Wal-Mart Woolly-Bugger
By: Rev. Dr. Joel C. Brothers, Cleveland, TN

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There are few fly fishers who are unfamiliar with the Woolly-Bugger fly pattern. Not only is it one of the ugliest flies on the planet, but it is also one of, if not THE most successful pattern there is. If you could only have one fly pattern, to catch everything that swims, in fresh, or salt water, this is it.

Legend has it that the pattern was developed by Russell Blessing, of Allentown, Pa. around 1967. He developed it for use in the Lehigh River, originally as a hellgrammite imitation. It appears that he simply added a tail onto the venerable British-developed Woolly Worm. Who would've thought that such a simple addition could have such a profound improvement?

By altering the colors, materials, sizes and most importantly, the way it is fished, the Woolly-Bugger can imitate hellgrammites, crawfish, large nymphs, baitfish, and other aquatic delicacies. It catches smallmouth and largemouth bass, trout, panfish, carp, striped bass, inshore marine species, and just about everything that swims.

There are countless versions of this fly-pattern that range in tying skill levels from easy, to nightmarish. I came up with this pattern in response to a Woolly-Bugger swap, but no use of ANY feathers whatsoever was allowed. I couldn't resist the challenge, so I used craft fur from Wal-Mart. I'd rate the skill-level as Intermediate.

Materials for the Wal-Mart Woolly Bugger:

    Hook: Cabelas Model 40, sizes 6-10.

    Thread: Black Kevlar, 3/0.

    Weight: .25 No-Lead Round Wire

    Tail: Black Craft Fur, 1-1/2 times the hook shank length.

    Body: Black Chenille, medium.

    Hackle: Purple Craft Fur, with sparse Pearl Flashabou mixed in, in a dubbing loop.

    Glues: Zap-A-Gap, and Loon Head Cement.

Method for the Wal-Mart Woolly-Bugger:

Step 1. Start by winding the first 1/3rd of the hook shank with the round wire.

Step 2. Wind thread through the wire wraps and coat with Zap-A-Gap to anchor the wire and thread.

Step 3. Wind thread to the hook bend and tie in a clump of black craft fur for the tail. It should be about 1-1/2 times the length of the hook shank.

Step 4. Tie in a length of black chenille.

Step 5. Make a dubbing loop, around 6" long. Now, wind the running length of thread to the front of the hook, leaving enough room in front to form a head without crowding the hook-eye.

Step 6. Begin twisting the loop as you feed-in sparse clumps of purple craft fur, with intermittent very sparse amounts of pearl flashabou.

Step 7. Continue until you have around a 6" length of dubbed line.

Step 8. Now, move the hackle out of the way, and wind the chenille to the front, and secure it with a few wraps of running thread.

Step 9. Wind the hackle forward, to the front, making evenly spaced wraps.

Step 10. Tie off the hackle, cut off the excess, form a nice head with the thread, and whip-finish. Cut off the running line.

Step 11. Coat the head with head cement, soaking the thread well, and being careful to keep the hook-eye open, and free from fur and cement.

Step 12. Using a mustache comb, or other similar tool, gently tease out the hackle so that it stands out and look really "buggy."

Step 13. Trim the hackle length evenly, to slightly more than the hook gap width, all the way around.

Step 14. The finished fly.

You can change the colors to match just about anything you want. This fly is pretty heavy, so it sinks well in fast water.

Happy Fishing ~ Joel C. Brothers, (Gigmaster)

About Joel:

I'm a professional musician, minister, writer, and Doctor of Naturopathy. I'm also a former US Marine, and USN diver. I've been a fly fisherman since 1968. I've always been an avid outdoorsman, and I have fished in some great waters all around the world. In 1970, I started tying flies, and I've been 'hooked' ever since. Originally from Lewisville, Tx., I now live in the Cohutta Wilderness of S.E. Tn., and N. Ga. Pristine trout streams are within walking distance of my house, and I am in easy distance of the Hiawassee, Ocoee, Conasauga and Jacks Rivers…some of the most beautiful, unspoiled places left. There also several large lakes nearby, so I stay busy fishing for all kinds of fish species. I fly fish for trout, warm-water and salt-water fish. I love to share my experiences of over four decades of living life to the fullest. I have a blog page on Yahoo 360, so stop in and see what's new. ~ Joel C. Brothers

For more great flies, check out: Beginning Fly Tying, Intermediate Fly Tying and Advanced Fly Tying.

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