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The Copper and Black Bugger


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#1 Old Hat

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Posted 24 May 2011 - 11:52 PM

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There are about as many ways to spell "Wooly Bugger" as there are to tie them. I have tied a lot, and tied them in many different ways. This tutorial is how I now tie all my buggers. Funny, it is the initial way I was taught years ago. The steps just make sense to me and make a very durable nicely formed Bugger. The Copper and Black is the favorite in my box. A bugger can be just about anything a trout eats depending on the materials used, the color, size, and profile. My most used colors are Black, Olive and Rusty Orange with an occasional all white.

I am doing this in hopes it helps someone out. Lately, I have seen a lot of beginners struggling with tying buggers. Buggers are basic ties, but not the easiest fly out there as most assume. Buggers also carry the stigma of being "ugly" flies. Probably because there are a lot of beginners tying buggers, some are fishable, some honestly need to be stripped down to the bare hook and started over. This does not have to be, if some effort is put into material selection, preparation and tying them correctly.

To tie the basic bugger you need this list of materials.

1. Hook - generally at least a 3x long streamer/nymph hook in sizes #4-#12
2. Thread - any strong thread will do.
3. Saddle Hackle - take some time here and select a good quality hackle (see below)
4. Tail - good quality marabou
5. Rib - wire
6. Body - generally chenille sized to match pattern and hook size

For the Copper and Black Bugger I am tying in this tutorial the material list is:
Hook: 4x long streamer
Thread: Black
Hackle: well marked furnace saddle
Tail: black marabou
Rib: medium copper wire
Body: fine black chenille

Attached File  Step 4 Materials list.jpg   4.1MB   19 downloads

HACKLE
First things first. Use quality hackle. The hackle should be rather long, clean, good color, have a nice sheen to it and be soft. There are a lot of different types of hackle that can be used. Saddle hackles are the most common. I prefer hackles that are soft over hackles that are stiff. Below are two hackles that could be used. The dyed purple one on the left is of poor quality in my opinion. The fibers are thin, stiff and the hackle is twisted. Don't chose this type. The hackle on the right has a great sheen, is soft and webby, straight and is striking in color and contrast. I also like a little taper to my hackles but that is my preference. Once you have selected your hackle do an initial preparation and strip all the "fluff" off the lower stem. HINT: when you strip the fibers off of any stem, grasp a clump of fibers in one hand and pull the stem away as opposed to pulling the fibers away. This does help at times to keep from breaking a stem.

Attached File  Step 1 Feather selection.jpg   2.66MB   26 downloads

Correct sizing of your hackle is also important. Sizing your hackle allows the hackle to move like it is supposed to, to look alive and pleasing to both fish and fisher person. Aim for a your hackle at the front of the fly to be 2-2.5X the gape of the hook. Gape is the distance of the space from the shank to the point.

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It is good to take control of the density of your hackle. Decide if the you want your hackle to be full, dense, sparse...etc. This will be determined often by what you want your fly to imitate. A baitfish might call for a full profile, a leech a thin profile, on a stonefly you may just want to imitate legs and show movement. In the picture below, the hackle I have chosen is dense and webby. It will be too dense if I kept all the hackle fibers on so I am going to strip half of the fibers off. If you decide to do the same, just don't go at it. It is important to strip the correct side off. To find the correct side, turn the feather towards you so that the natural curvature has the concave side facing you. This will usually be a bit duller in color than the convex side. So, looking at the concave side proceed to strip off the fibers from the left side of the stem.

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While you are preparing feathers to be used you might as well take a look at your marabou feather. Most marabou feathers are dyed. Good quality marabou has long fibers, is deep in color, is not brittle, and again has some shine to it. If the tip is on the feather as the one below, snap or cut the tip off as I have done down about an inch or two depending on the size of your pattern. This removes the stem and allows the marabou to really move freely in the water. You will only be using any fibers that, when pulled up, are above the stem. The other option is to grasp a clump of marabou fibers just before you tie them in and strip them off. This is fine, but usually very messy, and don't be surprised when an escaped fiber is inhaled by accident.

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TYING THE COPPER AND BLACK BUGGER

Now that most of the prep work is done, let's start tying. Begin by attaching your thread near the front of the fly then proceed to tie in your hackle. Tie the hackle in right behind the eye of the hook. Tie it in so that the concave side is facing up or away from you. I have the concave side facing away in the picture. Once snug, continue to tie in the bare stem as you work your way towards the rear of the hook.

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Stop your thread usually (depends on the hook bend) between the hook point and barb. It is important not to go too far back as to get into the bend of the hook or your tail will either not be inline with your body or will slip over the bend. If you stop too short (in front of the hook point) there will be a good chance your tail will get twisted in the hook bend during casting.

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Take your prepared marabou feather and gather the fibers up. Measure the length to be 1-1.5X the length of the hook from eye to back of bend. I have measured about 1.5X here.

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Tie the tail in neatly moving the thread to the front of the hook and back again to the base of the tail while tying the marabou down. Make tight wraps and concentrate on keeping a smooth consistent underbody. If you want to add a little flash to the tail, now is the time. A couple pieces of Krystal Flash or Flashabou here along the sides or top is a great option. Just be careful to use only the amount of thread necessary and keep the underbody smooth.

