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Banded Tilapia can be found in nearly every stream or dam in South Africa, they are omnivores and will feed on any available food source from algae, soft plants, small insects and fry. They tend to be quite opportunistic thus won’t pass up on a fallen bug or small fish that happens to be in their vicinity. They tend to gather in shoals and because of this they often feed aggressively and they will readily come to the surface to nab a bug or insect. They’ll eat whatever bug they see and sometimes even try to eat bugs that can hardly fit in their mouths and they’ll eat it fast, before another tilapia can get to it. Like the Bluegill and even Canary Kurper they are quite underrated, yet they can provide hours of fun for youngsters starting out with a fly rod. As in most bluegill fly’s durability and other practical considerations are quite important and the same goes for flies designed for the tilapia species. Their abrasive mouths can wreak havoc on a delicate tied trout fly and often another tilapia will try to steal the fly out of the mouth of the hooked fish, thus tearing at the body of the fly

This is where the all-synthetic bluegill bug designed by William G Tapply known as the Tap’s Spider really shines, it’s a quick pattern to tie, it has that buggy look and the tilapia love them just as much as the bluegill do.

It’s practically indestructible and easy to make from inexpensive materials. The closed-cell foam body keeps it afloat all day (if it gets a bit waterlogged, just squeeze it dry), and it has that soft natural feel in a fish’s mouth that hard-bodied bugs lack. In white or yellow (banded tilapia like bluegill are normally not too fussy about the colour) it’s readily visible to the fisherman. The little burble made by the squared-off head attracts them, and even sitting motionless, the quivering legs and tail make the bug irresistible to the tilapia.

  • Hook: Dry Fly #10-14
  • Thread White 3/0
  • Tail:Rubber Leg Material
  • Body: Closed Cell Foam
  • Legs: Rubber Legs
Tying Instructions:
  1. Cover the hook shank with thread, ending at bend.
  2. Fold and tie in a strand of rubber-leg material for the tail, trimming it to the length of the hook shank or slightly longer.
  3. Cut a strip of 4mm thick closed-cell foam about 3cm long and 5-7mm wide.
  4. Lay the foam strip over the top of the hook shank with the front of the foam just behind the eye of the hook and the other end extending over the tail.
  5. Wind the thread forward, binding the foam tightly to the top of the hook.
  6. Tie two strands of rubber-leg material to the underside of the hook, about one-third back from the eye so that they form an X. Trim them so that each leg is about 1 inch long.
  7. Fold the remaining foam over the top of the hook, stretching it tightly, and tie off behind the eye. Whip-finish.
  8. Trim off the remaining foam, leaving a square head. Decorate the foam (and the legs and tail, if you’re so moved) with waterproof pens to suit your artistic bent. I usually colour the bug’s belly green or black, and I always leave the head white so I can see it on the water.
  9. Finish the head and the thread wraps along the underside with head cement.
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