple. Use a fast sinking line, I find a shooting head best, no more than 500 cm (24”) of leader to the Booby and cast it out. Give the line plenty of time to sink and pull the fly down to the bottom. Even in only 2 or 3 metres of water this can take 30 seconds or more. If there is any current at all it will take longer.

Once the fly has settled retrieve the fly in short, 10 to 20 cm (12”) tugs, pausing between each tug. The pause is important, the fly must be allowed to float back up, because tugging on the line pulls it down. That pretty much is that, except for the following advice.

If you are trying a Booby for the first time, and you take no notice of anything else in this article, follow this piece of advice...

Before you make your first cast with the Booby throw the fly out into the water where you can see it. Allow the line to pull it under, and then watch the movement of the fly as you tug, and release, the line. Only by watching the movement of the fly as you tug and release will you learn how to work the fly. Remember in still water you have to provide the movement to the fly to make it live. The subtleties of the movement you provide can add and enhance the life of the lure.
The basic Booby method works well in most situations but there are many variations that can be used.
In summer on still days, especially if there are fish working on the surface try using a very long leader, at least the depth of the water and then a bit. This method really requires that you can see the fly. Cast out and allow the line time to sink. Then tug on the line, you may need to pull about 20 cm, then pause. The Booby will sink under the surface then bob back to the surface and send out little ripples. The takes of trout when using this method resemble [kingfish] whacking poppers. Exciting stuff.
If there is some current where you are fishing, lengthen the leader, this will allow the fly to swing as well as bob. But remember that it is probably better for the leader to be too short than too long.

Booby Ethics:

Booby flies have copped some negative flack, especially about some anglers using the fly on a “heave and leave” basis. That is simply casting out the fly and leaving it until some fish comes along and gobbles it. 

At Lake Otamangakau (central North Island, NZ) I once saw a guy cast out a Booby then walk back up the bank stripping line behind him till he reached a seat and sat down to wait. This made me angry. Then I reflected that this guy was no fly fisherman.

But to ban a fly that is effective for the many who fish it as fly fishermen, for the sake of the very few who fish it as bait fishermen seems to be a bit like using a sledge hammer to drive a tack. Besides I have observed some anglers using a couple of nymphs under a giant indicator on a heave and leave basis.

Any one who believes Booby flies should be banned because they float underwater will I trust never use weighted lines or weighted nymphs for the same fractured logic in reverse. To decry a fly because it is effective when fished as a fly seems to strike at the very core of the inventiveness that has characterised the fly-tier's art since it began.

One part of the art of catching trout on the fly is to select a fly that will induce a trout to bite it. The next and perhaps most important part is to place the fly where the fish are feeding. This is perhaps what makes the Booby so effective.

Designing and using a fly that floats just off the bottom is a tactic equally as valid as using a fly weighted to fish right on the bottom.

No-tailed Gar

0 comments Links to this post
Submitted by: Terry Smith

It was late June in the scorching sun of Northeast Alabama.  A friend, Steve Latimer and myself, Terry Smith were fishing on the Coosa River for the elusive, mysterious and mystifying long nose gar during the sweltering heat of the midday sun. We had caught and released several praiseworthy fish before the oppressive heat started to take a toll on us.  As I attempted to make one more cast I glanced at Steve, sweat was pouring from him like rain drops, his clothing was soaking wet, and he started laughing uncontrollably.  I was not in much better condition than he, so under the circumstances I decided we should perhaps throw in the sweat drenched towel and call it a day, but not before one more cast. 
Then it happened, (tap- tap,) another strike. I was unsure if I would be able to boat the fish in my horrid condition.  I could barely see through the sweat that was pouring profusely from my brow, I could hardly hold my rod, and my mental capability had diminished greatly from all the extreme heat and sizzling sun.      
After finally boating and examining the abnormal looking creature as best we could in our dreadful condition, both Steve and I thought that we had truly succumb to the intense heat, while on a gar fishing trip, during the month of June, on the Coosa River, in Northeast Alabama.  However, pictures do not lie.  

Season of the Gar: Adventures in Pursuit of America’s Most Misunderstood Fish 
Alligator Gar 
The Complete Guide to Freshwater Fishing (The Freshwater Angler)
Freshwater Fishing Tips and Techniques
Wild Water Fly Fishing 7 Weight, 9 Foot 4 Piece Freshwater Fishing Rod
What Fish Don't Want You to Know: An Insider's Guide to Freshwater Fishing

A Division of Say You, Say Me, Inc.