I'm usually pretty vocal about the flies I use. So, I wanted to highlight a simple pattern that has brought a lot of fish to the net for me and my friends over the past few years, the Sculpin Bugger.
WHY THIS FLY:
I'm a big believer in changing fly pattern based on water type. This stems from my personal success in changing patterns, and all the nymphing books I've read. Changing flies doesn't take too long (as long as you practice your knots a lot). So when I come up to a new section of water I often analyze the water, structure, depth, speed, and change flies to what I think will work best. It sounds complicated, but it's not really. Once you get the hang of it it's maybe a 30 second process of looking over the stream and selecting your fly. I'm also a big believer in tiny streamers.
Enter the Sculpin Bugger.
Most people I've talked to who have actually tried these things comment on how heavy the heads are, and I agree! They are really heavy, which is why I use them!
The primary scenarios I tie one on is for:
- Deep Pools
- Murky Water
- Fast Water
- Fallen Timber
- Anchoring Down a Lighter Pattern
HOW TO TIE THEM.
These patterns are super simple. If you can tie a Wooly Bugger you can make this guy. The only difference is you end the tying process farther away from the eye of the hook than normal. Afterward, cover your thread in some gel glue and push the helmet on (You can find the helmets at Flymen Fishing Company). Start your thread again at the front of the head and behind the eye to further secure the helmet on and your good to go!
Make sure the head is level and upside down on your vise. That's one of the great things about this fly, when tied in this manner the fly rides hook point up! This prohibits it from getting snagged on rocks, logs, grass, and whatever else, which either dulls your hook point or causes the fly to get lost... forever. Though let me warn you, the weight of this fly makes it drop fast which can often lead to it getting stuck. It's not the hook point that gets stuck though, usually, the fly lodges itself between rocks, which is a lot easier to get the fly loose from than when it actually hooks into something!
Fish this fly aggressively. You may loose a few, but you also might catch the fish of your lifetime - which is definitely a trade I will make!
WHY NOT JUST ADD SPLIT SHOT/ OR A CONE TO A WOOLY BUGGER?
You certainly can do that if you want. If all you have is a unweighted Wooly Bugger, and you want to go deeper, you can put on some split shot or tie on a Bugger with a brass cone. However, two problems with those methods of additional weight are: the hook point rides down with both a brass cone and split shot. This leads to more hook ups on rocks, logs, or anything else that usually snags flies. Another thing about split shot is, it dampens the sensitivity. This means if a fish hits the fly you won't feel it or see it as quickly, if at all. Though I must be honest, I use split shot a lot with other patterns.
In all, this is an excellent pattern to include in your fly box. It's very versatile, for example, I fish it under an indicator, tightline nymphing, swinging through pools, jigging the fly, and with an active retrieve more typical of modern streamer anglers. I often fish it in smaller sizes using the "mini" or "small" helmet. Any color combo of a Wooly Bugger you use will work on this guy! Of course, if you don't like tying flies, or don't know how, I offer them in my shop. I can tie them anyway you might like!