The uglies: 9 flies that aren’t pretty, but catch a whole lot of fish

The uglies

These flies may not be easy on the eyes, but they sure do a beautiful job of catching fish


The sophomorically named Booby is built around one distinctive attribute: the bulbous, oversized foam dumbbell at its eye. This goofy thing doesn’t resemble any natural forage, but it’s cleverly designed for one very specific trout-fishing situation—going deep in ponds and small lakes.


Fish it by making long casts on a full-sinking line, then counting the fly down to your desired depth. Use a brisk, tug-pause retrieve, which makes the Booby dart forward, then flutter up—a motion that’s simply lethal.

It’s really just the foam head and vaguely buggy body that provoke reaction bites from cruising fish, so the specifics of the pattern aren’t that important. That means you can customize it to suit local waters, or your creative inclinations. The fly pictured above is about the handsomest Booby you’ll ever see, but there are literally hundreds of possible variations that are longer, shorter, bushier, sparser, duller or more garish.


The booby fly is lethal on stillwater trout like this brookie

Popular colour choices include—but are not limited to—combinations of olive, black, white, chartreuse, pink, orange and red. The head looks tricky, but it’s just a cylinder of craft foam, which forms an hourglass shape when it’s snugly tied down. You can leave it like that, or use fine scissors to trim it into a more, er, classically rounded profile.

  • HOOK: Wet fly, or 1XL or 2XL nymph, sizes 6 to 10
  • EYES: Craft foam cylinder, trimmed to shape
  • TAIL: Marabou (with optional tinsel cheeks)
  • BODY: Chenille or sparkle chenille
  • HACKLE (optional): Soft feather sparsely palmered along body
  • RIB (optional): Tinsel or wire
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