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How to fish the Booby fly

"Backfire Booby" tied by Nordic Fly Tyer

It has a silly name and a goofy appearance. But don’t get me wrong, once you start fishing with these it will be one of your most top producing flies. Not only that it teach you a lot of new fishing techniques – and it will enable you to catch fish in places you probably haven’t considered before. So effective, actually, that it has been banned from some UK waters and continues to cause moral discussions. The Booby Fly was originated by the UK Fly fisher Gordon Fraser and he shared the pattern in his book Mastering the Nymph. Gordons idea was to tie a fly with built in buoyancy that he could suspend at a fixed depth below the water surface close. He wanted to be able to add and take off weight to the line to be able to find the feeding zone of the local trout. The solution was to make the fly buoyant, and thus the booby fly was invented.

When you should consider using the Booby Fly

It fishes best on British reservoirs and lochs for Rainbow trout. It is at its most effective when the weather is either very hot or very cold, subsequently causing the fish to hit the bottom and skulk in the most comfortable layer of water.

The Booby Fly is most effective when the weather is either very hot or very cold, subsequently causing the fish to hit the bottom and skulk in the most comfortable layer of water. This also means that the fish often become lethargic and will not chase anything that's moving too fast. So not only do you need to tease them alot, you also want to make sure you’re fishing at the correct depth. And here is where the Booby flies come in. They are purely attractor patterns - the fish do not see it as a food source; they view it as an enemy in their territory which must be eliminated. And the best thing: you can fish them at the depth you want.

Beautiful rainbow trout caught on a classic Booby fly rig.

How to fish the Booby Fly like a real pro

If you are totally new to fishing Boobies, these are the basics: they are usually fished with a hi-density line (ultra fast sinking) with a short leader (2-3 feet, or 60-90 cm) and inched across the bottom on a dead slow figure of eight retrieve. Sounds simple? It is. But let’s dig a little bit deeper into the techniques involved.

First off: the most common mistake is to not let the booby sink long enough. But how do I know how long I should let it sink? Well, one way (which I use), is to count to 20 before retrieving the fly. If there is weed on the fly it means you’ve hit the bottom and you should subtract 5 seconds, and instead count to 15. Continue subtracting 5 seconds until you have a weed free fly. Once you’re happy with the depth you can start by retrieving the fly. I usually concentrate my efforts in the bottom third of the water column where the fish are usually located.

Many anglers start retrieving with a single 3-4 feet (90-120 cm) hard pull which pulls the booby down to the bottom and creates a huge underwater disturbance and causes fish in the nearby area to notice the fly. After that continue by retrieving the fly. I usually use “the figure of 8”, “handtwist” or “hand weave”. But don’t forget the pauses.

When fishing boobies on a sinking line, it can help to impart a bit of extra action into them to entice any following fish to take. A great way to do this is to give the tip of your rod a short upward flick to make the submerged fly jump forwards. The line will sometimes lock up straight after.

Remember: in still-water you have to provide the movement to the fly to make it come 'alive'. The subtleties of movement you provide can add and enhance the life-like action of the fly make a good fly even more effective. Some of the flies I use can be bought through my online store at a very affordable price. And the shipping is free. :)

Tight lines.


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