Scientific Name: genus Notonecta

Backswimmers closely resemble their near relatives, the waterboatmen , in both appearance and behavior.

There are imporant differences, however. For one thing, backswimmers are bigger, and they swim (guess what!) on their back. Also, when backswimmers are on the surface, their abdomen penetrates the film. These differences are important if you are tying flies. First, there's the size thing. Second, you have to match the color of the top of the insect rather than the bottom. And third, your floating pattern should poke through the surface.

Like waterboatmen, backswimmers have large legs which they use like oars. And like waterboatmen, they lack gills and carry a bubble of oxygen with them when the dive beneath the surface in search of food. So look for them in shallow, weedy areas of lakes, where the water is less than five feet deep. Mimic the insect's up-and-down behavior with a lift-and-settle retrieve that draws the fly to the surface then lets it settle back toward the bottom; a floating line will work best. Use short, two-inch strips to bring the fly to the surface. When the fly rests on the surface, you want it to float.

Westfly's database of standard flies does not include backswimmer imitations, but you might want to check out the article listed in the sidebar.


COLOR: Brown-olive body, dark brown wingcase

OTHER CHARACTERISTICS: Pair of large rear legs that are used for propulsion