Fly Patterns - Black Sparkle Wooly Bugger

               Black Sparkle Wooly Bugger



Why feature something in the Leader as basic as a Wooly Bugger? A reasonable question, for sure. Every beginner fly tying class opens with a WB—and for good reason. It’s simple to tie, materials are cheap and commonly available, and, of all things, it really does work. But, having said that, I need to add that there are WBs, and…well, there are WBs. In other words, it may not be so simple—i.e. there are some subtle characteristics of a properly tied WB and some tricky techniques you need to know in order to bring out those characteristics and maximize the effectiveness of the bug. It’s worth the time to enumerate some of these characteristics and techniques before getting into specifics of materials and tying steps.

1.     The hook. It is my view that a straight-eye, bent shank hook will create the best profile and enhance hooking fish. I prefer the Daichii 1260 because it is 2X long, has a nice, wide gape, a straight eye, and a nicely shaped shank that suggests life, as opposed to sterile straight-shank hooks.

2.      Sparseness. Over the years I’ve harped on sparseness of materials applied to the hook. There are, of course, some exceptions such as bass hair bugs which demand as much material as can be jammed onto a hook. Most natural critters are slender and sleek—so why gob on the material? Store-bought WBs are way over-dressed: a big blob of marabou for the tail, too large chenille for the body, and hackle fit for a size 3/0 hook. Keep it slender: use a small amount of marabou for the tail; small- or medium-size chenille; and small, appropriately sized hackle.

3.     Winding the hackle. Most non-dry-fly hackle is tapered—smaller at the tip than at the butt of the feather. We need to take advantage of this characteristic in order to achieve a good profile. Here’s the question: should the hackle be tied in by its tip, or by the quill at its butt? The latter method would produce an unnatural and incorrect profile, in my view—wider at the tail end of the fly than at the head. So, it’s best to tie the feather in by its tip. There is another issue here: How many hackle wraps are best? Stillwater guru Denny Rickards urges tyers to limit the wraps to 4 or 5 because if the wraps are too close to each other they will inhibit motion in the current or on the retrieve.

4.      The “brushed back” look—meaning that the hackle, when palmered up the shank, should appear to be swept rearward when wrapped through the body. If done properly, this will enhance the fly’s motion. There is a way to force the hackle to sweep rearward: As you wrap forward, twist your hackle pliers clockwise at the end of each wrap. This will usually work on even the most resistant hackles.

5.     To bead or not to bead…? The jury is out on this one. Some tyers like a bead at the head to aid in sinking the fly; others vehemently insist that the bead inhibits fly motion in the water and looks unnatural. Personally, I always carry some of each and avoid debating the topic.

OK, let’s go ahead and tie one using these ideas.


Tying Instructions

1.       De-barb the hook and place it in the vise. If you are going to use a bead, put it on the hook now. If you are going to weight the fly, place the weight on the hook now. Tie the thread onto the hook and run it back to the back of the barb.

2.       Tie in a small bunch of black marabou. Select the type of plume that has long, wavy barbules. The marabou tail should be about 1.5x shank length.



3.       Tie in a black saddle hackle by its tip, above the back of the barb. At the same point, tie in a nice, long saddle hackle with barbs equal to about 1.5x the hook gape in length, and a piece of black sparkle chenille after skinning about ¼” of the chenille off the core.





4.       Wrap the chenille forward in tight turns, being careful to not overlap the previous turn.



5.       Grab the hackle with your hackle pliers and wrap it forward through the chenille. Four or five wraps is sufficient. Use suggestion number 4 at the top of the article to give the hackle a “swept back” appearance. Tie off the hackle at least one eye’s length behind the eye (or directly behind the bead if you are using one), and wrap a small, neat head. Whip finish and apply a drop of super glue.


Fish this bug on the end of a long leader with an intermediate line, using a slow retrieve.                              

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