The major key to the Woolly Bugger’s success for catching fish is this pattern imitates a wide vary of food sources … baitfish, crawfish, hellgrammites, leeches and nymphs (damsels, stoneflies).
When fishing the Woolly Bugger, vary the retrieve until you find what works best to draw the fish’s attention and strike. On ponds and lakes, I usually start with a steady strip-strip-strip-pause (2 to 3 seconds) and repeat retrieve. In moving water systems (streams and rivers), I have been successful getting fish to strike a Woolly Bugger on the swing, dead-drifting, steady continuous retrieve and strip-strip-strip-pause retrieve … be flexible with your presentations.
In tying and fishing Woolly Buggers for over two decades, keeping the palmer hackle length equal to the gap of the hook and the marabou tail length ranging from 1-1/2 to 2 times the body length is critical and has clearly produced more hook-ups. Also, a countered-wrapped wire rib protects the palmered hackle and adds flash.
I get this question asked frequently, “what your most productive color pattern” … my “go-to” color patterns are Purple or Black for stain and slightly tinted water conditions, Brown or Olive for clear water conditions.
Woolly Bugger, Purple (size 6 shown)
Hook – Mustad R74 (4X long, 2X heavy)
Sizes – 12 to 4
Weight – lead free wire (optional)
Thread – Black (UTC)
Tail – Purple marabou blood quill (Hareline)
Rib – Gold wire, countered wrapped (UTC)
Body – Purple chenille (Hareline)
Hackle – Grizzly saddle dyed purple,
tie-in at the front and palmered back (Keough)
Creekside Tidbits & On the Vise at http://www.amflyfishing.com