The Woolley Bugger

by Jonathan

This is a lure which is equally effective in rivers and stillwaters, particularly for rainbows.
The most popular colours are olive, black, orange and red. Can be tied on longshank 8s, 10s, and 12s. For rivers I prefer a size 8 wet fly hook.
Early season on stillwaters a size 8 L/S olive fished on an intermediate line is a good starter. On my recent trip to N.Z. I had about a dozen rainbows to 3lb. in a fast river all on olive and orange woolley buggers on size 12 L/S in a morning session.
There is little new on the tying of this fly which we have not covered on previous lessons.


  • Hook –  L/S size 8, 10 or 12 – wet fly 8
  • Thread – To match body colour
  • Rib – Gold or Silver oval – Gold or Silver wire optional
  • Body – Black , Olive, Orange and Red Chanille
  • Tail – Marabou to match body
  • Tail Flash – Colour to match
  • Hackle – Henny cock, colour to match body ( long enough for 2 turns at head and 3 turns down the body )
  • Gold Bead – optional
  • Clear Varnish ( cement ) – for the head

Happy Fishing
Dave C and the Team

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Jonathan December 14, 2009 at 9:03 pm

Hi Steve,
Welcome aboard. Thanks for your comments, much appreciated. Fly tying is like riding a bike …….it just gets easier the more you do. Hasten slowly.
Happy Fishing
DaveC.and the Team

Steve December 14, 2009 at 12:40 am

Great lesson, being new, I like your simple and clear instructions. I have your site bokk marked and will be using often.


topflyman January 23, 2009 at 11:18 am

Hi Mindoza
Thanks for your comments. Glad that we were able to help you to improve you fly tying.
I suggest you try an olive woolley bugger,L/S 10 or 8 you will find it excellent.
You are very lucky to have found yourself your very own river stuffed full of trout.
I find them regularly then spoil it by waking up.
Happy Fioshing
DaveC.and the Team

Mindoza January 21, 2009 at 4:36 pm

Hallo Dave,
Thank you for posting step by step this fly. Last year i tyed a few Woolley buggers, but they weren`t so nice like the ones i tyed yesterday watching this tutorial.
I have to say, that last year i found a small river in my country (Lithuania). It seems that this river has never seen a man. There are so many brown trouts that i could`n imagine. There is my litle secret and my relax area. The best fly all the year was black Woolley bugger with red tail.
Now with my new beautiful Woolley buggers i will visit this my beautiful stream again. Hope browns still live there 🙂

Bill Hathorn January 2, 2009 at 6:02 pm

Can’t wait to try it out.

topflyman July 4, 2008 at 3:04 pm

Hi David
Thanks for your comments.I find it very rewarding when you guys have a go at the patterns on the demo and catch fish with them. I had some good fish on the Woolley Buggers in New Zealand this year.
Happy Fishing
DaveC and the Team

David Reasonover July 4, 2008 at 2:15 am

Dave, I enjoy watching your easy to follow instructions. I mainly tie Zebra Midges and Sowbugs to use on the Caney Fork River here in the States (Tennessee). I have used Wolley Buggers before that were bought, but now I can tie my own thanks to you.

Good Fishing,

Jordan reimer May 8, 2008 at 2:38 am

I really enjoy your fly tying videos. They are better than a lot of the videos I have wach on youtube. I have learned a lot and I look foward to new videos in the future.

Jason Foster May 2, 2008 at 9:14 am

Hi David, Nice to meet you on the bank at Toft yesterday – you did well with catching 5 on a bright and blustery day. I still can’t find your email address, would be grateful of it for future reference. Keep up the good work !! Jason

topflyman April 30, 2008 at 8:17 am

Hi Gareth
Thanks for your comments ….much appreciated. Over the years I have acquired many books on fly tying patterns. A good reference is ‘FLY PATTERNS an international guide’ by Taff Price. The monthly trout mags often do supplements, both ‘TROUT FISHERMAN’ and my favourite ‘FLY FISHING and FLY TYING both give a lot of info on fly tying and patterns. Another good source is Coch-y- bondu books on
Hope this helps
Happy fishing
DaveC. and the Team

Gareth April 27, 2008 at 8:03 pm

Hello Dave,
I have just recently returned to fly fishing after a 15 year lay off, and have been entranced by the ease with which you tie the various flies, particularly the Montana which I always understood to be beyond the average fly tyer.
I haven’t tried yet but will do so shortly.
Do you have a book that I could keep beside my vice?
Many thanks for some superb vids.

paul robinson April 22, 2008 at 12:46 am

i have just at the age of 30 got time to tie fies. have moved to nz 6 months ago and would like to say i find these videos very helpfull this pattern was the second fly i tryed the lesson no1 was the first. i tryed them this weekend just gone, in the hills above christchuch and this pattern was very good i had no colours like these so had to use yellows instead but caught 3 fish on it. the fealing from catching a fish on my own files was imence. so many thanks and keep up the videos, if you get around to it there is a dry file very populor over hear called the blow fly its got a black tall blue or green under belly black back and black hackel with two white parts ( visual only i think) again many thanks paul

topflyman April 21, 2008 at 11:08 am

Hi oldsmugglerflyfishing
If I was 50 yrs. younger I would probably have loved to go to your country. I have had friends who have been for the seatrout fishing and had a great time. They all said the going was hard on the legs and the winds could be very strong.
Thanks for your interest
DaveC. and the Team

oldsmugglerflyfishing April 18, 2008 at 3:53 pm

Dave, don´t worry about your age, here are a lot of guides, outfiters and lodges that are very well preparer for all kind of anglers. Also they only speak dollars and euros, hahaha.

I don´t like to be guide, but it just me. I enjoy very much going to a place, talk to the local anglers and do my own itinerary… For this kind of fishing yes you have a limit age, because it´s not the same to sleep in a sleeping bag on the dirt when you are 24 years old like me and to sleep in a sleeping bag on the dirt when you are older… back pains, wryneck, etc.

If you have the oportunnity to travel to Argentina, don´t loose it!


topflyman April 12, 2008 at 9:09 am

Hi oldsmugglerflyfishing
Good to hear from you. The Woolley Bugger can be a fly for all seasons and waters.
The colour combinations are only limited by what you have in your fly tying box and it can be unweighted, weighted or have a bead head. Tungsten head beads are good for fast rivers. Argentina is a country i would have loved to visit but I am getting too old to venture very far these days
Happy Fishing
DaveC. and the Team

oldsmugglerflyfishing April 11, 2008 at 7:20 pm

The always welcome Woolley Bugger. Here in Argentina is a gropu of tyiers that don´t like it, for me it´s the easiest fly to ty and the most letal one in water.

topflyman April 10, 2008 at 7:15 pm

Hi ND.
Glad you liked the Woolley Bugger. Try all the colour variants and if you fish only a floating line tie some with a few turns of lead wire underbody.
Happy Fishing
Dave C.and the Team

topflyman April 10, 2008 at 7:10 pm

Hi JB.
Good to be back home. Just had an op. on my hand which will cramp my style for a couple of weeks.
DaveC. and the Team

j brown April 9, 2008 at 6:12 pm

Good to see you back.

n donohoe April 9, 2008 at 12:56 pm

thanx 4 this fly tip

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