The Wonderful Woolly Bugger
Woolly Buggers for Yukon Fishing
A standby for two generations of fly fishers it’s hard to imagine a more versatile pattern. The wonderful wooly bugger comes in a variety of colors and sizes, and is one of those flies that can’t be fished wrong. Reliable sources credit Russell Blessing for inventing this amazing pattern. Although Russell had the hellgrammite in mind with this fly, they work so well most anglers consider the woolly bugger to be the best general purpose streamer ever tied. They are an excellent choice for Yukon fishing.
Imitating the Leech
Long supple patterns are the ticket when you’re trying to imitate a leach. Although you will see leeches suspended in the water column throughout the day, they are more active in the early morning or late evening hours when the sun is low. Both the bottom bounce and dead drift are killer strategies for lake trout and northern pike. A sink tip line works well in depths to about 20-feet as long as your bugger is weighted. I switch to a full sink line when I want to go deeper.
If you want to use the woolly bugger like a streamer a simple stop-and-go retrieve will imitate a nervous baitfish. A slow steady retrieve along the bottom and the bugger will mirror a sculpin. The stop-and-go, is a deadly tactic for northern pike. Try it along weed-beds or across shallow bays.
Here at Grizzly Creek Lodge a lot of lake trout are caught each year with a slow retrieve over a drop off. With the boat anchored in deep water we cast up onto the shallows, then start a slow retrieve back to the boat. Strikes usually happen just as the woolly bugger breaks over the edge. For lake trout I prefer olive, or black patterns. Northern pike will take the darker colors as well, but if I had to choose one just one color for these gluttonous predators, it would be white.
If there is a more versatile pattern than the woolly bugger, I haven’t seen it.