Posts Tagged ‘woolly bugger


Let There Be Light! Get off your ass…..

While Light Deprivation leads to Super Potent Pot, it leads to ever increasing inertia in my psyche. I start craving light and warmth about mid-February as the constant grey days close in and rob me of motivation and momentum. 

photography-macro-fly tying-woolly bugger-SwittersBI don’t think I am in the throes of SAD (Seasonally Affected Disorder), but I surely need brightness and more exercise.  I have become too wussy to Winter Steelhead for very long and much too sedentary with a computer on my lap. I went hiking this past weekend to take photos…a simple hike…and felt muscle soreness the next day…a clear indication that more activity is in order and that this linkage with technology is askew. Let there be light & I need to get off my ass. Fly fishing, hiking, photography, wild flowers, gardening, fresh air! Get up…get out. 


Fly Tying & Fishing: Little Fort Leech (Variation)

little fort leech variation swittersb

Yes, a version of the ubiquitous Woolly Bugger, The Little Fort Leech. Without question, and for whatever reasons, the best dark WB I have ever used. Yes a basic black or dark brown WB will produce, as will almost any colored body combination given the right location and presentation. However, this pattern can be fished wit confidence on stillwaters and rivers. Simple to tie, this variation has a variegated marabou tail rather than the traditional Black marabou with a bright splotch of red hackle or marabou tied atop the black. The abdomen/thorax is lightly palmered with dark brown hackle. It is unweighted save the bead head. I tied this fly on a stout size 8 hook. I came upon this pattern about 20 years ago in Little Fort, British Columbia at a fly shop and have never stopped tying this very basic fly.

LFLs SWittersB


Fly Fishing: Gaviglio’s Minnow Bugger

The Minnow Bugger is an amazingly productive stillwater pattern. Over the last five years, this pattern has become my top producer for trout. Tied in sizes 6-10, it rarely fails to produce. I have mixed up the body colors and tail color combinations, but I always revert back to the same color scheme because of the dominance of responsiveness to that pattern.



Fly Fishing Plan: Reality & Adapting

I recently ventured over to Central Oregon to fish some favorite lakes. I had fished them before so I had a fair understanding of the insects and ‘planned’ accordingly. Weather was perfect, some of the insects were there and to some degree the fish cooperated according to my plan.

I had planned for Damsels and Chrionomids. I caught fish with these patterns, especially in the mornings. The Damsel dry was the most fun. But, the responses were confined to morning and late evening for the most part. Mid day they produced little. (SwittersB)

I had tied up some Rufus Woolly Bugger patterns and anticipated that pronounced marabou wing enticingly fluttering on the decent. It caught fish, but not as I had figured. I retrieved it much like I do other Buggers and envisioned the draw/drop and how the wing and tail would pulse. Yet, I expected more from it. A black Elk Hair Caddis was a successful evening pattern along the edges, but it seemed to match the amount of Caddis I saw, which were less than I figured. No Hex hatch, no Callibaetis, Scuds didn’t produce once, nothing to small nymphs slowly worked along the weeds. 

No, dare I say it…I resisted, honest I did, but the two silly flies below were magical…absurdly magical..and I could not match their success with any of my other usually powerful standbys (like the Little Fort Leech or the Kaufmann Dragon). So, I gave into what was the catnip…two green marabou laden patterns that were fished until they were shredded.

The Catnip…the over achievers. Simple but silly effective.

One from last time, and this time. A well tied fly gave up the ghost after a dozen or so maulings. Was it the green, the materials, the presentation, the silhouette, the similar food sources? Fun to contemplate this Winter. In the mean time more supplies need to be replenished.

 So, from prior experiences I formed a comfortable, likely plan of action with a nice dose of experimentation/anticipation. Things were not turning out according to my plan, but I adapted back to some dependables and it worked…this time.


Stillwater Fly Pattern: Dragonfly Nymph


That ubiquitous Woolly Bugger is so productive, it is hard to not just tie it on and dredge away with success. But, that denies the fly fisher the solving the puzzle process…the match the hatch…or, ‘I wonder if this would work?’ fun.

Understanding the food sources of a lake and then searching the habitat where those food sources dwell is part of my enjoyment. Damsels, Dragons, Scuds, Chironomids on and on, are possibly there in that muck, mire and weeds.

These dragonfly nymphs were tied up to represent the shorter/stockier dragonfly nymph (Gomphidae). Presented low and slow near the bottom with the occasional darting retrieve. 

 I intend to try these bulbous eyed creations soon and see if they are seductive to the trout and bass. 



