Effective Flies – Viva Magoo

Craig mixes an old standard’s features into a somewhat newer pattern to create a great autumn wet fly.

Many anglers are familiar with Vern Barby’s excellent fly, the Magoo, which we first described way back in 2016 FlyStream #12 – The Magoo – FlyStream. This pattern has caught thousands of trout since Vern created it in 1999, and it remains one of my go-to flies.

As with many successful fly designs, fly-tiers are always endeavouring to add their own interpretations. This often involves the use of different colour combinations and/ or new materials. Personally, I have done more than my fair share of altering proven fly patterns, with varying degrees of success! One variant which has proven to be very successful though, is the Viva Magoo. The original Viva fly has a black and chartreuse colour scheme, and it’s been a successful and popular fly on UK reservoirs for many decades. Incorporating the Viva’s colours into a Magoo seemed a logical step, and so it has proven to be, especially at the beginning and end of the season.

A beautifully-conditioned brown on the Viva Magoo.

I fish it the same way as the original Magoo – on either a floating or sinking line, and usually on the point if I am fishing it as part of a team. (Attaching it with a loop knot helps give extra movement.)

Play around with your retrieve until you find what the fish want. This can alter from day to day, or even over the course of one day. And don’t be afraid to pull this fly fast – it can really help catch the trout’s attention.

Finally, don’t forget to hang your fly at the end of the retrieve. This involves stopping your retrieve with approximately 3m of fly-line remaining outside the rod tip. Let your fly fall in the water, then slowly lift it back up. Doing this will convert many follows into takes.


Hook – size 10-12 Wet fly

Thread – Black 8/0

Bead – 3mm copper bead, coloured chartreuse.

Tail – Black Marabou.

Body – Black/emerald Sparkle Dubbing. (If you can’t find this, substitute No 46 Spectra Dubbing and black rabbit fur, blended in equal proportions.)

Collar – Black hen hackle.

Tying Instructions

  1. Place the bead on the hook.
  2. Tie in a clump of black Marabou for the tail. I break it off to a length of 3cm for a size 12 hook, and 4cm for the larger size 10 hook.
  3. Dub the body.
  4. Tie in four turns of the black hen hackle immediately behind the bead.
  5. Whip finish.
  6. Scruff up the body dubbing with some Velcro to give the fly a more mobile, lifelike appearance.

With autumn now upon us, it’s the perfect time to give the Viva Magoo a try.