A long, long time ago my lovely Aunt Susan gave me some of the greatest gifts I ever got for a Christmas. It was 1998, I had caught my first fish and was… pun please… HOOKED! It was at my uncle’s farm pond in Arkansas for Thanksgiving. The whole family was gathered for the holiday and they witnessed a life changing event for me. And so for Christmas my aunt gave me an assortment of fishing related gifts. It included but was not limited to: an entire album of fishing themed Christmas songs, my favorite fishing book and a card game.
That card game: Go Fly Fish. 52 cards with 26 different fly patterns on them. Pretty much the same concept of the game Go Fish but now instead of asking for Jacks or fours you are requesting Prince Nymphs or Marabou Muddlers. So in other words, the best game ever! (Especially when spoken in a Western accent.)
We recently played this game and it has inspired me to start a series I like to call, Tie One On. And to start it off will be one of the most timeless and most fun named flies… the Woolly Bugger!
Open almost any fly box and you should find a woolly bugger in it. Last year I got with one of our fly-guys at the White River Fly Shop about what 5 flies he would fish with for the rest of his life and he said… WOOLLY BUGGER! This fly is known as a wet fly, meaning it is fished under the surface of the water. While it is a simpler looking fly, its versatility makes it deadly!
Bill Hunter, author of The Professionals' Favorite Flies, in fact says this “The Woolly Bugger is so effective, it should be banned from some watersheds. I suspect its effectiveness is due to its resemblance to so many edible creatures in the water--nymphs, leeches, salamanders, or even small sculpins. Its tail undulating behind a fiber, bubble-filled body is just too much for most fish to resist. It just looks like a meal!”
This fly works in rivers, streams, lakes, ponds and just about in any other body of water. Adding to the versatility of the fly is all the assortments of colors one can acquire one in. When extra depth is needed for fishing with one, some have an extra weight close to the eye of the hook to bring the fly down deeper.
So if you’re thinking about getting into fly fishing and also look for chances to make people snicker at funny names just be prepared to have a Woolly Bugger in your arsenal!