Go Natural...

fly tying, fly tying ideas, Rainbow Trout, Reservoir Fishing -

Go Natural...

Ben Worley shares a selection of “natural” booby patterns for targeting pressured or resident fish on our big waters.
Now I know that there isn’t much natural about the booby fly, but sometimes a shift to natural or darker colours can make all the difference when targeting shy, pressured or resident fish as I discovered at Blagdon earlier this season.
Another hard fighting Blagdon fish refuses the net.
Another hard fighting Blagdon fish refuses the net.
During lock down and with competitions postponed I rekindled my desire to explore new waters and tactics away from loch style fishing. My first target was Blagdon, a water I knew was a jewel in the crown of the south western waters, and having fished Chew Valley over the years knew it was well managed and stocked with some brutes. I saw on social media that the water was fishing well from bank and boat and oddly quite a few people recommending Damsel boobies, hoppers and other natural patterns. So with some helpful guidance from John in the lodge, I went out and togged up in my waders for an afternoon bank session. I knew I needed to fish the washing line on a floater to keep the flies above the weed, so set up with a team of nymphs and the classic Tequila Booby on the point. I proceeded to catch fairly steady on the nymphs but nothing on the Tequila? So I tried fluorescent pink, then orange, then a candy split – but alas still nothing. After throwing my go to nasties at the Blagdon rainbows for a full session, to my surprise none of them produced a fish. I travelled home and immediately knew I needed to go back and try again with a natural approach as had been discussed previously on social media.
Red and claret doing the damage.
Red and claret doing the damage.
Upon inspection of my arsenal, it was immediately clear that I was lacking in this department, so after a trawl of YouTube tying videos I managed to produce a couple of patterns along with a Damsel pattern I stole from Army Captain Sean Hanlon (that cat is now out of the bag) and my old faithful Hopper Boobies which for some reason had fallen out of favour in recent seasons. Re-armed with a selection of natural booby patterns I arrived at Blagdon the following week for another bank session with my pal Simon Culver who provided a control for the experiment in the form of a big horrible booby blob on the point of his cast and a blob on the top. The plan was that I would change my booby each time it caught a fish to see how effective they were. I opted for a team of Hoppers with a Hopper Booby on the point and immediately I was into fish on the Hoppers, including the booby. Accordingly I switched across to the Damsel Booby pattern I had liberated from Sean and after a couple of fish the line went tight into one on the booby. Luckily we found ourselves in the right time and place and the fish came in quick succession throughout the day which provided a great opportunity to test several different natural booby patterns.
Small black boobies often get mistaken for snails.
Small black boobies often get mistaken for snails.
The results were unanimous, Simon had taken a single fish to his booby blob to my dozen on the natural patterns, but why? This could be for a number of reasons; firstly the fish may have seen plenty of nasty stuff in the post lock down fishing rush and less likely to make the same mistake twice. Secondly, much of the margins around Blagdon have heavy weed beds for the fish to patrol looking for snails, shrimp, fry and nymphs – the neutrally buoyant natural boobies may present a more representative meal for the Trout in an environment where they are zoned into suspended food. Finally, I believe that the silhouette of a fly is as important as the colour, and darker colours present a silhouette to the fish but without spooking them with bright colours. So rather than eating a bright fly based on its colour and their instinct, the natural colours only present the suggestion of food without spooking the fish with the neon colours.
 
The ‘natural’ booby seems to have it’s place and will be something I continue to have in my back pocket for competitions and pleasure sessions from here on. Here are a couple of my favourite examples for you to try.
A standard example of a beefy Blagdon fish, this one went home for dinner.
A standard example of a beefy Blagdon fish, this one went home for dinner.

Sean’s Damsel Booby
This pattern is a great allrounder and is fished pulled or static, whether in open water or in the margins it is capable of catching fish. The smaller 5mm eyes provide a more neutral buoyancy making it a great pattern for fishing short lined off the side of a drifting boat.
 
Thread: Olive UTC 70
Hook: Dohiku HDN Size 12.
Wing/tail: Comp Candy Olivesque Marabou.
Body: Veniards Olive UV extra fine straggle fritz.
 
Hare’s Ear Booby
A fantastic fly for the weed beds, can be fished neutrally buoyant mid water or twitched across the surface. Try tying some with black eyes too, these can often be gobbled up by snail feeders and the smaller foam eyes help with a slow sinking presentation.
 
Thread: Black UTC 70
Hook: Dohiku HDN Size 12.
Body/tail: Various Hare mask fibres with UTC mirage flashback.
Rib: UTC green wire
 
Hopper Booby
This is a summer favourite of mine and is great fished slow on a sink tip or intermediate to coax those shy biting fish during the warmer weather. The best fun can be had fishing two on a 16ft leader evenly spaced and twiddled across the surface on a floater – just wait for the bow wave. Also try a few in ginger, claret and olive.
 
Thread: Black UTC 70.
Hook: Dohiku HDN Size 12.
Body/tail: Various Hare mask fibres with UTC mirage flashback.
Rib: UTC green wire
 
The Autumn Booby
I’m not sure why, but this pattern seems to perform best during the back end of the season, and generally produces the goods when fished as a traditional booby with a sinking line. Try this pattern on the point of a team with a bright blob on the top dropper for best results. Black and grey eyes also do well, but the key is to use 6mm eyes to generate more tantalising movement on a sinking line.
 
Thread: Brown UTC 70
Hook: Dohiku WSL Size 12.
Body/tail: Veniard brown marabou.
Rib: UTC holographic red tinsel.
Eyes: 6mm Tan Premium HD foam.
 

Tight lines,
Ben
Originally written for Today's Fly Fisher Magazine.

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