Fly Fishers' Republic

Poly Ball Mayfly

June 2, 2006

by Andrew Petherick

Poly Ball Mayfly



The Poly Ball Mayfly is a ‘match the hatch’ pattern used to cover the Mayfly, Hex, or Drake emergences. This is primarily a trout and grayling pattern.

How to fish:

Fished using traditional dry fly presentations. This large fly requires an appropriately built leader and a well executed cast to achieve proper turnover.

Tying instructions:

Toggle sequence Left/Right Handed ↔

Step 1

1. Take the silk to the point shown in the picture.

Step 2

2. Whip an extended body to the shank of the hook. Ensure that it points upwards. If needed, secure with super glue.

Step 3

3. Whip the wings to the shank with figure of eight wraps.

Step 4

4. Top tip – Tie these in longer than you expect you will need. Trim them afterwards. If you trim them in the vice, you will cut them too short. Trust me!

Step 5

5. Select your booby eye ‘stalk’ of foam.

Step 6

6. Trim to a fine point with asharp pair of scissors. You do this to reduce bulk at the tie in point.

Step 7

7. Secure the foam post by its ‘point.’

Step 8

8. Tie in a stiff cock hackle with the concave side of the hackle pointing away from you with the hackle parallel to the shank.

Step 9

9. Form the hackle ‘para-style’ around the base of the ‘post’, tie in, and finish off with a whip finish, or a few half hitches.

Step 10

10. Varnish the exposed thread. For best results apply two coats.

Step 11

11. The translucent effect gives the fly an impression of having an exo-skeleton when viewed by the fish.

Step 12

12. Trim the ends of the wings to a rounded, natural, shape.

Completed Poly Ball Mayfly

13. Ready to deploy!


This pattern was born out of frustration. I was sick of the flies that were available on the commercial market, even flies I had tied myself. This was for three reasons:

1. The flies would often not land the right way up. This would often result in a fish refusing the fly.

2. Traditional flies with big wings meant twisted tippet, not good for presentation.

3. Traditional flies didn't have a realistic 'foot print'. By this I mean, what the fish sees from underneath, looked nothing like a real mayfly.

To combat the problems I faced I came up with the Poly Ball Mayfly. It took a lot of thought, and experimentation but all the essential ingredients are there. Granted, it looks weird, but it works! The Grub hook and poly ball/booby eye foam act as a counter balance to the hook, this means that the fly will always land the correct way up, gravity ensures this. The hackle gives the impression of legs.

The slim profile means that it will not twist the fine leaders that you often need to catch fish during the heavy pressure weeks of a mayfly hatch. Also, when viewed from underneath, the fly looks near identical to a stranded adult mayfly.

The pattern illustrated is actually the MK2 version. The Mk1 was tied with a polystyrene ball in a section of ladies tight. I have changed to the (Veniards supplied) booby eye section of foam for two reasons. The cylindrical section of booby eye foam means that you can increase and vary floatation through the length of foam section. The second reason is that I get embarrassed buying ladies tights! (My girl friend thinks that something strange happens to me in the month of May, as I always ask her for a pair of tights!)