Friday, January 24, 2014

Turkey Biot BWO

     I was both humbled & amused by Scott Sadil’s article in the Jan-Feb issue of California Fly Fisher magazine, featuring the Bird’s Bunny BWO, a soft-hackle pattern I tie for meeting Blue Winged Olives. Scott ties a perfect example of the Bunny. And, more important to the subject than fairly nailing my profile (glad he left it where he did), he makes a point of mentioning that there is no be-all-end-all pattern for meeting the spectrum of BWO hatches. No one sure thing. And it is helpful to anglers fishing over BWO's that Scott said that, as it is certainly true in my own experience. No matter where you fish, there are likely to occur at least a couple species of small mayflies referred to as Blue Winged Olive, & in a fairly broad range of sizes, from #14 to #24, & a variety of colorations. So, for that reason, it’s good to carry at least several versions & sizes representing BWO. The Bird’s Bunny, in a #16 or #18, is fairly reliable on my homewater & other places, yet not everywhere, nor in every situation that I’ve fished it. And, even on the same water, fishing over the same BWO species, I have noted a daily preference in what trout want – one day it’s the light colored pattern, & the next day it’s the dark one – even in the same (usually low) light conditions. Why? I don’t know, really. And also intriguing is that the trout will all be of one mind on the subject of preference, what they are going to like on a day. That is the way of trout, & whatever their reason, it’s a good idea to carry a variety of patterns to meet whatever is trending, or at least a dark & a light version in #18.  Here’s a version tied with turkey biot that is showing some promise. I like quill bodies, & really like the ease & result achieved with turkey biot:

Biot BWO

Hook: #14-#18 Daiichi 1150 (I like this hook for its up-eye, & because the wide gape puts more iron to big fish, while the short shank results in a smaller sized imitation than standard wetfly hooks. I tie a #20 on a #18. And remember: nymphs will be one size larger than the adults you are seeing, if it’s the nymph & not the drowned adult you are simulating.)

Thread: Gray or olive

Tail: Light honey-dun hen hackle fibers – four fibers, about the same length as the body

Abdomen: Olive turkey biot wound as a quill body – wind a thread underbody & apply a coat of thick head cement to the thread before winding the biot – I like Loon Hard Head for this

Thorax: A short thorax of light-medium gray rabbit or muskrat dubbing

Hackle: Light honey-dun hen – & finish~

Flyfish the upper Columbia - NE Washington with Steven Bird:  


  1. Thanks for an excellent blog with one fine pattern after another. I have a question about the Turkey Biot BWO: Can you provide a picture of the Light Honey Dun Hen feather and some suggestions about where they can be found. I love this pattern but have been forced to tie it with medium dun that has had some success. I'd like to tie it exactly as presented.

  2. Bill, thanks for the kind words, & the report on the Turkey Biot BWO. You might find the hackle here:

    I posted a photo of it here:

    The honey dun I'm using is found on the flanks of a Welsumer hen, which is basically a speckled brahma, but with clear hackles on the flanks. Paler than the sample foto is fine, as is a very pale grey/blue dun. The hackle on the BWO in the foto is a tad longer than ideal, but I'm not overly fussy. More important for this pattern is to keep the hackle sparse, one turn, stripped on one side, seems to work best.

    Let me know how it works out for you. If you can't locate the hackle, send me an email message & I'll mail you a few.