Blobs & FABs

Peter Gather­cole ties a pat­tern you can’t do with­out on still­wa­ters

Trout Fisherman (UK) - - Contents -

How to tie a deadly win­ter pat­tern

LIKE it or loathe it, the Blob is one of few trout pat­terns to in­sti­gate an al­most emo­tional re­sponse. When it first be­came pop­u­lar, there were many dis­parag­ing com­ments made, not only about the pat­tern it­self, but also to­ward those who would stoop so low as to use it. ‘Yobs with Blobs’ was the most mem­o­rable in­sult and one which you still hear oc­ca­sion­ally. So why such anger? Af­ter all, it’s just a pat­tern – a very sim­ple one, it’s true, but that’s it and one I wouldn’t like to be with­out even if I don’t use it that of­ten. I think it’s this sim­plic­ity that’s part of the prob­lem. Af­ter all, how can some­thing that com­prises lit­tle more than a few turns of Fritz be a proper fly? And what’s al­most worse, why will even wily grown-on fish take it, of­ten in pref­er­ence to a del­i­cately tied nymph? In­ter­est­ingly, many of the Blobs used to­day are quite dif­fer­ent from the orig­i­nals. The first time I en­coun­tered one of the dreaded Blobs I’d heard so much about it looked like a small, bright or­ange golf ball. One thing that has hap­pened over the pat­tern’s evo­lu­tion is that ver­sions have been cre­ated that are smaller and less brightly coloured. What’s also quite re­mark­able is how trout will hap­pily take a Blob when it’s be­ing fished vir­tu­ally static. In­stinc­tively I tend to equate fish­ing a brightly-coloured lure with a fast re­trieve. So, it’s taken a bit of get­ting used to the fact that a Blob can be ab­so­lutely deadly when fished more like a nymph. In fact, us­ing a Blob as part of a team is just what makes it so ef­fec­tive. It means that it can be com­bined with more nat­u­ral-look­ing pat­terns and all can be fished at the cor­rect speed. The ad­van­tage is that ev­ery fly on the leader – whether it be two, three or even four – has a great chance of be­ing taken. But it’s even bet­ter than that be­cause the brightly-coloured fly will draw fish in to in­ves­ti­gate, only for them to take the more nat­u­ral-look­ing pat­tern. Trout mostly lo­cate their prey by sight and by us­ing one or more brightly-coloured flies to at­tract their at­ten­tion the odds of get­ting a take are sig­nif­i­cantly in­creased.

“Blob – it’s not the most in­spir­ing of names. Surely some­one could do bet­ter!”

The slow-sink­ing ef­fect of the Fritz also helps hold a team of nymphs close to the sur­face much like the wash­ing line tech­nique when us­ing a Booby. In fact, by us­ing a FAB, which is in essence a Blob with a buoy­ant foam tail, you have per­fect con­trol – when fish are feed­ing in the top few inches – some­thing that is very dif­fi­cult to achieve when us­ing nymphs alone even if they’re tied on light hooks.

