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/ Badger / Black / Brown / Grizzly / Red / Saddle / white /


tied by cornmuse
Fly Type: Dry,
Target Species: Panfish,
Recommended Region: Central US,
Imitation: Caddis Flies,
Material List:
Hook: Mustad 94840 or similar dry fly hook in sizes 12, 14, 16 and 18.
Thread: Originally black, I like to use orange 8/0.
Tail: Originally none. I keep it this way. You can tie a tail using hackle fibers of the same coloring as the body palmer.
Body: Thickly palmered dry-fly quality neck or saddle hackle in fiery brown or grizzly. Other good colors include dark dun, cree, black or furnace.
Hackle: Two to four wraps of white, cream, or silver badger dry-fly quality neck or saddle hackle.

Tying Instructions: “The correct solution will always be the simplest one. Elegance is multidimensional.” Although Constance Adams certainly was not referring to anything fishing related when she uttered that line, her observations hold as true in our sport as they do in the realms of science and technology. I have ‘discovered’ again and again that a simple solution to a proposed diagnosis of the puzzle-at-hand has consistently resulted in my best days on the water. It should come as no surprise, then, that a two material octogenarian fly design has become my one-size-fits-all answer to everything from spring bluegill to summer smallmouth, from winter trout to tailing carp. I consider it a major plus when a great dry fly is also a great nymph.

In 1926, Mr. Edward R. Hewitt wrote in the book Telling on the Trout “Dark colors are more visible to the trout from below than light colors, and, therefore, take more fish under most conditions and are more generally used. They are often, however, more difficult to see on the water than the lighter flies. This is the reason for my favorite design of fly which I call the Bi-Visible which consists of a palmer-tied brown hackle on the head of which is wound a small wisp of white hackle. The white resting against the brown becomes very visible in most lights to the angler; on the other hand, the trout see the brown hackle from below better than any other color used. This fly is by far the best of any I have yet seen for all species of trout and it is based on a sound physical principle."

22 years later Hewitt reminded us, in A Trout and Salmon Fisherman for Seventy-Five Years, that "The Brown Bivisible with the white wisp at its head, which I myself introduced, although palmer flies somewhat similar had been in use for many years in England. The white wisp enables the angler to see the fly readily, hence the name I gave it - Bivisible because I can see it and the trout can see it. The fly in various sizes is certainly the most universally useful fly we have, and is perhaps more fished now than any other dry fly. Palmer flies are made in various colors and are called Bivisibles in tackle stores, but this is incorrect. The true Bivisible is brown, with a white wisp of feather at its head.”

I like the Bivisible in both the original brown, and in the grizzly variation introduced by Charles Merrill of Detroit, in his day reputed dean of Detroit fly tiers and founder of the F.F.F.F. Club. I carry this pattern mostly in a size 12, though I have a couple 16’s in my box for those times when smaller is better. A simple hackle fly, the Bivisible can be tied in any of a number of color combinations. After tying it I like to treat this fly with a bit of “camp dry”- a tactic that will let this fuzzy bug float like a cork all day!

There are two ways to fish a Bivisible. The first, of course, is as a traditional dry fly. With its heavily hackled design and the afore-mentioned treatment you can dead-drift this bug or skate it across a run for some serious top-water activity. Panfish in particular seem to adore this feathered fraud. Mad River trout tend to exhibit the occasional sweet tooth as well, but I have a better tactic for that clear water fishery.

In the winter, on the Mad, I like to fish the Bivisible as a nymph! Yes, a nymph! Treated with Camp Dry, the fly will try its best to find the water’s surface. I tie it on a 5X tippet and leave about a 10” tag of line. I then tie an overhand knot at the end of the tag and crimp a BB split shot onto the tag just above the overhand knot. The splitshot will ride right on the bottom, and the fly will be riding just above the bottom where it is easily visible. The stiff dry-fly hackles push a bit of a wake, allowing lethargic browns to easily key in on the little bug. Think of this as an “eastern renegade” variant! High-stick this rig through deep runs and you may find yourself convinced that two feathers and a hook are all you really need to consistently take fish.

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Jon Wit
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