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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Zeph's Water Boatman

A Stillwater Sleeper

water boatman
Water Boatman (photo Tim Spuckler)
Until a few years ago, I had never fished nor really appreciated the lowly water boatman. I'd seen them in the water and knew the patterns existed, but just didn't realize how important they could be to trout on the prowl.

Combine a few trips where I got some good Water Boatman samples from trout and a couple of tips from a good friend who'd seen the same thing and I was a lot more motivated to whip up a good pattern for my stillwater box.

If you want some good info on the insects themselves, check out our friend Phil Rowley's excellent write-up of them here.

This imitation was patterned after some of the naturals we were seeing and I also wanted to include the magical fish catching dubbing that is Ice Dub from Hareline. Tan UV in this case. It's basically fish magnets chopped up and all shiny.

Anyway, the pattern is pretty simple and also incorporates more Loon UV Clear Fly Finish like we did on the previous snail pattern. Here's the top and side views...

Zeph's Water Boatman

Material List

Hook: Daiichi X Point X710 #14 - #12  -- Buy Here --
Thread: MFC 6/0 Black  -- Buy Here --
Shell: Fino Skin or MFC Skinny Skin, Black or Brown (color to match)  -- Buy Here --
Under-Body: Ice Dub, UV Tan -- Buy Here --
Body Coating: Loon UV Clear Fly Finish, Thick & Flow  -- Buy Here --
Legs: Krystal Flash, Rootbeer  -- Buy Here --


  1. This pattern has me wondering. I notice you tie some patterns that have "hard" bodies. It seems there has been a debate in fly fishing over the years as to which patterns are more effective: those with hard bodies or those tied with materials that have more motion. What has been your experience in fish response to hard-bodied patterns versus a more supple bodied pattern?

    1. Because the boatman has an exoskeleton, it probably won't make much of a difference that this bug has a hard body.
      I think about the bass guys that fish with crank baits too. Baitfish aren't hard, but crankbaits catch plenty of fish.