BH woolly bugger


My first fish on fly fell to the magic of a Woolly Bugger and many have gone the same way since then.

My understanding is that the Woolly Bugger has its origins in America where it appears to be tied, as a leach imitation. having said that there is also an English fly with bead chin eyes called a Dog Nobler that is very similar to a traditional Woolly Bugger. Whatever the name or origin this style of fly is a great fish taker in a wide range of conditions. There are probably more variations to the Woolly Bugger than I have had breakfasts. Some are over-dressed some under-dressed, some weighted other not, on all sorts of hooks and in all sorts of colour combinations. Most will work sometimes but many are “once of” flies that don’t consistently take or attract fish.

I tie brown, black and olive versions of my bead head woolly buggers for my bugger fly box but its worth keeping in mind that whilst standard combinations like silver bead and wire on a black bugger or a brass beads on an olive or brown bugger work well this fly is a great fly to tie in a few different colour combinations.

I like to fish my bead head buggers on the point generally on intermediate to type 5 lines and to muck round with retrieve rates until I find the one working on the day. In my experience either medium roly poly or a medium paced stripping action work best.


Hook Weight Thread Tail Tail flash – optional Rib Body Body hackle Front hackle
#8 or #10 Tiemco 3769 SPBL Brass bead head plain or coated Brown Both plain and grizzly marabou work well Sparkle flash Fine wire Peacock herl Hen hackle Olive Brown partridge


  1. Most beads have a large opening at one end and a smaller opening at the other. Slide a bead over the point of the hook small opening first and position it behind the eye of the hook.
  2. Wind the thread in touching turns from behind the bead to the bend of the hook.
  3. Tie in a tail about 1.5 times as long as the hook. Resist the temptation to make the tail too bulky or too short.
  4. It’s optional, and whilst I generally don’t, you can also add a couple of strands of sparkle flash at this stage.
  5. Tie in a length of copper wire.

  1. Tie in a number of peacock herl, form them into a rope and wind the rope forward in touching turns to the bead forming a uniform body.

  1. Tie the herl rope off and trim the excess herl.
  2. Select a body hackle with barbules about as long as the gape of the hook and tie it in behind the bead.

  1. Palmer the hackle down the body to the bend of the hook creating 4 nor 5 segments along the body of the fly.
  2. Whilst holding the hackle in place with your left hand pick up the wire with your right hand and start winding the wire forward locking in the hackle.

  1. Wind the wire forward forming 5 or 6 segments along the body of the fly.
  2. Take a couple of extra turns of the wire just behind the bead head and then worry off the excess wire.
  3. Many people would regard the fly finished at this stage but I reckon it benefits with the addition of a soft hackle behind the bead.

  1. Tie a soft hackle in by the tip between the body hackle and the bead head.

  1. Trim the tip of the soft hackle away with a blade.
  2. Take just two full turns of the hackle between the body hackle and the bead head and secure the soft hackle in place with a few wraps of thread.

  1. Stroke the soft hackle tips back along the fly and then finish securing the hackle in that position with additional wraps of thread forming a thin collar between the bead head and the soft hackle.
  2. Whip finish and varnish the collar and the bead if it is not already pained or coated.

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