limbo|ˈlimbō|- (or seductive undulating and alternative uses of foam in fly design)

noun
1 the abode of ‘unbaptized’  nymphs, and of the just who died or are about to before hatching.
2  a voluntary uncertain period of awaiting a decision or resolution; an induced intermediate state or condition or indecision of water level beingness: the fate of these insects is now in limbo: neither floating nor sinking, just ‘there’.
• a state of neglect or oblivion: cast out and allowed to reside in a state of piscatorial limboness.

'Limbo' TLC 11-7-13

ORIGIN late Middle French ‘Limbes’: from the medieval Latin phrase in limbo, from limbus ‘hem, border, intermediate, limbo.
’limbo 2 |ˈlimbō|noun ( pl. limbos )
verb [ no obj. ]
to fish in such a way.

ORIGIN 2: back to the foam part.
in a roundabout way, it’s pretty simple to make a fly float or sink. create an ensemble of floating/floatant holding materials in a sufficient volume and it should easily stay on top through fast and slow waters and maybe even after catching a few fish if the materials aren’t too slime-absorbant.
invert those basics and if need be add some actual weight and it’ll sink towards the bottom easily.
now, what about when we’re faced with fish that are greedily eating bugs just under the surface and are completely ignoring any fly presented above or below them ?
a pretty standard  technique in this situation is to control fly depth through the use of various types of fly line densities (or various density sink-tips) but that involves retrieving the line in stillwaters or having the line ‘swing’ in currents. that’s all fine and well but sometimes (often… ) that’s too much movement as far as the fish are concerned. a lot of observations in many water types have shown that they can be lazy bastards at times and will only be interested in bugs that are basically stationary: close to their slimy mouths…

enter the Limbo (or any other pattern that can be relied to hover as much as possible before eventually sinking): and here’s where the foam and ultra-soft materials come in.
closed-cell foam is usually considered a sure-fire floating material but depending on its volume and whether its compressed or not changes that common characteristic to one that also helps a fly stay under the surface yet sink as slowly as possible: the closest thing we can get to actual hovering.
less of a problem in faster waters, in a still or slow water situation, if we use ‘standard’ materials such as cock hackle or even pheasant tail fibers for the tail and some stiffish dubbing say, like a lot of non-water-absorbing synthetics or seal’s fur we end up with a stationary and pretty rigid imitation. replace those stiffish materials with the soft, water absorbing materials like very soft hen hackle for the tail and rabbit underfur combined with no more than a dozen hare ear guard hairs to represent a few legs and other straggly emerging bits and now we have an imitation of a bug that’s stationary yet moving a little bit as if it’s still alive or gently undulating with the current in its death.
this gets the lazy bastard’s attention.

this fly’s general profile is pretty  generic so that leaves us a lot of room to adjust the basic construction ideas to match the various bugs of our waters. the trick here compared to the standard float or sinking fly is finding the exact balance between the floating and sinking elements without forgetting how it has to combine with the hook’s weight or some eventual pull from the leader.
this takes some experimenting. expect to come up with a lot of duds and stripping the hook to start all over again before finding the ‘just right’. i test each one at home before fishing them. it’s one of the better uses of bidets there is.
also keep in mind that everything usually changes when going up or down a hook size or hook shape or from one type of insect to another. to be honest, this has been the toughest challenge i’ve ever encountered in fly tying but then, there aren’t a whole lot of times when ‘cracking the code’ feels this good when all else fails.

you can find all the necessary goodies to make these critters and a lot more from Lucian Vasies at TroutLine.ro

Related articles

one for the Stoners (creating foam extended bodies)

by Curtis Fry at Fly Fish Food

pteronarcys

“These big bugs, AKA Pteronarcys Californica, are the largest of the stonefly order (plecoptera — which literally means “braided wings”) and incite large migrations of fly fishers from around the world as hopeful hatch-matchers descend on the Western rivers that host these giant bugs and their legendary emergences.”

