A Top Trout Fly Lure – The Woolly Bugger

By Alan Burgess of fishingmag.co.nz

I remember some years ago being in a local tackle store in Christchurch – which shall remain nameless. Whenever the subject of Woolly Bugger trout flies came up the discussion immediately centred on one of the employees of the store who had long hair and a large bushy beard. The inference being that the customer and other staff members were talking about him and not a fly from the store’s vast selection!

Olive, brown and black are the three most popular colours for this fly: though olive green is likely the top seller.Try the black version at night or in discoloured water. A yellow version is also a good bet in milky glacial lakes such as Tekapo.

I also tie up Woolly Buggers from a combination of these colours. Experience tells me a grey version has been successful at Lake Brunner. I’m sure the addition of a few lengths of Perl Mylar Flash to the tail and/or body is also of benefit for that bit of extra sparkle – provided you don’t go overboard.


Tie up on size 2-8 lure hooks; the smaller size 8 being good in very clear lakes. The Woolly Bugger is a top lake fishing fly either cast as a wet fly or for harling behind a rowed dinghy. You can cast it out and retrieve in quick short jerks or otherwise cast and leave with the occasional tug to give it life!.  The Woolly Bugger is a good general purpose fly to try when you are unsure which fly to tie on. As to exactly what the Bugger represents is hard to say; it could be a bully, bait fish, stonefly, grub, or type of nymph, or numerous other creatures including crayfish. In this sense, it is really more of an attractor pattern than being tied to represent some trout food item in particular.

The Woolly Bugger is a pattern that lends itself well to variations. For added weight, you can incorporate a bead head, or a few twists of lead under the chenille body, or a few wraps of copper wire over the body which also add extra sparkle. Many also use various dubbing materials for the body instead of chenille. I must admit that on occasion I have used whatever body material and hackle colour I have readily to hand!

Footnote: Hook into <fishingmag.co.nz>

This entry was posted in Articles. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to A Top Trout Fly Lure – The Woolly Bugger

  1. "Stillwater Fisho" says:

    An Olive Wooly Bugger in size 8 is a very good damsel fly nymph imitation for lakes or backwaters.

  2. Bud jones JonesQSM says:

    Well, as i noted before i am un able to release the best fly pattern due to its lethal nature & the propensity of anglers to kill every fish caught, in a national fishery with rapidly declining trout numbers.I have spoken of several important tips passed on to me from the great English angler Barry Dunkley.
    Also I did note the best evening rise spot in the country on the north bank of Waitaki R. just west of the Kurow Bridge off the Hakataramea Road.

  3. "Sparse Grey Hackle" says:

    Whether the Woolly Bugger or “the best fly pattern”, as Bud Jones Jones says, the most important factor is presentation of the fly to the fish. All the experts – genuine ones!- like Frank Sawyer (UK) or Charles Ritz (France) and other authentic top fly fishers have said so.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 80 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here