Yobs, Blobs and Boobies

One of the truisms about fly fishing is that it provides fodder for endless debate, self-limitation being inherent in the sport. Often the focus of disagreement is whether or not a particular piece of gear, technique, or fly is legitimate. Since there is no central governing body of all things fly fishing, no rules committee or international court of appeals, and since fly fishers are probably more inventive than most other sorts of anglers, every so often the classicists rise up in anger over the introduction of a “new way.” And that, many would say, is how it should be.
So it is with the latest fashion in England, which involves the use of “blobs,” balls of fiber that are stripped through the water and have upped the catch rate considerably on English lakes. (You can see blob fly examples here and here.) “England fly-fisherman Jeremy Lucas said while the use of the blob and the booby – a brightly coloured lure with polystyrene ‘eyes’ – could encourage novices, it was ‘repulsive’ to see them used by experienced fishermen. He said: ‘Most of us would wash our hands of it. It reflects fly-fishing in a very bad light.'” Keith Perry in the U.K. Telegraph.

This entry was posted in Flies, History, Techniques. Bookmark the permalink.
  • Hmmm…look a lot like many of the saltwater and steelhead patterns we use here in the States, huh? LOL
    I saw flies on those two pages that looked like “poorly” tied Wooly Buggers, Bunny Leeches, Egg-sucking Leeches…
    And what exactly does a sky blue popper with dark blue feather tail and collar imitate? How much chartreuse do you ACTUALLY see in freshwater fish forage?
    To ME, the sport of angling is about enticing the fish to strike of their own volition. What motivates the fish (territorialism, appearance of an easy meal, etc.) is REALLY highly subject to guessing anyway…since the fish can’t tell us what they were thinking when they took our offerings.
    Don’t we have this debate about three times a year? LOL Haven’t we gone through the surface v. subsurface, weighted flies, beadhead flies, synthetic materials v. natural materials, imitations v. attractors debates ad nauseum since time immemorial?
    In the end, traditionalists (purists) are simply trying to avoid challenges that come from outside their OWN comfort zones. I find that narrow-minded, self-serving, and cowardly. Instead, they should step UP to the new challenges and embrace them. They can still choose to fish imitators if they want to. (these same types railed against the Hare’s Ear Nymph that they now point to as “traditional about 100 years ago) And if they cannot out-fish the boyz tossing shiny, synthetic bugs and streamers; so be it. Isn’t their mantra self-limitation anyway? So self-limitation is only good so long as the limits one chooses allow him/her to catch more fish that “the other guys?”
    This is all about EGO. And I dismiss ego-driven arguments and actions as soon as I recognize them.

  • Gary Mitchell

    I would REALLY rail about an Ear Hair Nymph fly – traditional or not.

  • Paul McLinden, Coventry,Warwickshire,England

    Paul McLinden, Coventry, Warwickshire, England.
    When you receive one phone call about the latest controversy surrounding the blob fly, you smile. When you receive two phone calls regarding the latest controversy about the blob fly, you smile and shake your head. When you receive three phone calls, well, it just becomes annoying.
    When England won the world fly fishing championship on Rutland water way back in 1987, I believe their most successful fly on Rutland was Brain Leadbetter’s Peach Doll, hardly the most imitative of fly patterns.
    Indeed, I spent quite a bit of time corresponding with Brian Leadbetter just trying to establish the exact colour match for the Peach doll.
    In 1990-91, I purchased a copy of “Success with Trout” by Martin Cairncross, John Dawson and Chris Ogborne. In that book the writers suggested there was so much mystique and baloney associated with getting the correct shade of wool for the Peach doll, and that the main reason for the Peach dolls success was overlooked: its effectiveness as a pure visual attractor, they then stated that this fly is best tied with the hottest, most fluorescent and hideously striking orange available. They also stated that it didn’t matter whether they body was tied using wool, chenille or whatever. The bright body was the key to the fly’s success. Let me repeat that, “THE BRIGHT BODY WAS THE KEY TO THE FLIES SUCCESS.”
    The fly which the authors advocated as a replacement for the Peach Doll, is called “The Vindaloo.” They went on to advise the reader: if you’ve had no response after quarter of an hour, then you should remove this fly. No different to the blob then.
    It’s July 2008 and progress is progress. So many technical advancements have been made since those red letter days when England once ruled supreme in the small bubble of competitive fly fishing. The only difference between the blob fly and those mentioned above is the material used in the fly’s construction; just another synthetic material which lends itself to seriously easy fly construction.
    To those anglers and non anglers outside the bubble, competitive fly fishing is perceived as a pleasant and relaxing day out, afloat in a boat, delicately casting bits of fur and feather which represent the trout’s natural diet. Nothing could be further from the truth. Competitive fly fishing is, in my opinion, one of the most physically and mentally draining of any sport on God’s own.
    Take any Olympic athlete, have them practice for two days prior to a match, and then fish the match over another two days, I guarantee they’ll be in bed for a week afterwards. It is, as I’ve said, exhausting.
    Yobs with blobs, I think not. Sure things can get a bit tight during a match, when all the boats are drifting the same area, words will be exchanged; a bit like track athletes jostling for position, but I’ve yet to see “boat rage.” What’s said on the water stay’s on the water. I’ve yet to see a competition angler sin binned, Red-carded or hear of a tunnel punch-up after the match.
    Indeed, only last year, when driving home from a match on Rutland Water the clutch cable on my car snapped, and I was left stranded in the middle of nowhere. The battery on my mobile was dead, it was 9 pm, and I was in trouble. A group of competition anglers upon recognizing me pulled up and handed me a mobile phone so I could contact my breakdown service. Those anglers waited by the roadside with me until the breakdown service arrived. The breakdown service arrived at midnight. During that three hour waiting period another competition angler stopped and offered to take my fishing tackle to a friend’s house nearby, just in case my car was laid-up on the grass verge overnight. I took up his offer with thanks.
    Indeed, a great number of anglers stopped and asked if they could be of assistance.
    Not a yob amongst them.
    Bob Church got it spot on when he said, “It’s no good being able to fish more natural patterns if there’s no hatch for the angler to match! And lures often provide the most reliable alternative.”
    Bob Church is the “singularity” of our sport.
    We have fashions and trends in every sport, only last week during Wimbledon, John McEnroe mentioned just how much the synthetic material technical advancements had changed the game of tennis, and what did we see, the best Men’s Wimbledon singles final ever.
    Fly fishing, like tennis, has seen many changes. We’ve progressed from using split cane rods to high modulus carbon fibre or graphite rods, lighter and larger capacity reels, from silk lines to polymer fly-lines which are designed to sink at exacting speeds, and the greatest improvement, the invention of fluorocarbon leader material which has almost the same refractory index as water, around .09 making it almost invisible.
    As always, the most important piece of equipment in the fly fisher’s armoury, coupled with the retrieve style, are the flies which he or she has on the end of the now almost invisible leader. When I purchase a new rod or reel I have a plethora of tackle to choose from, but it’s down to my personal choice. Fly choice, and the right to choose which fly I wish to fish under certain conditions, again is my personal choice.
    The fly in fashion just happens to be the blob, everyone’s wearing it, but like all other fashions, they come and go. The viva, soldier palmer and muddler minnow, will I’ve no doubt come back into fashion.
    You cannot stop the crowd booing and jeering Ryder cup style, but I’ll make a deal with them… The deal is: when I hear of an angler having been suffocated by a hatch of peach dolls or vindaloos, I’ll stop fishing the blob.
    Comment by: Paul McLinden, Coventry Warwickshire,England.