Fly Fishers' Republic

Booby Eyes (Foam Plug)

December 14, 2006

by Raif Killips

Booby Eyes (Foam Plug)

Buoyant foam eyes, or booby eyes (named after Gordon Frazer’s original Booby Nymph) have been used to modify several well established patterns, giving us a whole collection of flies popularly referred to as Boobies or Booby Nymphs. Amongst others, they include versions of the Viva, Sparkler, Minkie, and Woolly Bugger. In the guide below I’ve cut plugs of foam from a solid block using brass tube obtained from a hobby shop, but you might find a section of old radio antenna or brolley stem will do the same job. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of making your own foam plugs, you can buy ready cut eyes or foam cord from several suppliers.

Tying instructions:

Toggle sequence Left/Right Handed ↔

Stage 1 preparing a plug of foam - metal tubing

1. Use thin walled metal tubing to cut plugs of foam from a solid block of Plastazote orEthafoam (closed-cell foam). Obtain a range of tube sizes to cut appropriate foam plugs for all your patterns.

Stage 2 preparing a good thread base

2. Start the thread at the hook eye and run it toward the bend for three hook eye widths and then back toward the eye. Stop at the centre of the preceeding wraps. Offer up the foam plug to the near side of the hook shank.

Stage 3 The first thread wrap

3. Position the foam plug so the centre of its length is positioned opposite where the tying thread hangs down. Bring the tying thread round the centre of the foam in one complete and loose wrap. While holding the foam in place at the nearside of the hook shank, firmly and progressively pull down on the tying thread.

Stage 4 Foam secured about its centre

4. Make two more tight wraps of thread before releasing hold of the foam plug. Do not release the thread tension. The foam will now be divided in two.

Stage 5 Twist the foam to a position across the shank

5. Work the tying thread behind the foam on the near side of the hook and hold it upwards and in tension. Twist the foam using your right index finger and thumb so the foam lies across the hook shank. Wrap the thread forward through the division created in the foam by the previous wraps.

Stage 6 Make figure-of-eight thread wraps

6. You should now continue to make figure-of-eight wraps to complete the division of the foam and to secure it in position on top of the hook shank. Once the foam eyes are secured, continue tying the pattern according to your chosen recipe.

Booby Viva

7. A Booby Viva, great for early season. Fished in lakes and reservoirs on a sunk line with a slow retrieve.


Use 3/0 thread for tying in booby eyes. You can even use rod whipping thread. This enables you to put sufficient tension on the thread to properly secure the foam without fear of breaking off. Once the eyes are finished, and where bulk is an issue, you can tie off and start a lighter tying thread to complete the pattern.

If you wish to add holographic eyes or 3D epoxy eyes to the foam keep the square cut ends to the foam and simply attach with a drop of glue – epoxy is most effective. Otherwise, if you prefer the eyes to be rounded trim them with scissors to get the spherical appearance of the original Booby Eyes.