ok, not all of us are able to swarm out west (or east) to go see these massive critters…stone-fly-tattoo

however, just about all of us are lucky enough to have smaller cousins of the stonefly family in our local waters so this video is just the ticket for making our own sure-floating, easy to cast/fish, lively (and pretty-darn cute) imitation to suit our waters.
in what is rather a complex or rather, labor-intensive tying tutorial, here’s a mountain of great advice, tips and tricks on creating extended foam bodies. surely the best i’ve ever seen and one that’s sure to inspire. of course this specific pattern is very interesting but what i’m mostly seeing here are several techniques that can be transposed to many other imitations including floating nymphs and streamers just to name a few.
as i’m sure most of us couldn’t validate the expense of buying full sets of wing and body cutters don’t be put off if you don’t have them. the bodies and wing can simply be cut with scissors or an exacto-type blade, the resultant rough edges are easily made smooth and sexy with a lighter as Curtis shows us when ‘prettying up’ the tail section (but be sure to practice this on a waste piece first !), and you can use a big sewing needle for the extended body pin.
a super-nice trick is how the rubber legs are sandwiched and glued in place instead of the usual tying in. i just had one of those “D’Oh ! why didn’t i think of that?! “ moments…

fly tying step-by-steps: the Failed/Emerging Buzzer

failed buzzer1

by Alan Bithell

“This isn’t a pattern of my own invention. Many years ago Alan Roe arrived home from work late. On looking in the refrigerator for something to eat he saw a box containing 4 packs of Birds Eye Cod in Parsley Sauce. Grabbing it he put two in the microwave for dinner. Between the packs he found a sheet of thin foam packing material. After his dinner he sat for a couple of hours thinking that there must be a fly tying application for this foam sheet. This pattern is what he came up with.”

thank goodness for supermarket food !
in what has to be a sure-fire, hard-core fish-slurping fly, what makes this one stand out is the wing material. standard, thin sheeted transparent foam sure looks the deal at the vice but a) doesn’t float for long and b) gets torn to shreds after just a few fish, usually one. Tyvek on the other hand, has a strengthening backing, keeps its transparency and alleviates all the problems mentioned above. the creative tier will find all sorts of uses for this: wing cases, streamer bodies, shucks and indicators just to name a few.

nice way to tie it on !

failed buzzer2to start your own wrapping click either image for the complete step-by-step, materials list and source. enjoy !

Dremmels, Boobies and the Perfect set of Eyes

by Alun Rees at The Enigmatic Angler

what can be more fun than combining power tools and boobie tying ? NOTHING !!!

the problem with boobies (the foam eyes part) is they’re almost always asymmetric, making the fly spin upon retrieve. this makes the fish dizzy and consequently lazy and then they just sort of pass out and don’t chase the fly. it twists leaders and makes them look like piggy tails. fish don’t like piggy tails.

now, boobie eyes are one thing but the creative Frankensteinish tier will see right away that this little tool can also help make all sorts of smooth, sexy-groovy shapes in foam or cork for various flies: poppers, sliders, bodies, lips, legs etc, etc.
body parts will never be the same !
as noted in the article, be sure to wear eye protection and i’d recommend a mask or buff or whatever to cover mouth and nose. boobie-dust is hard to remove from the lungs !

click on either pic for Alun’s great grinding tutorial. enjoy !

popper shaping

by Mario Meraz

making sleek, sexy and professional looking popper bodies isn’t as difficult as might seem. all you need is a Dremmel-type tool, various grades of sandpaper, a place where you can make a mess, some imagination and please don’t forget: ‘foam vision‘ and ‘foam phlegm‘ suck ! so wear a mask and eye protection !

wednesday’s fairy

a cross-over between a blob and a booby should have been a ‘bloobie’ but that sounds dumb.
‘fairy’ will do just fine, thank you sir…

ps- the eye in the back of the fly is to confuse the fish into thinking the fly is both advancing and retreating at the same time, which in a way it does.

gramp’s box

not mine, my mate Stevie Kennedy’s old man’s old man’s box. he used these flies with great success back in the 50’s on North Irish Lochs.

now what really stands out is the foam floating baitfish pattern, the big white split-tail thing on the right lid. something i would have expected to come out on the loch/reservoir scene much later, maybe by the hands of Bob Church or other tying/fishing guru of the eighties and nineties in England.

lots of things are old and nothing’s new…

stockin’ for Galway

uh-oh, the Irish Fly Fair in Galway’s in two weeks…

as usual, i’m way behind but who’s to complain when you have little gremlins to help tie up the last foam aberrations for the show ? not me !

tying music by Thom Yorke – The Clock