Woolly Bugger Question

ts47

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I'm getting ready to tie some smaller woolly bugger patterns. In the past I've been told that I put too much marabou in the tail. I can't say if the criticism was accurate or not. Is there some simple way or guide to determine how dense or how sparse the tail of a woolly bugger should be tied - or some benefit to tying the tail sparse or thick?
 

trev

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Interesting question, did "they" say it was too bulky or too long? And did those that were deemed too much work for you?
 
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ts47

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Interesting question, did "they" say it was too bulky or too long? And did those that were deemed too much work for you?
I think I've got the length down. There are enough photos out there that I can use to estimate that. I don't understand the "too much work" question. I was told I tied them too bulky.
 

Upstate08

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Do you have any pics. of your flies? I don't know of a "guide" but I usually aim for a fairly full tail, a tad longer than the length of the hook shank. A little flash in the tail is fun too. I'm no expert, but here's a couple of mine:
IMG_3745.jpg
 

Upstate08

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I think I've got the length down. There are enough photos out there that I can use to estimate that. I don't understand the "too much work" question. I was told I tied them too bulky.
I think he was asking if those flies that were deemed to have too much maribou, did they still catch fish?
 

ts47

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Do you have any pics. of your flies? I don't know of a "guide" but I usually aim for a fairly full tail, a tad longer than the length of the hook shank. A little flash in the tail is fun too. I'm no expert, but here's a couple of mine:
View attachment 25268
I'll try to post a pic or two later. I need to take the photos first.

Yes to the flash! I stole some ideas from Lefty Kreh that were in one of his books. I usually add a wrap of red ice dub chenille, estaz or similar just behind the bead or cone, and a few strips of flashabou that run the full length of the bugger on both sides.

PS: Nice buggers! I need to tie a few in purple as well. White, brown and black have been my standards.
 
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tpo

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I have heard, and thinks its true as a generality, that trout respond better to sparser tails on wooly buggers while bass respond well to fuller tails. I do add more marabou for flies I specifically tie for bass fishing (often adding rubber legs) and I tone it down somewhat for trout buggers (I'd call my trout tails "medium", I don't try to make them super sparse). I have some older buggers with big tails that I will slim down by breaking off some of the excess marabou tail. My two cents.

Tom
 

ts47

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I think he was asking if those flies that were deemed to have too much maribou, did they still catch fish?
I get the point. Yes, I have caught fish with those and others. The conversation came afterwards. It was more a, "You'll get more movement in your tail and make the fly more effective if you put less marabou in the tail." In all honesty, some of the tails I tied were on the dense side. I haven't needed to tie buggers (until now) since that conversation. I also haven't explored how much or rather how dense the tail should be until now.
 

trev

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don't understand the "too much work"
ahh, poor sentence structure on my part, did the flies that someone said had too much marabou work as in did they actually catch fish?
I have always tied any marabou quite dense and there have been a couple times that I thought I had too much, marabou is easy to break off at the tie in point, after thinning the flies still did catch fish so I decided it was some other feature that I had wrong, most likely the plamer too dense.
I'll still opt for dense in most cases because some marabou gets really skinny when wet and as I said the stuff is easy to thin out.
 

ts47

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I have heard, and thinks its true as a generality, that trout respond better to sparser tails on wooly buggers while bass respond well to fuller tails. I do add more marabou for flies I specifically tie for bass fishing (often adding rubber legs) and I tone it down somewhat for trout buggers (I'd call my trout tails "medium", I don't try to make them super sparse). I have some older buggers with big tails that I will slim down by breaking off some of the excess marabou tail. My two cents.

Tom
Yes. I've gotten a little creative on a few of mine. It's time to replenish my inventory though. I get the "medium" language.
 

ts47

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ahh, poor sentence structure on my part, did the flies that someone said had too much marabou work as in did they actually catch fish?
I have always tied any marabou quite dense and there have been a couple times that I thought I had too much, marabou is easy to break off at the tie in point, after thinning the flies still did catch fish so I decided it was some other feature that I had wrong, most likely the plamer too dense.
I'll still opt for dense in most cases because some marabou gets really skinny when wet and as I said the stuff is easy to thin out.
Upstate above translated for me ;). I answered there. I palmer the hackle to match the turns in the body chenille and don't have an issue with that.

Does anyone have any thoughts on this statement? "You'll get more movement in your tail and make the fly more effective if you put less marabou in the tail." It refers to a fairly densely tied tail. In retrospect, the question I'm asking is a bit subjective without photos of a bugger to compare it too. I didn't think this through before posting. It will likely take me a bit to get that done. As always, this question may simply be me overthinking things again.
 

mike_r

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Less is more with Marabou. Too much bulk will inhibit good, free movement and more likely to partially foul on the hook, destroying the action. Look for Marabou fibers that are more “downy” and webby. This gives the appearance of bulk without the extra mass.


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JoJer

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I tie for fun, and I get bored quickly tying even six identical flies, let alone a dozen. It's common for me explore and try different stuff. Once, I was tying buggers, I had all this stuff out on the desk and decided to try some extremes. The end product was a bugger with a very heavy cigar-shaped body wrapped with braided gold gift wrap, with purple bugger feather palmered though it, with a big gold cone head on an extra/extra #6 hook. I went out that day to fish a local tail water just to try throwing some long casts and mends. I hooked and landed one of the biggest rainbows I've ever caught: A big, fat fully-finned 19 incher.
 

stenacron

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The Woolly Bugger is super effective because it's a suggestive pattern with lots of movement in it's components. As far as tying it with bulky vs sparse tail, this could change how the fish interprets the target...

Bulky tail could suggest a segmented body... in other words, instead of a "tail" a bulky bugger tail could suggest the back half of a hellgrammite, crawfish, sculpin, stonefly nymph, or dragonfly nymph.

Perhaps a longer, sparser tail (ala Denny Rickards findings) suggest more of a terminal tail that fades into transparency... like a minnow, leech, or elongated swimming nymph (i.e. damselfly).

Personally, I do most of my fishing in stillwaters and have adapted the long/sparse concept. In fact I don't even carry a traditionally-tied Woolly Bugger in any of my boxes anymore. They're all modern variations on a theme.

Perhaps more importantly, to maximize the movement, is how you attach it to your tippet (same goes for all bugger/streamer patterns)... many stillwater anglers swear by the Mono Loop Knot for maximizing the flies action and fish-triggering appeal:
 

bigjim5589

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Todd, I've tied them all kinds of ways, sparse, dense, big, small, and frankly feel it's a personal choice. I've yet to see that any one way is necessarily better than another. Generally the smaller in size you go, the less dense the marabou, and as you go large, more marabou. Flytire's photo's illustrate sparse & dense very well, but doesn't mean in the same size either or won't work well.

Buggers are a style, and as such can be tied in a variety of ways, and still be productive. So, just because another person likes them one way, doesn't mean how you tied yours was wrong. As has been said here, each person has their thoughts for where & how they fish, so tie them to suit your fishing. Since you are tying your own, vary the amount of marabou and see if it makes any difference.

I like using ostrich herl fibers in some instead of marabou, and of course other fine materials, like fur or hairs can also be used.

One note I will add about the sparse versus dense issue, some fibers can be lost during fishing, so they may get more sparse with use. If you start with them very sparse, and you're hooking up with a lot of fish, you may find no tail left & have to change flies more often.

In the end it's a judgement how much you use.
 
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