Co­ral Blob

Blob – it’s not the most in­spir­ing of names. Surely some­one could have come up with a bet­ter la­bel. In the US, there’s a pat­tern cre­ated with just the same Fritzy ma­te­rial. It’s called the Er­satz Egg and is tied as an ar­ti­fi­cial salmon egg – ‘er­satz’ mean­ing fake or im­i­ta­tion. See, that’s a clever name, isn’t it? Took a bit of thought, yet we just have Blob. One thing that is im­por­tant when ty­ing any type of Blob is to use the right hook. Fritz is quite a thick, dense ma­te­rial so even if you don’t in­tend to pack it tightly along the shank there’s still enough of it to fill the gap of a stan­dard wet fly hook and in so do­ing re­duce its hook­ing ca­pa­bil­ity. The best choice is a wide gape or short shank hook – they may have a dif­fer­ent name depend­ing on the brand but they are the same thing, hav­ing a much wider gape than a stan­dard wet fly hook of the same size. Al­though Blobs can be tied with nor­mal Fritz or Cac­tus Che­nille there are a num­ber of translu­cent prod­ucts, such as Plush Che­nille and Turbo Che­nille, specif­i­cally suited to ty­ing this style of fly. These types of che­nille have fi­bres that lie in one direction in the same way as a cat’s fur. While this is a dis­tinct ad­van­tage when it comes to get­ting the Blob’s pro­file right, it means that the che­nille must be caught in by the cor­rect end if it’s to be wound prop­erly. For a nor­mal sized Blob 15mm di­am­e­ter Fritz works best. As the fi­bres fold back a lit­tle the com­pleted fly has an over­all di­am­e­ter of about 15mm, which cre­ates the right pro­por­tions for a size 8 or 10 hook. In smaller ver­sions of the Blob the finer 8mm ex­am­ple of the same ma­te­rial is per­fect. Al­though it’s fine to use only Fritz, it can be em­bel­lished by adding a tin­sel tail, rub­ber legs or in­deed a metal bead at the head. In con­trast to the weight of a bead, a tail of foam cord may be added, trans­form­ing the pat­tern from a Blob to a FAB. The first step is to lay a solid base of thread along the shank. Al­though black thread works per­fectly well I pre­fer ei­ther a white thread or one of a colour match­ing the body ma­te­rial. So, hav­ing cre­ated a dou­ble layer, park the thread at the bend then catch in the tail ma­te­rial. It’s not vi­tal to add a tail but it can add a bit of ex­tra sparkle, es­pe­cially if the ma­te­rial cho­sen is some­thing like Krys­tal Flash or Mir­ror Flash. Or, the tail can be formed from a length of 5-7mm di­am­e­ter Booby Foam, mak­ing it a buoy­ant FAB rather than a Blob. To se­cure the tail, catch in a length of Mir­ror Flash half the thick­ness of the in­tended tail, and then sim­ply fold it over to achieve the re­quired den­sity. This tech­nique en­sures that the tail fi­bres can never come loose. The Fritz body can be formed in one or more sec­tions. Blobs of­ten have a bi-coloured body, maybe with a short sec­tion of char­treuse Fritz at the bend. The rest of the body com­prises a length of or­ange or pink Fritz or a va­ri­ety of other colours. To se­cure Fritz to the hook, pre­pare in the same way as other types of che­nille. Be­cause it’s so bulky a short sec­tion of the thin core must be ex­posed and then caught in to stop a lump form­ing at the rear of the body. So, us­ing a thumb­nail or ty­ing scis­sor blades, gently tease away a short sec­tion of the fi­bres. Catch in the Fritz by this bare core at the tail base. Add fur­ther tight thread turns, car­ry­ing it a short dis­tance to­wards the eye. Now take hold of the Fritz and wind on two turns, stroking the fi­bres back with each turn. This process is im­por­tant as the rel­a­tively long Fritz fi­bres are eas­ily trapped. What’s also vi­tal is that the Fritz isn’t twisted but is al­lowed to sit flat so that the fi­bres sweep back to­wards the hook bend, rather like the body hackle on a palmered fly. Once the two turns have been added, the loose end of the Fritz is se­cured and the waste trimmed off. The sec­ond sec­tion of the body com­prises a length of Hot Co­ral Plush Fritz, again the stan­dard 15mm width. This is prepared in the same way as the one used for the char­treuse sec­tion and caught in right in front of it. Now a de­ci­sion has to be made. Do you pack the turns very closely to­gether or keep them slightly apart? The for­mer makes for a very com­pact tex­ture while the lat­ter cre­ates a softer ef­fect. I pre­fer the lat­ter where the Fritz fi­bres sweep back to­wards the tail, rather like a very dense palmered hackle. This style works par­tic­u­larly well when ty­ing Blobs in smaller sizes, giv­ing the ap­pear­ance of bulk while still be­ing soft enough to of­fer lit­tle re­sis­tance when a fish takes and im­prov­ing the chance of a more se­cure hook-up. So, take hold of the Co­ral Fritz and with­out twist­ing it be­gin to wind it to­wards the eyes. Stroke the fi­bres back at each turn, keep­ing go­ing un­til the eye. Se­cure the loose end with tight thread turns be­fore ap­ply­ing two thread turns di­rectly on to the shank be­hind the eye. This helps pre­vent thread be­ing cut when the waste end of the Fritz is re­moved. Fi­nally, draw Fritz fi­bres away from the eye be­fore build­ing a neat head with thread. Cast off with a whip fin­ish.

Mir­ror Flash

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