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At the base of the tail, tie in the wire rib, then the chenille. Keep the tie in point at the base of the tail and work the thread down and back to keep a smooth body. IMPORTANT: Finish with the thread just behind the eye of the hook. I'm using chenille in this pattern, but there are any number of materials that can be used here. Materials like peacock and ostrich herl, yarn, tinsel, vinyl tubing or dubbing can be used to create the body.

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I know it seems like a lot of work to this point but we'll be done before you know it. Tightly and evenly wrap your body material forward. Tie it down at the front of the hook.

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Next, crease the stem of the hackle back until if forms a 90 degree angle to the shank of the hook. This sets the hackle in the right position to begin wrapping and decreases the chances of twisting. If you stripped half the stem, the bare stem should be facing away from you.

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Before beginning to wrap the hackle back along the body, I like to take 2-3 turns of hackle at the front of the fly.

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Then continue to evenly palmer (wind with open wraps) the hackle to the base of the tail. Once you reach the base of the tail continue holding the hackle tip in the upright position.

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While holding the hackle tip, reach under the fly and grab the wire rib. Make 3 tight turns with the wire rib, securing the hackle down. You can add a drop of cement here if you wish.

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After making the 3 wraps to secure the hackle, continue to wind the rib forward in open wraps to the head of the fly. Once at the head, secure the wire with thread. It helps to wiggle the wire around a bit as you are wrapping it forward to keep from tying down hackle fibers.

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Snip off the extra tag of wire and the tip of the hackle. Make a nice well formed head while pushing the front hackle wraps back slightly.

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A whip finish and there you have it....a Wooly Bugger or a Woolly Bugger or a Whoolly Bugger or Whooly Bugger or Woolley Bugger or Wooley Booger............

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"Always drink upstream from the herd."

http://www.oldhatflytying.com


#2 NJ All Day

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 05:12 AM

That was divine, I loved that SBS so much information, I never thought about sizing the Hackle up with the hook, and never thought about tying the Hackle in first.
Evan

"Some go to church and think about fishing, others go fishing and think about God."

~Tony Blake~

#3 bigdewy

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 10:35 AM

Great job Carl!! The photos and narrative really make for a super tutorial on tying the Bugger!!

#4 creekhound

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 11:51 AM

Hey a new way of tying a Wooly Bugger. Great tutorial and pics, will have to tie some up. Thanks
Those that gossip to you, often gossip of you

#5 mnorton

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 12:17 PM

Nice I like it..thanks for sharing
[s]TIGHT LINES AND SCREEMIN REELS YEE HAW

#6 mlwebb

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 12:42 PM

Excellent tutorial and I like your method of tying it. Last week I volunteered for a day of teaching sixth graders how to tie wooley buggers- had forty five minutes per batch of kids and they all left with 2 buggers they had tied. We tied them similarly except for tying the hackle in, which we tied the tip in back and wrapped forward. Your hackle over the eye method might be easier for them (some got a little confused about sequence when faced with rib, chenille and hackle hanging off the back), maybe next year. I also like the "indestructible wooly bugger" method, but at least in my hands it doesn't yield as attractive a fly.
Michael

#7 jburge

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 03:02 PM

Carl,

Just superb SBS. Kudos! What a great contribution to the forum.

Just curious... I learned to tie my first bugger with lead wraps underneath. Is that something you like to do, or do you prefer cones/beads?

John

#8 Old Hat

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 07:48 PM

Thanks everyone, been wanting to do this for a while and finally go the time.

Carl,

Just superb SBS. Kudos! What a great contribution to the forum.

Just curious... I learned to tie my first bugger with lead wraps underneath. Is that something you like to do, or do you prefer cones/beads?

John


John, I do both depending on what I am trying to imitate and the action I want from the fly. Lead weights down the fly to get it deeper faster, beads aid in this but give a much different action to the fly....a more up and down swim movement. If I'm fishing a river, I find myself not adding either and fishing with a weighted leader instead.

"Always drink upstream from the herd."

http://www.oldhatflytying.com


#9 firedad

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 07:51 PM

Great SBS this will be perfect for me as I've only tied two or three wooly buggers and are not happy with them. I think this tutorial will improve my ties greatly.

#10 kody

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Posted 26 May 2011 - 12:52 AM

Very fishy looking Bugger !

Thanks for SBS !

Regards

#11 letumgo

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Posted 26 May 2011 - 11:48 AM

Carl - This is the finest SBS I have seen on tying buggers. Extremely well done, both the photography and the detailed instructions. Thank you for taking the time to pull this together. It's (almost) like sitting across from you at the tying bench...
http://www.flytyingf...gettyer=letumgo

Ray (letumgo) <)((((><<

#12 ikerajala

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Posted 26 May 2011 - 03:08 PM

When life gives carl lemons, he makes lemonade!


CHEERS!

#13 Old Hat

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Posted 28 May 2011 - 10:22 AM

Glad you like it. Thanks.

"Always drink upstream from the herd."

http://www.oldhatflytying.com


#14 EdD5

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Posted 07 July 2011 - 07:05 AM

Glad you like it. Thanks.


What happened to the pictures?

#15 Steve P

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Posted 20 July 2011 - 10:00 AM


Glad you like it. Thanks.


What happened to the pictures?



I wonder too..... pics all gone except for the very first one at the top of the post??????

Steve
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