Booby Eyes

Author: Kieron Jenkins

As the season starts, boobies are (I dare say) normally the first plan of attack on most reservoirs when the fish are deep. Fished on a heavily weighted sinking fly lines, such as an Airflo 40+ fly line with a sinking density of 7 inches per second. The flies are hurled out into the horizon and allowed to sink to the bottom, hopefully to where the fish are feeding.

Leader length is dependent on a few things, depth of water, bottom features such as weed or stones and the level of which the fish are feeding at! Keeping a gold headed Montana nymph off the bottom is a pretty hard task whether it’s being fished on a floating or sinking line when retrieved slowly. Boobies make this possible because the plastazote eyes give a fair bit of buoyancy.

The eyes on a booby are seen by many to be the hardest part of the fly, not getting the eyes symmetrical whilst rounding off, or the sizing of the eyes when lashed onto the hook, i.e one eye being bigger than the other.

So here’s how I do mine – There are a variety of ways of tying the eyes onto a hook, but this is the way I find to be the most productive and easiest.

Take your foam cylinder or cord and cut roughly the same length as the shank of the hook. Obviously this wouldn’t work so well if you were tying on a long shank size6, but I feel it does work with hooks of size 10 and under.

To start creating the shape of the booby eyes take away the first edge of the side of the cylinder, that’s the squarest edge. These cuts can be made quite large, I normally aim for five or six cuts around the circumference of the cylinder – Here’s a tip; The easiest way to get even, rounded cuts is to use a curved scissors, keeping the scissors at an angle of about 45o, helps to shape the eye in less cuts as opposed to a straight scissors.

Once you have taken that edge away, another two have formed. As you can see below. (Not so visible on an image but you will see them plain on the one your cutting)

Take the inside edge away with small fine cuts, literally shaving the foam rather than cutting it. This lowers the possibility of taking a big chunk of foam away with just one cut, leaving an unsightly dip in the top or bottom of your booby eye. Do this for the outside edge too, then you should start to see the roundness of the eye emerging.

That’s three separate cuts on different areas that have been made, if you are left with any roughness just tidy it up with a few cuts to take the roughness way, and then apply the same process to the opposite side of the eye.

I cut a few of these eyes in a batch; surprisingly this method doesn’t take very long at all, once you get into it.

To tie the eye onto a hook I use a dubbing needle. This helps me create the eyes before their on the hook. Tie on about 3-4 turns of thread just to secure the silk. I have used 140 UTC white. I prefer to use a colour of thread that dont stand out against the colour of the eye. I.e Yellow Foam – Yellow/White thread.

Place the ready cut eye onto the top of the needle, and move the eye accordingly positioning the thread in the centre of the foam. Two or three tight turns over the eye, half hitch off and remove the thread. This gives you a platform to tie the eyes onto the hooks and also makes it easier as the eyes have already been shaped into ‘eyes’.

Remove the thread and gently twist and pull the eyes around and off the needle, and you should be left with this. The tag that is left is the thread which was tied onto the needle.

I prefer to tie the eyes on last, I think the fly looks neater and none of the foam is going to be crushed with extra thread wraps when tying in a wing or bulky fritz for example.

To tie the eyes on, complete your fly, leaving sufficient room, usually about 7-8 turns of thread from the eye is ample, but if you’re using smaller or larger eyes, change accordingly. To secure the eyes, put a small dab of super glue on the thread, figure of eight the silk between the eyes and over and under the shank of the hook.

I feel the best thing about this method is that you can use a thinner thread to actually tie the fly, than what you create the eyes with. A strong thread is needed to pull through the density of the foam, to create the shape of the eyes. This means that no thread changes are needed. Here to tie the fly and also secure the eyes on, I used 8/0 thread, which you hear a lot of people snap when trying to tie booby eyes down.


7 thoughts on “Booby Eyes

  1. Thank for the information. I’ve been tying flies for meany years and always looking for
    the hot fly for the spring fishing. And share with my fishimg friends in camp.

  2. Pingback: River fly lines and booby eyes.. | Ronsfishing

  3. Thanks for the information. I always have trouble tying the eyes on booby flies, I’m going to try your method, it looks much easier! One of my favorite flies to fish, and I really like to tie my own, especially since I want to use my own materials (UV), so great information. Thanks again.

  4. I am having a very hard time finding foam eyes or dumbells for tying boobies. Do you have any suggestions where I can buy any of these? I have looked on many sites and have found that they say they have them but they don’t carry them any more. I am looking for nymph glass, suggestions?

    thanks Jacob

  5. Pingback: Shaping Booby eyes - Fly Fishing Forums

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