‘Tis the season for replenishing sections of the fly box that have been found wanting. The past few days I worked on streamers for my small stream box. While I like to try new flies, I’ve decided on a simple approach this year: proven patterns that will have me covered in variety of situations. So, here we have small Woolly Buggers and variants, sizes 8 and 12, with tungsten and brass beads (and some thread heads) in three basic colors.
I’ve color-coded the tungsten beadhead flies with red thread — you can see that on the black bugger in the front right. It’s a simple way to keep track of what’s heavy and what’s not. I’ve also swapped out chenille for Ice Dub on the body. You can find the basic recipe for these small buggers here.
The olive flies on the left are Tim Flagler’s Squirrel and Herl Bugger. The original is un-beaded, but I added tungsten heads to two of them. Hopefully Tim is not too horrified. You can find a tying video for this buggy pattern here.
This time of year I redouble my efforts to visit small streams. The canopy is in full, providing cover and shade for bashful trout. Water temperatures remain moderate (especially after a cool, rainy spring like this year’s). Food sources are plentiful.
I don’t always manage to get out as much as I’d like, but small stream dreaming has me thinking about one of my favorite flies for wild trout, the White Mini-Bugger. Oh, it’s a Woolly Bugger alright. But I’ve made several strategic changes to the classic template. For starters, it’s just smaller, the easier to be eaten by trout measured in inches. The tail is shorter and sparser, which cuts down on nips away from the hook point. The hackle and collar is soft hen, which flows and breathes. With a tungsten head and wire underbody, this fly sinks like a stone, causing it to rise and fall like a jig when you strip it. If the light is right, you can clearly see this fly even in a deep plunge pool. Try not to laugh when you watch the shadowy marauders surround and pummel the fly as you work it through the depths.
Hook: TMC 5262 10-12
Thread: White 6/0
Bead: Copper tungsten, seated with weighted wire
Tail: Short marabou wisps over pearl Krystal flash
Body: Small fluorescent white chenille, ribbed with pearl flash, palmered with soft white hen
Tying notes: Of course, you can tie the Mini Bugger in any color your heart desires. I tend to be boring, so I mostly stick to white and black/grizzly. Same deal with beads: I have a thang for copper. (Thinking of tying some of these up in black with a copper bead for Salmon River steelhead? You should. It works. And with a chartreuse bead. And orange. And…) The shorter, sparser tail has absolutely increased my hookup percentage. To form the tail, I use a single piece of Krystal Flash, and double it/cut it multiple times to get a 16-strand tail. The body hackle is Whiting hen neck, the same I use for standard-issue wet flies. Tie the feather in by the tip, and if you have enough hackle after winding the body, try to form a collar.
The White Mini-Bugger Rogues’ Gallery: