Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Matching the Hatch: Wooly Bugger

Due to the simplicity and ease of use, the wooly bugger is probably the first fly every beginner learns to tie.    The wooly bugger is one of those flies that catches all fish, from bluegill to striped bass.  The bugger is also one of the most  versatile fly, for a variety of reasons.

Wooly buggers can be tied in a wide variety of sizes. I've tied them on hooks as small as #10 all the way up to 2/0 worm hooks.  Smaller sized buggers catch crappie and bluegill, while  larger ones are used for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and trout.

Wooly buggers can be any color you choose. They can be vibrant and fun colors such as orange, pink, or yellow. They can also be typical colors such as brown, green, or black.  No matter the color choice, there will be a fish willing to bite. I tend to use black and yellow in ponds and lakes near me as it's common to find leeches that have yellow stripes in this area.  As well for crappie buggers in sizes 6 to 10 tied with pink /green, green / white and all white work great.  If you're looking to match cinderworms in salt water tie them as large as possible, jointed with a pink chenille body, pink hackle and a shiny black dubbed head. (when the cinder worm hatch is taking place you'll need very little weight as the striper and any other game fish will be gorging on cinderworms higher in the water column.)

Another unique thing about tying wooly buggers is the ability to weight each fly differently. For a uniform fall, you can use lead wire or lead tape wrapped around the hook shank (the amount of lead is based on the rate of fall you want). For a jigging type of action, you can use barbell eyes tied just behind the hook eye or you can  choose not to weight the wooly buggers and fish the bugger close to the surface. However, if you opt to fish the buggers weightless, make sure to dip the bait in water before casting because weightless wooly buggers won't break the surface film of water on the first cast. You can also use sink tip or full sinking fly line when fishing wooly buggers, so you can get the bait to the desired depth.

Depending on what forage species you're trying to copy, you can can add eyes to wooly buggers. Gluing on 3d eyes or doll eyes, then using epoxy to create a head is a great option for mimicking bait fish. Another good option, that doesn't require the know how and mess of epoxying on eyes, is to use a product like Fish-Skull fish masks to add eyes to buggers.You can also add eyes by tying in barbell eyes or bead chain eyes, as mentioned above.

Matching the Hatch: Below is a list of the forage species that wooly buggers imitate.

Sculpins / gobies
Photo Credit: Roughfish

Photo Credit: Ispotnature

Photo Credit: Deapauw

Photo Credit: Whatsthatbug

Cinder Worms
Photo Credit: Capawock

1. Place hook in vice

2 Wrap the lead wire around the hook leaving room for the head and tail areas. (Remember the amount of lead you use determines the sink rate of the bait.)

3. Measure a piece of marabou for the tail, about the same length of the hook shank.

4. Tie in marabou down the hook shank so that the entire hook is covered with feathers. (Depending on if you're using bugger marabou or strung marabou you may the marabou may not tie up the entire hook.)

 5. Wrap thread back down the hook shank to the tie in point of the marabou.

6. Tie in chenille (3 or more inches based on hook size and the thickness of the chenille).

7. Tie in saddle hackle by its tip.

8. Tie in copper wire. (I did not use copper wire here)

9. Wrap thread to the hook eye.

10. Wrap chenille to the hook eye.
11. Using hackle pliers or hand wrap saddle hackle up the body
12. Wrap wire ribbing in the opposite direction of the hackle wraps around wiggling wire to weave it through hackle.

13. Wrap a head with thread and whip finish
14. Use a small amount of head cement to finish the head.  (Use the bodkin or a straightened paper clip to apply the head cement, making sure to get entire head of the fly has been saturated with the head cement.

Below is a youtube video that gives a clear tutorial of how to tie the wooly bugger fly.

Video Credit: Jim Misiura

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