Whether it is Woolly or Wooly, the Worm’s turn appears to have passed for the ubiquitous Woolly Bugger. From a beginning fly tier’s perspective this is a simple, but effective pattern to tie. I suggest staying with the original chenille or some of the newer sparkle chenilles. The pattern can have the ‘hot butt’ red tag (or other hot colors) but you can go for a natural hackle barbs/fibers tail as well. Short of a few panfish, carp or lake fly fishers, you will seldom encounter this pattern any more.
I would suggest, beyond the hot colors style, to tie up the pattern in black, brown, green and yellow with black, brown or grizzly palmered hackle. Natural colors on size 6-12 hooks with a 2xl-3xl shanks. The fly can be more than an ‘attractor pattern’ as it is so frequently referred to these days. You will notice the patterns above do not have the bead head. They could, of course, or have weighted wire wrapped around the shank. You can forgo the weight and use a weighted fly line to sink the fly into the appropriate zone.
Whether the Woolly Worm was inspired by the frequently seen Butterfly Caterpillars or not, it is a fuzzy morsel to be used for all manner of fuzzy, enticing morsels.
Whether Dragon, Damsel, Hellgramite, Stonefly, large Caddis Pupa, Caterpillar or ‘attractor’ the pattern can be mixed and matched with natural to hot colors, slender or chunky, weighted or unweighted the pattern is simple to tie and versatile in its applications.
The pleasure of fly tying obviously enhances our fishing experiences. A store bought fly, enticing a fish is fine. A fish taking your creation is the best. As you learn to tie you will follow the pictures in books, magazines, ezines, ebooks, or by looking at flies you have purchased, been given or studied in someone’s fly box or in a little cubicle in a fly shop. More detailed presentations of the fly’s recipe/pattern will provide steps on what to do with the materials. Video clips will show you. All this is the progression the sport has arrived at in the last few years.
Byron Haugh’s Caddis Wet Fly Pattern (photo Hans Weilenmann)
Eventually, as beginning fly tier, and going forward, you will be able to look at a fly and recognize a pattern’s materials, and as with the above fly (Byron’s Soft Hackle) recognize a pure fish catcher. Often, they are simple patterns to tie and simply perfect on the water. You will also, soon see the color variations or material substitution options for many patterns. The above pattern would easily lend itself to different abdomen/thorax colors while retaining the same partridge wing/peacock herl head.
Speaking for myself, I periodically come across a tying technique and by looking at the fly, I cannot quite tell how they arrived at the look. Examples over the years that I have come across are the abdomen weaves, loop wings, split hackle stems wrapped for an abdomen (Breadcrust).
Truth be told, most of the complicated design techniques are not necessary to catch fish. They are there to expand your tying skills, or relieve your personal boredom with the same old ways. Innovation in synthetics add some zest to tying. Natural materials are often blended with synthetics.
Where was I going with this? Oh! Keep it simple. Perfect the simple techniques for real. It will show if you don’t. Don’t speed off into more complicated patterns and techniques until you seriously perfect proportions and knowing why your are tying a particular pattern. What does it represent and how is it presented? Otherwise it is like students I have had. They didn’t fly fish. They tied because it was a craft endeavor, like quilting.
But, if you want to thoroughly enjoy fly fishing, then take that Winter class for beginners or intermediates. If you have been tying, inventory those fly boxes. What do you need to re-stock?
As you commence your Winter tying, pay attention to the first few flies you turn out. Study the proportionment of the materials, the spacing, the durability of the fly. Make a target list on post it. Try not to wander off the list too far as you explore and experiment. Get back to those basic patterns that served you well this past year. Tie those first then experiment.
Recently, I was privileged to receive a demo copy of Tim Rolston’s Essentials of Fly Tying Techniques E-Book. I was immediately struck by the comprehensive quality and forethought that has gone into Tim’s intended release. He obviously has thought through how to teach beyond the written and drawings. It dovetails together ever so nicely and in the end, you have this easy going acquisition of little gems (patterns and techniques). Very enjoyable and impressive. Tim’s investment of how to make a perfect tutorial tool is so visible. He put a lot of himself into this effort.
This is a nice sculpin pattern highlighting a few interesting materials used in the construction of the pattern. Shape/profile and movement are enhanced. The video speeds up at points to expedite the more tedious portions. If you miss a stage then ‘re-wind’. Nice work…. Helmet Head @ Catching Shadows c/o Agitated Angler.
I have written here before about having memorable Winter fishing in Central Oregon at Tetherow Crossing on the Deschutes R. one very cold day. I wasn’t prepared to identify or even have the right patterns to fish for the browns. There were smaller fluttering insects landing on the water followed by little wallops at the surface. I had no clue if the insects were coming off or landing and laying eggs. In those days I focused on the fish and were they visibly feeding. That was about it. I tied on the closest pattern I had, a black Elk Hair Caddis and caught fish.
Later, I described the where, when and what of it all and a Sisters, Oregon shop owner filled in the details. Little Winter Stoneflies. I have tied up some black Stimulators in the past, but frankly I am superstitiously fond of the all Black Elk Hair Caddis. You can explore other patterns, just be alert for the hatch. There does not have to be snow in the ground, although they be easier to see. Small (size 10-12, slender, Hare’s Ears or more exacting) black nymphs would round out your presentations. Remember how these Stoneflies emerge and how they return to lay eggs.
You will see the occasional Caddis pattern, usually a dry pattern vs. a diving caddis pattern (you can add an egg sac here too) with a colorful bump at the rear at the bend of the hook. This addition to the pattern is meant to represent an egg sac, which the female Caddis will be dropping, dabbing or diving to lay the eggs.
What color should the egg sac be? You see patterns with a hot red/orange spot as well as various shades of green, yellow to yellowish orange. The little bit of research I did, suggest the egg sacs for some Caddis is typically a shade of green to yellow. It might be worth a shot to add this touch to you Caddis patterns as you tie away this Winter for next year.
Ausable Queen by Tom Deschaine
Caddis With Green Egg Sac (musicarskikafe.blogspot)
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be
satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”