History of the Buzzer

by Jonathan

Buzzers (chironomidae) made their first appearance on the flyfishing scene in the 1920s. The first pattern I can find recorded was the Blagdon Buzzer devised by a Dr. Bell. It was devised for fishing Blagdon Reservoir. It  featured many of the elements which are similar to modern dressings in use today. It was tied on a small hook and had a black wool body with a flat silver rib with a tuft of white wool behind the eye of the hook.
 Little more was recorded about buzzers, possibly because little Stillwater flyfishing was available in England at the time. However the fly fishers on the rivers have been using wet fly spider patterns for a very long time and in all probability these were taken by the trout for the river versions of chironomidae.
 In the 1960s there was a revival of interest in buzzers, probably due to the upsurge in availability of trout fishing on reservoirs and some commercial fisheries. C.F. Walker with his passion for exact imitations was one of the first to write a book of imitative patterns in his book, LAKE FLIES AND THEIR IMITATIONS, published in the 1960s. About the same time Geoffrey Bucknall  devised his Footballer buzzer  which was an imitative pattern, using black and white horse hair and tied on hook sizes 14and 16    John Goddard devised some quite elaborate buzzer patterns in the same era. His patterns incorporated many of the features used in the modern patterns.
 Since the early days of the 1960s there has been an incredible availability of reservoir and Stillwater trout fisheries throughout the UK. In the early days the emphasis was on lure fishing with long shank patterns, up to size 6, with names like Baby Doll, Geronimo, Matukas and many, many more. The traditionalists fished with the seatrout patterns they had successfully used in the rivers.In the course of time nymphs became popular and proved to be just as effective without the hard work of thrashing the water endlessly with lures, It was just a question of time before the thinking flyfishers rediscovered the buzzer .
 The buzzer can be fished individually or in a team of two or three with a floating line. There is no hard and fast method of fishing your chosen buzzers. You can retrieve your line in long slow pulls, or figure of eight retrieve, short intermittent pulls or best of all let the wind do the work for you and just wait for the line to bow and wait for the line to tighten. You can speed up the drift by either taking one or two steps back or slow it down by stepping forward along the bank. All the fishing magazines regularly have articles by experts who extol the virtues of their preferences.
 Before we go down the avenue of tying buzzers I would like to emphasize that there is no chance of inventing a ‘new pattern’. At some stage someone will have tied something exactly the same or embellished the dressing with something exotic, given it a fancy name and one of the magazines will have given it a two page spread. Within two months no one will remember it. If you do come up with a ‘new’ pattern that works for you keep it to yourself, or share it with friends, but be aware that it is just a question of time before it loses its charm.

Dave Cammiss

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Peter Shuttleworth January 27, 2014 at 8:59 pm

Hi – I recently bought a UV light for curing bug-bond when tying buzzers. I’ve now noticed that shining the UV light on some of by best catching buzzers (bought previously) makes the buzzer colours more vibrant (they come alive). What materials have been used in these buzzers that show up so well under UV light (fluorescent, neon etc)? Any advise appreciated.

Peter April 22, 2012 at 6:06 pm

Hi David, been catching some nice fish on the original wool buzzers from the 1920’s. I guess the trout haven’ t been reading all the magazine articles about new buzzer patterns. I just use black seal’s fur body, thin wire rib and white wool round the head. Very easy to tie and very good at catching trout. I guess it is similar to Shipman’s which is also a great fly.

DaveC February 1, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Hi John
Thanks for your input.
This pattern had obviously eluded my ‘system’.
It does not look to too much of a problem to tie. I will make a note of ‘ingredients’ and tie some up ad see how they look. Perhaps it could feature in a future lesson.
Have spent a day or two on the Derwent trotting for grayling. The cold was getting to parts I had forgotten I had. Am I getting old?
Happy Fishing
DaveC.and the Team

John Mitchell February 1, 2011 at 4:38 pm


I had a little look and found this pattern for the fly:

Material List: Hook- Mustad #9672 No. 6
Thread- Black
Tag- Gold Mylar
Tail- Red Duck Quill
Rib- Gold Mlyar
Body- Orange Yellow fur or Wool (loosely wound)
Underwing- 5 Strands Pearl Krystal Flash
Wing- Red Squirrel Tail
Throat- Yellow Hackle

Hope this helps.

Dave and the Team,

Just to put my two penneth in what a fantanstic site, great to see such simple to follow explinations of some great patterns and techniques. I’m eagarly awaiting some new patterns now your ‘Bunker’ starts to thaw.

Tim Kuespert January 28, 2011 at 4:01 am

This is all i know about the fly, other then it works very well. Can you help?
Warden Joe Stickney, of Saco, Maine in the 1920’s, first tied the Warden’s Worry. He also
developed another popular streamer, the Supervisor.
I first tried Warden’s Worry this past fall, on the last day of the season, it took one of the nicest
fish I caught all year. I’ll be fishing it a lot more often next year.
I believe it is meant to imitate a young brown trout. It is a fairly simple pattern to tie. You could
substitute yellow yarn or floss for the body, but the orange-yellow dubbing mix gives it a brown
trout look.

DaveC January 27, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Hi Tim
with over 60 yrs tying fishing flies I never cease to be amazed at the names of fishing flies! I wish I had thought of this one. I reckon someone has been kidding you on. Perhaps out there someone will let me know.
Happy Fishing.
DaveC. and the Team

Tim Kuespert January 27, 2011 at 4:33 am

Do you know how to make the wardens worry i am new to fly tying and am told that this is a fly to have.

DaveC September 5, 2009 at 8:46 pm

Hi Ray
Thanks for your comments. Never had the chance to fish Hanningfield in the ‘good old days’
I am a computer dinosaur and find it difficult to guide anyone thro the site. If you look hard enough you will find 17 beginner lessons from buzzer to woollley bugger, and 6 intermediate lessons.( not to mention all the other little bits and bobs).
As my Granny used to say ” Seek and you will find.” mind you she was talking about my salvation………another failure.
Happy Fishing
DaveC.and the Team

Ray Woodland September 2, 2009 at 7:09 am

I cant believe that I have found a sight like yours that makes “fly-tying” so much simpler.
I`ve been fishing for trout for more years than I care to remember,& I must say,had my fair share of fish.
Hanningfield Res. was my main point of fishing.In the “good ole days” before they introduced “any-method”,God how I hate that saying,.Probably fishing 4/5 times a week,from bank & boats,& only using “bought-in” flies.Crikey that was expensive.Then I started to tye a selection of flies that was introduced to me by a famous Nymph Fisher,Evan Ivey.
These flies were called ,please excuse the pun,”condom-flies”.Tied from latex they were so simple to make,& fished in the right way used to be the main “fly” in our boxes.
But now as the years creap on I feel that I need to get into more difficult flies to tie.I have enroled @ North Kent Fly-Dressers Guild who start tying in October,but your site will certainly give me a head start.Hope so anyway!
I`ve looked @ the Vid`s, of Klinkhammer,Diawl Bach, would there be any more that I can veiw?
It`s been so nice find your site & I will be constantly “glued” to it,I promise,Thank you for yor help,
Best regards,
Tight lines Ray.

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