No, it’s Superman, no it’s a Lammergeier RAB! Here is a fly that is truly like Superman. Originally created by well-known fly fisher Tony Biggs and named the ‘Red-Arsed Bastard’ but for those more conservative and formal times probably wisely referred to as the ‘Rough and Buoyant’ – the choice is yours. The name ‘Lammergeier’ after the Bearded Vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) found in the Drakensberg Mountains is my own addition after being shown an enormous variation of the RAB tied by bamboo rod maker, Stephen Boshoff while we were together on an extended fishing trip deep in the mountains.
The concept of the original RAB from the mid 1960s was in Tony’s words, “….. aside from being based on the marrying of myriad observations of both water-borne and terrestrial life forms, was triggered by the remains of a much used, heavily battered and disintegrating Bivisible dry fly. It was the sole survivor from a batch of my first serious attempts at fly tying”.
The RAB has gone onto reach legendary status on South African waters and has also been used far and wide overseas with great success. These flies are wide, as wispy and light as thistledown and are just about impossible to fish in any kind of wind, especially when its blowing downstream – but when conditions are right, they catch fish, lots of them. Even when there is no sign of surface activity the RAB will pull fish a long way out of their lies – lifelike and a potential sizeable piece of protein. I carry my RABs in a small tin to prevent the long legs from being squashed or kinked. And, a word of advice, don’t open the tin in the wind because of the fly’s lightness they will literally fly away.
What does it imitate? I have no idea, but I do think that it is its generic bugginess and the movement of its long, soft legs on the surface that has a lot to do with its fish attracting qualities as it, bobs, twirls and pulses on the current. What I think makes the Lammergeier variation so appealing is that the average leg length of about 2.5cm of the original pattern is more like 4 or 5cm adding more exaggerated lifelike movement – after all movement is life!
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