My Six Pack of Stillwater Flies - by Gijsbert Hoogendoorn and photo’s by Herman Botes

My Six Pack of Stillwater Flies - by Gijsbert Hoogendoorn and photo’s by Herman Botes

Friday, 20 June 2014 14:18



My favourite Stillwater flies have one purpose in mind and that is to get fish to react.  A good stillwater angler (any angler in general) will fish imitatively and suggestively when conditions require it, while I do have a good selection of imitative flies like buzzers, Gold-Ribbed Hares Ears, crunchers, and dry flies like shuttle cocks and Shipman’s Buzzers, the flies in this selection are what I get most of my fish on.

Here are three suggestions that I think will improve you stillwater fishing that have most certainly worked well for me:

Firstly, fish three flies or occasionally two, very rarely fish a single fly.  The more flies you fish at the same time the better your success rate. Secondly, hooks are the most important part of fly fishing.  This is not the place to save; the better the hook the better the hook-up.  My friend Gary Glen-Young (we discuss hooks almost daily) got me to use Knapek Nymph Hooks as my preferred stillwater hook.  While this hook is not really designed as a stillwater hook, it’s got a very good gape size, an offset point, a long and sharp point and is strong enough for most, if not all trout you may encounter, and most importantly it’s barbless. 

4553 knapek-n-228x182

Knapek's Nymph hook


Lastly, unless you are fishing dry flies, you don’t really need to go lighter than 3x.  Modern fluorocarbon tippets are almost invisible under water and in the end you’ll have more control over the fish, you’ll bring it in quicker and have more success.  You will also be able to release the fish quicker, which is very important.    

For further reference have a look at Iain Barr’s website and Craig Barr’s website for cutting edge stillwater flies that will spur creative ideas for your own tying.  My boat box is essentially based on the flies I find on these websites. 

Borger’s Strip Leech

Click in images to enlarge

4225 Strip Leech

My good friend Herman Botes introduced me to this pattern, of course designed by the legendary Gary Borger.  I tie this fly in three colours, olive, brown and natural grey for different times of the year.  This is a remarkably versatile pattern as it can imitate dragonflies and a variety of baitfish patterns such as baby bass prevalent in many stillwaters in Mpumalanga and Limpopo.  This fly works with a variety of retrieves; I do like to mix it up during one retrieve, from blindingly fast ‘roly poly’s’ (aka saltwater retrieve) to slow hand twist retrieves.  Do what works for you, but don’t just stick to one boring retrieve all the time.  This will bore you and bore the fish. 

Hook:  #8 Knapek Nymph

Thread:  140 UTC Fluorescent Orange

Hackle:  Brown pheasant skin

Body:  Spirit River Diamond Brite Root Beer dubbing

Wing:  Hareline Barred Brown Zonker Strip

Tail:  Hareline Hot Orange Woolly Bugger Marabou

Rib:  UTC Amber (small)

Use Deer Creek UV Fine Resin to treat the head; this will add some fluorescence to the fly.


48884 Minky

Mink is very soft, coupled with the long strips of marabou; this fly just embodies ‘life’.  It imitates tadpoles, but I just think it looks a like a big meal to be had.  I fish this pattern in four colours, black and chartreuse, black and purple, brown and orange and all white.  This fly is surprisingly deadly on the hang. 

Hook:  #10 Knapek Nymph

Thread:  140 UTC Fluorescent Chartreuse

Hackle:  Black Veniard Mink Zonker Strip

Tail:  Hareline Black and Chartreuse Strung Marabou

Use Deer Creek UV Fine Resin to treat the head.


4545 Blob

The notorious Blob. This fly tends to get a number of anglers hot under the collar due to its apparent lack of imitation.  However, it can imitate Daphnia, but for the most part it just screams ‘kill me!’  This is a firm competition angler favourite and comes in a variety of colours, the most popular combinations being orange and chartreuse, orange and sunburst, sunburst, orange, black, black and chartreuse, olive, and pink.  This fly can be fished static on a buzzer rig as the top dropper to act as an attractor, but can also be fished fast as it pushes a lot of water.  This is an incredibly effective fly and if you don’t mind a bit of ridicule from your ‘purist’ friends it will do wonders for you. 

Hook:  #8 Dohiku IB Blob

Thread:  140 UTC Fluorescent Orange

Tail:  Hareline Hot Orange Woolly Bugger Marabou

Body:  Gel Core Fritz by; Fluorescent Sunburst and Fluorescent Orange


The Lawyer’s Fly aka the White Woolly Bugger

4114 Lawyer

Named in certain regions of the United States as the ‘Lawyer’s Fly’ (I guess because it’ll break you down eventually) or just plainly known as the White Woolly Bugger, it is a very good pattern for winter.  The tungsten bead on this fly will give it a jigging motion, which adds to its attraction when fished with jerky retrieves. However, for the most part avoid tungsten on your stillwater flies.  Tungsten presents badly and sinks unnaturally fast.  My biggest fish to date from a stillwater came on this fly, a 9.2lb rainbow hen.

Hook:  #10 Knapek Nymph

Thread:  12/0 White Semperfli Nanosilk

Bead:  2.5mm Orange Tungsten

Hackle:  The crappiest white hackle you can get.  Strip one side and do maximum of four wraps.

Rib:  Silver UTC small wire

Body:  Hareline UV Ice Dub – Pearl

Tail:  White Hareline Woolly Bugger Marabou

Blue Flash Damsel Booby

4668 Booby 

Booby’s are really good stillwater tools.  One, you can fish booby’s effectively over weed beds without getting your fly stuck.  Two, fishing the ‘washing line’ method comes into its own with the booby on the point fly with two imitative flies on the droppers above.  The booby also allows you to control the depth of your flies more effectively especially on intermediate lines when you target fish that are feeding at a specific level.  I’m not sure how this fly actually imitates a damsel, it’s just too big, but I’m not asking any questions, it works!

Hook:  #6 Knapek Wet

Thread:  140 UTC Olive

Eyes:  5mm Lime Green (use a lighter to heat up the edges, it will shape by itself)

Body:  Thread

Rib:  6908 Electric Blue Flashabou

Hackle:  White Olive Woolly Bugger Pack

Tail:  Hareline Olive Woolly Bugger Marabou with the same Flashabou


4343 Cormorant

Thus far I’ve shown you very big and gory flies that get fish to react, however, sometimes you want to go a bit smaller.  The Cormorant which I fish in black, orange, grey and white is an excellent small attractor fly and depending on the colour variations and ribbing colours used, can imitate small baitfish, diving caddis, buzzers and can be tied on a variety of sizes from #10 through to #16.  This is essentially the same as the well known White Death. 

Hook:  #12 Dohiku 302

Thread:  12/0 White Semperfli Nanosilk

Wing:  White Hareline Wooly Bugger Marabou

Body:  Spirit River Chartreuse UV2

Rig:  6904 Flashabou


The author on a Cape stream

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