Categories: Feathered Lures

Woolly Bugger Trout Fly – One of the best general purpose trout flies

Woolly Buggers: (from top): Grey, Oliver, Brown, Olive and Black. Once the marabou tail becomes wet it takes on a sinuous pulsing action through the water.

Woolly Bugger Trout Fly

I remember some years ago being in a local tackle store in Christchurch – which shall remain nameless. Whenever the subject of Woolly Bugger trout flies came up the discussion immediately centred on one of the employees of the store who had long hair and a large bushy beard. The inference being that the customer and other staff members were talking about him and not a fly from the store’s vast selection!

Olive, brown and black are the three most popular colours for this fly: though olive green is likely the top seller.

Try the black version at night or in discoloured water. A yellow version is also a good bet in milky glacial lakes such as Tekapo.

I also tie up Woolly Buggers from a combination of these colours. Experience tells me a grey version has been successful at Lake Brunner. I’m sure the addition of a few lengths of Perl Mylar Flash to the tail and/or body is also of benefit for that bit of extra sparkle – provided you don’t go overboard.

Tie up on size 2-8 lure hooks; the smaller size 8 being good in very clear lakes. The Woolly Bugger is a top lake fishing fly either cast as a wet fly or for harling behind a rowed dinghy. You can cast it out and retrieve in quick short jerks or otherwise cast and leave with the occasional tug to give it life!.

The Woolly Bugger is a good general purpose fly to try when you are unsure which fly to tie on. As to exactly what the Bugger represents is hard to say; it could be a bully, bait fish, stonefly, grub, or type of nymph, or numerous other creatures including crayfish. In this sense, it is really more of an attractor pattern than being tied to represent some trout food item in particular.

The Woolly Bugger is a pattern that lends itself well to variations. For added weight, you can incorporate a bead head, or a few twists of lead under the chenille body, or a few wraps of copper wire over the body which also add extra sparkle. Many also use various dubbing materials for the body instead of chenille. I must admit that on occasion I have used whatever body material and hackle colour I have readily to hand!

Gold-head Woolly Bugger

Begin tying the fly by under-binding the hook and then tying in a bunch of marabou for the tail. Tie in the tinsel and chenille. Wind your thread back along the shank to near the head and tie in an olive grizzle hackle at the head. Wind the chenille back towards the head to form the body. With your hackle pliers wind the hackle palmer style back to the tail in broad turns. Take a second pair of hackle pliers to grip the tinsel and wind it back over the hackle to the head in the opposite direction to secure the tightly to the body.

Finally, finish off the head with thread and apply cement. The Bugger really is one of the easiest of flies to tie. This is really another one of those “must have” flies. It is a good idea to carry a selection of sizes and colours.

Fishingmag Trout Fishing main directory page.

Lorrie shows us how to tie a Woolly Buggar fly for fishing Lake Tarawera. Lorrie has caught hundreds of trout on the Woolly Bugger. He also shows his big foam eye variation. Video clip made by

This post was last modified on 08/09/2020 1:17 am

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