The Pin Fry Fly: A Study in Biots

I think biots are a severely overlooked part of the fly-tying arsenal. I had the good fortune to spend two months in the far northlands of Scotland, with the ability to fish their burns and lochs.

What does this have to do with biots?

Well, one of the best flies I came across there was the Pin Fry Fly. It snagged me more than my fair share of wild brownies. And, this fly uses two materials besides the thread. One of them is a biot. The other, some shiny, shiny dubbing. I absolutely love the simplicity of this fly and how well it catches fish.

Different combos can work to imitate different aquatic prey. Try a combo of grey biots with orange dubbing to be a small fish fry. Or, try a bit of green biots with pink for a damsel fly nymph. Or, use some opalescent/silvery stuff with a bit of darker dun or natural biot to imitate a tiny dace.

I also would suggest using a tiny loop knot to allow it to wiggle better in the current. Not essential, but, it certainly helps. This fly is like a Picasso of flies. Kinda looks like something, but not really; parts could be in the right place, but, maybe aren’t.

But, it works.

Up close, impersonal

Try it as a dropper on a hopper rig in some pocket water. Pull it along reeds in some stillwater this summer to imitate either a dragon fly nymph or a lost bait fish fry. Use it as an anchor/attractor fly with a tiny midge or size 18 to 22 wet hackle as a following fly with a swing.

My favorite technique is to put a bit of splitshot about 8” to 12” above the fly and lob it into the churn of falling water in a small stream and let a trout snag what it thinks is a disoriented meal out of the wash. Super effective. Works here in the States, too: caught a couple of nice wild brookies on some pools below falls in Western Mass tribs.

A Scottish brown that, if I remember correctly, fell to the mighty Pin Fry Fly

This fly is perfect for experimenting. Mock up three or four of whatever combo of the above you think looks good and give them a go. They take 30 seconds to tie, so, you won’t waste time trying something new!

Easy as buttering bread.

Never worked with biots? Here is a good primer.

And, here is a really good online resource (especially for beginners) from across the pond. Many of you may not have heard of (or, maybe you all already do, and I was the one late to the game), but, it’s pretty bloody brilliant.

More here:

  • Hook: Size 10 to 14 wet nymph hook
  • Tail: Turkey or goose biot, depending on your taste and size preference
  • Dubbing: I like mixing something like Ice Dub with something a bit softer to have a combo of shiny and wavy
  • Instructions: Lay down two biots on either side of a hook, wrap them in, and wrap some dubbing by the eye of the hook.

Done. Simple as that.


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4 thoughts on “The Pin Fry Fly: A Study in Biots

  1. Joe, that is an interesting fly which I will tie up a few of. Do you put anything on the hook shank or just leave in bare? I imagine you wouldn’t need anything the way the biots run along side of it. Thanks, Sam

    1. Sam, if you are insta or twitter, send me some picks about how they turn out! I would love to see your creations. Also about covering the shank: that’s up to you! That’s one thing i like about this fly. Some suggestions to try: tying a minnow patten: tie with red thread and cover the shank with a layer of thread and then pearl crystal flash. Another idea: wrap with a bit of silver or brass wire. Tie a couple of each and just see what works for your waters!

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