The Woolly Bugger is in a class by itself. Part nymph, part streamer, it has replaced the Muddler Minnow as the number one big trout catcher. It will also catch about any other fish that will take a fly, including bass, panfish, pike, salmon, steelhead, and even bonefish. It is very easy to tie and catches fish even when tied quite scraggly, so it's a good fly for your first attempt. Techniques Learned: Tying in Marabou Winding Chenille Winding palmered hackle Weighting a hook
Step 1: The Woolly Bugger is almost always tied weighted, usually the forward 1/3 of the hook, so the fly bobs in the water when retrieved. For the size 6 streamer hook shown here, wind about 20 turns of .021 lead wire directly from the spool as shown. Leave plenty of room near the eye of the hook, at least 3/8 inch. Break both ends of the lead wire by pulling on it and push the turns together with your thumbnails. Step 2: Start your thread just in front of the lead wire, then wind a bump of thread in front of the wire while pushing against the rear to keep it from sliding down the hook. Spiral the thread to the rear of the lead and wind another bump. Then spiral it back and forth over the lead wire about 10 times. Apply some head cement to the lead and let dry for a real durable underbody.
Step 3: Wind the thread back to the bend of the hook, just above the barb. Take a whole black marabou feather and stroke all the fibers toward the tip, into one bunch. Hold the feather against the hook and measure back from the tip a distance of one shank length, plus the distance from where the lead wire ends to the bend. Cut the feather here and moisten the butt ends with your finger tips. Lay the marabou bunch over the hook, with the butt ends just touching the turns of lead wire. Tie it in with the pinch method using three turns, then take smooth turns of thread up to the lead wire and back to the bend.
Step 4: Find a long black saddle hackle with fibers that are just slightly longer than the
gape of the hook. You can measure feathers by gently flexing them around the hook — this can even be done while they're still on a saddle or strung. Grasp the hackle by the tip and stroke the fibers gently down toward the butt, leaving about 1/2 inch of the tip unstroked. Tie the tip of the hackle in with about 8 very tight turns of thread. Step 5: Cut a 5" piece of olive chenille for a size 6 hook off the card. With the nails of your thumb and forefinger, strip the cotton off about 1/4" of one end of the chenille. Tie this in right on top of the saddle hackle tip with another 8 very tight turns of thread.
Step 6: Push the saddle hackle out of the way and wind the chenille forward, spacing each turn so it just butts up against the previous turn. To wind materials, start on top of the hook shank with your right hand, wind away from you and around the far side, then transfer the material to your right hand underneath the hook and bring it back to your left hand on top. Wind all the way past the lead, leaving plenty of room for a neat head (crowding the head is one of the most common problems beginners have). Tie off the chenille by holding it at a 45° angle under the hook shank with your right hand and winding straight up and down with the bobbin in your left hand. Four to six turns of thread
should secure the chenille tightly. Snip the end of the chenille very close to the hook and wind a few more turns of thread over the loose ends.
Step 7: Grasp the butt end of the saddle hackle with a pair of hackle pliers and wind forward in evenly spaced turns. This type of widely spaced hackle is called palmering. As you wind the hackle, stroke the fibers to the rear as you take each turn. Tie off where you tied in the end of the chenille and snip the end of the saddle hackle.
Step 8: Wind a neat head, whip finish, and apply a couple drops of head cement.
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