Weather  MDC


What Are Biots?
by Andres Puls

Biots are the short, stiff fibers found along the leading edge of a bird's primary wing feathers. Depending upon the species of bird, biots vary significantly in length, stiffness, color, and transparency. Goose and turkey biots, which are commercially available split from the feather stems and dyed almost every imaginable color, are commonly used making flies. Use goose and turkey biots, along with biots from other wild and domestic birds,to make wrapped bodies, tails, antennae, wing buds, legs, and a host of ther parts on your insect imitations.

First and foremost, be critical of the quality of the biots used. Some stripped stems have biots that are broken, cracked, and the tips singed by the bleaching and dyeing process. This is readily visible when bending the stems. Second, always select the right biots for the job, starting with the proper species of bird. Goose biots are stiffer, produce a thinner flat rib, and most important, are shorter than turkey biots. Use goose biots whenever possible because they tie prettier, more durable flies. Unfortunately, goose biots are usually too short to wrap bodies on anything larger than standard size 14 dry flies. In the case of larger or fatter flies, use turkey biots.

Goose biots come in many shapes and lengths, even on the same stem. Use short, stout goose biots for making tails (i.e. Copper Johns); save the longer biots for wrapping bodies and tying wings (i.e. Prince Nymphs). Also, pay attention to the widths of the biots used. Narrower biots create more closely spaced ribbing; as a result, narrow biots are suitable for wrapping only shorter bidies.

After finding the perfect-sized biot, pull-do not clip-it from the stem. This trick is especially important when wrapping a biot body because there is often little excess material to gasp with your hackle pliers. Furthermore, the curved notch at the butt end indicates what type of rib a biot will create. Since consecutive biots on a stem are roughly equal size, find the correct size for the job, and then break the stem at that point. Peel the biots from the broken ends of the stem. Be sure to moisten biots before wrapping or folding them around the hook to prevent cracking; place enough biots for the number of flies you want to tie, plus a couple extra biots, inside a wet folded paper towel.

Finally, don;t limit yourself to goose and turkey biots, especially when it comes to tying tails and natennae. Other species of birds, such as partridge, pheasant, ducks, chickens, and other large birds, all have biots of differening colors, shape, and textures.

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Tying Biot Bodies

By pulling the biot from the stem instead of cutting it from the stem will allow you to see the notch in the butt of the biot. The position of this notch will determine if the fly body will be ribbed or flat.


Ribbed Bodied Fly - Biot Midge Pupa
by Andres Puls - Flier Tier Magazine, Spring 2011

  1. Tie the tip of the soaked biot to the side of the hook with curved notch facing up and forward. Be sure the thread base is level, and leave the thread at the bend of the hook (ala A.K.Best).
  2. Grasp the end of the biot with hackle pliers. Pull the biot to the far side of the hook, and wrap it one and a half times around the shank behind the tying thread without advancing the biot forward. Make sure the biot does not twist, and leave it hanging on the far side of the hook.
  3. Make one wrap of thread over the leading edge of the biot. Notice that the thread is now hanging on the far side of the hook behind the biot.
  4. Make another wrap of biot; be sure to cover the previous wrap of thread. Next, make a wrap of thread covering the edge of the second biot wrap.
  5. Continue making the body with alternating wraps of biot and thread. End with the biot on your side of the hook, and the hackle pliers above the shank. Notice the position of the thread; it is hanging on the far side of the hook centered in the last biot wrap.
  6. Make two wraps of thread angling backwards behind the biot, followed by a third wrap angling forward. Make a fourth wrap around the hook shank in front of the biot to finish tying it off. Remove the hackle pliers and clip the biot even with the top of the shank.
  7. Smooth over the clipped biot with three or four wraps of thread. Now you may complete the fly: dub a thorax. create a thread head, whip-finish and clip, and add head cement.


Flat Bodied Fly - Blood Bud Midge Larva
by Andrew Puls, Fly Tier Magazine, Spring 2011

  1. Wrap a thread base and tie on a moist biot with the curved notch facing down and back
  2. Wrap the biot abdomen of the fly using the method in the above exercise. Wrap a large thread base for the thorax and tie-in for the wing buds.
  3. Tie a soaked biot to each side of the thorax with the butt ends facing forward.
  4. Clip the butt off the biots. Smooth out the base of the thorax with wraps of thread. Pull the pointed ends of the biot forwrd and tie them off just behind the hook eye.
  5. Clip the excess portions of the biots. Wrap a neat thread head, whip-finish, and clip. Coat the entire thorax with expoxy.

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Ball Biot

Tying Biot Tails

There are many techniques to tie on biot tail. This is one way to make a difficult tie much easier. First, apply a small amount of dubbing to the thread and build a ball of dubbing about half the hook eye in diameter at the point where you want the tail to be placed. Grasp the biots (both curving the same way) and measure for length. Place these two biots on the top of the hook shank just in front of the ball of dubbing and place a loose turn of thread at the point where the biots begin to separate. Apply increasing pressure to the thread, twisting the tail into position while flaring the biots. Add a few more turns of thread to the biots to hold them in place securely.

Another technique would be to build up a small ball of thread at the location that the biots are to be tied on to the shank. At this point follow the directions used in the above technique.

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