The Dark Side of "Fly Fishing": Blobs and Boobies

Updated: Jan 24, 2020

The "Popsicle" UV Booby got the best of this fiesty Trout!

For quite some time now, ever since I fell in love with Fly Fishing, I have been somewhat of a purist when it comes to fly fishing our interior stillwaters. I never understood the hype behind fly fishing a "fly" that essentially wasn't representing a fly at all. When I first started to notice the increasingly growing popularity of these obnoxious looking "flies", as some called them, I was quick to scorn and share my disdain for such abominations to the fly fishing world. These Blob's and Boobies and now the dreaded "Mop" flies were spreading throughout the internet like wildfire. My initial thoughts were how is this even fly fishing? After all, what insect do they imitate? I have even heard some go as far as to say some blobs are a representation of daphnia/ zooplankton (a.k.a water flea) clusters, but who are they trying to convince? the fish or themselves? Ridiculous and laughable if you asked me, since when does plankton form together into large clusters so dense that they take on the appearance of a colourful solidified ball? I certainly have never experienced such phenomenon and I’d be willing to bet neither have anyone else. One might as well tie berkely's powerbait to their fly line...nothing more than a scented trout dough imitation without the scent if you asked me! And as such, all of these Blobs and boobies seemed to take away part of the very essence of "Fly" fishing which was trying to imitate the insects and aquatic invertebrates that foraging fish feed on. If I was to "Fly Fish" I was going to go fish imitations of "flies" and that was about it, plain and simple. For years I have looked on and shook my head as to why any fly fisher would want to tie on such a thing and I seen them almost as a cheap way to cheat your way into shaming some poor fish, after all there it was very likely the fish are being tricked into thinking it is a natural food source. But as time passed and the more and more popular they became amongst the still water community, the more the "dark side" of fly fishing began to peak my interest. And while I still do hold some of these same thoughts, now to a much lesser extent, my mind has changed and as much as I hate to admit it, I have (shhhh!) secretly fallen for these awful looking "flies". I didn't just say that aloud, did I? Truth is, somewhere deep inside all of us beyond our ego's and corrupted adult selves lies an inner child that sees the greatest joy in just catching a fish on anything, it doesn't matter the set up or lure or bait or fly or size or species. Regardless of being true fly fishing as defined by the purist most just love the tug and moment of realization that you've hooked into something and the fight is on. That to me is what it is all about. Well, I can't speak for all, but at least for me I'm just one big kid inside looking for cheap thrills and I love to fish, Period! But it didn't just happen overnight. Much like Darth Vader, It was a very slow progression over to the dark side lol. It took getting my butt handed to me on the lakes a few times by other anglers hammering away on fish while I refused to join the party. But as I beheld the power these abominations had on poor unsuspecting trout, Little by little I opened myself up to the thought of tying a few and testing them out in only the worst of scenarios after witnessing the total annihilation the Blob's and Booby flies had laid upon our local waters. While I still don't fully understand it, there is something about these things that just trigger fish like Iron Mike Tyson. When the fishing stinks these in most cases will pick up the slack and can even turn a really poor day of fishing into a day of epic proportions. I really had no idea to what extent until that very thing happened to me. At this point, I was not yet converted and had only dabbled with blobs & boobie flys in rare occurrences of desperation, I had tried them a few times and had little success. Perhaps I was fishing them wrong or they weren't all they were cracked up to be I didn't know. I came to the conclusion that they were just mediocre flies with mediocre results that seemed to work reasonably for others on occasion but not for me. And so I didn't much care anyways for it wasn't true fly fishing anyways. I had a few of various colors and styles that took the back of the bench in my box and then one day it happened. The fish were being very un-co-operative and fishing sucked regardless of my efforts and numerous failed attempts. I tried everything I knew, but, Not a sniff, So once again I tied on a blob in my last bit of hope to just feel that tug and not go home skunked. I caught a fish immediately, followed by another, and again, and again, and again and again. I caught so many fish on them in such a short period of time it was unbelievable! I finally knew firsthand the hype and why people tie these things! The power of the Dark side was extremely strong! And so after having saved a day of potentially getting skunked, I quickly learned