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Our Favourite Flies: The Woolly Bugger

The Woolly Bugger has probably caught more fish than any other fly pattern. One of the most universal fly patterns out there, it can be used on rivers or lakes, and can catch just about any trout species in the world.

Whoolly Bugger fly tying with cooper bead, grizzly hackle, peacock dubbing and black marabou. Very effective fly fishing pattern for trout.

The colour options are endless and they can be tied in a wide variety of sizes and fished by using different methods across all types of water.

What it imitates:

The reason behind this fly's success is it's versatility. It can imitate a variety of different patterns, including bait fish, leeches, damsels, stoneflies, crawfish and many other food sources attractive to trout.

How to fish them:

Rivers: Swing it or strip it across the current with a sink tip or weighted fly. Dead drifting under an indicator or with Euro nymphing techniques can also be deadly. Get it close to the banks to entice those big browns to come out from their hiding spots, or swing fast across the current for a hard strike from a rainbow.

Use darker colours (black, brown, dark olive) when the water is high and dirty, or if it is a dark and cloudy day. Switch to light colours (tan, white, pink) when the sun is shining bright.

Lakes: The Woolly Bugger continues to showcase it's versality in lakes, becoming a great searching pattern. Hang it under an indicator typically 1-2 feet off the bottom in shallow sections or troll it along the drop-off zones. Another effective way of using this fly pattern is to strip and retrieve, cast your line out and strip it over shoals and drop-off zones using the hand twist retrieve method. Commonly fished using type 3 or type 5 sinking line, sink tip or even a floating line with a long enough leader to reach bottom.

How to tie it:

This is a fun fly pattern to tie, as you can really experiment with different colours and types of materials. Some of our favorite combinations include; black, brown, olive, tan, white and pink (a Cutthroat Trout's favourite) but you can also mix & match different colours and add options such as flash and beads.


Hook: 4XL to 2XL long hook shanks Size #2-12

Bead (Optional): Tungsten or brass for deeper water

Tail: Marabou

Body: Chenille or Dubbing. (Try variegated chenille for extra colour texture)

Body: Hackle feathers

Wire: BR or Small Ultra Wire - copper, gold, silver or use other colours

Flash: a few strands of flashabou, crystal flash or something similar

Instructional Video:


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