Booby Flies – The History

You might have heard about it but not sure what it is or how to use it?

The Booby fly is so effective due to its bobbing action as the foam lifts it up in the water column and the wriggle effects of the marabou as it gets pulled through the water often proves irresistible to trout.


The first booby flies are from English magazines published in the late 1950’s. They were called “Booby Nymphs” back then.

The fly was initially designed to imitate nymphs surfacing where the foam was used as an alternative for the bubbles used by these nymphs as they emerged from the weeds and lake bed. This bubble of air held the insect in the surface film while it changed into a flying insect. They were originally used on floating lines.

As with any fly improvements and triggers where added hence why we know the booby to have marabou tails and fished mostly on sinking lines to exaggerate the motions of the fly. This gave more life to the fly which in its turn increased catch rates on them.

Booby flies became bigger to imitate fish fry, therefore being fished on sinking lines. The fly became so effective that it was banned from some lakes and some bans still apply today.

The Booby Today

Today’s booby flies have advanced from the previous versions with a lot of detail going into triggers and movement as well as more rounded foam eyes. These foam eyes are also made from closed cell foam to offer more buoyancy than the initial flies.

We see a lot of variations on the fly in the competitive scene as the original has been transformed to have more movement and better attraction capabilities. Materials such as chenille, flash, and Fritz are seen on the modern day Booby Flies.

Basic Fishing Method

Lines from Fast intermediate to a Type 7 line is being used, the method is very basic to fish this fly. Give ample time for the line to sink and use 10 -20 cm tugs to retrieve the line. Pausing between each tug to ensure the fly floats up in the water column, In essence, you can cover a wider part of the water effectively with this fly.

If you fish the fly for the first time make sure you understand the dynamics of the fly by throwing it out into the water you can see it in. Wait for the line to sink and tug a few times.

Only by watching the movement of the fly as you tug and release will you learn how to work the fly.

In still-water, you have to provide the movement to the fly to make it become “active”. In summer on still days, especially if there fish activities on the surface, fish the booby on a slow intermediate line making use of 20 cm tugs. This will sink the fly and make it “emerge” back into the surface film. This is a deadly tactic late afternoons when the hatches come.

How to tie a Booby Fly

The booby fly can be tied on hooks ranging from 14 all the way to an 8. The important thing to remember is to get the proportions right when the fly is wet.

Always tie the eyes on first 

It allows you to judge the body length and width of the fly much easier. This also allows the eyes to sit well on the hook shank. Use a small drop of super glue to keep the eyes in place.

The eyes are normally made out of closed cell foam cylinders of your choice in colour and size, The most effective way of getting a beautiful eye is to use a Dremel tool to round the eyes of, Originally scissors was used to cut the eyes round.

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

Tie in a bit of flash in the tail.

Form the body with chenille/dubbing whichever you prefer. You can also add some hackle if you like for improved movement.

These booby flies are tied in natural as well as attracting colours.

THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE when tying Booby Flies is to ALWAYS tie on BARBLESS hooks as fish tend to swallow the hooks deep into the throat.