Chubby Chernobyl patterns have risen to the forefront of effective dry presentations over the years and many fly tiers have taken up the challenge of tying their own versions. I find tying these large foam patterns to be extremely fun and interesting, and the cost savings over purchasing them in shops can be measurable. These patterns can require a good amount of material, however, and I have come up with an easy, additional step that can save material and improve the performance of the fly.
When tying these foam patterns, most tiers will use some form of tapered Chernobyl foam body cutter to punch out the desired size of foam to create the buoyant bodies of these flies. For the longest time, I would punch out the maximum amount of bodies from the foam sheet, usually 2mm thick, and be left with a skeleton of unused strips of foam. Sometimes I would take them and cut them down to tie beetles and ants, but for the most part, it would be wasted material. What I decided to do was to utilize this extra foam material to accomplish two results.

First of all, let’s re-examine the reason we are using foam bodies in the first place. The foam material is buoyant and will float the large dry patterns without the need to constantly apply gel floatants or desiccants. Many Chubby patterns require a fat body created with your choice and color of dubbing material, and after tying a dozen or two of these bugs, one can see how much dubbing is spent in the process. Here is where the leftover strips of foam come in very handy.

I take the remaining strips and cut them to roughly the length of the hook shank I am tying. After I complete the tail flash, I will take one of these strips and tie it down onto the shank before I continue the fly. There is no need to tie this strip down tightly as you want to build up the body before continuing the fly. When you are ready to complete the body with dubbing, you already have most of the body girth built up and you will find that the use of overall dub material can be cut in half!

In addition to the material savings, there is one other side-effect of using the foam strip that will enhance the overall performance of the bug. By tying the strip (or strips if greater thickness is desired) of foam relatively loosely to the hook, you have doubled the buoyancy of the fly itself. Remember, thick applications of dubbing to build a Chubby body can become waterlogged and reduce performance. These Chubbys will float and twitch wonderfully, and as we discussed above, the need for a floatant is reduced. Try this easy, additional step the next time you are tying Chubby patterns and you will find the results to be well worth it!