Think Like a Trout, Act Like a Bug.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Fly Tying: Foam-body Backswimmer

Winter fly tying continues...

Backswimmers, while not as prolific as waterboatmen, are a good sized mouthful that most trout won't hesitate to pounce on. Typically found in shallower water where they can easily dart to the surface to replenish their air supply, backswimmers (Notonecta) are a great searching pattern when fishing lakes. 

Aquatic adults (those with fully formed wings) can be found during spring and fall while smaller juveniles (without wings) are more common through the summer months. Both rely on an air bubble trapped on their abdomen to breath under water. This trapped bubble gives their underside a sparkly, glistening look.

Backswimmer (adult) with fully formed wings.
Markings can range from just a few darker lines to extensive mottling in shades of brown, tan, and orange.

Backswimmer (juvenile) with no wings.
Juveniles are usually light cream to tan with some darker hairs along the legs and  underside of abdomen.
A simple and effective pattern to imitate backswimmers is a foam-body fly. The first step in the construction of this one is to tie silver tinsel in at the back and wind it up to the 2/3 point on the shank. Rubber hackle is tied in right in front of the tinsel. This basic framework is then glued to the foam body using 5-minute epoxy. The tinsel and epoxy give the underside of the fly the same shinny look as the naturals.

Foam-body Backswimmers.
Eyes and markings (to match naturals) are drawn on using felt markers.

Foam-body Backswimmers.
The underside is colored green to match the ventral color of most naturals.
The combination of foam body and epoxy make for a fly that is just slightly buoyant (unfortunately the fly tends to float wrong way up, but the fish don't seem to mind). A floating fly line and buoyant fly allows you to work it over top of weedy shoals in the early morning or late evening when trout tend to cruise the shallows. Retrieves can range from just the occasional twitch to high-speed darting, and everything in between - just experiment a little to see what the fish prefer. 

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