While Tony Biggs’ RAB (“Rough And Bouyant” or “Red-Arsed Bastard” ... depending on which side of the fence you sit...) is well known in dry fly circles, it looked complicated enough for me to avoid tying it … and to this day, I still haven’t tied an original looking RAB … my bad.  When I started fishing river and found the joy of the dry fly some 15+ years ago, Hans van Klinken’s “Klinkhåmer Special” was my favourite for many seasons.  Due to its effectiveness, I saw no reason to use any other (dry) fly.  I also wasn’t tying them, as I was under the impression that tying dry flies, especially parachute dries, was for the experts only!  But parachutes are not that difficult, so I present this fly in the hopes that the reader will attempt the tie, and prep a few for what’s going to be a bumper river season this autumn as soon as the rivers calm down .  Trust me, it works … it has spawned the phrase “The GUN of dry flies…” by one of my fishing mates.

Origins of the para-RAB:

Then word started getting about a new killer dry fly, the “Parachute RAB”, developed by Protea Angler Philip Meyer, the tying of which was first brought to light by his brother-in-law Mark Krige.  In 2012, “The Zakhåmer – Re-thinking the Klinkhåmer Special” by Ed Herbst appeared on Tom Sutcliffe’s “Spirit of Fly Fishing” website, the origins of which are to be found in a challenge laid down by Paul Curtis for Ed to create a dry fly version of Tom’s famous Zak Nymph.

Following Ed’s interview with Philip on Volume II of “A South African Fly tying journey with Ed Herbst and friends” DVD series, and even with the guidance of Tom’s article “TYING PHILIP MEYER’S PARA-RAB – A step‑by‑step guide”, I found the tying complicated and finicky (the squirrel fibres in particular) and the para‑RAB simply didn’t gel with me. 

That is, until I saw an early Vimeo video of Gordon van der Spuy tying his version ... as Gordon explains in the video, the critical difference of swopping the tying sequence of the post/hackle and squirrel fibres makes the tying process that much easier.  The rest, as they say, is history, and it was Game On for me and the para‑RAB ... and it is now my “Go To” fly for my stream fishing.

As with Phillip and Mark’s original fly, the current trend is to tie the para-RAB on a straight-shank hook.  I prefer the half-in / half-out, “something struggling” (from Ed Herbst), stuck‑in‑the‑film look of the Klinkhåmer emerger, so tie my variation on a curved hook ... the curved hook also lends itself to the addition of the mobile tails, also borrowed (stolen?) from Ed’s Zakhåmer.

Fishing the para-RAB:

Fish as you would any other dry fly : with an upstream drag‑free drift.  #dryordie  J.


Hook : Emerger  #12-20 (e.g. Gamakatsu C12U/B  or Grip 14723BL or 14122BL for barbless).

Thread : red (e.g. Danville 8/0 or Gordon Griffiths Sheer 14/0).

Tail : fine silicone (e.g. Montana Fly Company “Tentacles” or Hareline “Daddy Long Legs” or bait cotton).

Body : peacock herl - partially stripped or stripped and coated with varnish or UV Resin.

Post : antron / polyprop yarn (colour of choice).

Thorax : synthetic dubbing (e.g. Ice Dub or Superfine Dry Fly Dubbing).

Parachute : dry fly hackle.

Halo : squirrel tail fibres.


Tying Instructions:

Step 1

-        Place hook in vice.

-        Start thread behind the eye of the hook and advance down the bend.

-        Tie in tail of silicone fibres.


Step 2

-        Leaving a small red tag (the Red @$$), tie in the peacock herl and advance back up the hook and tie off behind the eye.

-        For strength, a drop of superglue on the threaded hook shank will ensure the herl is secured against trout teeth - or rib with super fine wire - or coat with varnish or UV.

-        Note : when production tying, I tie a bunch of flies to this point, to finish off later.


Step 3

-        Tie in approx. 10 squirrel tail fibres on top of the hook shank, pointing forward over the hook eye.

-        secure and trim the butt ends.



Step 4

-        Add the post.

-        For the least bulk, I add the post on top of the hook shank. 


Step 5

-        Tie in the hackle for the parachute.

-        I tend towards oversize as it gives the fly a bigger “footprint” and makes for a better trigger.


Step 6

-        Dub a small thorax .

-        You can also use a full peacock herl, but I find that the superfine dry fly dubbing is less prone to hold water.


Step 7

-        Wrap the parachute top-down, secure and snip off the excess hackle.


Step 8

-        Trim parachute post down to length.

-        Create a thread dam behind the eye of the hook beneath the squirrel fibres and pull the fibres apart to spread them 180degrees across the front of the fly – the dam forces the squirrel fibres to lift up off the horizontal plane, catching the breeze, giving additional movement and life to the fly when on the water.


Views of the finished fly…





…and on the water…





References : (in order of appearance)

(2010)  “Tying a perfect High Water RAB” by Tom Sutcliffe.


 (2012)  Hans van Klinken on his Klinkhamer Special – 25 Years Later :


(2011)  “Parachute RAB” by Phillip Meyer :




(2012)  “The Zakhåmer – Re-thinking the Klinkhåmer Special” by Ed Herbst :


(2009)  “Hat-trick on The Zak” by Paul Curtis.

               The Complete Fly Fisherman, May 2009, Issue 172, pp. 20-23.

 (2012)  “Philip’s Para RAB” with Philip Meyer and Ed Herbst :

               A South African Fly tying journey with Ed Herbst and friends, Volume II (DVD).

(2013)  “TYING PHILIP MEYER’S PARA-RAB – A step‑by‑step guide” by Tom Sutcliffe :’-para-rab.html

(2013)  “Parachute RAB by Gordon van der Spuy” :

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