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Sunk Lines and Big Women

Fishing bouyant flies on sinking lines in order to fish imitatively near the bottom of the lake. Especially useful for bank fishing in the early part of the season.

As trout and women the world over know well, I am a confirmed booby-man. Basically they excite me. I live for excitement, which is of course why I fish.

To me, the booby is more than just a fly, which is just as well, because in its usual form I use it very little. It is a style of fishing: buoyant fly, sunk line. Remembering, of course, that I am an imitative angler (mostly) and that I like to present flies that they behave in the approved manner, i.e. static or damn near, then the value of the booby should become immediately apparent.

Now before I continue I wish to point out that there is nothing new in this article, indeed I have long been of the opinion that there is nothing new in most articles. If you haven't seen these flies before then you simply haven't been around. But hey look, I've got to make a living here an if you find something new, then great, you've learnt something and I'm pleased.

The first thing I should deal with is prejudice. Boobies are frowned upon in some quarters. Even to the extent where they have been banned on some waters. The reason being because they can deeply hook fish. The answer here is to strike early. I think any buoyant fly has the potential to hook deeply, such as floating fry and suspender buzzer, to name a couple. In order to strike before the fish does, it is essential not to rely on touch alone but to look for the take.

Interestingly, I have even met anglers who condemn the 'static fly'! Incredible that the most imitative presentation should be treated in such a manner. I've always felt dry flies should be fished static. But then maybe I'm just a rebel. In fact I'm going to take a stand here and condemn the retrieve - inducing the take is all too easy!

There are certain times when the booby as a method is the only realistic option. Imagine the typical early season scenario. Cold, fish are near the bottom, and it's windy. Fish are feeding on corixa, buzzer and fry. Try presenting a fly on a floater, deep down and the problems become insurmountable. The problem with intermediates (standard choice) is that the things just keep damn well sinking. Until eventually you snag the bottom.

Answer? Booby. I bet you saw that one coming.

Advanced appeal

Now I write with the intended view that my articles should appeal to a wider audience, so I'm not going to stick in all the beginner's bits about how exactly you should fish the booby. This is advanced booby fishing; Stage 2: oral stimulation.

Being trade-connected, as it were, I have access to copious amounts of tippet material. So I make my leaders longer than the 18 inch recommendation and stick three flies on. This gives me the advantage of being able to pick up fish from mid-water as well as off the bottom. The typical early season stillwater diet is buzzer, corixae, fry and occasionally caddis larvae. So there's my flies for you.

For buzzer imitations I try to pick patterns which don't spin when casting. Droppers with spinning flies is just asking for problems. I have enough problems in life as it is. The corixae I use are particularly appealing and very easy to tie. The other two you know.

Perhaps the best piece of advice for improving your booby fishing is to imagine the flies in the water, give them life with your fingers. Move them a little and leave off. Continually visualise them in your mind. Personally, I find the method fascinating. I really don't get enough of it, apart from one year when an extremely mild start followed by an intense cold crunch sent all the fish to the bottom for a six week probation. Then I had it too much.

Now a very relevant point to be made: covering fish. As I am sure you are well aware, when fishing a high-density line, fish rise all around you, and then, when you change to the floater they all skulk on the bottom. The answer here is to cover them with the sinking line and fish 'the drop'. Any form of retrieve is a sure way to avoid the fish, so cover him, and roll a smoke.

There is another tactic involving buoyant flies. It is to fish them on an intermediate line, positioned as a point fly, in conjunction with a leaded fly in the middle. This is a useful method under two different circumstances. The first is when the fish require something unusual, the second, when you don't know what the hell they're doing.


The retrieve is what makes it work; every time you pull the line, the booby gets pulled down and the leaded fly up. Pause and the booby rises and the leaded fly sinks. 'A yoyo!'

I either fish this method in a highly imitative style or go completely the other way and pull out all those weird and wonderful concoctions often developed during intensely stoned periods.

This, incidentally, can be the answer to those dog-hot August days. You work it out.

To tie the corixa pattern; first you tie on the thread a little way down the hook, whereupon you tie in a strip of ethafoam. I use black mostly, but you can use white which later can be varnished and then pantoned in any colour you want.

Work your way down to the bend pulling the foam down as you go. Add in rid, remembering that this is a buoyant pattern so wire is out and monofilament is in (my fly tying tip of the year is to give the mono a little nip with your teeth before you tie in - my dental tip of the year is to brush twice daily, floss regularly and not to use your teeth to bite tippet material). Dub some fur. Where I fish, the corixae are of a creamy yellow colour. Wind back towards the eye leaving plenty of room for head. Rib it.

Next to go in are the legs of your choice. Then pull over the foam. Tie in and cut. You have choices how you cut. You can either go for the slim attractive type, or you can go hell for leather for the big bouncy type. I like a bit of both, but there again I would.

  • Hook: #12-24
  • Suspender: bowtie of ethafoam
  • Dubbing: seals or sub at foam base
  • Body: tying thread, varnished

My tying for the suspender buzzer is of course not my tying, but a tying I like to use. Simplicity and durability are the keys. Now I do know people who are using cased caddis patterns (which I don't because me thinks they looks too much like a pellet) and doing seriously well with them. They are tied with spun deer hair. Which is OK I guess. But I admit that with regards to floating fries I would much rather have an ethafoam job since (a) it doesn't get waterlogged for weeks and (b) the whole idea of a spondoolie is that it floats lower in the water and this just isn't a consideration with boobies.

Light lines, small flies

A final thought to leave you with is line ratings. For many bank anglers sunk line work is a heavy affair. Not for me. I use six weight high-density lines. Sometimes five's. The reason being is that I often find myself using boobies tied on size 16's and 18's. This demands fine leaders. No way can you fish a fine point on an 8-weight.


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