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Old 09-28-2013, 02:13 PM
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Default Wooly Bugger questions

After tying a few woolies today using various methods, I have a bunch of questions on how to improve them. Searched here but there are too many ways to spell wooly-woolie-wholly... so I am sure I missed some answers.

1. Maribou feather for the tail, do you guys use the feather tip or peel off some from the side? Do you have a method for shortening tail after tie, or is it just critical to get the length right before you lash it down? I trimmed a few and they look unnatural.

2. Hackle feather- I assume I can do what I want. Any preferences for a good hackle feather?

3. For those who use chenille for body, what size do you use? Stuff I bought seems too small.

4. Weighting- I used small brass beads, and wrapped hook with .015 wire (dozen wraps or so), as I saw on youtube from some of the more famous internet tyers. Sinks like a rock! Not something I will usually desire. I assume use a plastic bead or no bead at all for a slow fall?

What I have tied already look like they will catch fish, and I will test them by Monday. Just want to improve my woolies as I know I will be using many.
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Old 09-28-2013, 03:01 PM
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Default Re: Wooly Bugger questions

I did a bugger SBS a while back. It's called sparkle ghost bugger in fly tying forum. It might answer some of your questions
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Old 09-28-2013, 03:45 PM
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Default Re: Wooly Bugger questions

I don't like the look of trimmed marabou either, so I measure the marabou against the length of the hook before I tie it in. Another technique is to tie it in a little long with a couple of loose wraps, then grab the thick end and slowly pull on it until the tail looks the right length. I like the tail to be about the same length as the hook shank or maybe slightly longer.

Weighting can go all over the map, probably what would make the most sense is to consider the water you fish the most and weight for that. The bigger and faster the water, the more weight (within reason), the slower/thinner the water then maybe just a brass bead up front and no lead (or lead free) wraps. The other thing to consider is how you fish. Kelly Galloup fishes his streamers with no weight, but uses a full sinking line and a very short 36 inch leader. If you intend to fish with a floating line and a full leader than you will want to use some sort of weight on your streamers. Just realize that if you are putting a lot of weight on a fly it will be tough to turn over unless you really beef up your leader setup and step up in rod size to handle it. This is why you hear the term "chuck and duck" when it comes to streamer fishing with weighted hooks.

Chenille for body: This all depends on your hook size. The other day I tied up some wooly buggers on a size 6 hook and used medium sized chenille (I think that is what I was using), after a few wraps you will quickly see if it is too small or too big, I'd rather be on the small side than too large. YMMV!

Checkout this thread on marabou it will help with some of your questions.
understanding fly tying marabou
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Old 09-28-2013, 04:48 PM
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Default Re: Wooly Bugger questions

Very good points Larry.

Dont forget to tie your hackles on backards...to give a tapered effect from front to back. Unless you choose not to.

Lots of folks palmer their hackle as well on buggers...One good browny hit can do damage to the hackle stem.

I use many different sizes and weights of the same variation of bugger. The factors that sway me are unlimited I guess but the depth you choose to fish becomes critical on weight. When I fish the riffle river (maddy) I like a longer bugger but do not make it too heavy as the depth is typically 2-3 feet. But water is fast so if it is not heavy enough it skates or stays to close to the surface. (Hank Patterson Loves this!)

I fish the bugger almost always as a streamer and lots of folks fish it as a wet fly or nymph. I use more weight for that fact.

Epic fail on the chuck-n-duck on the Madison the other day which left me with a profusely bloody right ear. No pain no gain they say. Ouch is what I say, this time I was lucky the fly didn't stick in my ear but when I am ripping 70' casts in the wind that bugger is flat out movin and it is similar to getting shot int he ear with a pellet gun...It fricking hurts and lots of bleeding and cursing ensues.

I fish my buggers tandem a lot and I use different weighted sizes depending on what condition I am in.

On some river the Browny's want light colors and the Bow's want dark. So I tandem typically dark up front and light on the tip.
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Old 09-28-2013, 04:58 PM
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Default Re: Wooly Bugger questions

tie them like this

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Old 09-28-2013, 05:14 PM
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Default Re: Wooly Bugger questions

That sure looks like a wooly worm.
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Old 09-28-2013, 05:39 PM
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Default Re: Wooly Bugger questions

Appreciate all the advice. I will analyze the comments in more depth later tonight when I have more time.

I need to get my camera zoom figured out so you can see what I am up too. My woolies have substantially more tail volume than the vid flattire posted. My bodies are more compact because my chenille is a bit too narrow IMO. I am tying 8s and 10s now. Using Allen hooks and I think they run a little smaller but I could be wrong about that. Ordering bigger (or at least longer) ones soon.

