Intermediate Fly Tying: The Heather Fly - Ian Ruff

The Heather Fly © by Ian Ruff, Herts FDG Heather Fly - Photo courtesy of Steve Waterhouse -

© Photo courtesy of Steve Waterhouse

The Heather Fly (Bibio Pomonae) is a terrestrial seen hovering in great clouds 1-3 ft above the Heather moorland, between July and early September.

It resembles the Hawthorn fly, its Bibio cousin (Bibio Marci), but is distinctive by its ruby red upper thighs on gangly legs. After mating, many of those living close to the (typically acid) water are blown onto the surface.

This results in vast numbers drifting from the lee shoreline, causing trout to slash at them wildly in order to drown them. Once the trout have established that they are both safe and palatable, the takes are very positive, even violent.

The trout will move up to the ripples edge in large numbers in order to ambush the plentiful supply of food. When the 'Heathers' are on, I look for the lee shore with Heather close to the bank for my position to fish. When the trout are really switched on to these flies, usually after a couple of days of an increasing fall, there is some incredibly exiting sport to be had.

It is always worth a move if the wind direction swings, because the trout will move off upwind very quickly, to set up a new ambush just off the new lee bank. A slightly smaller tying with just black hackles works well when trout are feeding on Hawthorn Flies. Flies must be well dressed with floatant and I use 4X Riverge Grand Max tippet because of the violant nature of takes.

Ian Ruff - Herts Branch Flydressers Guild

Tying the Heather Fly

roll over pictures for larger image and tying instructions

  • Heather Fly Step 1
  • Heather Fly Step 2
  • Heather Fly Step 3
  • Heather Fly Step 4
  • Heather Fly Step 5
  • Heather Fly Step 6
  • Heather Fly Step 7
  • Heather Fly Step 8
  • Heather Fly Step 9
  • Heather Fly Step 10
  • Heather Fly Step 11