Mart's Bibio

Published Oct 27th 2006

A versatile Bibio pattern with a foam sheet wing


Mart\'s Bibio - The finished fly
Mart's Bibio
Wing and legs - The position of the wing and legs seen from the top of the fly
Wing and legs
Step 1: The body - Dub about two thirds of the hook shank
Step 1: The body
Step 2: Legs - The legs tied in
Step 2: Legs
Step 3: Wing - Cut the wing from a sheet of foam
Step 3: Wing
Step 3: The wing - The foam wing in place
Step 3: The wing
A while ago I read Steve Schweitzer's article on a great fly of his, the PeeMew Midge. It uses thin, semi-translucent foam for a wing, and when wet the foam becomes even more realistic as a wing. This foam is the type of foam used as packaging material for stereo or computer equipment. It comes in sheets, is white, and about 1 mm thick. The result looks perfect. This fly uses the same type of foam as wing material, so: thank you Steve!

Traditionally, the end of April is Bibio time. Bibios (Hawthorn fly, or Bibio marci) are black flies that can be as big as 15 mm, and their most striking feature is a pair of long, dangling legs. Bibios fly and hover around hawthorn bushes and other vegetation, and are listed as terrestrials. They hatch from underground. Apparently they are clumsy, and awkward fliers. They often fall from streamside bushes and trees, or are blown into the water by the wind. And trout like them.

Lake Oostvoorne, a brackish, windswept lake on the Dutch coast, holds big rainbow trout. The lake is surrounded by bushes, and by the end of April the Bibio's are on the wing. Around that time it's a good idea to go to the upwind shore, and fish a Bibio. Until a few years ago, any black fly would work, but the last few years we noticed that on our lake a damp Bibio outfishes a high floating dry one. Mart's Bibio is the result of some experimenting with foam, hen hackle and black Angel Hair to produce a fly that does not quite float, but does not really sink, either. Here are the materials and the tying steps.

Hookdry fly, size 12
Thread8/0 Gudebrod black
Bodyblack superfine dubbing
Legsblack (or brown) pheasant tail fibers
Wing1 mm packaging foam
Thoraxdubbed black Angel Hair
HackleWhiting hen, black

Tying instructions

  1. Take the thread to the of the hook, dub a body of about 60% of the hook shank
  2. Tie in two pheasant tail fibers on the left and right side of the fly. Traditionally, Bibio\'s have knotted legs, but these knots are a weak point, where the leg invariably breaks. So I don\'t bother, and tie in the fibers as is. I use two fibers left and right, and if one of these fibers breaks (these Oostvoorne rainbows can be rough on flies), I remove one of both fibers on the other side, too, in order to make the fly symmetrical again. Don\'t know if that makes any difference, but it somehow feels better.
  3. Clip a wing from the foam (mine are about 12 mm long and 3 mm wide, to end at the hook bend) and tie that in. Seen from below the fly looks like shown.
  4. Take a hen hackle, stroke the fibers back, and clip the tip off. The little triangle of fibers makes it easy to tie the hen hackle in.
  5. Tie the hackle in, shiny side up.
  6. Bibios have a relatively big thorax and head, and Angel Hair is a nice material to dub if you want to produce volume without adding much weight. and Angel Hair does not absorb water. Take 2 or 3 strands, and dub the Angel Hair to the thread.
  7. Build up a shaggy thorax/head area. If you dub the Angel Hair loose it will take floatant very well.
  8. Take the hackle, double it by folding the fibers back, and wrap it 4 to 5 times. Build a nice head and clip off the thread.
  9. Stroke the hackle fibers to the left and right, clip off any remaining fibers on the underside of the fly if you wish, and you\'re done.

Step 3: Wing and legs - Wing and legs in place, seen from below
Step 3: Wing and legs

Step 4: Hackle - Preparing a black hen hackle
Step 4: Hackle
Step 5: Hackle ready - The hackle has been tied in and the fly is ready for the thorax
Step 5: Hackle ready
Step 6: Thorax - Ready to wrap a relatively dense thorax
Step 6: Thorax

Step 7: Thorax - The throrax done
Step 7: Thorax
Mart\'s Bibio - The finished bibio fly
Mart's Bibio
Lake Oostvoorne - The famous Dutch lake Oostvoorne can be a good place to fish the Bibio
Lake Oostvoorne

The author on Lake O - Martin Westbeek with a Lake Oostvoorne fish. This one was not caught on a Bibio, though
The author on Lake O
One of the nice things of this Bibio is that it's versatile. Play with it, use lighter of heavier hooks, fish it with or without floatant to the thorax or hackle, wrap a thinner or denser hackle (unlike popular belief, a dense, good quality hen hackle can float a fly), and so on. But make sure you have some Bibios in your flybox by the end of April.

Have fun!

Martin Westbeek
Oct. 2006

User comments
From: jamie o'meara · jamie.omeara·at·  Link
Submitted January 14th 2008

lovely pattern, although being scottish,i feel the "Bibio" should have a hint of red somewhere , although the pheasant tail will add a touch of side colour,so,,,,,,,i added a bit , a little flo red hot spot between foam and hackle, also did couple with one turn red hackle same spot , keeps me happy and works well here when there is a good ripple on water,had too try without red too.......worked just as well,so take the red or leave it,lol

From: Steve Dougherty · skdough453·at·  Link
Submitted March 12th 2007

have used this type of fly for years and have learned a couple of tricks beginners can use.
use different colors of foam from the craft stores grip any sheet in your vice, needle nose pliers, any device that will hold foam and trim around with a razor you got a ready made body or wing. the way you tie this to the hook allowes you to make a fly with a conventional hackle or to wrap your hackle between the hook and the foam and you have a para application. something with a long taper; long may fly bodies.

From: John (in Boise) · jjmrwood·at·  Link
Submitted March 5th 2007

Hi All,
I've been experimenting with lots of different kinds of foam lately, especially inexpensive hobby craft and free packing material types. I have trouble cutting the foam symetrically so, instead, I use wing burners, tweezers, clamps etc and singe the foam to shape with a Bic lighter.

From: pieter de jong · p-de-jong·at·  Link
Submitted December 8th 2006

Hi Martin
Excellent pattern! My vise is eagerly waiting.
Thanks again for the paraloop instruction.
Works great!


From: Frank Baidenmann · f.baidenmann·at·  Link
Submitted November 30th 2006

Compliments for the nice pattern!
I will try it on lake OVM.
I will also try a mix of dark Cdc( meerhoentje of waterkip) and/or sealfur for the thorax!

From: Bas Hermans · b.hermans·at·  Link
Submitted October 27th 2006

GFF and Martin,

Please do keep sending in patterns, background information and tips and tricks for this magnificent piece of water in The Netherlands. GFF is an excelent site, that more and more Dutch Flyfishers are visiting.

This article is an excelent example of how a not only a fly but also it's use is explained in dept.

Keep up the good work, I'll keep an eye on the site.

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