Fly Tying · Fly Tying Q&A · Material Talk

Fly Tying Q & A: How to wrap a turkey biot with troubleshooting

Turkey Biots and goose Biots are the same in a sense, and At first glance, yes, they share the same characteristics; but aren’t always used the same way.

Goose Biot in black turkey Biot in olive
Close up of a Turkey Biot
close up of a goose biot

Both come in a “stalk” so to speak, and with just one of these stalks you can tie many flies.

But the big difference comes in length.

Fanning out the stalk

A goose Biot as shown here in black is the shorter one when removed from the stalk, and serve better as wings,tails, shucks or whatever it is you would like to use them for.

The most common patterns you may have seen them on are prince nymphs and stoneflies.

Longer biots on this turkey

But a turkey Biot is much longer in length when removed from the “stalk” and is mainly used by being wrapped around a hook to achieve a segmented or flat body;  depending on which way you tie it in.

But before we get into how to remove a biot from the stalk, let’s take a look at another way they come packaged. So if yours don’t look like this below:

ooooooo..!

Then they may look like this:

Another way they come packaged

As you can see the left side of this feather is still intact. But that big side is not the side in which the biots are found.

Let’s take a closer look:

Biots are found on the opposite side

See here? If you look up close you can see that this right side here is exactly the same as those smaller stalks and if you were to disregard that entire left side( I don’t mean throw it out because there are uses for it)

I just mean if you held a small one side-by-side with this fully intact one; you will see that the smaller side is just the same piece removed.

TIP:

When it comes to removing a Biot you don’t want to cut them because by doing so you will lose the “handle” to where you will attach your hackle pliers, I will explain this in detail below. So here we go!

Now whether you have a turkey Feather that is fully intact with the biot on the side or just a stripped stem the technique is exactly the same. But I will still demonstrate both.

If You have only a Biot stalk, First things first; hold it up and take a look.

hold up the stalk

To make it a little bit easier to see, I’m going to pull them from the tip of the Biot but normally I would work towards the middle.

First fold down one side..
Now fold down the other
This will expose a few biots for you to reach
Ok, see how the biots separate?
grab one and pull it down a little
Pulling it down will expose some white of the stalk, this is good dont cut it!
This is how you want it to pull.
NOW: pull to the side to remove it, this way it snaps off easy.

And this gets easier as you remove more because there’s room to work.

Fully Intact feather? Lets take a look,

If you have a fully intact feather with Biot on one side, just grab the feather with one hand, and splay out some of the Biots with your fingers.

Biot to the right, separate them
Now here what i do is i pull a few down to make room
Then grab one above it.
And pull that one down. After that I keep working my way up the stalk
That’s it! Removed, and also removed with the “handle” intact. This is the part you will grip with your pliers.

TIP:

Keep in mind that the Biots towards the tip/middle of the stalk are normally longer than the ones at the base.As you can see here below I have pulled three of them; one from the tip one from the middle and one towards the base, and each one is different length.

Three sizes and widths

So try to keep that in mind as you are tying different size flies, so that you don’t end up running out of a good size Biot for what you need it for.

“Flat or rigid body?”

The choice is up to you

First I’m going to demonstrate how to tie a Biot in so that you get a segmentation that is raised, but just like I showed you in the how to wrap a Polish quill troubleshooting, the way you tie this in is dependent on your personal technique and may need to be reversed/adjusted once you see your final result.

So Grab one of your turkey Biot and let’s begin!

As You can see depending on which way you hold the material you will have a ridge on the top or on the bottom. This will change your final outcome depending on which way you tie it in and wrap it forward.
Now locate your ridge and lets go!
Let’s start by adding a base of thread to your hook and tying in your turkey Biot with the ridge on the top.
Tie it in
Create your uniform underbody

If you need help creating a uniform underbody please see this tutorial.

ready?!

They’re all different types of hackle pliers, me personally I use the one shaped like a D not the ones that rotate around a stick.

This is where that ripped off edge comes in handy.
Use your pliers
grab the end..

Well here we are all tied in and ready to go

ready!?

BUT this is where you are once again going to find out if you are a “flat around the hook Tyer” or a “wrap over your material Tyer.”

I’ll be honest with you, it doesn’t mean either way is right or wrong, a lot of it is just the technique you have been taught, whether you are self taught or were taught from someone else. But if you cant correct it, just adjust your tie in.

So take a look at the way I am doing a below and if you are having a problem take a look at the troubleshooting photos below this, then adjust your material or technique to achieve your final outcome. I will also show you a troubleshoot in case you’re having an issue.

When it comes to Turkey biots I have a tendency to wrap over my material,

Tied in with ridge on top… but wait!

