Most of my barbel are taken on nymphs but they will take a fly if they are up on top and it is a very exciting way to fish for them if ever the opportunity arises. Johan Terblanche and I fished to some barbel recently that were feeding on tiny things in the surface film. Every now and then a fish would station itself and rise pretty steadily. If you managed to drift a fly over a fish like this you were in with a shot.

Johan used a little dry I had tied up the night before and I think we both felt that it had performed well. Johan had a couple of mullet on it and we had a few barbel too. When we were done for the day and the fly stood down from active duty I thought I put it to one side in order to take a photo later and, ultimately, to tie up a few more.

I wasn´t born yesterday and so have no illusions about this being any kind of magical pattern. Nor is it a particularly original concept. But when the fish are onto something small right in the surface film I will dig around and see if I can find another like this.

It is a breeze to tie. The body is simply dubbed and a little foam is added over the eye of the hook to allow the rest to hang down in the film vertically or near vertically. In essence it behaves like a suspender buzzer.

I like foam because it floats! I have been rather disappointed by many “dries” I have tied in the past that decided the surface just wash´t for them. No doubt this is at least partially due to my shortcomings as a fly tier and the crappy hackle feathers I seem to own. With a foam dry there is no hackle to treat. Life seems simple. I like it that way.

The foam I used on the fly we used was black but I like the thin foam that you get as a wrapper for electronic goods which is translucent white. It seems to mimic the wing colour of an insect better although I imagine when the barbel have their eyes close to the surface they are more tuned in to what is actually in the surface film itself.


A nice fish for Johan taken on the fly.


Yum yum! This is the fly. It was tied on a size 14 jig hook. It is looking a little the worse for wear but had taken a half dozen or so fish before its portrait was taken.


The nice things about this fly is that you have quite a lot of room to experiment. This one is tied on a conventional hook, again size 14.


This is tied with white foam. One of the nice things about these dries is that if they get damaged or you want to, you can tear off the wing and have a serviceable nymph!