Devised by Grafham Water expert Bob Worts, Bob’s Bits is a classic example of a dry-fly designed specifically for stillwater trout fishing. Unlike traditional dry-flies, which rely on stiff cock hackle fibres to keep them afloat, this pattern uses a much sparser hackle and teased-out body material so that it sits right in the surface film rather than on it.
The body consists of a pinch of seal’s fur or substitute dubbed thinly on to the tying thread. The resulting effect should be slim but well teased out so that the fibres catch the light and also, when treated with floatant, help to grab the water’s surface. Various colours may be used with, red, black, olive and brown the most effective.
Although not entirely necessary, Bob’s Bits is often tied with a wing. A small pinch of white cock hackle fibres is sometimes added which acts more as a “sighter” for the angler than for the fish’s benefit. As the pattern sits very low in the water it can often be difficult to see, especially in a ripple, so the wing can help in keeping track of the fly.
Hook Size 10-14 light wire hook Thread
To suit the body colour Rib Fine gold
wire Body Red, black, olive or brown
seal’s fur Wing White cock hackle fibres
Hackle Brown cock hackle
1. Fix the hook in the vice and, having run the thread on at the eye, carry it down to a point opposite the barb. There catch in two inches of fine gold wire.
2. Secure the waste end of the wire along the hook shank with close turns of thread. Next apply a little fly-tyer’s wax to the thread.
3. Take a pinch of bright red seal’s fur and tease it out so that the fibres lie in all directions. This will help the fibres lock together.
4. Apply the seal’s fur lightly to the waxed thread. Twisting between finger and thumb, dub the fur on to the thread to form a thin, tapering rope.
5. Beginning where the gold wire was caught in, wind the dubbed fur along the hook shank in close turns.
6. Ensure the resulting body is nice and slim and that there are no lumps. That achieved, wind the gold wire over the body in five or six evenly spaced turns.
7. Remove a slim pinch of fibres from a white cock hackle. Hold them in position on top of the hook and secure in place with two or three thread turns.
8. When you are happy with the position of the wing, add further tight thread turns to fix it in place. Remove the waste ends of the fibres with scissors.
9. Select a brown cock hackle whose fibre-length is one and a half to two times that of the hook gape. This can be judged more easily by bending the hackle stem.
10. Remove any soft or broken fibres from the hackle base. This process leaves a short section of bare stem. Catch the hackle in by this exposed section.
11. Take hold of the hackle-tip with a pair of hackle pliers. Wind on two or, at most, three turns of hackle. The finished effect should be quite sparse.
12. Secure the hackle tip at the eye then remove the excess. Cast off the thread before trimming away the hackle fibres beneath the body.
13. Finally, using a piece of velcro, tease out the body fibres.
WHERE, WHEN & HOW TO FISH
W H E R E
Bob’s Bits works well as a general stillwater dry-fly but is at its most effective during a hatch of chironomid midge (buzzers). Tied in this low-rider style the Bits floats right in the surface film, imitating a midge at the very point of emerging. Use it when adult midges can be seen hatching off in numbers.
W H E N
As it is tied to imitate an adult or hatching midge, prime time for this fly is when the naturals are on the water. If the weather is settled, May onwards is the period when surface activity starts in earnest. As it is the darker species that hatch first, black is the most effective colour during the early part of the season both on the reservoirs and during duckfly time on Irish Loughs.
H O W
Fish either singly or as part of a team on a floating line and long leader. Although the leader should float, treat a short section nearest the fly with a degreaser so that it sinks. This prevents a fish-scaring disturbance pattern forming and is especially important in very calm conditions.
T Y I N G T I P
As the Bits is intended to sit low on the surface, trimming the hackle fibres beneath the hook can help it attain this attitude more easily. Using a sharp pair of scissors, remove just the fibres beneath the hook, leaving the ones at the sides to support the fly.