Beginner’s Fly Tying: The CHRLFY Woolly Bugger Variant

After a brief summer break, our next Beginner Fly Tying session will be held at 7:00 PM on September 20th at Trinity United Methodist Church in Frederick. As a change in venue for our tying sessions this fall and into 2023, we have decided to replicate (i.e. repeat) some of the basic fly patterns which PVFF fly tiers have tied in the past, including those recommended for beginning fly fishers. As such, this new approach will provide basic instruction for newcomers to fly tying, as well as provide more ‘seasoned’ fly tiers the opportunity to incorporate minor modifications to the fly’s original design, thus broadening tying skills and providing a more diverse arsenal of fly patterns. 

The fly pattern chosen for our September ‘kick off’ class is a variant (CHRLFY) of the well-known standard Woolly Bugger, which I have found to be quite productive in fishing for trout and smallmouth bass. My CHRLFY variant refers to adding a cone-head, rubber legs, and crystal flash to a standard Woolly Bugger.

The original and classic Woolly Bugger was tied by Russell Blessing in 1967 to imitate a hellgrammite (or dobsonfly nymph) as a modification of its precursor pattern, the Woolly Worm. Commonly referred to as a wet fly or streamer, the Woolly Bugger may represent any of the following natural fish foods; large nymph, baitfish, leech, drowning terrestrial insect, clam worm, crayfish, shiner or crab. Indeed Woolly Buggers are a versatile fly pattern for fishing streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, and tidal flats. When tied in a variety of styles and colors they indeed represent a wide variety of game fish prey.

More information on fishing a Woolly Bugger in rivers and streams can be found on online. Search YouTube for: “How to Fish Woolly Buggers in Rivers.” 

By Don Fine