Tying a Black Whooly Bugger

A simple sequence of a black wholly bugger being tied for our Pyramid trip.  What is interesting is that I burned 4 or 5 marabou quills looking for a straight tail edge and all I could find in the whole packet of feathers were these low-grade ones with all the frilly edges.  Bummer.  I also did not realize that I was completely out of saddle hackle in the correct size so the hackle used is grossly oversized,  Don’t think the fish will mind as long as the bugger looks like it is swimming.

As previously mentioned, I am going to hit up the fly shop and invest into a much better quality set of feathers.  You get what you pay for!  Anyone need some poor quality feathers?  Don’t even know if they are worth the cost of shipping.

Pyramid Lake Prep

My friend Dan calls me and says he want to go fishing.  I am always game for a quick trip.  We start discussing the logistics of where to go and when, and he says that he really wants to hit up Pyramid Lake.  Well, that is great for me as Pyramid is basically in my backyard (about a 40 minute drive) but Dan has to bang out about 4 hours of driving each way.  So plans are confirmed and we both go into full prep mode.  Dan’s job is to pack his stuff, put together a basic cooler of goodies and get over here the night before.  My job is to hit the vice and fill some fly boxes.

After contacting a few fly shops and verifying which pattens are working at Pyramid, I get to work.  I figure that I need to oversupply us by at least a dozen flies, if not more.  My goal is to bang out 3 dozen flies just for this trip.  This is of course on top of the 6 or 7 full fly boxes that I already have packed in my to-go bag for trips of all manners.

First order of business is to replenish the bugger barn.  It has gotten a bit thin in the last few season and truth be told, buggers are something that I find difficult to tie.  I would rather tie up 5 dozen Trudes in #12, #14 and #16 or 5 dozen Copper John’s in various sizes and colors than a few dozen buggers in #8 and #10.  Go figure.

The first bugger is going to be a modified version of one of my favorite still water buggers, the Rickert’s Seal Bugger.  After looking at the commercial flies for Pyramid, I figure that I need to shorten the tail and make the hackle quite a bit longer than normal.  Most of the Pyramid buggers are well dressed.  So I set to work and find that I have almost a dozen tied up pretty quick.

Next is to hit up the midges.  Intel from the fly shop indicates that red and black (both basic midge colors) are the de facto standards, just in sizes #12 and #14 versus a more normal #16 or #18.  The guy at the shop mentioned that the snow cone version has been pretty hot, but lacking any white beads and not wanting to make a trip to the fly shop for $2 in beads, I use white UV dubbing instead.  a dozen red and a dozen black later I call that part of the project done.

Last is to tie up a dozen black buggers.  As I rifle through the feather bins it becomes apparent that I am short on quality black feathers.  I tied up one black bugger and took some pictures which I will show in another post.  It was painfully obvious that the quality of the feathers are no where near as nice as what I used for the green buggers.  Maybe I will get some white beads after all.  Since I have to hit up the shop to replenish my tungsten coneheads and black bugger feathers I now have an excuse to make a single trip and restock in bulk.  Hope that the fly shop has the good stuff!

Favorite Flies coming to you from your local vice

Now that I am at the halfway point on my “to tie” list, I decided that the next set of flies would be my favorites to fish and tie.  For me, that fly is the Copper John.  This fly is responsible for a major portion of fish I have hooked and landed.  I fish it in several colors and sizes, so this one pattern will be next 72 flies that I tie.  Since I am pretty quick at this fly, this should be about 8 or 9 hours of tying.

A finished Christmas-y Copper John (Tri-color)
A fine specimen of the tri-color version
Copper John step 1 - adding the weight
Got a bead and weight added
tying a Copper John at the halfway point
Got the biots on and the wire all wrapped to jsut past mid-shank
Copper John in the home stretch
Added the thin skin and getting ready to tie in the peacock

For the sharp eyed, you noticed that the finished fly is not the the same as the fly in progress.  Very observant of you.  I was taking a progression of shots of this fly as I was tying and for some reason the finished BLACK version turned out all blurry.  Had to use one from the previous batch of shots.  Oh well.  For the record, the tri-color version is my searching pattern and it has done a fair job of fooling trout.  I still prefer and use the green or red versions first, backing those up with black or the original Copper that gave the pattern its name.

I owe John Barr a big thanks for a great pattern that is easy to tie and extremely effective.

Fly Tying – A Chore or a Joy?

Today marks a milestone in my annual pre-seaon fly tying binge.  I have just reached the halfway mark on my list of flies to tie.  But let’s back up a bit and explain how I even got to the point of having a list.

I have been tying flies for about 5 years now.  The fact that I tie is not unique as most of my fly fishing friends tie as well.  It just seems to be a fact of life for the dedicated (read obsessed) fly fisher.  For most though, they talk about tying as if it is a chore or a job.  Maybe I started with that opinion, but can now freely admit that I find it relaxing, satisfying and a joy.   Besides, it is one thing to catch a fish on a fly and quite another to catch a fish on a fly that YOU tied.  Very organic!

As the seasons have progressed, so have my skills and the number of patterns I can tie.  What started off as a quest to tie my staple flies has morphed into a quest to tie the majority of flies that I rely on during the season.  But as I have progressed from 5 or 6 patterns, to dozens of patterns with multiples of variations, the confusion of knowing what I needed to tie and how many started to mount.

Continue reading Fly Tying – A Chore or a Joy?