Here we see the turkey by was tied in with the ridge on the top, because when I hook it with my hackle pliers and hold it straight up in the air as seen below, it will move to the “bottom” Thats ok

because your main concern is keeping that ridge to the left as you wrap around.
Keep going
Always be sure to clear that hook On your way around, because turkey biots are very delicate and they will break real fast if you hit them with the point.
Remember always keep that ridge to the left because as you wrap forward and bring that around, it’s going to make a raised segmentation like below.
keep wrapping
Done!
tie off
cut excess
Continue with pattern

That’s it!

Troubleshoot:

Now did your body come out raise and segmented like this?

If not in the body came out flat such as below, It may not be because you tied it in wrong: once again it may be because your technique is different.

If you tied it in correctly but this is how it started to wrap them take a look at the troubleshooting below.

Everyone’s technique is different as in everyone’s way of teaching is different.And if you have a tendency to lay the material completely flat around the hook then your outcome will be different than my way of wrapping over the material. That is not a problem all you have to do is adjust.

Take a look here at what happens if you keep your material flat around the hook as you bring it around.

wrapping flat instead of over
Continue to wrap flat
now look whats happening!!
You’ve now unknowingly reversed it.

See? Now what has happened is the Biot has been reversed and you will get a flat body. It doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It just means your technique is different than mine. If so all you have to do is back it up, tie over your material instead of flat or if you cant: then tie that turkey Biot in the “wrong” way-with the raised edge side down. And that’ll go with your personal technique.

“My biot body flies tend to get destroyed quickly after one fish how can I fix that?”

Even the teeth on a tiny trout such as this one can cause total destruction on biot body flies that aren’t sufficiently guarded.. and what is the best way to do that?

Wire!

Wire will help guard from those teeth
All you have to do is attach a piece of wire in whatever color and size choice fits your pattern and hook size in this case I am using UTC Ultra wire in small.
Choose your wire
Once you bring the turkey biot all the way forward and tie it off ,all you have to do now is bring that wire forward towards the eye as well.
Just be sure that the wire is not crushing down the segmentation and is actually laying flat in between the “ruts” so to speak.
Once you get to the end tie off the wire as well, then just continue with your pattern.

“What do I do if my pattern requires a smooth body turkey Biot?”

If that is the case all you have to do is reverse the way you tied in the Biot.Instead of tying it in with the ridged edge on the top you will now tied in on the bottom
Tie in
ready?

TIP:

Remember if you tie over your material as opposed to laying it flat around the hook, you will have a different result. So start wrapping your biot  forward and you will immediately see how you need to adjust what you are doing.

As you can see the way I do it, I tied in with the ridge on the bottom because when I bring it around I wrap over my material.
Whether you are a wrap over or flat around the hook tyer, the only thing that really matters-is that you keep that ridge to the right because as you wrap around..

.. it will flatten over the ridge and give you the flat body.

Remember steer clear of that hook. Or you will break that turkey Biot.

TIP:

you may also want to back wrap one and then go forward because what that will do, is get rid of that tie in point that will be showing if you left it alone.

As you can see above I have went backwards a little bit to do one wrap and then continue forward.
That’s it once you get to the end just tie it off and continue with your pattern.

I hope This tutorial has helped to take some of the fear out of using turkey Biot’s because they are a really great material that are used on a large number of patterns.

So don’t be afraid!

And Please let me know if you have any other questions, I can add a few more detailed photos!

Happy Tying!

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6 thoughts on “Fly Tying Q & A: How to wrap a turkey biot with troubleshooting

  1. I’ve been following your stuff for a while. Just started blogging on wp so I figured I’d leave a comment. Love your tying. I couldn’t believe the depth of this post! Dude! Great work! So much time, much appreciated. I’ve worked with t biots of course, but just haven’t found them as cool as polish quills, but of course you can’t get the gill effect with the p quills. I’m inspired to go again!! But I’m into production mode, so if I dig out the biots, more will follow and I’ll get off track lol! You rock!!!! Check out my stuff. It’s new, so not much yet. But more to come

    Liked by 2 people

  2. That’s awesome! I’m so glad these tutorials are helping this many people, they are a lot of fun for me to do. I also remember when I first saw the time of the shows, I would watch them tie one fly, write it down, get everything together. Say to myself ” I can’t wait to do that!”. Then I get home? And I have either forgotten half of it or the one technique that he showed me I don’t understand why it isn’t working. That’s why I like to show what you’re doing wrong and how to correct it, along with how you should be doing it right.

    I get a lot of emails and messages saying that someone was having trouble for a long time and now they have got it down, and that they are not afraid to use this or material or to tie a certain way. For me this is what fly tying is about, being able to take what you know and share it with others! To further my knowledge while passing it along when I others need help. Thank you for your feedback, if there’s anything you have questions with under something I post please leave a comment and I will do my best to help.

    Like

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