In any case, most of what I am tying is not bad looking at all. I have caught trout on woolies that didn't look as nice as mine. I am sure these will catch fish, but I am in the fly swap and I want to contribute flies that also catch fisherman. Life is too short to toss imperfect flies.
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Old 09-28-2013, 06:32 PM
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Default Re: Wooly Bugger questions

Let me see if I can help you with question #3.....

"3. For those who use chenille for body, what size do you use? Stuff I bought seems too small."

Start by attaching your tail.

If you like the look of "beefier bodies" you can make it happen by building up an underbody. This can be down many ways using different materials but in your case let's just use the chenille you have. Attach the chenille in the middle of the hook shank and wrap forward towards the eye stopping well short of the eye....wrap backward stopping well short of the bend...wrap forward again and then back to where you want to start your body. Lock in the surplus chenille at were you want to begin your body. If you don't have enough surplus to finish a body, at this point tie in what you need.

...or you can attach your chenille to the hook short of the eye and wrap the chenille in tight turns to the bend and proceed using the surplus chenille for the finished body. I like bodies that take on a cigar shape. YMMV.

Now tie on your hackle and proceed in the normal sequence.

You can shape the bodies anyway you want using the underbody technique. I use it on all of my large body flies.

ps...I don't weight or add beads to any of my flies. I add weight if needed to the leader....but that's the way I do it. Feel free to find out what works in your fishing.
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Old 09-28-2013, 06:42 PM
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Default Re: Wooly Bugger questions

Don't tie the marabou tail too long of you'll get fouling when fishing the fly. I hate that and refuse to tolerate fouling on any of my flies. I keep the bugger tail to only 1 shank length -- no more. To get additional movement I like rubber legs on bugger patterns. and sometimes krystal chenille -- or "estaz". I never use regular chenille anymore.

Your question about whether to use the tip or sides of the marabou feather -- it depends . IF you have "woolly bugger marabou" with really thick, webby stuff you'll just want to use the tip or "end". The quill (shaft) of the feather is too thick to use much more than the tip on these. And you cannot use them to palmer like popsicle patterns, etc.

For "blood quill marabou" (my top choice) you can use the tip/end and the sides stripped off---either works well. Some people don't like blood quill marabou ends for woolly bugger tails because the feather fibers are less webby and instead are more long and "flowing". I don't care - they work better IMO. Sometimes I'll trim off the tips to get down to the more webby stuff, but often I use the thinner ends and catch plenty of fish on them. The sides work extremely well too -- so I feel like I'm wasting a lot less feather.

To me, there's no sense in buying "woolly bugger marabou" because it isn't versatile like blood quill marabou.

Note: hackle on woolly buggers looks great, but breaks easily on 1-2 fish if you don't rib it to reinforce it better. I use one of those "woolly bugger saddle packs" that cost abotu $20, but seems to be worth the money. They palmer great and are sized very well. You need to rib them though, again. Unribbed saddle hackle is useless and you might as well throw them in the trash IMO. That's the mark of a well-tied bugger vs. the kind they usually sell in shops to unsuspecting buyers.

Or, you could ditch the hackle altogether like this guy. I like this pattern quite a bit with the rubber legs -- No need for hackle or ribbing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WscJD8faHn4

I add beads, lead eyes, and/or lead wire to MOST of my buggers. I seldom ever find myself wanting to fish an unweighted bugger, and I often add shot to the leader even with the weighted bugger. Weight = great if it puts you on more fish . Don't fear it. Just learn to cast well with it and you're set.

Other streamers I tie without much weight (like Mickey Finns) because I use them in shallow areas and I use shot if I need to get them deep.
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Old 09-28-2013, 06:56 PM
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Default Re: Wooly Bugger questions

I'm not a fan of lead wire along the whole length of the hook. I think it inhibits fly action. I prefer the weight up front so it responds more like a spinning rod jig with a bit of up and down action if retrieved in short strips. This lets you get the most out of your marabou (which I tie longer than normal for this reason, though there is a fouling risk). You get this kind of fluttering up and down motion. I like treating it like a clouser and tying in a couple of lead eyes, or using a heavy bead, or just wrapping the lead forward in a double layer, or single depending on current, rather than wrapping it evenly over the whole body. Palmering peacock herl or flash through the chenille rather than hackle, and using marabou for the collar (obviously using the feather stem) also work. Though I tie mine for bass and bluegill, not trout.
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