Categories: Nymphs

Glo-Bug Trout Fishing Flies for Winter Rainbows – Good in Twizel Canals

Glo-Bug trout row fly complete with a blood spot.

Glo-Bugs or Glow Bugs are Fish Egg Imitations

by Allan Burgess

At first sight, a pink or orange Glo-bug seems an unlikely trout bait. A Glo-bug is a fly tied to imitate a trout or salmon row. It’s a fish egg imitation! It can be very effective when fished for rainbow trout in particular. The Glo-bug is popular with anglers who fish the tributaries of Lake Taupo over winter for rainbow trout as they migrate upstream for spawning. I have included the Glo-Bug here in the nymphs section but it would be better suited to a new category titled “Egg Patterns”.

I guess I should mention that some purist fly fishermen look with disdain on the Glo-bug considering it closer to a lump of bait than a true trout fly. It is possible to cast out a Glo-bug and then sit and wait for a trout to take it – in much the same way one might fish a worm. This is called by some “heave and leave.” However, in my opinion, the idea that fishing a Glo-bug should be frowned upon is utter nonsense.

Tongariro River rainbow trout that was taken on an orange Glo-Bug. Photograph courtesy of
A selection of Glo-Bugs ready to catch fish.
A big hen salmon caught in the Ohau A Canal disgorges eggs during a quick photograph before being released.
Step one when tying a Glo-bug is to under-bind the hook to create a firm base to prevent the egg yarn from spinning around the hook while tying.

Glo-bugs are usually fished in pairs together with a heavily weighted nymph to take them down to fishing depth. This is how they are usually fished on the fly rod in the central North Island lakes and rivers.

A Glo-bug is perfect for the Twizel Canals

A Glo-bug is also very effective used in the Twizel canals on spinning gear for trout and salmon. The fish wait in the white water below the canal intakes for food items carried down with the torrent of water. The intake needs to be open of course or the fish will be dispersed throughout the canal.

Some top Twizel Canals anglers swear that yarn Glo-bugs are superior to soft bait eggs because they hold air bubbles and are lighter. making them perfect for drift fishing or egg-rolling. 

You can also drift fish the canals with Glow-bugs on a dropper above your soft bait.

Nowadays you can get all sorts of plastic beads used as fish row imitations including egg clusters. We are going to cover the time-tested method of making up Glow bugs using egg yarn.

The next step is to tie on a short section of egg yarn on the top of the hook shank.

Egg yarn is sold in tackle stores in lengths called ropes. It looks a bit like candy floss and comes in various colours of pink, orange, red and yellow. I suggest you get all of these four colours. You can tie up Glo-bugs using a single colour but a more realistic appearance can be achieved by mixing several colours together. A small touch of red suggests a blood spot in the egg.

Other colour schemes suggest a partly developed alevin. An alevin is a newly hatched salmon or trout still attached to the yolk sac. It is a fact of life that trout are cannibalistic. Big fish become bigger by eating smaller fish.

Tying Glo-bugs in the vice is quite a simple process. With practice, they can be made up very quickly. Glo-bugs are usually tied on quite small hooks in sizes 10-14. However, if fishing for Twizel canals monsters you might be better off using a slightly heavier size 8 short-shanked lure or curved short-shanked hook. If you end up in a long battle with an angry, 20lb plus rainbow jack, you’ll be glad you picked a robust hook instead of a fine wire model that could easily straighten.

Tying your own Glo-bugs means you can create whatever colour combination you think might catch a fish. This a little orange, yellow and pink number.

Begin by wrapping the strong thread around the shank to form a base. Kevlar is one of the strongest. It is very fine and does a great job. I have used heavier thread in the same colour as the egg yarn and it still does a good job. Don’t use weak thread. You need to apply quite a bit of pressure to pull the egg yarn tight to the hook. You’ll soon get frustrated if your thread keeps breaking! 

After under-binding I like to apply a dab of cement to lock it to the hook, though this isn’t really necessary. Next cut three or four 30mm lengths of egg yarn in your chosen colours. The idea is to cut off just enough from the rope to get the job done while avoiding wasting material. I find it easier to tie the egg yard to the hook after first splitting it in half length-wise.

Next, hold one of your short lengths of egg yarn length-wise above the hook shank and bind it down in the centre with three or four close turns of Kevlar making each subsequent turn a bit tighter. This is followed by two or three more lengths of egg yarn tied on top of the first.

Then grip all the egg yarn together and pull it upwards while wrapping the thread around the base close to the hook in a criss-cross manner. Add extra turns on either side for added strength before tying off. The idea is to tie the egg very tightly to the hook. As you do so it will flare out giving that pom-pom effect. The in Methven has Glo Bugs if you wish to avoid the hassle of tying your own.

Pull the clump of egg yarn upwards and wrap the thread around it on top of the hook. A bit of egg yarn on the sides is good too. Then while pulling the egg yarn tight cut with your scissors along the dotted line.

Next comes the tricky part. You have to pull all the egg yard upwards between your thumb and forefinger while cutting the egg yarn off with scissors using a semicircular curved arc. It sounds much more complicated than it is.

Use a small pair of strong scissors to cut the egg yarn rather than your good fly-tying scissors as the egg yarn is quite tough to cut.

You can easily create the blood spot effect by including a thin length of red egg yarn to whatever base colour you have used.

Finally, cement the thread and push the trimmed egg yarn around the hook to form a ball. Trim as necessary to keep the hook barb clear. You may have to do a little bit of extra trimming with your scissors to make it look round but with practice, you’ll get the semicircular cut right making further trimming unnecessary. I like to keep the area between the barb and the hook shank clear of egg yarn for a more positive hook-up.

Glo-bug Hooks

The best hook to use is something like Black Magic G12 Grubber, or Kamasan B110 Grubber size 10. Stay away from fine wire hooks if fishing the canals.

You can also tie them by tying the egg yarn lengthwise on either side and pulling it outwards on either side separately and cutting it off in a straight line. Again the idea is to avoid wasting too much material.

I used UTC Ultra Thread 280 though Kevlar thread would likely be better.

Though not a nymph I have added the Glo-Bugs in the nymphs category because it has to go somewhere.

This post was last modified on 01/07/2022 11:05 pm

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