Our Man In Canada
July 31st, 2006
Boob Tube Waking Fly

Boob Tube
By Tyler Cushnir, Kingfisher Rod & Gun Club, B.C., Canada

Comments: First tied in August 1997, as the Steelhead Boobie; a regular hooked fly, but in 2000 it became a tube fly and was renamed the Boob Tube. I needed a simple, unsinkable waking fly and I wasn't enthralled with any of the standards, so I set out on my own.

The concept is a spin-off from a British trout fly known as the Boobie. I had come across it while checking out a British trout magazine. Apparently it was a controversial and deadly fly on lakes in Britain. In fact, many waters banned it outright; needless to say, this caught my attention. It was fished as a wet flies on Hi-D lines and three-foot leaders. The long marabou tail wiggled irresistibly as the foam "boobies" moved the fly. I tied some for interior lakes and they were deadly. For a couple of years they were one of my "trout secrets." Then in preparation for an early trip to the Morice I was considering some waking flies. It struck me that in the first article on boobies that I'd read, there was mention that it was originally a waking pattern, - hmmm. The first Boobie was basically a Bomber with the foam "boobies" up front; it definitely floated and waked. On its maiden voyage, less than five minutes from the By-Mac launch on the Morice River, the Steelhead Boobie took a sleek 10 pound fish! I had my waker.

In 2000 when I switched to tube flies for steelhead I turned my attention to the Steelhead Boobie. I had never been really happy with the bomber shape, so I tried some alternatives. The new style was inspired by Collin Shadrech's Bulkley Mouse, which is like a giant Elk Hair Caddis. The simple tie of the flared deer hair up against the back of the "boobies" was perfect; even better, the black air brake tubing I use for most of my tubes made the perfect body.

The final piece of the Boob Tube came during that first 2000 season. Once again, reading a British magazine, this time an Atlantic salmon publication, I came across a method of riffling a tube fly. It involves a small hole on the underside of the tube a short distance back from the head end of the fly. The leader is threaded up from beneath and through this hole, then threaded down the tube and tied to the hook as usual. This brilliant technique cocks the fly up on an angle and planes the fly up onto the surface. As well, with the hole at the bottom of the tube, there is no need to worry about which side of the river you are on—as with a riffle hitch—it will wake from anywhere! The Boob Tube had arrived.

The Boob Tube is probably B.C.'s first waking tube pattern. It is a truly unsinkable waker that functions in all water types equally well. It is also a combination of a number of radical concepts, using foam, tube and riffle hole that can be successfully adapted to many other patterns. I have fished it in sizes that range from a sparsely dressed 1 1/2" to a fully dressed 2 1/2" long. While the original colour was natural deer hair with black foam eyes, a purple version with black eyes has proven effective, as has a Boob Tube with black deer hair and yellow eyes, which as a bonus is quite visible to the angler.

While this fly has been kept somewhat quiet until recently, it has had success on the Morice, Bulkley, Copper and Babine, as well as the Thompson.

Fly Fishing Techniques: This fly is used in the standard waking manner, fished under tension and followed or led through its arc as required. A unique feature of the Boob Tube is that while it is a radical waker, that is, a fly that planes up and onto the water due to its design and the force of the current, it will also float and wake in very smooth, even flows. Furthermore, with the exception of the foam, it rides in the surface providing a great silhouette.

An interesting variation of the two-fly "waker/dropper" technique is possible (and legal in B.C.) with the Boob Tube. Due to the construction of the fly, the leader can be pulled through the tube two or three feet and a low-water pattern can be trailed. The waking hole in the front of the tube will lock the waker in position on the leader. This is a deadly technique in tough conditions. The fish come to investigate the commotion of the waker, then take the low-water trailer.

Recipe - Boob Tube

    Originated and contributed by Tyler Kushnir

    Hook: Size 4, Partridge Nordic Single

    Tube: Black air brake tubing approximately 1" long.

    Thread: Black.

    Boobies: 3/8-inch foam stick about 3/4-inch long tied in with cross wraps then clipped to shape.

    Body: None, the black air brake tube does the trick.

    Wing: High-quality deer hair, natural, black or purple Intended use: Waked tube fly for summer-run steelhead.

Waking Hole Note: Turn the fly bottom-up and poke a flame-heated bodkin needle through the tubing at a 45-degree slant toward the hole at the front of the tube. Start far enough back so as to ensure that the needle doesn't melt through the front edge of the tube. Work the needle back and forth to swage the hole, let it cool and you are done. ~ Tyler Kushnir

Credits: The Boob Tube is one of hundreds of flies from the new book Contemporary Fly Patterns of British Columbia by Art Lingren, published by Frank Amato Publications. Art's previous book, Fly Patterns of British Columbia has been featured here before.

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