Scream Time: Woolly Buggers…The Fish Can’t Help It

I know, I know. So original right? I have written about this so many times, I understand. But, with the stillwater fly fishing effort a float, I have to come back to two patterns that have phenomenal success. On a recent outing these two patterns accounted for 80% of all the fish caught and that was quite a few. And, one pattern in particular, Gaviglio’s Minnow Bugger racked up well over half of the 80% takers. 

This was my wife’s Minnow Bugger, minus the hackle, after releasing another fish. Several times the hits were so jarring, her tippet came away minus the Minnow Bugger. NO! I don’t have any financial~commercial interest in this pattern.

The Little Fort Leech (LFL) and the Minnow Bugger (MB) are straight up Woolly Bugger patterns with a few exceptions: The tails are either stacked with a hot spot of red (LFL) or stacked with two colors of equal length marabou (MB). Sparkle chenilles for the bodies and the rest is standard fare. That’s all I can say. Just so profoundly successful over all the other WB’s I concocted from basic drab colors to the provocative foozies…the Little Fort and Minnow Bugger patterns kicked some tail.

 The Gaviglio Minnow Bugger was placed in my palm just five years ago by Bob Gaviglio at the Sunriver Fly Shop. The Little Fort Leech was first found inside the Little Fort (B.C.) Fly Shop twenty + years ago. I have gone straight, basic black WB’s and they don’t match the LFL. The Minnow Bugger seems to outshine all shades of basic green and more. Ok, I promise I will never mention these two patterns again.

Another Dine and Dash Attempt after consuming the Minnow Bugger. What more can I say?


Calico Bugger

A typical Woolly Bugger pattern. The tying stages are the basic..crimp the barb and slide on the bead...tie in the tail material (in this instance, two colors of burnt orange over purple marabou)...then tie on the body material (black with purple rug yarn) at the rear, tie in at the area over the flattened barb and tie in the grizzly hackle by the tip at the same spot. Wrap the body material forward to the bead. Then palmer the hackle forward with even spaces (note my gap) and tie off and then bind it down behind the bead and done. The Calico Bugger was a great fly for me years ago in B.C. and then I got away from tying it. I am going to tie up a half dozen and see if they produce this year on the lakes and even in the rivers. The body material could be dubbing or one of the newer chenilles as well.


Fly Tying & Fishing: Little Fort Leech

For my last two stillwater fly fishing outings, the lakes were alive with all manner of insect activity. Last week there were Caddis, Damsels and Dragons and a smattering of Callibaetis. Today, there was a non-stop Chironomid hatch, sizable midges, Caddis, Callibaetis, Tricos, Dragons and on both occasions the overwhelming productive fly was the Little Fort Leech. 

It isn’t that I didn’t try other patterns, but few came to other patterns, despite diligent attempts to present the flies just so. As soon as I went back to the Little Fort Leech the assault continued. It was a bit spooky. I experimented with green, brown, olive green. Rejection. Is it the black? The red dash? The gold bead? The peacock and black chenille? Since I first discovered this pattern, it has been a stalwart stillwater pattern. 

I do attempt to do more on a lake than kick about trolling a woolly bugger. I mix up the retrieves; sometimes I kick, wind drift or anchor. The Little Fort Leech fly is in my top 5 any time. 


Fly Tying: Woolly Bugger Hackle Options

Traditional Palmered Hackle for Woolly Bugger

Below is another version, called the Mini Bugger, that has the hackle wound in the traditional wet fly wing style. The remainder of the fly is typical Woolly Bugger. Note the multi colors of marabou in the tail.

Version of Woolly Bugger: The Mini-Bugger


Fly Tying: Little Fort Leech (Spumoni For The Taking)

So many ‘must have’ options for the beginning stillwater fly fisher. Of course, the ubiquitous Woolly Bugger in assorted sizes and earth tones is a must have pattern for the lake fly fisher. The Little Fort Leech first caught my attention in, well the Little Fort Fly Shop in B.C. some 20 years ago. It has always been one of my top stillwater flies because I fish it with confidence. I have experimented with a brilliant green dash on the tail with some success, but frankly never with the successes of red. A simple black tail, black flashy chenille these days, black hackle and gold bead with that red splash. No other adornments…no flashy strands of  Krystal Flash or ribbing. This a perfect lake pattern (I recall catching a beautiful, large Redside above Maupin on this fly on a very chilly morning) whether inched, stripped, wind drifted…what ever. Dragon fly nymph, leech, baitfish?

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August 2020

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