Have you ever been to Roche Lake in the fall and witnessed the water alive with dimples on a sunny day? You are indeed in luck as water boatman are active and causing frenzied action by those large Roche Lake rainbows. However, you just may be out of luck if you do not have a water boatman imitation in your fly box! I prefer to use a foamback boatman with a sink tip line. With an erratic, jerky retrieve, the foam will help to pop the fly up during part of the retrieve thus more closely mimicking the real insect. Watch out because the strikes are usually violent as the trout do not softly take a boatman like a chironomid, thus the action can be very exciting!
Make sure that you keep the fly small, no larger than size 10, as you do not want to imitate the bigger, fierce biting back swimmer! Start by scraping a short length of fiber from a single peacock herl. You can use your thumbnail to accomplish this taking care not to break the strand. It is best to use a new piece for the second paddle, leaving the unscraped end fairly long so that you can trim it to the correct length later. Tie these paddles onto the hook shank about 1/3 of the distance hook eye to hook bend, perpendicular to the shank. Next, tie your silver chenille to the hook shank and wind it forward to the hook end, taking great care to not distort the paddles as you wrap past them. I buy my foam at fabric shops in thin sheets and cut the foam as needed. Cut a strip from the side of the sheet perhaps 3/16 inch wide and much longer than the hook. Trim the head end round and make your first tie just behind the hook eye to simulate the boatman head as you cinch down the foam with your tying thread. Now hold the end of the foam up and carefully wind your invisible thread back through the chenille body, again making sure you do not distort the paddles, and half hitch at the hook bend. Then pull the foam strip tight across the top of the body and cinch it down at the hook bend with several thread winds to turn the foam into a point. Tie off, cement, trim back the paddles to length and you have finished a fly that is indespensible when the water boatmen are flying! For a more sophisticated version, see Philip Rowly's excellent article about the L. R. Boatman in the Nov/Dec 2005 BC Outdoors Sportfishing magazine.
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