thereafter on numerous occasions when all else fails and you just want to catch some fish these attractors can work and sometimes work exceptionally. Not only do they work well as a fail safe when the fish are being moody, but also as a great searching pattern. If you're looking to simply intercept a fish or two to quickly do a stomach pump and see what's going on in the trout world that day they generally will do the trick in most cases. If you pump a fish and discover small organisms such as chaoborus larvae (glassworms) or Daphnia are on the menu, your best bet is to just stick with it. This is when the blobs and boobies can really shine. I've also learned sometimes how you present them can make a significant impact on results as well. I generally fish them close to the lake bottom using a type 6 full sinking line and short leader maybe 4-5ft long with slow to medium paced strips with the odd pause in between but also will change it up frequently to see what works best as sometimes they want them stripped fast and sometimes a static presentation with a full floating line can be key, as is stripping them in the upper water column using a clear intermediate line. In saying that, it is good to tie some with more buoyancy and others with some lead or brass/tungsten beads to allow the fly to sink and sit under the indicator. It all really depends on the day and lake but if you're not into failure and going home skunked they are a must have in any still water anglers flybox and can sometimes make all the difference. They have been a day saver on numerous occasions and I haven't looked back ever since. I now simply think of them now as just another attractor style pattern, or at least try to convince myself, after all how much does a crystal chenille leech pattern really resemble a leech? How does many popular modern Stillwater flys resemble the real deal anymore? Truth is, they don’t In the slightest. Most modern leech patterns are not much different than these blond or boobies. In many instances like it or not Fly fishing has evolved and It doesn't really necessarily need to imitate anything as when I am using these flys in particular I am not exactly targeting feeding trout, but rather moody trout and am trying to key in on their aggressive behaviors and primal predatory instincts. Kind of like targeting salmon that have entered the rivers to spawn and stopped feeding. Key into those aggressive piscatory instincts and provoke or tick one off enough he smashes it like a freight train. And they do! believe me! Hold onto your rod because the takes can sometimes be unreal! I have since adapted and altered my still water strategies to incorporate these attractor style flies more frequent than not. Unfortunately there is a down side to it all. In some instances trout will sometimes inhale and swallow these things deep. So if you're practicing catch and release like so many of us are, we are not looking to harm fish and send them home to their watery grave, barbless is key to removing them without harming fish and a good pair of forceps can get down inside the fish's mouth easily over pliers and still be able to see what's going on where you can usually carefully remove the hook by pushing down towards the fish's stomach to unhook. If they have swallowed it too far and there is any reason to believe you could cause the fish harm, cutting the line is the better option, as overtime the hook will eventually come loose, even if it means being there long enough to rust itself out, the fish will still live on. So with all this being said I thought I should share with you all my most productive Blob pattern thus far and favorite Booby fly variation and have put together two instructional videos for anyone wanting to know how I tie them. Best part is, they are so simple anyone can tie one (especially the jelly fritz blob) and is a great pattern for beginners tyers/fly fishers. Blob flies do take away from the artistic side of fly tying which is one aspect of fly fishing that I love, but it's simplicity, durability and effectiveness can't go ignored. I also find just using this one single color to work just as good if not better than the more colorful variations out there. One thing I do think makes a big difference is the materials used, in this case FNF Jelly Fritz in safety orange is my personal favorite. So here it is,

And for those who may be interested in a new and unique Boobie pattern I developed that works wonders, I also wanted to share with you all the UV "Popsicle"! When the Meat and Potatoes don't cut it, throw 'em a Popsicle! ; )

I hope you all enjoyed the read and hope if you were as reluctant as I was to fish them, will give them a go as you won't regret it, after all tight lines and bent rods is what it's all about and how you get 'em isn't as important as is the smile on your face when that behemoth trout breaks the surface in splash and starts peeling line far out into the lake, I can almost certainly guarantee that in that moment no purists will have much to say, except for maybe "get the net"!

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